Akshaya Vat, Allahabad Overview

Located inside the Allahabad Fort complex in Patalpuri Temple, Akshaya Vat or Akshayvat is an ancient fig tree. After 2011, this tree can only be visited after seeking permission Commandant of Allahabad Fort's Ordnance Depot. Only on a single day during the Kumbh Mela festival, this sacred site is open for public visits.

The legend behind this sacred and immortal tree is woven in Hindu mythology. It is believed that Lord Narayana submerged the entire earth for a brief moment when the sage, Markandaya asked him to present his divine strength. Upon flooding, it was only the Akshayavat Tree that stayed afloat. Thus, it is believed to be the immortal and holy banyan tree.

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The Controversy of the Akshayavat Tree in Allahabad

The Akshayavat Tree holds myriad references from different sources such as Hinduism and Chinese Buddhism. However, there was a controversy that changed things quite a bit. Many state that this tree is not the original holy site of Akshayavat.

It is said that the British colonisers of the time hid certain parts of a place from the public, for mere reasons of security and sensitivity. Thus, the true holy site being an underground temple found inside the Allahabad Fort. This was further justified when a travel writer from Welsh, Fanny Parkes visited the site in 1831.

In his travel accounts of the place, he suggests that the original underground temple was shut down and the localities here placed this tree here. Thus, convincing that the underground branch grew out and formed the Akshayavat Tree. However, this was proven to be false when he did not see anyone worshipping the Akshayavat Tree as we know of today.

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