Known variously as Prayag, Ilhabas, Allahabad, this ancient city of North India lies at the confluence of two mighty Himalayan rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna, though the sacred texts mention a third – the Saraswati, indiscernible to the human eye. Sanctified by tradition as Tirathraj, the holiest of all places, Allahabad finds mention in the Mahabharat, the Satpath Brahman and the Padmapuran. Built on a very ancient site, Allahabad was known as Prayag in Aryan times. Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, is said to have performed a sacrifice here. Its antiquity attracted curious itinerants from even the Far East. Huen Tsang and Fa Hien, the Chinese travelers, who visited it in the fifth and the seventh centuries respectively, found it in a flourishing state. As time wore on, Allahabad found playing itself host to the royalty, including the illustrious Harsha, Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Khusro and Queen Victoria.

Allahabad is one of the major cities of Hinduism and was renamed by the Mughal emperor Akbar from the original (still unofficially used) native name of Prayaga, and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. The original native name of this city is Prayaga, representing the sacred union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. The name is still used by only Hindus to refer to the city. The area became a part of the Mauryan and Gupta empires of the east and the Kushan empire of the west before becoming part of the Kannauj empire. Allahabad became a part of the Mughal Empire after the Mughal invasion of India in 1526. The Mughal emperor Akbar built a magnificent fort in Allahabad. The city was the scene of Maratha incursions before colonial rule was imposed over India.

Allahabad is a historian's paradise. History lies embedded everywhere, in its fields, forests and settlements. 50 kilometres, towards the southwest, on the placid banks of the Jamuna, the ruins of Kaushambi, capital of the Vatsa kingdom and a thriving center of Buddhism, bear silent testimony to a forgotten and bygone era. On the eastern side, across the river Ganga and connected to the city by the Shastri Bridge is Jhusi, identified with the ancient city of Pratisthanpur, capital of the Chandra dynasty. About 60 kilometres northwest is the medieval site of Kara with its impressive wreckage of Jayachand's fort. Sringverpur, another ancient site discovered relatively recently, has become a major attraction for tourists and antiquarians alike. In the medieval period as the neighboring Sharqui dynasty of Jaunpur witnessed a fluctuation in its political fortunes. Allahabad steadily rose in importance, finally acquiring the status of a Mughal Suba. Acknowledging the immense navigational potential of its rivers and the entrepreneurial importance of the city as a center for boat making, Emperor Akbar built a magnificent fort overlooking the quiet flowing Yamuna. An architectural marvel, the fort lodges the Ashokan pillar and some of the finest temples of north India. On the southwestern extremity of Allahabad lies Khusrobagh that antedates the fort and has three mausoleums including that of Jehangir's first wife – Shah Begum.

Before colonial rule was imposed over Allahabad, the city was rocked by Maratha incursions. But the Marathas also left behind a rich legacy in the form of two beautiful eighteenth century temples displaying intricate patterns of architecture. During the rebellion of 1857, there was an insignificant presence of European troops in the city. Taking advantage of this, the rebels brought Allahabad under their control. It was around this time that Maulvi Liaquat Ali Khan unfurled the banner of revolt. The Maulvi's exploits and his martyrdom have since then become a part of the lore of Allahabad. Following the Mutiny, it was here that the East India Company officially handed over the control of India to the British government in 1858. It has some beautiful remnants of their colonial architecture.

Allahabad’s political history started in the late 19th century when it became a nodal point for revolutionaries. The transformation of the freedom struggle into a mass movement in the 1920s, made Allahabad a center of political pilgrimage.

In 2013, Allahabad will host the Maha Kumbh Mela, a gathering which happenes once every twelve years.