History And Importance Of Prayagraj/Allahabad

Allahabad is one of the oldest metropolitan cities of Northern India. Situated in the holy union of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, the city is also known as Prayag. The city also plays an important part in Hindu scriptures. The city also has a rich history in its background. It has always held an important position in the ancient India same like it holds in the contemporary era. It was not made in one day. Different incidents of different eras have made the city what it is today. Here’s the historical timeline of Allahabad

Ancient History in Allahabad

Allahabad used to be known as Prayag in the ancient era. It has been found that the city has some connections with the Sapta Sindhu part of the Rigveda according to mythological reference. According to Ramayana, Lord Rama stayed in a hut in Prayag during his exile for 14 years. In the first century AD, Prayag was a part of Kushana Empire. Famous Chinese Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang visited Prayag in 643 AD, which was the reign of king Harshavardhana.

Muslim rule

Allahabad Fort built by Akbar in 1575
In contrast to the account of Xuanzang, the Muslim historians mention the tree to be located at the confluence of the rivers. The historian Dr. D. B. Dubey states that it appears that between this period, the sandy plain was washed away by the Ganga, to an extent that the temple and tree seen by the Chinese traveller too was washed away, with the river later changing its course to the east and the confluence shifting to the place where Akbar laid the foundations of his fort.

As the majority of the houses would have been mud-walled, a flood could easily destroy them. Sir Alexander Cunningham, founder of the Archaeological Survey of India, concluded as much in his reports published in 1875 on the Archaeological Survey of India, supporting that assumption: “I infer that during the long period that intervened between the time of Hiuen Tsang and that of Akbar, the two rivers gradually carried away the whole of the sandy plain. Long before this time, the old city had, no doubt, been deserted, for we know that the fort of Allahabad was founded on its site.”[5] However, present day Cambridge archaeologist Dilip Kumar Chakrabarti disagrees. He argues that there is no way modern Prayag is ancient, but that the city site of Jhusi located opposite of the confluence was the ancient settlement of Prayag.

The early 19th century historian Sir Henry Miers Elliot believed that a town existed before Allahabad was founded. He adds that after Mahmud of Ghazni captured Asní near Fatehpur, he would not have crossed into Bundelkhand without visiting Allahabad, had there been a city there worth plundering. He further argues that its capture would have been heard about when Muhammad of Ghor captured Benares. However, Ghori’s historians never took notice of it. Yet the Akbarnama mentions that the Mughal emperor Akbar founded a great city in Prayag. `Abd al-Qadir Bada’uni and Nizamuddin Ahmad mention that Akbar laid the foundations of an Imperial City at Prayag which he called Ilahabas.

Freedom Struggle in Allahabad

Allahabad had one small garrison of European troops during the time of Mutiny in 1857 because of which the rebels took it over their control. The British rulers founded the high court, headquarters of the police and public service commission in the city in the post mutiny era which made the city a centre of administration. When the Indian National Congress did their fourth and eighth session in Allahabad in 1888 and 1892 the city became a place for the revolutionaries. Famous freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad killed himself surrounded by the police in the year 1931 at the Alfred Park in Allahabad. The first idea of breaking India into Pakistan was also formed in this city. Post independence some areas from Bagelkhand were merged with Allahabad district which are still quite a part of it.

Overall, this city is one historical paradise and a lot of people who crave history come to visit this place every year around.

Prayagraj is believed to be the most important pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Traditionally river confluences are regarded as auspicious places, but in Sangam, the significance of the confluence is most pious because here, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati meet to become one.

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