Kumbh mela in India is full of historical events. One such event is that world's first Air Mail was started at Allahabad during the kumbh in 1911. On February 18, 1911, French pilot Henri Piquet soared into the evening sky on a two-seater biplane. He has a sack of 6500 cards and letters with him on his plane. All mail received a special cancel depicting an airplane, mountains, and “First Aerial Post, 1911, U. P. Exhibition Allahabad.”
To differentiate between airmail and normal mail, the choice to send a letter by air is indicated either by the use of special labels called airmail etiquettes, by a handwritten note on the envelope, or by the use of specially-marked envelopes. Special airmail stamps may also be available, or required; the rules vary in different countries.
His plane was stationed at a polo field in Allahabad. It was barely a 13 minutes flight covering 5 miles but it created history. Among the 6500 cards and letters, many letter holds very importance. Some were written by Motilal Nehru to his son Jawaharlal and some were addressed to England's King George V. In 1911, there was a large industrial exhibition being held in Allahabad.
The decision to start the first airmail was taken during this exhibition. British commander Walter G Windham conceived the idea of first airmail. He thought that the first airmail will help him raise funds for a new hostel of Oxford and Cambridge hostels. He felt it would set an example of rapid and safe transportation of mails as well as publicize the exhibition. When the first airmail flight took off, thousands of people, who had come to attend the kumbh mela, were in attendance.
A place near naini Junction was cleared specially for the safe landing of the plane. The pilot merely handed the mail bag to the only post office official present there and returned to allahabad as no one was there to greet him upon landing.
Pilot Earle Ovington delivered the first official american airmail on September 23, 1911 under the authority of the United States Post Office Department. French pilot Maurice Guillaux did the same for Australia on July 16 to July 18 1914. He carried 1785 specially some Lipton's Tea, printed postcards and some O.T. Lemon juice in, at that time, longest such flight in the world. He flew from Melbourne to Sydney in his Blériot XI aircraft.