Kumbh Mela in Allahabad has just ended. We could not go there due to some pressing commitments in Bangalore. But reading about Allahabad and Kumbh also brought back fond memories of our visit to the city in 2011 as part of Great Central India Road trip in 2011.
We passed through Allahabad while driving from Khajuraho to Varanasi. We reached Allahabad by 3.30 PM. Crossing Naini Bridge
over Yamuna brings us into the city. The only place I remember from my first visit to Allahabad in early
eighties – I was selected in the Services Selection Board for Army here – is the Civil
lines where we used to hang out when we were waiting to complete our medicals.
The agenda in
Allahabad was to visit Prayag, Anand Bhavan and the famous All Saints Cathedral. As we enter, we could foresee what was in store as far as traffic is concerned. Narrow roads with
all types of vehicles jostling for space with no discipline whatsoever seems to
be the norm. You are in Uttar Pradesh. I had to reconcile myself. Now, I have to ask someone for direction and i am not prepared to take the
Scorpio on a road which is not wide enough.
Since we hadn't eaten anything since morning, we wanted to have a good lunch and i knew that Civil lines would be the best place. I pull the vehicle
onto the side on seeing someone who can answer my question. I get down from the
car and go near him. He looks a pucca “Allahabadi”. Here is how the
conversation goes – my first experience with eastern Uttar Pradesh.
“Bhai Saab, civil line
kaisa jana hai” (brother, can you please tell me direction to civil lines?)
“Seedha jaake dhaine
mudiye” (Go straight and turn right)
“Shukriya, Anand Bhavan
ka rasta kaunsi hai” (Thank you. Can you also tell me how to go to Anand Bhavan?)
“Kya hum ko gayide
smajthye hai kya?” (Do you think i am your guide??)
“Aisa nahi bhai saab,
hum log naye hai….is liye” ( It is not like that, bro. We are new to city....)
“jaayiye jaayiye, ek
gayide rakhlijiye!!” (Get last and get hold of a guide)
Encounters of Eastern
Looking at the traffic
and the chaos on the roads, we drop the idea of going anywhere except Prayag
and Anand Bhavan. We have some biscuits and cup of tea and head to Prayag.
Prayag or Triveni
sangam - confluence of three holy rivers - is one of the holiest places for Hindus. This is the place where Hindus
come to immerse the ashes of the dead and perform “Shradh” (rituals) or simply to take
holy dips. The sacred Kumbh mela is held every 12
years on the banks of the Sangam.
The Kumbh mela grounds are vast. Due to
rains, we could see puddles of water at different places. As we drive
towards the ghats we see dirt all around. This place just stinks with no
one caring for the its cleanliness. This does not stop the
devout coming in hordes for conducting rituals or to take holy dip. We could see
bus loads of people from nearby or faraway villages getting down and moving
towards the river.
We park the car and walk to the ghat. There are no steps or ghats here
like in Banaras or possibly they are submerged. The ghats are nothing but a
mess of mud.
The river is wide and we could actually see
confluence of two rivers due to colour difference – Yamuna is gray and Ganga is
lighter. The boat boys come running to us asking us whether we want to go for
boating in the river and see “Sangam”. We book a boat and hop on to see what
happens at sangam. We take a boat ride and You can join us on it........here are some pictures.