Known historically as Tirtharaj Prayag (supreme among all pilgrimages), Allahabad is one of the oldest cities in India. In ancient times, this town was famous as 'Prayag', whose fame was widespread. Triveni is more familiarly known as Prayagraj or the place of the great sacrifice. Tradition speaks of Lord Brahma, the creator in the Hindu Triad, performing a great sacrifice in the hoary mists of antiquity. The three fires that were needed for this were kindled at Pratishthan Pur (the modern Jhunsi), at Alarka south of the Yamuna and at Prayagraj. It is possible that the meeting points of the rivers were considered especially propitious for the performance of sacrifices; for many other confluences are also designated by the suffix ‘Prayag’. Primarily, however, the sanctity of Prayagraj is due to the sanctity of the rivers meeting there. Saraswati, which is lost in the desert sands of Rajasthan, south-west of the Punjab and which is supposed to join the Ganga beneath the earth here, is described in the Rig Veda as the best of mothers, rivers and goddesses. The Ganga, though mentioned in the Vedas, acquired its position as the most sacred river in India only much later. Plowing at first in the abode of the gods, she was brought down to earth by the austerities of Bhagirath. The Yamuna is considered by later tradition to be the same as Yami, twin sister of Yama in the Vedic hymns; hence she is described as the daughter of the Sun. Close toTriveni Sangam , within Allahabad Fort complex is situated Patalpuri Temple. As per the legend, the temple houses a well called Saraswati Kup having perennial supply of Sarswati River’s water. A pilgrim is suggested to see this site while on Prayagraj tour.
Prayagraj garners immense religious and historical eminence since time immemorial. Prayagraj holiday packages help a tourist to soak in rich and ancient legacy being reflected in its culture. According to the Puranas, the three gods of the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) reside in a special sense at Prayagraj. Lord Brahma is in the form of a Shalmali (शाल्मली) tree at Pratishthan Pur near-by, once, the capital of the lunar race of kings; Lord Shiva has assumed the form of the undying banyan (Akshyavat - अक्षयवट) at Prayagraj, and Lord Vishnu is there as Madhava to whom a temple has been dedicated. The names of princes and sages, famous in history or legend, are closely connected with the holy city. Ram and Sita visited Prayagraj when they paid their respects to the sage Bharadwaj at his hermitage on their way to the Dandaka forest (दण्डकारण्य). The traditionalBharadwaj Ashram is shown near the politically famousAnand Bhawan building. The Pandav princes are believed to have spent at least part of their exile near-by. The Buddha preached his ethics here. An Ashokan pillar of the 3rd century B.C. has been found at Kaushambi which is in the neighbourhood and was removed to the Allahabad Fort at the confluence. It also records the victories of the most celebrated of the Gupta Emperors, Samudragupta, in the fourth century A.D. Kaushambi for a long time enjoyed the prestige of the capital city of India; both the Mauryas and the Guptas ruled their empires thence. Harshavardhan convened a notable religious conference at Prayagraj and performed one of his periodical ‘sarvasva-danas’ (सर्वस्वदान). He gave up his all and begged his sister for a piece of cloth to tie round his waist.
Prayagraj has been a witness to ideological and philosophical upheavals. Even today, the city is famous for learning & education. Here too Kumaril Bhatt, who founded the Purva-Mimamsa (पूर्वमीमांसा) school of philosophy, successfully argued against Buddhism. Tradition relates that he committed suicide in the holy place to expiate for a great sin. Adi Guru Shankaracharya, in his triumphal march round India, did not forget the sacred confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna. Centuries later, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Bengal taught here his faith to his most famous disciple, Rup Goswami.
During medieval era, the Hindus and their temples in Prayagraj faced the Islamic atrocities and barbarism. Aurangzeb emerged as the epitome of inveterate religious intolerance and topped among iconoclast Islamic rulers in India. Mughal ruler Akbar started his mission for his new religion, Din-e-Ilahi from Prayagraj and renamed Ilaha-bad (Allahabad), the City of God, probably, a parallel to Ilavasa, another name of the city. Jahangir recorded an inscription on the ancient stone-pillar of Ashoka and built a beautiful garden, Khusro Bagh, to commemorate the memory of his rebellious son. He tried, but in vain, to root out the Akshayavat in the temple in the fort; and his failure has been regarded as a vindication of the eternal vitality of Hinduism which is symbolized by that tree. As often as he tried to cut it and pour molten lead into its roots, so often it again blossomed forth. A trip to Prayagraj cannot be complete without observing these facets of history of the region.
Prayagraj (Allahabad) had been a hotbed for the freedom struggle of India. The city was one of the storm centers of the First Freedom Struggle of 1857, called Sepoy Mutiny by the British historians, and it is of interest to note that Lord Canning read from the Allahabad Fort on November 1, 1868, the Queen’s famous proclamation, which announced Her Majesty’s assumption of the sovereignty of India and her promise to carry on the government with strict religious neutrality and without distinctions of race or creed.
Prayagraj pilgrimage tour comprises Triveni Sangam, Patalpuri Temple, Akshayavat, Saraswati Kup, Veni Madhav Temple, Mankameshwar Temple, Nag Vasuki Temple, Bade Hanuman Ji Temple, Alopi Devi Temple, Kalyani Devi Temple etc, depending upon time and interest. The pilgrims who flock in endless numbers from all parts of India worship the rivers. At the Triveni Sangam, flowers and fruits are offered to the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati; oblations given to dead ancestors and gifts presented away in charity. Some pilgrims get their heads tonsured. There are temples in honour of Someshvara — another name for Lord Shiva — Rishi Bharadwaj, twelve Madhavas, and two serpent kings, Vasuki and Sesha. In Allahabad Fort, there is a famous underground temple, which contains the undying Banyan tree. Hieun Tsang records that the pious committed suicide by throwing themselves down from this tree. The custom appears to have continued for a long time afterwards. Though the tree is honoured by the pilgrims, the suicide custom has, of course, disappeared.
Prayagraj travel packages are liked by the religious Hindus, history aficionados and foreign tourists with keen interest in cultural-religious-spiritual gathering of Kumbh Mela, Ardha Kumbh Mela & Magh Mela . Once a year when the sun enters the sign of Kumbh, there is a big festival called Magh Mela which attracts numerous worshippers. Every sixth year there is the Ardha Kumhh Mela which is considered more important. Once in twelve years, there is the Kumbh Mela , which draws to Prayag several million pilgrims from all over India. Many Prayagraj tours are conducted from Varanasi . Prayagraj gets top prominence during Kumbh Mela. Several Kumbh Mela tours like
2 Days Allahabad Kumbh Mela Guided Photography Tour from Varanasi,
3 Days Allahabad Kumbh Mela Tour,
6 Days Allahabad Kumbh Mela with Varanasi Tour,
9 Days Golden Triangle with Kumbh Mela Tour offer opportunity to explore various facets of Prayagraj.