Historic city in Uttar Pradesh state, India, 580 km/360 mi southeast of Delhi, on the Yamuna River where it meets the Ganges and the mythical underground Seraswati River; population (2001 est) 1,049,600. A growing commercial centre, its main industries are textiles and food processing. A Hindu religious event, the festival of the jar of nectar of immortality (Kumbh Mela), is held here every 12 years with the participants washing away sin and sickness by bathing in the rivers; in 1989 15 million pilgrims attended. It is also the site of the Asoka Pillar, dating from 232 BC in the Buddhist period of Indian history, on which are carved edicts of the Emperor Asoka.
Allahabad is the seat of a high court and Allahabad University (1887), which has a number of affiliated colleges. As well as Hindu temples, the city has the Jami' Masijd (Great Mosque; 1478) and Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals. The city's ancient name is Prayag, meaning ‘confluence’, the meeting point of two rivers sacred to Hindus. There is an annual pilgrimage to bathe in January and February. The first Indian National Congress was held here in 1885 and it was a centre of the nationalist movement under British rule. It is the home of the Nehru family. On 12 February 1948 the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were scattered on the waters here.
The festival of Kumbh Mela is held every three years at four different towns: Allahabad, Nashik, Ujjain, and Haridwar.