Sunset at Azad Park

Areas like Azad Park, Civil Lines, Subhash Marge and Allahabad Railway Station have become a common hunting ground for Tiwari and me as we planned our Ek Ka Dum campaigns while taking a stroll across the lush parks of Prayagraj and then meandering into old churches and desolate ashrams. The sunset from the gardens was a remarkable sight today as the bright orange ball spread red all over the sky, as it sank deep into the branches of nearby trees. The streets were lit up at night, as there are local gramophones and public announcement systems blaring away bhajans and sounds of Jai Shri Ram all along. Every corner is painted saffron with huge fogs flying over posts and bridges. The highway is full of LCD screens showing Adi Yoginath and Modi giving speeches and mass rallies taking place at the entrance to the Kumbh. Tomorrow the whole town will shut down, as huge crowds will move towards the Sangam for the beginning of the Shahi Snan, a sight to watch out for when Naga Akhadas fight each other as to who will be allowed to take the first. The dip of the Snan – It is a sight to behold and I will paint myself in true aghodi attire to capture these religious baths.

Kumbh 2019 has been a thrilling affair full saffron style. I did a yagna in front of the Ganga and then got my face painted with chandan and a red trident tiki on my forehead. I received all these when I gave water to the Sun God with the pujari blowing on a conch shell and the sound blaring into my ears. I was draped in a bright orange dhoti with my brand Travelthon t-shirt. This was religious fervour at its peak. Before that, I had a 10-minute dip in the sacred water of the Ganga. Dip after dips, the holy river purified my soul as I was nourished by the sun on the other bank. The old, the young and the frail took their baths. Alongside this was the great river and it saw all as one and one as all.

Civil Lines area Eat On and the Tandoor Dhaba are becoming my major eating hotspots. Mr. Naffees of Eat On has taken a liking for my effort with the Travelthon. Last night, I had some great mutton masala at the Shere Punjab non-vegetarian restaurant, which is in front of the Allahabad Railway Station. It is a small place but great for non-veg especially chicken and mutton dishes. Just in front of the restaurant are two shops selling hot milk boiled in huge pans with lots of thick malai on top. This is like a sweet dish after a heavy meal. I tried one of them in a mud kullhad and it was yummy with the hot milk and the rich malai on top.

All in all, Prayag and its electric rickshaws have made an impression on me as I soak into this very laidback land rich with North Indian heritage seeped in religious poetry and saffron philosophy. This is the bastion of the Hindi belt where the mass of India lives and prospers. The Kumbh and the Prayag have definitely been a boon for me and added a new verve of energy into my commitment to move forward in my mission without fear.

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