Prayag, the meeting place of Ganga and Jumna; A H Hallam Murray (Post No.2712)


Sketch by Murray

Compiled by london swaminathan

Date: 10 April, 2016


Post No. 2712


Time uploaded in London :–  13-56


( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 




(for old articles go to OR


Centuries before Akbar’s day, however, a stronghold, called Prayag, or the place of sacrifice, existed at the meeting of the Ganges and the Jumna, which, since the earliest days, had been most popular place of pilgrimage with the Hindu race.  The first authentic historical information about it is on the tapering shaft of the Lath of the Buddhist king Asoka, in the garden entrance of the fort; it dates from about BC 258 and its 49 feet of height is covered with inscriptions; it, no doubt, very curious, but it is one of the things about which I find it difficult to screw up much enthusiasm.

(Prayag is known as Allahabad now)


In the native town, with its low brown houses, there were of course picturesque corners, but what struck our eyes chiefly – as we drove, through it, to the tomb of Khusru – was the absence of colour, after the vivid blues and reds and yellows of Bombay, and the number of clothes worn.


We drove, under a tall archway, overgrown with creepers, into the Khusru Bagh, one of the most beautiful and shady gardens of India, and there under a fine spreading the tamarind tree, we saw the last resting place of Akbar’s ill-fated grandson, prince Khusru, the rebellious and popular heir of Jahangir. Akbar had a great affection of Khusru, whom Jahangir treated with jealous animosity that caused the Rajput Princess Khusru’s mother to commit suicide. Khusru was imprisoned and at last poisoned to death by Shah Jehan.


The Fort, which passed to the English in 1801 must have been originally a splendid and intensely interesting place, and it still forms a striking object above the sandy spit at the meeting of the rivers. But perhaps military exigencies obliged us to obliterate and destroy every vestige of originality in it; it has been ruthlessly shorn of any architectural beauty or archaeological interest.


It contains the arsenal. But the military authorities have been more respectful to the Hindu remains inside the Fort and not interfered with the well-known  Akshai Bar, or ever living banyan tree- – a forked stump with the bark on—which, though the tree appears to be  replaced every few months , yet stands in the midst of what is, probably identical the Hindu temple of Shiva, described by the Chinese pilgrims in the seventh century it is now in a pillared crypt, reached by an underground passage  beneath the walls of Akbar’s Fort; this seems to show that Akbar’s well known religious liberality led him to allow the priests  and pilgrims free access to the  ancient Hindu shrine, though he was obliged to incorporate it in his building.


In the passage leading to the ancient temple are some curious idols, and, in the centre, a stone rudely tapered to a cone, which the devout venerate and reverence with lustrations.  Beyond is a square aperture probably leading to the river, though the Hindus say it leads straight to Benares; whilst the natural moister, exuding from the walls, is supposed to prove the truth of the legend that the sacred river Saraswati, which disappears in the Bikaneer desert, many miles away north, finds it way to this holy spot. The tree was probably worshipped here by the rude aboriginal tribes, with its ostrich like capacity for assimilating alien religious practices, has sanctioned its continued worship. Hiouen Thsang gives a description of the wide-spreading tree in front of the principal shrine of the temple, which recalls description of the blood stained grove at Kumasi. The tree was supposed to be the abode of a man eating demon, and was surrounded by the bones of the human sacrifices, with which from the “old unhappy far off days” of earliest tradition it had been propitiated.
Extract from AHH Murray’s book The High-Road of Empire

To be continued……………………