By Shakeel Ahmed:
Whether ‘Allahabad’ is Persian version or anglicized version of Illahabas, which came into being during Akbar’s rule, needs no confirmation. But the praiseworthy reaction that requires to be pondered over is the view of a famous litterateur Mamta Kalia. She said that the name Allahabad is imprinted in the hearts of denizens, how will one change it? Government should pay attention to the city’s other problems rather than changing the name.
Prayag was already there by then; and even a railway station is named after Prayag. The ancient name ‘Prayag’, which means place of sacrifice, has no similarity with the place of Illah. Some have also indicated that the name came from Din-i-Ilahi which did not attract too many followers. Wherever the city’s name is affixed with ‘abad’, it shows some Persian affinity.
Our country has many city names which are either in Sanskrit or Urdu. Most of the cities established during the medieval period had commonly been named after the rulers or the governors. When the names are affixed with Bad, Pur or Shehar it singularly denotes Persian, Arabic or Turkish language.
If Kada-Manikpur remained the capital of the province during the Khilji period and even the tomb of Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji was found in shambles there, the Mughal monarch thought it better to settle a little farther from the depth of the river. It was a new capital city established by Akbar at a level place.
It was Shershah Suri who laid down the largest road up to Bengal, which still exists after his name. The British named it Grand Trunk Road. Although the Afghan ruler chose Chunar as the gateway to East, Akbar, after his rule, found Allahabad the tactical base for controlling the East. His motive was also the same. It was a river route for entering precincts of Bihar in those days.
He built one of the strongest forts at the Sangam, which exists even today. The visitors did not fail to astonish at the structure’s base submerged into the water. He built his sturdy fort to secure the kingdom from eastern India. Every ruler in the past, during his time, inhabited a new city. This idea led Akbar to inhabit Allahabad.
This city’s topography appeared divided into three parts, viz., Prayag, Civil Lines and Chowk. The first area resembles its ancient past; the second area shows the British tint while the third area has its medieval character. It was in the third part that the famous Khusru Bagh also exists just as Daraganj, a locality named after Dara Sikoh in the old part.