Right after the visit to the temples within the tunnel, I headed to visit the Akshaya Vat. The “sacred banyan tree” as is the name, was within the fort. When I had informed the hotel staff about my intent to visit the Akshaya Vat, they had informed me that I would require a special permit from the Ordinance depot to visit the place. As such, they had assisted me to get the permit.
However, there was no way that I could go anywhere near the tree. The tree was within the part of the wall of the fort, which the army occupied. Therefore, the only place that I could visit was the Patalpuri temple. Going through the entrance situated on the east side of the fort, I reached the Patalpuri temple. It is actually an underground temple, well defended and with good ventilation. This is one of the oldest temples in India.
Legendary books state that Lord Rama performed several rituals for his ancestors in this temple. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveller who visited India during AD 644, mentions this temple in his travelogue.
From this temple area, I could the “immortal banyan tree.” The tree, deep-rooted in a place, claims to meet the Triveni River. A legendary story associated with the tree is that once Sage Markandeya challenged Lord Vishnu to prove his powers. As a proof, the Lord flooded the entire world for a moment, but only this tree stood erect and without destruction above the water level.
Local believe that this tree is divine and worship it to bring them good luck. The Saraswati Kund also lies within the fort and nearer to the Akshaya Vat but unfortunately, that place was not accessible to the visitors. Since I could not do much inside, I went out and took a boat ride.
I was glad of the ride because I could get a good view of the fort and could appreciate its beauty and magnificence. I could also get a glimpse of the Akshaya Vat tree from the waters and it looked so serene and peaceful! By five in the evening, I was out of the fort, but not before I took some beautiful pictures of the surroundings.