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KUMBH MELA, ALLAHABAD

The second oldest city of India after Varanasi- Prayaga is another Celestial City. One among the four theerthas (sacred places) Prayaga or Triveni Sangam is simply 83KM from Varanasi. Sangam is the meeting point of the sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. One of the four places where the favored Kumbh-mela is held every 12 years. Sangam is believed to possess soul-cleansing powers hence a sacred bathing place. Also called Theertharaja (king of holy places) Prayaga is that the birthplace of Soma (Moon), Varuna (God of rain) and Daksha Prajapati (Son of Brahma). The town features a long history dating back the Vedic period because the location where Brahma performed a sacrifice and hence the name Prayaga. Maharishi Ved Vyas wrote Siva Purana here during this place.

Hindu mythology always revolves around the animosity between Gods and demons. One such story is that the Samudra Manthan where the ocean of milk was churned with gods on one side and demons on the opposite. As a result, there have been many sacred and precious things including amrutha (divine potion which gave gods immortality on consuming) came out as cream! Reluctant to share the amrutha with demons Gods were deed with the pot of amrutha and demons chased them for years. While chasing, four drops fell out of the pot on earth, which became four theerthas, i.e, River Shipra in Ujjain, Triveni Sangam, where the 3 holy rivers- Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati meet in Prayag, Haridwar where the River Ganga takes the plunge from mountains into the plains, and River Godavari in Nasik. Every twelve years Kumbha (pot) mela is held at one among these four places. People in millions visit to possess a holy dip at Triveni Sangam.

After I packed up from Varanasi I used to be looking forward to going to Prayag for Triveni Sangam. The town was renamed by Akbar as Ilahabad then by the British as Allahabad. Specifically, I wanted to go to Triveni Sangam which is 6KM from the town. From Varanasi, there are frequent buses to Allahabad and the other way around, but I hire a cab and call for Musafir India Taxi and reach Prayag safely and comfortably. After checking into a hotel, I again took Musafir India’s Local Taxi to succeed in Sangam. It had been crowded. A km stretch of the riverbank is named ghat and other people do the last rites for the departed. I didn’t walk along the ghat here because the wind was strong and therefore the sand was everywhere up within the air. It had been hard even to open the eyes or maybe to talk! Instead, I opted to require a ship ride to the Triveni Sangam first.

All waiting boatmen ran towards me for a ship ride. After reducing the worth to 1/4th of the first quote I got into one boat on a sharing basis. The boat ride was definitely memorable. Strong winds alongside the turbulent waters of Yamuna were tossing the passengers of the boat from one side to the opposite. The old boat with bamboos tied on the edges looked very fragile. But, the old boatman was very confident. The waters from Ganga and Yamuna rivers are polluted beyond imagination in Kashi and Delhi respectively, told me the boatman. But, once they join here at Triveni Sangam alongside underground Saraswati they get purified. Nobody gets sick even when the water is consumed because it is!!

Well, I used to be with a family of tourists within the boat. People in the boat are feeding the migratory Siberian gulls, I enjoyed a lot seeing these touristy things performing by them. These birds love namkeen sev. And there I used to be at Triveni Sangam waiting during a boat line. The boat was swaying severely and that we had to leap over many various boats to succeed in the precise place where the rivers meet.

Some women from my boat found it hard to balance while hopping over boats and fell (fortunately not within the water) but we went on. The panda here sells coconuts, flowers and performs rituals as per the pilgrim’s wish. The favored thing is to supply three coconuts to the three rivers. So, my boat-mates took a dip within the waters and offered three coconuts. Interesting to ascertain here is that the color of the waters. The Ganga seems golden and the Yamuna is darker. We will see it clearly!!

There is a stimulating story about Sangam. The holiest river Ganga was worried when she was close to merging with the river Yamuna. She thought her holiness might dissolve against the greatness of Yamuna. As per Hindu mythology, the younger sister of Yama (God of death), is the river Yamuna. Though dip within the waters of Ganga provides liberation, a dip in Yamuna’s water assures an easy death! When Ganga expressed her hesitation the Yamuna assured that Ganga’s greatness would never dissolve. And, even after they merge the river remains called Ganga until it enters Bangladesh. Then thereon is named by the name the Padma. After spending some time there until some people started getting dizzy within the swaying boat we returned.

Then I assumed of venturing into the Allahabad Fort to go to Saraswati Kund which is believed to be the origin of River Saraswati and Akshaya vat (immortal banyan tree). Well, the fort was built by Akbar and was a serious garrison of Mughals. Now occupied by the Indian Army only a neighborhood of the fort is allowed for visitors. Saraswati Kund being out of reach I visited the Patalpuri temple and therefore the sacred tree, Akshaya vat features to mention in many ancient scriptures including Ramayana. It’s believed that Lord Rama alongside his consort Devi Sita and brother Lakshmana rested under this tree.
Here are many other temples in near vicinity like Bade Hanuman and Alopi Devi Shaktipeetha. I used to be here just for one afternoon but, would always remember that boat ride and therefore the sand storm!!

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