Legend goes that the gods and the demons had to churn the ocean of milk to procure the nectar of immortality. Once the nectar of life appeared, the gods and demons fought for 12 days and 12 nights (accounting to 12 human years). When Lord Vishnu flew away with the pot of nectar, he dropped four drops of it in Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain.
The Twelve-Year Cycle
The Kumbh Mela takes place every three in four places – Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Since, the location changes every three years, it takes twelve years for the mela to take place in the same place and when it does, it’s called the Purna Kumbh Mela (Complete Kumbh Mela). This has been a strong tradition followed by the Hindus since the Vedic period. Although the first written evidence of the occurrence of this event was recorded in the sixth century, Indian mythology has many a story about it which dates to a period which is way back in time.
The Ardha Kumbh (Half Kumbh) is a six-year cycle which takes every six years.
Future Kumbh Mela Dates
The Purna Kumbha Mela will be held at Prayag from January 27 to February 25 in the year 2013.
The Ardha Kumbha Mela will be held in Nashik from August 15 to September 13 in the year 2015.
The next Purna Kumbh Mela will be held from April 22 to May 21 in the year 2016.
Maha Kumbh Mela
Located 238 kilometers south of Lucknow, Allahabad is among India’s fastest growing cities. The fact that its economy is growing rapidly is the least of its virtues. The rich culture and the grand display of faith has always pulled heavy crowds into this holy city.
According to an old Indian myth, Lord Brahma, the Indian God attributed with the creation of the universe offered a ceremonial sacrifice after creating our planet at Prayag, thereby deeming this city as one of the main pilgrimage destinations for pious Hindus.
The Kumbh Mela held at Prayag (Allahabad is the Persian name given to the town) is the most grand of all the four Kumbh Melas and considered to be the holiest of them all. On the auspicious dates of the ‘Shahi Snaan’ (royal bath) during Kumbh Mela, lakhs of pilgrims flock the banks of the confluence of three revered rivers, Ganga, Yamuma & Saraswati at the point of confluence aptly called ‘Triveni Sangam’ (meaning union of the three in Sanskrit) to take a holy dip in river with a belief that this act would wash off their sins.
The Kumbh Mela of Allahabad or Prayag as it was called earlier, has always been grand owing to it being the site of the Maha Kumbh Mela which takes places once in 144 years-meaning the Mela has completed twelve 12-year-cycles and come back to the original site.
The ‘Ardha Kumbh Mela’ takes place once in six years and is hence aptly called Half Kumbh Mela’ in translation. For those who for some reason could not make it to the Kumbh Mela’s that take place once in three years, they can attend the ‘Magh Mela’, which is the annual adaptation of the Kumbh Mela that’s held in Allahabad.
Shahi Snaan Dates
To witness the Kumbh Mela unfold is to experience the revelry of an age old culture. As the convoy of mystics and godmen march past in chariots, camels, elephants and other traditional transport, the aura of faith engulfs you and traps you in the trance of serenity you will pine for post the celebrations and The Royal Bath is where the ‘Yatra’ (journey) of faith replenishes itself. Living the life of a mystic or a person of faith for one day is worth the try.
Following are the auspicious dates for The Royal Bath
January 27 2013 – Paush Purnima
February 6 2013 – Ekadashi Snan
February 10 2013 – Mauni Amavasaya Snan
February 15 2013 – Basant Panchami Snan
February 17 2013 – Rath Saptami Snan
February 18 2013 – Bhishma Ekadashi Snan
February 25 2013 – Maghi Purnima Snan
How to Reach
One can reach Allahabad by booking a flight to Allahabad Airport which essentially is Bamrauli Air Force Base. It is connected to Delhi by Air India.
One can also opt for landing at Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport which is in Varanasi. Varanasi airport is located at a distance of 142 kilometers from Allahabad.
If you would prefer a tour of Uttar Pradesh’s bejeweled city Lucknow on your way, you can book a flight to Amausi International Airport in Lucknow, located 200 kilometers from Allahabad.
Allahabad is connected to all major Indian cities by rail. It also happens to be the headquarters of the North Central Railway. There are two main stations in the city – Allahabad Junction and Allahabad City. When you book your ticket, note the correct name of the station to avoid confusion.
It is connected to Mumbai, New Delhi, Lucknow, Cuttack, Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Jabalpur, Gwalior etc by direct trains. If not a direct train, there are many connecting trains available which is usually preferred by backpackers owing to the numerous beautiful towns it passes enroute.
Major trains that connect
Delhi to Allahabad
Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express
New Delhi Allahabad Duronto
Mumbai to Allahabad
Rajendranagar Janata Express
Chennai to Allahabad
Bangalore to Allahabad
Sangamitra Express ( It chugs from Chennai through Bangalore as it travels)
Kolkata Rajdhani Express
Howrah Jodhpur Express
Guwahati to Allahabad
Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express
Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Express
If you are driving to Allahabad, you can drive to either National Highway 2 or National Highway 27 which run directly through the city. The 84.7 kilometer long four lane Allahabad Bypass Project which reduces the pressure on other roads going to the city was completed in 2005. So if you are planning to enter Allahabad from the north, this is a great route to choose.
Allahabad also has three bus stands that serve for buses coming from different directions.
Leader Road Bus Stand caters to buses from the west. E.g. Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur etc. Phone – 0532- 2615623
Zero Road Bus Stand caters to buses from the south. E.g. Mahoba, Satna etc. Phone – 0532- 2601257
M.G. Road Bus Stand caters to buses from the east. E.g. Varanasi. Phone – 0532- 2601257
Neighbouring Attractions You Might Want to Visit
Constructed in 11583 by Mughal Emperor Akbar, this fort is located near the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna. It is home to the Akshayavat (Immortal Tree) and is also believed to be the source of the mystic Saraswati River.
Its underground section houses the Patalpuri Temple which is an old shrine dedicated to Lord Ram, marking the remarkable balance and co-existence of Hindu and Muslim cultures.
Although this fort is a military controlled spot, few areas of it are available for public access. The Akshayavat which is believed to be a tree that grants immortality for instance is inaccessible by civilians.
One of the oldest temples of Hindu religion, the Patalpuri Temple is located in the underground section of Allahabad Fort. A belief prevails that Lord Ram visited this place and hence a shrine was built to commemorate the same. One must obtain a permit from the tourist office or ordnance depot to gain access to this shrine owing to the sensitivity of the location.
This is the ancestral home of the politically involved Nehru family and today serves as a museum preserving all the artifacts that were used by the family back then.
This museum is rich in its exhibits of Nicholas Roerich paintings, terracotta artworks, Rajasthani miniature art, coins, and stone sculptures from 2nd Century BC.
Where to Stay
There are various types of accommodation available in and around Allahabad and The Other Home can help you find the best accommodation for your needs. The Other Home can also provide information or help you with excursions to Kaushambhi, Shringhverpur, Upardaha Lake and much more.