Panch Prayag Yatra – The Five Confluences
Panch Prayag’s are Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karanprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag, the five confluences of spirituality. These places are one of the famous spiritual destinations in Uttarakhand. The Panch Prayag, Panch Badri and Panch Kedar are situated in Uttarakhand; with every place have its own importance in Hindu religion.
What is “Prayag?”
‘Prayag’ means confluence of two or more rivers where ablutions (bathing) before worship, ancestral rites called the Shraddha (the last rites) for the departed and worship of the river itself as manifestation of god is a prevalent practice. The Prayag are rich not only as mouthpieces of glorious past of Bharatwarsha but also in scenic beauty of the Himalayan snow-covered peaks and enchanting valleys.
Legends about Prayags
The Alaknanda river flowing along the four confluences of Panch Prayag – Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karanprayag, Rudraprayag- finally meet the Bhagirathi river at Devprayag, the fifth Prayag, to form the Ganga, the holy river of India that has brought salvation to this land.
According to Hindu legends, earth was unable to bear the force of the Ganga when it started descending to earth,to control its force, Ganga was divided into 12 channels. At Devprayag, Alaknanda meet Bhagirathi to form the Ganga, higher up from Devprayag, four other meeting forms the sacred Panch Prayag that pilgrims visit for prayers, bath, purification and worship. Panch Prayag of Garhwal is the second most important Prayag out of 14 prayags in India.
Check out the details about Panch Prayag
Dev Prayag is the confluence of Bhagirathi – which flows in rapids with strong currents and a much calmer Alaknanda. Beyond this confluence, the river is known as Ganga. The holiness of this place is considered equal to the famous Triveni sangam confluence at Allahabad where the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers merge.
It is believed that it was at Dev Prayag where lord Vishnu begged for 3 steps of land from King Bali. Fairs are held on the occasion of Ramnavmi, Dussherra and Basant Panchami. Traditionally, it is also considered to be the place where sage Deosharma, led his ascetic life, giving birth its present name, Devprayag, and is one of the five sacred confluences in the hills. On a terrace in the upper part of the village is the temple of Raghunathji, built of huge stones, pyramidal in form and capped by a white cupola.
Things to do in Devprayag
A famous temple dedicated to Rama called the Raghunath Math is located above the confluence. A 15 ft (4.6 m) high, black granite image of Lord Ram is worshipped here as the central icon. It is believed to be installed in the temple about 1250 years ago. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Shiv nearby.
You can visit the two libraries situated at this place where you can find out many old, rare handwritten manuscripts in Hindi and Garhwali.
At Rudra Prayag, Alaknanda meets Mandakini River. The confluence is named after the Rudra form of Lord Shiv. According to a widely narrated legend, Lord Shiv performed Tandava (the cosmic dance of Creation) and played the Rudra Veena here. By playing the Veena, he enticed Lord Vishnu to his presence and blesses the earth with water. Temples dedicated to Rudranath and goddess Chamunda are located here.
Things to do in Rudraprayag
- Witness a black rock well known as Narad Shila, where Narad Muni meditated for years to learn how to play the veena.
- Chamunda Devi Temple, one of the holiest temples of the goddess Chamunda.
- Koteshwar Mahadev Temple that lies to the north of Rudrayprayag and 7 km ahead on the road going to Pokhri. On the way, you can also witness some small temples dedicated to Mahadev, Durga and Hanuman.
The point marks the confluence of the Pindar river (which arises from the icy Pindari glacier) and the Alaknanda river and at the Uma Devi Temple. Nanda Devi, towering above at 7,816 m (25,634 ft.), and surrounded by an array of glittering peaks, Trisul, Drona Giri, Narad Ghunti, Mrigathuni and Maiktoli. It lies at an elevation of 1,451 m (4,760 ft) Karna Prayag is located at an elevation of 788 m above sea level. It is surrounded by dense woods, the onetime meeting ground of Shakuntala and Raja Dushyanta, immortalized the classic by Kalidasa. Tourists and pilgrims temples dedicated to Karna (after whom Karna Prayag is named), goddess Uma Devi, Narayan and Gopal, all located at Karanprayag. For adventure lovers, Karna Prayag serves as the base from where they can start for exciting and scenic treks to Roopkund and Bedni Bugyals.
Things to do in Karanprayag
- The ancient Uma Temple. According to a Hindu legend, Uma, the daughter of King Himalaya practiced strict austerities to get Lord Shiva. You will pass through many small temples lining the ghats from the Uma temple.
- The Karna Temple
Nandprayag is the second Prayag in the cascade sequence of the confluences where the Nandakini River joins the main Alaknanda River.
According to legends, a noble King Nanda performed a grand yagya here and sought blessings of God. The other version of the legend states that the confluence derives its name from the Yadava king Nanda, the foster-father of Lord Krishna. There is a temple for Gopal, a form of Krishna, here. The legends also narrate that sage Kanva did penance here and also that wedding of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala took place at this venue.
Things to do in Nandprayag
The Nanda Devi temple is got washed away in flood, but there are shrines of Chandika Devi, Gangeshwar Mahadev and Gopalji which are worth visiting.
Vishnuprayag lies at the confluence of Alaknanda River and Dhauliganga River, in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. Vishnuprayag derives its name from Lord Vishnu. According to scriptures, it is the place where Sage Narad performed sadhna to manifest Lord Vishnu before him. An octagonal shaped temple is located near the confluence that is dated to 1889, and is credited to the Maharani of Indore – Ahalyabai. A stairway from this temple leads to the confluence. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman in the area, called Hanuman Chatti.
Things to do in Vishnu Prayag
Reaching the ghats through a narrow twisted path is fine, but taking a dip in ghats is a little difficult because of the strong currents. You can visit the small ancient temple devoted to Lord Vishnu. The Legend state that the godly mendicant Narad had meditated and got the blessings of Lord Vishnu here.
How to Reach Panch Prayag
The Five spiritual confluences are located on the Badrinath-Rishikesh highway; you can reach there by road transportation.
Distance from Rishikesh to Panch Prayags
Devprayag: – 70 Km
Rudraprayag: – 140 Km.
Karanprayag: – 169 Km.
Nandprayag: – 190 Km
Vishnu Prayag: – 256 Km.
All these five prayags makes a great pilgrimage tour of India, you can visit these prayags throughout the year and also see the nature amazing destinations nearby.
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