Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, and Devprayag are the five sacred rivers that converge at Panch Prayag in Uttarakhand. These rivers join to form the holy Ganga, which is revered as the goddess of life. A dip in the Panch Prayag is thought to cleanse the soul and provide moksha (salvation).
Best time: March to April and mid-September to mid-October
Panch Prayag’s Legend
Goddess Ganga, according to Hindu mythology, wished to descend to Earth and bless humanity, but Her power was too great for Earth to bear. Knowing this, Lord Shiva decided to split Her energy and distribute it evenly across the lands. He channeled Her energy through His matted locks and directed it to flow into Earth through twelve channels. After Devprayag, the final Panch Prayag that gives birth to the divine Ganga river, these channels are reported to re-join. As a result, the Devprayag is regarded as the most important of the Panch Prayag.
The Satopanth, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Vishnuganga, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, and Mandakini rivers join at various points along the path to form the Ganga at the holy Devprayag point.
Places To Visit Panch Prayag in Uttrakhand
“Confluence of the River Dhauliganga (right) with the River Alaknanda (left) at Vishnuprayag.”
Vishnuprayag is the first of the famed Panch Prayags situated where the Vishnu Ganga ( later renamed Alaknanda) joins the Dhauliganga, Vishnu Prayag is home to an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which stands next to a pool known as Vishnu Kund. Vishnuprayag is heavenly in appearance and is named after Lord Vishnu, who according to mythology, appeared on this particular site to bless Rishimuni Narad. It also has many ashrams and is a popular river rafting destination.
“The River Nandakini (foreground) meets the River Alaknanda (background) in Nandaprayag.”
Nandaprayag is located in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, at the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Nandakini. According to legend, Nandprayag was named after the Yadava King, Nanda. His devotion to Lord Vishnu in this location earned him the blessing of having a child-like Vishnu.
At Nandprayag, there is a well-known Gopalji (Lord Krishna) sanctuary. The marriage of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala is said to have taken place here. Nandprayag also serves as a gateway to Badrikshetra. Badrikshetra is the area between Satopanth and Nandprayag that has most of the important Badri temples (Panch Badri).
“The River Alaknanda flowing in from the left meets the River Pindar (center background) to flow on as the Alaknanda again (foreground) at Karnaprayag.”
The Pindar River, which flows from the Pindar glacier, joins the Alaknanda river in Karnaprayag, about 174 kilometers from Rishikesh. Karnaprayag, located in the Chamoli region, takes its name from Karna, the warrior from the Mahabharata. Karna meditated here and earned the kavacha (shield) and kundal (studs) from his father, Lord Surya, according to the tradition. It is also known as the location where Lord Krishna performed Karna’s last rites.
Dushyant and Shakuntala’s relationship blossomed at Karna Prayag, as indicated by Kalidas’ Abhijanaa-Shakuntalam. Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu priest, meditated in Karnaprayag for 18 days.
“Confluence of River Alaknanda (bottom, from right) and the River Mandakini (flowing from the top – North) at Rudraprayag.”
The holy town of Rudraprayag is located at the junction of the Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers. It is named after Lord Shiva, also known as Rudra, because several legends associate this location with Shiva. Lord Shiva is said to have performed Tandava here. He played his Rudra Veena, and the sound of it drew Lord Vishnu and transformed him into water. Another story goes that the wise Narada was once overjoyed with his Veena playing abilities. He spent a long time at Rudraprayag after realizing his pride and begging for lord Shiva to keep him as his servant.
Narada is said to have meditated on a black rock near Rudraprayag, which became known as the Narad Shila. Rudranath and Chamunda Devi temples can be found here. At Rudraprayag, about 142 kilometers from Rishikesh, the route separates with one heading to Kedarnath and the other to Badrinath (passing by Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag, and Vishnuprayag).
“Confluence of River Alaknanda and Bhagirathi and the beginning of the main stem of the River Ganga”
Devprayag is the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi rivers. All five rivers confluence here to form the holy Ganga. Devprayag is located in Tehri Garhwal, approximately 73 kilometers from Rishikesh, and can be visited at any time of year. Beginning with Devprayag, one can pray and shower at each Panch Prayag before concluding the journey with the most sacred darshan of Lord Badrinath. A Panch Prayag yatra can also be paired with a Chota Char Dham yatra for a more comprehensive and serene visit of Uttarakhand.
Frequently Asked Question
The combination of five revered sites in Uttarakhand where the five rivers merge into River Alakananda and form the holy River Ganga.
The places Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag combine to make the holy pilgrimage Panch Prayag.
The best time to visit Panch Prayag is from the month of March to June.
The best way to reach Panch Prayag is from Rishikesh and the route connects Haridwar as well as Dehradun.
Kagbhusandi and Hemkund Lake in Vishnuprayag, Gopalji Temple in Nandaprayag, the Koteshwar Mahadev Mandir in Rudraprayag and the holy Devprayag in the route from Rishikesh to Badrinath.
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