Also known as 'Prayag', meaning 'place of sacrifices', Allahabad is one of India's oldest cities. It is said that Brahma offered his first sacrifice in this place, which earned the city its former name. During the rule of the Hindu kingdom in India, Prayag formed an important part of the Vatsa, Mauryan, Gupta, Kushan and Kannauj dynasty. After the incursion of the Mughal dynasty, the Muslim leaders realized the significance of its strategic military position. During the peak of the Maratha rule, the city witnessed many raids and invasions. In the 18th century, with the dominance of the British Raj in India, the political leaders of Allahabad actively participated in the Indian Mutiny. The city was also a favorite convention place for the Indian National Congress from 1888 to 1892. During the period of the Indian freedom struggle, Allahabad became the hub for most political activities such as satayagraha and other freedom movements in India. Read through the write-up to know more about Allahabad's trials, tribulations and triumphs.
Allahabad During The Ancient Period
Formerly known as 'Prayag', the ancient city of Allahabad has been cited in Vedas and Puranas, which confirms its pre-historic roots. Archaeological excavations have confirmed the pre-historic existence of the city during the Iron Age. Not only that, this antediluvian city has been depicted in the Indian epic story of Ramayana as well. According to the epic, this hallowed city was once home to several sages and served as a refuge for Lord Rama too. During the medieval times, the town was predominated by numerous Hindu dynasties including the Vatsas, Mauryans, Guptas, Kushans and Kannauj.
The town was first captured by Muhammad Ghori in 1193. The invasion of the Mughal Empire in 1526 again brought the city under Muslim dominance. Akbar realized the military significance of the Doab region and constructed a huge citadel on the banks of the River Sangam and renamed the place as 'Illahabad'. The fort remained a military garrison until colonial invasion. In the year 1602, Prince Salim (Akbar's son) rebelled against his father by holding an imperial court in Allahabad, disregarding the royal call to proceed to Agra. After the death of his father in 1605, Salim went on to rule the country from Agra. During the 17th century, Allahabad saw the rising power of the Maratha Empire and the decline of Mughal power over the land.
When the British invaded the region, despite the united forces of the Nawab of Awadh and Emperor Shah Alam II, the Muslim kings lost the Battle of Buxar to the English in the year 1765. Though the British officially conquered the region, they did not assume all governing rights but instead only retained their armed forces in the fort. A few years later, the then governor Warren Hastings claimed the province from the reigning emperor only to give it to the Nawab of Awadh. In 1801, the Nawab relinquished the place to the British Company. Very soon, the surrounding areas of Doab, Ajmer and Mewar fell under the control of the East Indian Company. In 1834, Allahabad became the political seat for the northern region. During this time, a High court was also established here, but was later shifted back to Agra. In 1877, the English merged Awadh and Agar as a new state and named it United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, while Allahabad remained as the capital of this state till 1920.
Allahabad During Freedom Struggle
During the Indian Mutiny in 1857, Allahabad played an important role. The British had a very small number of military forces in the town. Maulvi Liaquat Ali, the leader of the Indian rebel group, took benefit of this situation. Once the British suppressed the Indian Mutiny, they established a Police headquarters and Public service commission in the city. Allahabad became the administrative head in this region. Meanwhile, in between 1888 to 1892, the grounds of Darbhanga Castle became an important meeting point for the Indian National Congress. At this point, the city gave birth to several revolutionaries. It was in the year 1920 when Mahatma Gandhi first launched the Quit India Movement from Allahabad. In 1931, the leaders of the Indian Congress frequently met at Anand Bhavan, the family home of Nehru. Many of India's prominent leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Mangla Prasad, Muzaffar Hasan, K. N. Katju, and Lal Bahadur Shastri hailed from this city.
After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as India's first Prime Minister in the year 1947 and continued to serve the post until the year 1964. With the state reorganizing act passed in the year 1956, just like the changes in the boundaries of other different states, Allahabad also saw modifications with respect to its territories. The city fell under the Uttar Pradesh state and continues to remain an integral part of the state to this day.