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Tags : Forts & Palaces

Time Required : Less than 1 hour

Entry Fee : Entry not allowed - the fort is under army possession
It is open to the public only during the Kumbh Mela

Built by : Mughal Emperor Akbar

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Allahabad Fort, Allahabad Overview

Allahabad Fort is a splendid work of architecture that was built during the reign of Akbar, the Mughal Emperor in 1583. The marvellous structure is located on the banks of the confluence of the Rivers Ganga and Yamuna and is well-known for being the largest fort ever built by Akbar.

This famous attraction draws thousands of tourists from all over the world not only for its historical importance but also for its architectural magnificence. However, one should note that quite, unfortunately, access to Allahabad Fort is generally closed to the common public. Tourists are allowed inside only during the Kumbh Mela, which is held once every 12 years. Nevertheless, the glorious architecture and the massive build of the monument as it stands strong on the banks of the confluence of the two rivers is a sight to behold!

The Allahabad Fort holds a huge significance and is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The fort is also quite well known for its Akshayavat Tree (Banyan Tree) which, according to a legend, was used by the locals to commit suicide to attain salvation. For those who wish to see the Akshayavat Tree, entry is allowed through a small gate to only the area that is occupied by the magnificent tree. Allahabad Fort is also home to the Patalpuri Temple, which is said to be home all the gates of hell. The best way to explore the Allahabad Fort from outside is on a boat ride in the river either during sunrise or sunset.

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The Legend of the 'Akshayavat' Tree

The "Akshayavat", or "the indestructible tree" is a legendary tree in Hindu mythology. The story of the tree is that once a famous sage asked Lord Narayana to show him his power - as a display of that, the Lord flooded the entire world for a moment. During this, the Akshayavat was the only tree which was still over the water level. For this reason, it is considered to be indestructible.

The legend grew even bigger with time, and is actually quite old - some people believe that Rama, Lakshan and Sita rested under this tree during the times of Ramayana. Another popular local story is that Akbar tried to burn down the tree during the construction of the fort, but was unsuccessful - which is why the tree is conspicuously standing inside the fort. For a long time, people also used to commit suicide by jumping from this tree into the water, believing that they will attain salvation by doing this.

There are quite a few historical references to this tree as well - for example, a few Chinese pilgrims from the 7th century mention the stories of this tree. Unfortunately, there are also quite a few doubts as to where the original tree is - some say that the one on display is just a replica which is maintained by the pundits. 

History of Allahabad Fort

According to a legend, Akbar was told that in his previous life, he was a Hindu hermit. He, once, consumed a cow's hair mistakenly while drinking milk. According to his religion, this act was punishable and he, hence, committed suicide. In his next birth, he was born a non-Hindu and was drawn towards the sacred confluence of the two major rivers of India, Ganga and Yamuna. It was said that this obsession pushed him to get the Allahabad Fort built at that location.

When he became the emperor, Akbar found out that a grand Banyan Tree was used to commit suicide. To stop this practice, he included the tree in the fort premises. Also, building the fort was not as easy as they thought it would. Every time they built the foundation, it would sink in the sand on the banks of the river. Akbar was advised to sacrifice a human to complete the ritual and break the curse. A local Brahmin sacrificed his life at will, and the fort was constructed without any more issues. The family of the Brahmin is said to have granted exclusive rights of servicing the pilgrims visiting the region.

Architecture Of Allahabad Fort

The Allahabad Fort consists of massive walls, towers, a temple and a large palace. There are three gateways to enter and exit the fort. The interior of the Palace has been decorated with Hindu and Muslim artistry. The temple inside the fort premise is an underground temple that can be accessed by a small entry in the eastern wall of the fort. The famous Akshayavat tree is also on the premise near the Patalpuri Temple. There is also a 10 metre tall Ashoka Pillar that was installed in 232 BC that has the inscription of Emperor Jahangir.

Nearby Attractions

Since the fort is located right on the banks of Yamuna next to Sangam, you can easily combine it with an early morning dip in the holy waters. There is also the (locally) famous temple of "Bade Hanuman Ji" right next to the fort - the temple has an interesting moorti of Lord Hanuman in a fully reclined position.

How to Reach Allahabad Fort

Allahabad Fort is located very close to the spot from where you take boat rides to reach the Triveni Sangam - which is the main tourist attraction in the city, and hence well connected. You can easily get a cab or rickshaw from almost anywhere in the city to reach the fort. The nearest railway station to Allahabad Fort is the Allahabad Jn Train Station which is 5 kms away. From the stations, taxis/autos can be hired to reach the Fort premises.

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