Published On: Sun, Nov 11th, 2018

Allahabad: Does Changing An City Name Kills that City Soul ?

What is your name? Where are you from?

This is how most introductions start in India. And my answer to the second question has always been Allahabad, the city of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan.

But I won’t be able to say that any longer because Allahabad has been renamed Prayagraj.

Thousands of sadhus (holy men) come to the city during the Kumbh Mela

Thousands of sadhus (holy men) come to the city during the Kumbh Mela

Allahabad is in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The state government has said the decision was taken to restore the city’s ancient identity as a major Hindu pilgrimage centre.

BJP leaders have taken issue with the fact that the city’s 435-year-old name was given by a Muslim ruler.(File-India24x7news)

Allahabad was indeed named by Mughal emperor Akbar. It was an administrative, military and cultural centre for the Mughal Empire, which ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries.

This legacy continued during British colonial rule, and after independence in 1947, the city remained a major political and cultural hub in northern India.

Allahabad railway station is a major transport hub

Allahabad railway station is a major transport hub

It still plays a big role in the Hindu faith. It hosts the Kumbh Mela every 12 years near the confluence of two holy rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. The event, which attracts tens of millions of devotees, is often described as the world’s largest religious gathering.

People from all faiths come together to welcome devotees, and hundreds of kiosks offering free food to people are set up during the mela.

Allahabad’s history is shared by Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike.

And every corner of the city has its own share of history: from Anand Bhawan, the home of Nehru; to Sangam, the confluence of the two rivers; to the giant fort built by Akbar, which prevented flooding and helped attract people to settle in the city.

“That is why it’s hard to imagine these places with any other name,” says Azimur Siddiqui, a management teacher. “These places represent Allahabad.”

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