Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.

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Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality, well, don’t be misled by the places in the title. We are generally religious by heart, not necessarily; this trip could be called a pilgrimage. Since it was a sudden addition to my birthday trip, my mom wanted to visit the Panch Prayag. However, we could cover three out of five Prayags as per distance. This plan was made while returning to the hotel after the Aarti. I woke up at dawn, trying to open my sleepy eyes in the semiconscious state of our slumberous minds. I could look at the transforming hills’ intense beauty as the sky got bright with the sun’s hue. The massive darkened silhouette of the wondrous Himalayas of the nighttime turned into giant mounds of sunny blue piles with crimson tops at the daybreak. 

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The dawn of the town

The bright expanse hit our heavy eyelids and shook us out of trance. I walked down the roads, woke my mom up, and wrapped myself in my warm sweats; II hit the streets to watch the rising sun. The cool breeze flowed through my hair as I walked the empty road. A small tea shop was at the corner of the turn, and an open valley was right in front of it. I sat on the wooden bench beside the stall and ordered two cups of tea. The sound of gurgling Ganges was mystical, and the music of chirping birds echoed in the valley. I sat sipping my tea, soaking in nature, and watching the Tapobhumi waking up. A mesmerising view indeed!

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Rising sun

I returned to the hotel since we had to start by 7 am to cover the three Prayag. Post a quick bath got dressed and had a hearty breakfast before heading out on my adventure trip. The climate was partly cloudy, with the sun playing hide & seek. The roads were almost deserted, and the cool breeze played along as we drove. My driver played bhajan since morning should be for Gods.

We drove through the road with tranquil valley and flowing the Ganges when suddenly we swaddled in a veil of poltergeist-white mist. And the fog danced upon the valley as if it were in some magical daydream. We drove along the curvy road to reach our first destination Dev Prayag.

Since the drive was for over 2hrs, I asked my encyclopedia-my mom about the mythological significance behind the Panch Prayag. Goddess Ganga wanted to descend to earth and bless humankind in the fictitious fact. But Goddess Ganga’s power was too much for the planet to take. After knowing this, Lord Shiva decided to split her energy and distribute it equally across the lands. Lord Shiva took her power into his matted locks and directed them into 12 channels. These 12 channels are said to rejoin after Dev Prayag, the last Panch Prayag birthing of the holy Ganga river. Thus Devprayag is hailed as the most prominent of the five Prayag. At Devprayag, Alaknanda meets Bhagirathi to form the Ganga. Higher up from Devprayag, four others meet Bhagirathi to form the sacred Panch Prayag that the pilgrims visit for prayers, baths, purification and worship.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The Ganges

It is the first of the five sacred confluences harbours a quaint hill town tucked into the folds of the Himalayas. Here Alakananda meets with the other five rivers giving the Ganges her ultimate stately divine form through five instalments of watery body. Talking about “Devprayag”, the name is attained from the Sanskrit derivation of Godly confluence. Surrounded by three peaks, Narsinghancal Parvat, Dashrathanchal Parvat, and Giddhanchal Parvat Devprayag is the sacred confluence of the holy rivers Alakananda and Bhagirathi. The Dashrathanchal Parvat surrounding this town was after Lord Ram’s father, King Dashrath, who did penance on the mountain. Our mythology is too vast to connect since it connected Ayodhya with Rishikesh. 

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The confluence of Bhagirathi & Alaknanda

I stood at the entrance of the town, looking down at the confluence, the molten green waters of the Bhagirathi melting with the muddy green of the Alakananda. The ancient name of the place was “Sudarshankshetra”. It is believed that this is where sage Devasharma led his ascetic life. I drove towards the town entirely obliterated by a massive earthquake in 1803. But was later rebuilt with the help of Daulat Rao Sindhia. Upon reaching, I first walked up to the Ghat to touch the flowing cold water. It felt soothing as I dipped my foot and sprinkled some holy water. It is believed that secretly river Saraswati flows underneath. The origin of the Bhagirathi river is the Gomukh Glacier of the Himalayas.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The beauty of Prayag

We visited a few temples, as Devprayag is dotted with many ancient shrines. 

Mata Bhuvneshwari Temple – The temple is associated with the Maa Bhuvneshwari, one of the forms of Goddess Parvati. We offered our prayers and took blessings. 

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Mata Bhuwaneshwari temple

Chandrabadni temple – This holy temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati and is Shaktipeeth. According to the legend, when Lord Shiva, in grief, was carrying the burnt body of Devi Sati, her torso fell here. Many iron Trishul and old statues on the temple premises can even be seen there. I never knew there was a Shaktipeth in Devprayag, lucky me. My mom offered an elaborate offering and prayed for a long. I sat on the temple premises, listening to Sanskrit chants & inhaling the heavy incense smoke. 

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Chandrabadni temple

I wanted to visit the Raghunathji Temple but had to skip it due to lack of time. This temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, who did penance to relieve himself from killing Ravana, the devotee of Lord Shiva. It was established by Adi Shankracharya in the 8th century and is built of massive uncemented stone. We drove towards KaranPrayag, around 2hrs 33, mins drive, 98.2Km. The hills were getting rugged as we travelled farther and farther, and more of the stark, stony beauty of the Himalayas unfolded. But the roads were fantastic; we had a few police check-post halts on the way where ID & car papers were checked. Before entering KaranPrayag, we took a break for tea & Maggi.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Pitstop for maggi & tea

One of the sacred Panch Prayag is beautifully adorned on the convergence of Alaknanda River and Pindari River. This holy town is blessed with redundant natural beauty at 1459 meters above sea level. Lush green meadows, snow-covered mountains, and imposing mountain peaks adorn the atmosphere of this town and make it more serene. I walked down the stairs towards the flowing river.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Town beside Karanprayag

According to Hindu mythology, this is the same place where Swami Vivekananda meditated and made this place more sanctified. There is an exciting tale of mighty Karna behind the origin of this religious place. Karan meditated here during the Mahabharata war. And Lord Surya (father of Karna) gifted him with Kavach and Kundal, saving him. It is also considered the place where Lord Krishna performed the last rites of Karna.

I spent some time near the banks. Later walked up to the Temple of Uma Devi- the daughter of the Himalayas. Adi Shankracharya established the temple in the 8th century. The statute of Uma Devi was self-manifested, & later she came in the dreams of a Dimri Brahmain to worship the statue. The architecture is simple, and a small shrine is built with the Uma Devi statue. Since the temple was closed as posted at noon, we sat on the temple premises before heading for Rudraprayag.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Uma Devi temple

It was afternoon already, and we had 33.2km to drive, approximately an hour before we reached Rudraprayag. Rudraprayag is named after Lord Shiva, who is also called Rudra. Tandava was performed by Lord Shiva here, and he even played his Rudra veena. With its sound, he attracted Lord Vishnu and converted him to water. One can witness the black rock here that is believed to be where Narada meditated and is thus called Narad Shila.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.

We parked our car beside the Ghat; Rudranath and Chamunda Devi are attached to the Ghat, a vertical line of stairs connected with the temples leading to the sacred confluence- Alaknanda and Mandakini. I climbed down a few steep stone stairs to wander on the ghats enjoying the sights and duet songs of the torrentially turbulent mountain rivers. I did try to dip my feet and hands into the cold waters, even filling in two bottles of holy water. Rudraprayag is a paradise for nature lovers and peace seekers who the scenic splendours would allure. The beautiful landscape is adorned with lofty mountains, lush green meadows, and the imposing. 

It was almost time for evening aarti, And the magic created added to the surrealism of the atmosphere. I was handed a big heavy Diya. Other devotees were also handed over to Panch Pradeep by the purohit. We all offered our prayers to the River Goddess. The purohit started to chant the devotional songs. And the pitch of mantras began to rise over the microphone. It was a moment of truth!

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Aarti at Rudraprayag

It was getting dark; time to return. But on the way, my mom wished to pit stop at Dhari Devi temple 20 km from Rudraprayag. It is considered the Dhari Devi goddess as the guardian deity of Uttarakhand. The temple is dedicated to Devi Kali Mata because the lower half is Kalimath. The upper half flowed down along the Alaknanda river and settled here. Moreover, Kalimath is one of 108 shakti places in India. As per religious tradition, Kalimath is where Goddess Kali killed the demon Raktabija. And the Goddess went under the earth post killing the demon.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
Dhari Devi temple

As the idol is worshipped in the form of Goddess Dhari- it is believed that Goddess changes emergence throughout the day. As per folklore, the deity’s appearance changes from a girl to a woman and finally to an old lady. 

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The idol of Dhari Devi

The temple’s location is beautiful; I captured a beautiful sunset. The sandbank creates an eye alongside the temple. It was a steep walk towards the temple but worthy. We offered our prayers & sought blessing before returning to our car.

Panch Prayag-The holy Confluences of Spirituality.
The beautiful Sunset

Will driving back to Rishikesh, I realised Panch Prayag Yatra is one of those journeys which provide us with serenity and tranquillity needed for our soul, mind, and entire body. Midway we took a halt for tea since we were exhausted from the travel, & it was getting late. Moreover, it was past 10 pm when we reached our hotel. We order dinner in our room and then hit our warm bed.

How to Reach

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, approximately 35 km from the city. At the airport, hire taxis or opt for bus services from Dehradun to reach the city.

By Rail:

The Rishikesh railway station is a well-connected railway station with all the major cities in India. You need to hire private cabs or take a shared taxi from the station to reach the city.

By Road:

NH58 is well-connected via road with Delhi, Haridwar, Dehradun & other close-by towns of Uttrakhand. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Rishikesh from these places. Although, you can either book a private cab or a shared taxi. One can drive to Rishikesh too.



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