Panch Prayag holds a sacred place in the Hindu Religion. Panch Prayag as a word is used to describe the five holy rivers flowing in Garhwal district of Uttrakhand, India. Panch Prayag also known as ‘Prayag Pentad’ are namely Rudra Prayag, Dev Prayag, Karan Prayag, Nanda Prayag and Vishnu Prayag. Panch Prayag Yatra commences from Vishnu Prayag. Vishnu Prayag is situated near River Alaknanda. Alaknanda is one of two source streams of River Ganga in Garhwal region. Mandakini, Bhagirathi, Pindar and Dhauliganga are the other head streams of Ganga River.
The merging sites of rivers are visited by pilgrims throughout the year who are heading for pilgrimage to Panch Kedar and Sapt Bhadri Temples. Pilgrims take a holy dip in these rivers before commencing their journey to the holy shrines in ‘Deva Bhumi’ Uttrakhand. Many Pilgrims take a dip in at every Prayag before offering prayers at Badrinath Temple.
According to Hindu Tradition, the site where two or more rivers merge and pilgrims take a holy dip before commencing their pilgrimage is called ‘Prayag’. The Prayag in Allahabad is believed to be holiest Prayag. It witnesses confluence of Rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is also believed that Panch Prayag is a route to attain Swarag (Heaven). The Garhwal local people gather at these Prayags to take a holy dip in the sacred rivers at the time of Uttarayan, Ram Navmi, Makar Sankranthi and Basant Panchmi.
River Alaknanda from the glacier fields of Chaukhamba merges with River saraswati near Mana village, continuing to flow in front of Badrinath shrine, it meets River Dhauli Ganga and after covering a distance of 25Km from Niti Pass it reaches Vishnu Prayag. This route of Alaknanda from Chaukhamba to Vishnuprayag is known as Vishnu Ganges. An octagonal shaped temple built way back in 1889 was established near the confluence. Ahalyabhai, maharani of Indore established this temple and installed a Shiva Linga in it. The temple now features a Vishnu image also.
Nandaprayag comes second in the circuit of Panch Prayag Yatra. At Nandaprayag the confluence of River Mandakini and River Alaknanda can be seen. According to the myth, Lord Vishnu blessed Nanda and his wife Yashodha and Vasudev and his wife Devki for a baby boy as both were his disciples. Lord Vishnu made sure his incarnation in the form Lord Krishna was born to Devki and Vasudev but brought up by Yashodha and Nanda.
At Karanprayag Alaknanda River is adjoined by Pindar River. According to the legend, Karan from the epic Mahabharata after penance achieved Kavacha (armour) and Kundala (ear rings) from his father, Sun god, Hence, the name of Prayag is attributed after his name. Another legend about this confluence tells us about love story of king Dushyanta and Shakuntla flourished at Karanprayag, as mentioned by Kalidas in his work Abhijan-Shakuntalam. It is also mentioned that Swami Vivekananda meditated here for eighteen days.
Rudraprayag, one of the five Panch Prayags is located in Rudraprayag district in Uttrakhand. The Prayag is located near the confluence of holy Rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. The river later joins River Bhagirathi at Devprayag. The holy shrine at Kedarnath is located just 86Km from Rudraprayag at an altitude of 2936feet.
The Rudranath temple at Rudraprayag is dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to the myth associated with Rudraprayag, Narad Muni wanted to learn music from Lord Shiva. He worshipped lord Shiva on a rock which is now known as Narad Shila. Lord Shiva later agreed to teach Narad Muni, the instrument Lord Shiva used is known as Rudra and hence the name Rudraprayag is attributed to the place.
Rudraprayag features many temples the most prominent are Chamunda Devi Temple, dedicated to Chamunda Devi and Koteshwari Koti devoted to Lord Shiva. Chamunda Devi is temple is situated near the merging site of holy Rivers Mandakini and Alaknanda. Chamunda Devi, wife of Lord Rudra is worshipped here.
The Kartik Swami Temple is dedicated Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya. The temple is 38 Km away from Rudraprayag at Rudraprayag-Pokhri route. The temple can be reached after a 3 Km trek from Kanak Chauri village.
Devprayag witnesses the confluence of two holy rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. Devprayag is considered as sacred as the Triveni sangam in Allahabad. At Triveni Sangam the confluence of River Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati can be seen. Legend associated with Devprayag says, a poor Brahmin named Deva Sharma performed ascetic religious austerities and was later blessed by Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Rama. There are kunds in Devprayag viz Vashishtha Kund on Bhagirathi River and Brahma Kund on River Alaknanda. It is believed that Devprayag is Lord Vishnu’s navel and Lord Brahma meditated here. Devprayag also features Raghunath temple. The temple is 15ft high with a black granite image of Lord Rama from Ramayana. The temple is said to be 1250 years old.
If you are planning to visit Panch Prayag, the following destinations might be of your interest