The Panch Prayags
Panch Prayag means "Five Confluences". It refers to the five confluences which takes place at Vishnu Prayag, NandaPrayag, KarnPrayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag respectively to form river Ganga. Ganga, the most sacred of Indian rivers, is worshipped as the life-giving goddess, which brings salvation to this land. This great river, emerges from the icy glaciers of the Himalayas. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganga on various auspicious days and the water of Ganga is used for purification rituals.
According to the Hindu Mythology when Goddess Ganga started descending to earth, to cherish the mankind, Earth was not able to face the force which Ganga had. To temper her force Ganga was splitted into 12 channels. The siblings again gets unite into single stream after Devaprayag. After the confluence of Alaknanda with Bhagirathi at Devprayag, the river is known as Ganga (Ganges). Four other confluences higher up add up to form the five holy confluences or Panch prayag, which pilgrims visit for worship.
The meeting points
Alaknanda meets with Dhauli Ganga at Vishnuprayag, Alaknanda meets with Nandakini at Nandaprayag, Alaknanda meets with Pindar at Karnaprayag, Alaknanda meets with Mandakini at Rudraprayag and Alaknanda meets with Bhagirathi at Devprayag
This confluence is dark and mostly in the shadows. To make this confluence the river Alaknanda, the main tributary of the Ganga, rises near Badrinath and flows down to meet the Dhauli Ganga River, 10 kms north of Joshimath at VishnuPrayag. It cuts a deep gorge into the mountains.
Vishnu Prayag, 1372 m, has an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu which stands here next to a pool called Vishnu Kund.
20 km from Karna Prayag, at this confluence in NandaPrayag, there is a temple dedicated to Gopalji, Lord Krishna. At Nandprayag which is 190 kms short of Rishikesh on the Uttarkashi road, the River Mandakini joins with Alaknanda.
The place NandaPrayag derives its name from Raja Nanda. According to one legend, the king Nanda was promised the boon (aashirwaad) that Vishnu will be his son. Unfortunately Devki got the same boon (aashirwaad) and got Krishna (Vishnu) as his son. To find the solution for this Vishnu took birth from Devki but was brought up by Yashodha, Raja Nanda's wife .
Situated at 12 km from Gauchar and 31 km from Rudraprayag, KarnPrayag has two temples in this confluence, one dedicated to Goddess Durga (Uma) and other dedicated Karna (the tragic hero of the Mahabharata). At KarnPrayag Alaknanda meets with Pindar river which flows out of the Nanda Devi glacier to form this confluence.
It is believed that the hills surrounding Karnaprayag were the meeting ground for Shakuntala & Raja Dushyanta. The place KarnPrayag derives its name from Karna, the son of the Queen Kunti and Lord Surya (sun).
Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), RudraPrayag has a Rudranath and Chamunda Devi temple at this confluence. At RudraPrayag, which is 137 kms from Rishikesh, the Alaknanda meets with the streams of Mandakini river. This place is also an important commercial place.
It is believed that here Narad worshipped Lord Shiva to master the mysteries of music. Lord Shiva then appeared in his Rudra incarnation to bless him. It is also believed Sati, Lord Shava's wife and King Himalayas daughter, was reborn here to ask the boon of Shiva as a husband once again. The ancient temple of Rudranathji is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The most spectacular among all the confluences is the Devprayag Confluence, which is in Devprayag. 68 kms north of Rishikesh this place is the point where Alaknanda meets the Bhagirathi, coming from Gomukh, to form the mighty Ganga. This is the final Confluence from where Ganga starts. It comprises the oldest route to Badrinath and Gangotri. The famous Raghunath Math (another name for Lord Rama's Temple) is situated here. The beautiful view of Devprayag from the raod leading to Pauri is both scenic and picturesque.
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