They call it Prayagraj
They call it Prayagraj
It is said that Brahma (creator of the Universe according to the Hindu Mythology) performed rituals in the holy city of Prayagraj. The word ‘Prayag’ is mentioned in Agni Purana and Manusmriti. Prayagraj is an articulate of the words Pra meaning ‘first’ and Yag meaning ‘devotion, worship or offering’. Allahabad was originally called Kaushambi by the Kuru rulers of Hastinapur who developed it as their capital which is now a separate district.
The main ghat in Allahabad is Saraswati Ghat, on the banks of Yamuna. After Mughal invasion, it is said that the Mughal emperor Akbar visited the region in 1575, was so impressed by the strategic location of the site that he ordered a fort be constructed and renamed it Ilahabas or “Abode of God” by 1584, later changed to Allahabad under Shah Jahan. Because of the surrounding people calling it Alhabas, has led to some people holding the view that it was named after Alha from Alha’s story.
The term Alha Khand is used to refer to poetic works in Hindi which consists of a number of ballads describing the brave acts of two 12th century Banaphar Rajput heroes, Alha and Udal, generals working for king Paramardi-Deva (Parmal) of Mahoba (1163-1202 CE) against the attacker Prithviraj Chauhan (1149–1192 CE) of Delhi.
The works have been entirely handed down by oral tradition and presently exists in many recensions, which differ from one another both in language and subject matter. The Bundeli, the Bagheli, the Awadhi, the Bhojpuri, Maithili and the Kannauji recensions are the most well known among these. James Forbes’ account of the early 1800s claims that it was renamed Allahabad or “Abode of God” by Jahangir after he failed to destroy the Akshayabat tree.
According to a legend, once the sage Markandeya asked Lord Narayana to show him a specimen of the divine power. Narayana flooded the entire world for a moment, during which only the Akshayavat could be seen above the water level. The name, however, predates him, with Ilahabas and Ilahabad mentioned on coins minted in the city since Akbar’s rule, the latter name became predominant after the emperor’s death. It has also been thought to not have been named after Allah but Ilaha (the Gods). Shaligram Shrivastav claimed in Prayag Pradip that the name was deliberately given by Akbar to be construed as both Hindu (“Ilaha”) and Muslim (“Allah”).
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