Located at confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi, Allahabad is a largely religious city which plays host to the famous Kumbh mela every 12 years and has numerous attractions for tourists.
This pilgrimage center is situated at the confluence of three rivers, i.e. the Triveni Sangam. A coin with two equally brilliant sides, Allahabad has equal historical as well as commercial importance. Having been an important political center, Allahabad has many attractions of historical importance which have witnessed the freedom struggle. Its grand culture is also showcased through the monuments and architectural beauties here. The India Standard Time is determined on the basis of the longitude running through Allahabad.
You wouldn't find a lot of luxury (4/5 star) hotels in Allahabad, but there are plenty of budget/mid-range hotels available, which are very comfortable. The best place to stay would be around Civil Lines or Ashok Nagar, which is close to the railway station, has a lot of restaurants and not too far from either of the tourist attractions.
Some of the good, old hotels are Yatrik, Kanha Shyam, Grand Continental, Milan Palace and Harsh Ananda - almost all of them are located in Civil Lines.
If you are on a tighter budget, you can try out the hotels in Katra/Chowk - the only issue you might face there is that these areas are quite crowded.
INR 1,965 - 2,265
Very well connected by road, rail and air. One of the foremost religious sites in India. Excellent for a family vacation.
Summers can get very hot. Can get crowded during the tourist season and the months of Kumbh Mela. Some places are not very clean.
Perfect for family vacation, those interested in religious tourism, photographers and cultural connoisseurs who want to experience the life in Allahabad. This places also sees a lot of foreigners who want to witness the majesty of the Ganga.
Day 1: Arrive in Allahabad by bus, train or air. Proceed to the hotel to relax and shed the travel fatigue. After lunch, visit the Hanuman Mandir, one of the most famous temples in the city. In the late afternoon, head to the Triveni Sangam - the most popular tourist spot and also one of the holiest sites for Hindus. You and also stay a little longer to witness the grand Ganga Aarti on Ganga Ghat but be prepared for a hoard of people to arrive as this is a very popular activity among tourists and devout locals. At night, you can enjoy the city vistas and perhaps try some local food in one of the many street markets famous for fried snacks and sweets.
Day 2: Leave early to visit the Allahabad Fort built by Akbar in 1583. Though only a small part of this fort is open to civilians and the rest is used by the army, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Allahabad. The haloed Akshaya Vat (immortal banyan tree) is also located within the premises of the fort. After lunch, head to Anand Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Nehru-Gandhi family that was built by Motilal Nehru. The Jawahar Planetarium is located inside the complex and is worth a visit. Anand Bhavan has now been converted into a museum depicting the life and times of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Day 3: Leave for the All Saint's Cathedral also known as Patthar Girija in the morning. This cathedral invites people of all faiths who want to feel close to God. Visit the Allahabad Museum just before lunch to get a glimpse of the rich history of this region. In the evening, head to Madan Mohan Malviya (Minto) Park, where the East India company transferred power to the British monarch, thus making India a colony of Britain. Proceed to departure point by bus, train or air.
The Ganga flows down from the Himalayas and meanders through almost all of North India before slowing down near Allahabad and meeting with the Yamuna that follows a similar trajectory slightly north of Ganga. This place where two real and one mythical river (Saraswati) meet is called the 'Triveni Sangam' and is one of the holiest sites for Hindus. These rivers have now become part of the lives of people of Allahabad. The peaceful Ghats, lazy sunsets and daily aartis at the riverbanks are some of the most beautiful spectacles the city has to offer. There are many temples, forts and monuments belonging to all time periods built along the banks of the Ganga and this is a testament to the undying spirit and the immense importance the river has in Indian life.
Allahabad has been referred to as Prayag in many ancient scriptures like the Vedas, Mahabharat and Ramayana and is believed to be the second-oldest city in India. It has for long been the centre of literary, scholastic and spiritual activity and is a cultural hub in North India. Famed for its sweet and pure Hindi, this city has given the country many great writers and poets. Over the years, the culture of the town has embraced its Hindu, Muslim and Christian rulers wholeheartedly and this confluence of history is reflected in the diverse architectural styles seen in the city. Ancient temples stand beside Mughal forts and British gardens as citizens today equally belong to all three.
The Kumbh mela in Allahabad is the greatest confluence of people on earth - and by a huge magnitude. Kumbh melas are held in four cities in India - Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain, but the one in Allahabad is way bigger than anywhere else, and bigger than anything you could imagine. To give you an idea of the scale of the event - an estimated 120 million (12 cr) people visited the 2013 Kumbh Mela which was held over an area of atleast 10kms x 4kms.
The Kumbh Mela is mainly a religious aggregation - but for tourists, there is a lot to see and do. Just walking around the mela, sitting on the banks of the river and taking a dip in Sangam is an experience in itself. You can attend one of the hundreds of ashrams and listen to the sermons, or you can check out the street food which is available in abundance throughout the mela, or just be amazed by the sheer scale and size of the human gathering. If you want to get a feel of authentic, rural India - this is one of the most incredible events to do that.
The last Kumbh mela was held in 2013, which means the next big one would be held in 2025. However, if you can't wait till then, you could plan to visit during the 2019 ardh-kumbh (semi-Kumbh) mela - which is pretty big in scale itself. Otherwise, the Magh mela which is held every year is something that you can visit - although you should multiply the scale by 10 to get an idea of what the real Kumbh mela looks like.
The best local food in Allahabad would be the street food here. A lot of shops in the old city area (mainly Chowk and Katra) are famous for their variety of street food.
Loknath is a very narrrow and crowded lane in Chowk area which is very popular with street food lovers - you would find everything from chaat to kachori to khasta/dum aloo to lassi to halwa here - to name a few. One of the most popular shops is the Hari namkeen which is famous for its unique samosas.
- Sangam is obviously the main charm. Go either early morning, or during sunset. For food, I'd recommend you take a walk through loknaath, and you'll get to eat a large variety of snacks at all times of the day. Netraam in katra has great poori sabji.
- Don't forget to bargain when going for the boating ride on Sangam - the riders can easily guess if you're not a native and take you for a spin.