Source : Google photo of Prayagraj Kumbha Mela fair.
Synopsis : The home town has a special place in the heart of all who claim it as their own even if they do not live there anymore. My home town is also special to me after all these years although I now live in another country that has no resemblance to it in any possible way. I share with you what makes my home town so special that makes me nostalgic even today.
I always get a bit nostalgic when I think of my home town where I was born, raised and went to high school and later college. I believe that everybody has a special feeling for his or her home town because we all spent so much time there , played with our childhood playmates, went to school together and proudly attended college together. It is where all of our childhood and early memories were made and registered, never to be forgotten no matter where in the world we live now.
We knew all the different parts, all its landmarks, played in its parks and went shopping in various markets. It is where we bought our books and got our clothes made by our favorite tailors. It is where we knew where to buy our favorite snacks and where to look for the best bargain. But most of all we remember our home town for its unique character, aroma of its food and fruits, its festivals, its circus , its museums and its numerous charms.
Source : Google photo of the hospital in Prayag where I was born
Source : Google photo of Minto Park where I played as a child
Source : Google photo of the college I attended. Our campus is a beautiful one and has been made more so by plantings trees everywhere and now with numerous new buildings and departments.
Source : Google photo of the library of our college where I used to spend a lot of time.
But like everything else in life , I also notice the inevitable changes that have taken place since I left it so long ago. Change is the law of nature so my placid and sleepy hometown that I loved and reminisce on has undergone tremendous changes that are hard to believe. It now has a modern airport where jet planes land, wide boulevards illuminated by neon lights, numerous circular parks in cross sections where many statues of national heroes are placed. There are elevated roadways, overpasses, 6 new bridges on the river, newly refurbished railway stations, new fancy malls, restaurants and 4 star hotels in large numbers. Soon it will have a new metro crisscrossing the city.
My home town is so old that it was mentioned in our scriptures that were written thousands of years ago. It was then known as Prayag where a great sage called Varadwaj rishi lived near the banks of the sacred river Ganga. Lord Ram stayed with him in his ashram for a while as well as Buddha and many such historic people but a thousand years ago Prayag was really not a city as it is now but full of trees and wild animals . Only a few people lived here then.
When Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohamed Akbar came to visit Prayag, he decided to build a massive fort and laid the foundation of a city nearby that came to be known as Allahabad or the city of Gods in the year 1583. Only recently that name has been changed and the old name of PrayagRaj has been restored.
But the city grew slowly along the old Grand Trunk Road that runs through it and remained a poorly planned place with narrow irregular streets and blind alleys until the British came to rule India and laid out a grand city with strictly grid patterned wide roads and a huge central park where they with their ladies strolled in the evenings. This meticulous planning of the British has given the beautiful character that the city enjoys but even they will not recognize it now.
They built the railway bridge on the Yamuna river to bring the railway lines to the city and beyond, built the university that is still called the Oxford of the East, built a great church in 1871 that is a jewel of Gothic architecture and established numerous English schools that provide excellent education to all. They set up the High court, a grand public library that is another example of superb Gothic style, numerous other churches, a grand memorial for the Queen Victoria in the Alfred park , numerous colleges of higher learning, posh areas in the newly planned part of the city called the Civil Lines where they all lived in fabulous mansions of Indo European designs.
But mainly they built very large cantonment areas where they kept their troops and made the fort their main military outpost from where they controlled the state. The fort still remains a military fort today where it is difficult to visit but once I obtained a pass to do so to see many grand palaces of kings and queens and the pillar of Ashoka.
Source : Google photo of the old Railway bridge on Yamuna that I used to cross everyday to go to college on the other side.
Source: Google photo of the old Railway bridge on Yamuna that was brought from England and assembled here long ago. It is a very busy bridge carrying railway traffic above and heavy vehicular traffic below. The river level is high during the rainy season.
Source : Google photo of the modern bridge that now graces the river while the old bridge is seen in the distant background.
Source : Google photo of Sangam meaning the confluence of two rivers Yamuna and Ganga in Prayagraj where the blue waters of Yamuna and whitish water of Ganga do not mix and where the Hindus take a dip to obtain Nirvana so it is a very Holy place.
Source : Google photo of Hindu pilgrims taking bath in Sangam in Prayagraj
My home town is famous for its Kumbha mela that is held here every 12th year when millions of pilgrims come here to bathe in the Sangam. It is the largest congregation of pilgrims in the world so Prayagraj sets up a huge temporary city to accommodate them.
Source : Google photo of Kumbha Mela in Prayagraj held every 12th year
The massive fort of Prayagraj is still a military outpost but some pilgrims are given access to its limited area where there is an underground temple. The dolphins used to play here just near the fort when I was a kid but they are now extinct due to poaching.
Source : Google photo of the massive fort in Prayagraj built by Emperor Akbar in 1600s
Source : Google photo of the mausoleum of Khusro in Khusro Bag who was the son of Emperor Jehangir. The park has several other mausoleums of Mughal royalty.
Source : Google photo of the interior of the mausoleum of Khusro in Prayagraj
Source : Google photo of the Church built by the British in 1871 in Prayagraj that is a classic example of finest Gothic design
Source : Google photo of the Public Library built by the British in Gothic style of the past century that has over 600000 books and documents.
Source : Google photo of the place where the statue of Queen Victoria used to be when I was a kid but now the name of the park has been changed to Shahid Chandra Shekhar Ajaad memorial park . The statue of Victoria now collects dust somewhere.
Source : Google photo of Chandra Shekhar Ajaad who died here fighting the British. My father heard the gun shots while going to his office that day.
Source : Google photo of the University of Prayagraj also known as the Oxford of the East was set up by the British as the second such university in India in the past century. It has produced many great leaders of India. On its gate reads the inscription Quot Rami Tot Arbores in Latin meaning as many trees as the branches.
Source : Google photo of the museum famous for its large collection of artifacts found in Kaushambi among many other objects.
My home town is no longer a small town but a large city with modern jet port, rail hub and a very busy business center as well as the education center of the entire state. There are medical colleges, agricultural universities, main university, printing technology college, Institute of technology, Institute of management, Sanskrit academy, head office of the board of high school and intermediate colleges and numerous other educational institutes that are too numerous to mention here.
My home town is known for many things but one thing that stands out is the food. The variety of food available will boggle your mind so I will give you just a few examples here to make you salivate.
Source : Google photo of famous food in Prayagraj
Source : Google photo of street food in Prayagraj where lassi tops the list.
One fruit that has made my home town famous for its sweetness and size is guava.
Source : Google photo of guava from Prayagraj that is very sweet and famous.
I wish I could include many more photos here showing the beauty of my home town so I will post a power point here that will show you all the rest .
Embedded power point :
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My home town does not look the same and feel the same as it did so long ago because of many changes that have taken place since I left. The transformation continues at a breakneck speed the way all of India is changing. My childhood playmates are as old as I and some of them have died while others have moved to other parts of India. Many have sold their houses to relocate elsewhere. Our family home has also been sold and we the siblings have scattered to all parts of the country so there is nothing that ties me to my home town anymore. Although I have decided to live in a country far from my own and die here ,there is still this pang in my heart when I remember it the way I used to remember it.
A friend once said that we can all leave but never go back. How true!
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