Allahabad India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati, in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad (formerly Prayag) is one the holiest cities in India. It is also one of the largest pilgrimage centres in the country, renowned for the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage held every 12 years where devotees come from all over India to bathe in the sacred rivers.
Why go to Allahabad
Allahabad is a city of religious and historical significance, but it is also a place of natural beauty with vast open riverside scenery, plenty of water-sport activities, great amenities, traditional markets, excellent local food and friendly people.
It is a fabulous town, which has seen much upheaval from as early as 1526 when it was captured by the Mughals. It was subsequently given the name Allahabad or “city of Gods” by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which it still retains. Allahabad was repeatedly attacked by the Marathas until the colonial rule was imposed over India. It later came to be known as the centre of the struggle for independence, led by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was born and bred there. All these events have left considerable marks on the city from its cuisine to its architectural style, which can still be observed until this day.
Allahabad is a prosperous provincial hub with a whole lot of charm but it is also a good transit point for those travelling to the holy city of Varanasi (75 miles) or to the state capital of Lucknow (111 miles).
When to go to Allahabad
Allahabad's climate is subtropical and is marked by hot and dry summers, cool and dry winters and humid monsoons. The summers last from April to June with temperatures reaching as high as 45°C, the monsoon commences in July and ends in September and is characterised by heavy rains, while the winter months of October to March can be pretty cold. The best time to visit Allahabad is between November and April when the weather is pleasant with temperatures averaging about 27°C.
Where to stay in Allahabad
A vast majority of tourist accommodation in Allahabad is located in Civil Lines, a central business district known for its urban setting, proximity to transport links, bars, restaurants, and some tourist hotspots. Most of the hotels in the area are purpose-built for the city's burgeoning tourist trade and are efficiently run and managed by multilingual staff. Many of the hotels offer similar in-house conveniences such as attached bathrooms with hot water, cable TVs, free Wi-fi, room service, free parking, a 24-hour front desk and complimentary breakfast.
Some mid-range and luxury hotels have swimming pools, spas and outdoor dining, but they are pretty popular and tend to fill up quickly.
We advise you book in advance whenever possible or get to the hotel before check out time, which is normally 12:00 pm.
Where and what to eat in Allahabad
Allahabad is famous for its street food and sweets, both of which can be found across the city.
If you do have a sweet tooth, the best place to indulge is in MG Marg in Civil Lines. This place is renowned for home-baked sweets, desserts, ice creams and North Indian sugary specialities. There you will find numerous stalls and shops proffering traditional Allahabadian delights such as makkhan malai, imarti, rasgulla and jalebi rabri. We heartily recommend you head there early in the evening, sit outside and enjoy the sunset while tucking into a fabulous sundae courtesy of Kamdhenu Sweets.
If, however, you're more into your savouries Allahabad also has plenty of those. You will find many a local fast food joint and street vendor in MG Marg serving traditional sit-down thalis, curries and fry platters as well as snacks such as katchori subzi, samosas, paranthas, dum aloo, and chaat. Most of the restaurant in the area also offer continental, Chinese and North American style cuisine, therefore, you'll have plenty of choices when it comes to dining out in the city.
How to get around Allahabd
Central Allahabad is divided in two by a railway line, with the old city quarters, known as Chowk, south of Allahabad Junction Station, and the prosperous Civil Lines area to the north.
Getting around the city and its outskirts is relatively easy as it is served by very efficient public transport.
Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) and Allahabad City Transport Service operate local buses that are cheap (INR20), reliable and regular. Some of the most popular local buses from Allahabad are those to Varanasi (INR315), Lucknow (INR311) and Gorakhpur (INR299).
Tourist buses to these destinations are somewhat more expensive, with prices averaging triple the local bus fare, but there are plenty of travel agents in town where you may bargain at will.
Do keep in mind, however, that Allahabad is a fairly busy city and road traffic may affect daily travelling plans.
The most efficient way to travel around Allahabad is by cycle rickshaw, which charges about INR20 per km. Regular rickshaws and taxis are also widely available, popular and relatively cheap as fare prices are almost always negotiable.
How to get to and from Allahabad
There are seven major railway stations in Allahabad, however, Allahabad Junction is one of the main railway junctions in northern India and the headquarters of the North Central Railway Zone. This makes Allahabad one of the best-connected cities in the North, with regular trains to various destinations across Uttar Pradesh as well as the rest of the country.
Some of the most popular destinations from Allahabad Junction are to New Delhi, which takes about 7 hours and costs approximately INR1600 (2AC); Mumbai, which takes almost 24 hours and costs around INR2200 (AC); Varanasi, which is only about 3 hours away and costs INR780 (AC); Bangalore, which takes 36 hours and costs INR2935 (AC) and Kolkata, which takes about 14 hours and costs INR1680.
Other popular destinations from Allahabad include Hyderabad, Patna, Chennai, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune, Bhopal, Kanpur, Lucknow and Jaipur. Allahabad Junction is a pretty busy crosspoint, thus we recommend you buy your tickets online or in advance by visiting the station, which also has AC and non-AC retiring rooms, a dormitory and free Wi-fi should you ever experience any severe delays.
Allahabad's Airport, located about 7 miles from the city centre in Bamrauli, only operates domestic flights thus the only way to get to and from the city is by land. The other two nearby airports are Lucknow International Airport and Varanasi International Airport.
Allahabad's Airport does, however, have direct flights to a number of popular destinations including Delhi, which takes around 2 hours and costs about INR5000; Mumbai, which takes about 6 hours and costs around INR7500; Goa, which takes about 10 hours and can cost anywhere up to INR15000; and Kolkata, which takes 14 hours and costs about INR9000.
Air India, who is the only carrier operating from Allahabad, also has regular flights to Pune, Patna, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Varanasi. For the most competitive prices, we recommend you book your tickets well in advance either online or via a local travel agency.
Is Allahabad a safe place to visit?
Allahabad is a relatively safe city, however, do carry a torch with you after dark as power cuts are frequent and it may prove difficult to navigate the maze-like city streets after sundown. Women are recommended to dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention, which is a common problem in North India.