Panch Prayag

Panch Prayag is an expression in Hindu religious ethos, specifically used to connote the five sacred river confluences in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, India. The five prayags - prayag meaning "confluence" in Sanskrit - also termed as “Prayag pentad”, namely the five river confluences, are Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karn prayag, Rudra Prayag and Dev Prayag, in the descending flow sequence of their occurrence. It starts with the Vishnu Prayag on the Alaknanda River, which is one of the two source streams of the sacred river Ganges in the Garhwal Himalayas; the other streams are the Dhauliganga, Mandakini, Pindar and the Bhagirathi - the head stream of the Ganges. Alaknanda descending from the foot of the Satopanth (a triangular lake, which is located at a height of 4,402 m (14,442.3 ft), above the sea level and named after the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers near the Nanda Devi peak, in Uttarakhand cascades over a length of 229 km (142.3 mi) encompassing the five prayags and is joined at Dev Prayag by the Bhagirathi, a shorter river source vis-à-vis Alaknanda to form the main stream of the Ganges.It flows down south towards Rishikesh and Haridwar, two holy places on the bank of the Ganges in Uttarakhand.

At each of the confluences, with large influx of pilgrims who visit the state for the pilgrimage of the Panch Kedar and Sapta Badri temples, large religious towns have developed. Pilgrims take a dip in the river at these locations before embarking on visiting the holy shrines in the “Deva Bhumi” (god's land) as Uttarakhand is commonly known. The religious towns are named after the confluence sites as: Devaprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, except Vishnuprayag, where there is no town but it is about 12 km (7.5 mi) from Joshimath town another famous Hindu religious centre), along a winding road that further leads to Badrinath Temple and beyond.Some pilgrims do ablution at all the five prayags before worshiping Vishnu at Badrinath.

Panch Prayag

Devprayag:
It situated at 70 kms from Rishikesh, at the confluence of Alakhnanda & Bhagrithi river that form river Ganga.

Rudraprayag:
It situated at 140 kms from Rishikesh, at the confluence of Alakhnanda & Mandakni river. Rudraprayag is the point where the two roads branch off to the holy shrines of Kedarnath (84 km) and Badrinath (159 km).

Karanprayag ( 788 m):
It situated at 170 kms from Rishikesh, at the confluence of Alakhnanda & Pindari river.

Nandprayag:
Nand Prayag at 914 m and 191kms from Rishikesh, forms the confuence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini (flowing from a glacier near Nanda Devi Peak) rivers. On their way to Tapovan across Kunwari Pass or on their way to Roopkund

Vishnu Prayag:
Formed by the confluence of the impetuouse Vishnu Ganaga (known after this poingt as the Alaknanda) and the Dhauliganga river, Vishnu Prayag, 1372 m and 272 away from Rishikesh. has an ancient temple called Vishnu kund.

History

Ganga, that most sacred of Indian rivers, is worshipped as the life-giving goddess who brought salvation to this land. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganga on auspicious days and her waters are used for purification rituals. This great river, emerging from the icy glaciers of the Himalayas, descended to earth with such force that the gods had to be called in to prevent a complete deluge. The mighty Ganga was split into 12 channels to temper her force and the siblings again unite into one single stream after Devprayag, where the two great streams of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet. Four other confluences higher up add up to form the five holy confluences or Panch Prayag, which pilgrims visit for worship. 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. Cutting a deep gorge into the mountains, the confluence is dark and mostly in the shadows. At Nandprayag, 190 kms short of Rishikesh on the Uttarkashi road, the River Mandakini joins the Alaknanda. A temple dedicated to Gopalji (a form of Lord Krishna) marks the confluence.

Weather

The area which encompasses the Panch Prayag is one of high mountains, with low temperatures through much of the year. Although all the Prayags can be reached by road throughout the year, it’s better to give them a miss during the winter months, when it gets very cold.

 

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