Allahabad, only 2 hours drive away from Varanasi, but world away from Varanasi. Everything that you may associate with Varanasi – congestion, crowd, dirt, cows, ghats, broken roads, road indiscipline you will not find any of it here. I will recommend going to Allahabad to after Varanasi to relax, and come back to normal life. Originally a military town, the civil town has now grown sufficiently big to be called a town in its own or traditional right.
One full day stay is sufficient to see the town and tick all attractions while transiting to or from Varanasi. Longer if you want to be in a small, easy paced urban place. One of the understated or under highlighted point is the architecture of Allahabad. Allahabad has many old buildings as it served as capital of the region in earlier periods. Allahabad High Court building, All Saints Cathedral, Anand Bhawan, Akbar / Allahabad Fort, Khusro Bagh are unique and beautiful in their design and architecture and are treat to watch.
Key / Quick Facts:
|On Tourist Circuit||No|
|Weather||Dry, extreme summers & cold winters|
|Best time to go||Late September to March|
|Why Go?||Sangam, Architecture, Museum|
|Location of Sites||North, Center and East|
|Location of Hotels||West and Center|
They are spread all over the town. Since the town is small and not congested, movement is not a hassle.
Allahabad High Court
It is the most beautiful and one of the largest courts building in India. If you have time, try to step in and explore the outer parts of the building, else you can stop, have a look, take a photo if you like and then proceed ahead.
All Saints Cathedral
A beautiful cathedral in middle of town. It was built in 1887 and is 40ft wide and 130ft long.
Another fine specimen of beautiful building. Established in 1887, it is the 4th oldest university in India. If you have time, drop by for five minutes for a look.
Chandrashekar Azad Park
A small park dedicated to freedom fighter Chandra Shekar Azad. If you do wish to have stroll here in evening, then probably you could stop for couple of minutes, admire the large statue of freedom fighter, and read about his exploits in his short life. Else, enter the gate to find the statue and his exploits right in front of you. It is also popularly known as company garden / Bagh and Alferd Garden.
House of freedom fighter family and first Prime Minister of India – Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, who became first lady Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Importance of this family can be gauged from the fact that Gandhi family played significant role in India’s freedom movement and has ruled for ~60years out of ~70years of independent India. It is a different fact that currently their party is struggling to show their relevance in politics of India. Anand Bhawan is a large yet extremely simple house, beautifully painted giving an understatement feel. House is a good place to get a very macro view of freedom struggle and know its key players. House also has a planetarium with regular shows in Hindi and English.
Next to the Chandra Shekar Azad Park, museum contains relics and statues dated to pre-historic ages. It is a large museum and rich source of art ancient art and history. Something not be missed for history and art lovers both. Ground floor is for the sculptures and relics while the first floor is dedicated to art – Bengal school of Art, Terracotta art, and Roreich paintings. Each section is quite comprehensive and detailed. I personally loved Roreich paintings.
Towards older part of city, the walled garden contains tomb of eldest son of Jahangir (4th Mughal Emperor) – Khusro, his mother’s – Shah Begum and his sister’s – Nisar Begum. Jahangir’s reign witnessed cultural and architectural achievements and this is an example of that. Originally built for the mother, but later the other two tombs were added. All three tombs have been beautifully built with tomb of the sister being architecturally the most elaborate one. All three have incarnate work on the roofs and walls which need to be seen. It is a good place for a walk on a pleasant day.
I have kept it last for many reasons. Sangam is the point where three great rivers meet and combine into one – Ganga, Yammuna, and Saraswati (mythological). It is extremely popular and revered for religious Hindus. For others, it is a good place for a boat ride in Ganga to the other empty banks of Ganga, and observe the reverence of others. Do not miss to see how water from two different sources – Gori (Fair shade – Ganga) and Sawanli (Darker shade – Yammuna) combines to move into third direction.
A giant and old tree, accessible only from the Sangam bank. Tree is 400yrs old and counting. Tree is said to have survived even fire. Visiting and worshipping here might free you from the cycle of rebirth. Though inside the Akbar fort, the fort is not open to the public and alternate route has been opened from the Sangam bank for worshippers which bypasses whole of the fort and enables access to temple and the tree.
Nehru & Saraswati Ghat
Ghat for evening aarti / prayers. Aarti happens after dark. Place for visit if you wish to see an aarti being performed on the banks of River Ganga. It is a good place to click nice night shots of aarti.
The logistical / organizational / traveler / resident nightmare. Full happens once in twelve years. Last was in 2013. Next will be in 2025. In between, half kumb mela is held every six years. It is a religious event of Hindus associated with mass bathing in River Ganga. ~120mn people came to Allahabad Kumbh Mela which was held from Jan 27 to Feb 25.
Visit to Kumbh Mela is a must to see the vibrancy of the place, Sadhus and religious people in different makeup / postures, great photo clicks, and get first hand exposure to the largest gathering in the world! But be prepared to walk as many roads are closed for traffic in order to manage large crowds.
Kumbh Melas are also held in Ujjain, Haridwar, and Nashik.
Indian Coffee House: Old center for coffee, dosa, and mutton based food. If you are mutton lover, then this should be your second most frequented place.
Eat On: The best mutton in town. Street food stall, you can either eat standing, or get it packed and eat elsewhere, but not to be missed for mutton lovers.
Connectivity / Reaching Allahabad:
Allahabad is well connected by Road and Rail. It is on National Highway 2 and well connected with other popular towns of Lucknow (~200km) and Varanasi (~120km). All important trains going from North to East or vice versa stop at Allahabad. It has airport too, but flights are limited. Plan early to coincide flight days and cities with your plan. Better option is to land at Varanasi Airport (105km / 2hr) incase of last minute plans.
Buses (Non AC) can also be used to reach Allahabad from Varanasi or other nearby towns. They are convenient and economical and available even at the last minute due their high frequency, but will not be very convenient.
Commuting within Allahabad:
All places are not possible to cover by foot hence a transport medium is required. Auto-richshaw are easily available. Hiring private cab for one day might be the most comfortable and fastest.
Tourist Office is located on MG Road. Website can be explored at http://uptourism.gov.in/
Varanasi, Chitrakoot, Lucknow