Panch Prayag - The Five Sacred Rivers

Panch Prayag is the confluence of five sacred rivers Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag in Uttarakhand. These rivers merge to form the holy River Ganga who is worshipped as the life-giving goddess. It is believed that taking a dip in the Panch Prayag cleanses the soul and provides moksha (salvation).

Legend of Panch Prayag

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga wanted to descend down to Earth and bless humankind, but Her power was too much to Earth to take. Lord Shiva, knowing this, decided to split Her energy and distribute it equally across the lands. He took Her energy into His matted locks and directed it to flow into Earth in twelve channels. These channels are said to rejoin after Devprayag, the last of the Panch Prayag birthing the holy Ganga river. This is why the Devprayag is hailed as the most important of the Panch Prayag.

The Satopanth, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Vishnuganga, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, and Mandakini meet at different points along the path and finally form the Ganga at the holy Devprayag point.

Vishnuprayag

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The first of the famous Panch Prayag, Vishnuprayag is the place where River Vishnu Ganga (known as Alaknanda after this point) meets River Dhauliganga. Vishnu Prayag has an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu that stands here next to a pool called Vishnu Kund. Named after Lord Vishnu who according to one legend appeared on this very spot to bless Rishimuni Narad, Vishnuprayag is heavenly in its appearance. It is also home to many ashrams and is popular for river rafting.

Nandprayag

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Nandaprayag is the place of confluence of River Alaknanda and Nandakini, in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. According to belief, Nandprayag got its name from the Yadava King, Nanda. His commitment and dedication towards Lord Vishnu at this place earned him the blessing of having a child-like Vishnu. 

There is a well-known sanctuary of Gopalji (Lord Krishna) at Nandprayag. The wedding of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala is said to have occurred here. Nandprayag is additionally a door to Badrikshetra. The region amongst Satopanth and Nandprayag is referred to as Badrikshetra as all the important Badri temples (Panch Badri) are situated inside this territory.

Karnaprayag

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Around 174 km from Rishikesh, Karnaprayag is where Pindar River, originating from Pindar glacier, joins with Alaknanda River. Located in the Chamoli region, Karnaprayag gets its name from Karna, the warier from Mahabharata. According to belief, this is where Karna (warrior from Mahabharata) meditated and gained Kavacha (shield) and Kundal (studs) from Lord Surya (Sun), his father. It is additionally known to be where Lord Krishna played out the last rites of Karna.

As indicated by Kalidas' Abhijanaa-Shakuntalam, Dushyant and Shakuntala's relationship blossomed at Karna Prayag. The Hindu priest Swami Vivekananda meditated Karnaprayag for 18 days. 

Rudraprayag

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Rudraprayag is a holy town located on the confluence of River Mandakini with Alaknanda. It is named after Lord Shiva, who is also called Rudra, as several legends relate this place with Shiva. According to belief, Lord Shiva performed Tandava here. He played his Rudra Veena, and with its sound, he attracted Lord Vishnu and changed him into the water. There is another story that portrays that the wise Narada once got extremely glad for his Veena playing capacity. After he perceived his pride, he appealed to Lord Shiva for a long time at Rudraprayag to influence Shiva to keep him as his follower.

A black rock situated at Rudraprayag is believed to be where Narada meditated, and later it came to be known as the Narad Shila. There are temples of Rudranath and Chamunda Devi here. Around 142 km far from Rishikesh, it is at Rudraprayag that the street separates- one goes to Kedarnath and the other towards Badrinath (passing by Karnaprayag, Nandprayag, and Vishnuprayag).

Devprayag

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Devprayag is where River Alaknanda meets the Bhagirathi. All the five rivers meet here to form the holy river Ganga. Situated in Tehri Garhwal, around 73 km far from Rishikesh, Devprayag can be visited any time of the year. One can pray and shower at all Panch Prayag, beginning from Devprayag, and afterwards finish up the journey with the most sacred darshan of Lord Badrinath. Moreover, a Panch Prayag yatra can be consolidated with Chota Char Dham Yatra for a more satisfying and complete peaceful tour in Uttarakhand.

Read more about Char Dham Yatra

How to Reach Panch Prayag

The closest city to the Panch Prayag is Rishikesh.

Car: One can reach Rishikesh from the nearby city of Haridwar, which is 20 kilometres away. The only way to reach the Panch Prayag from Rishikesh is by road, hire a car or taxi to cover the Panch Prayag. The distance from Rishikesh to the five Prayags are as follows:

  • Dev Prayag: 69 kilometres
  • Rudra Prayag: 140 kilometres
  • Karna Prayag: 170 kilometres
  • Nanda Prayag: 190 kilometres
  • Vishnu Prayag: 260 kilometres

Bus: Package tours are available from Rishikesh and Haridwar that cover the five Prayags. This is the best option to cover all the spots comfortably.

Flight: The nearest airport is at Dehradun, about 35 kilometres away from Rishikesh. Dehradun is connected to all major Indian cities by air.

Train: The nearest train station is at Rishikesh, with connections to Haridwar and other major North Indian stations. One can reach Haridwar from cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Delhi, and take a one-hour trip to Rishikesh.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and be ready to take a bath in holy Panch Prayag and feel free from all worldly troubles.

This post was published by Arpita Biswas

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