The sacred banyan tree Akshaya Vata is located on the bank of the Yamuna inside the courtyard of Allahabad Fort near the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganga Rivers in Allahabad. The eternal and divine nature of this tree has been documented at length in the scriptures.
During the cyclic destruction of creation when the whole earth was enveloped by waters, akshaya vata remained unaffected. It is on the leaves of this tree that Lord Krishna rested in the form of a baby when land was no longer visible. And it is here that the immortal sage, Markandeya, received the cosmic vision of the Lord. It is under this tree that Buddha meditates eternally. Legend also has it that the Bodi tree at Gaya is a manifestation of this tree.
According to Tibetan tradition when Buddha went to the holy Lake Manasorovar along with 500 monks, he took with him the energy of Prayaga Raj. Upon his arrival, he installed the energy of Prayaga Raj near Lake Manasorovar, at a place now known as Prayang. Then he planted the seed of this eternal banyan tree next to Mt. Kailash on a mountain known as the Palace of Medicine Buddha.
There are hundreds of shrines near and around this holy tree, but except for a few, none are accessible because the Fort is a restricted military area. The Fort was closed to the public during British rule, and even after 50 years of independence, the public, both Indians and non-Indians, do not have access to this holy tree.
On one day during the Kumbha Mela, the government gives permission for pilgrims to pay their homage to the akshaya vata.
However, rumor has it that pilgrims never reach the holy tree but rather are shown a branch of an ordinary banyan tree placed in the ground. We have no way to verify if this is true or not, but certainly the sacred banyan tree remains alive in the hearts of the pilgrims.