Prayag in English means confluence. Confluences are considered sacred in Hinduism where people take bath before worship; perform Shraddha (the last rites for the departed ancestors) and the worship of river itself. There are five sacred confluences widely known as Panch (five) Prayag in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand namely Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag.
River Ganga, when fell to earth to wipe away the ashes of King Bhagirath’s ancestors, divided into 12 streams to make it easier for earth to endure her force. Panch Prayag are the places where five different streams of Ganga confluence at five different places one after another. Alakhananda meets Dhauli Ganga at Vishnuprayag, then she meets Nandakini River and creates Nandprayag. She now moves to form Karnaprayag uniting with Pindar river, then goes to meet Mandakini river and forms Rudraprayag and finally mixes with Bhagirathi river and forms the last of five prayags, Devprayag.
Large religious towns have developed, named after the confluences- Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag and Nandprayag, as thousands of pilgrims come every year to the pilgrimages with faith and devotion. There is no town at Vishnuprayag, the nearest town is Joshimath, itself a famous religious spot.
Legend of Panch Prayag
Formation of Panch Prayag connects with the story of goddess Ganga coming to earth to swipe away the ashes of King Bhagirath’s ancestors. King Bhagirath’s ancestors turned into ashes after being cursed by Kapil Muni, a sage. They blamed the meditating sage to have stolen their horse which was made ready to sacrifice in Aswamedh Yagya and the furious sage who was formerly unaware that a thief had tied the horse by his side to escape from Bhagirath’s ancestors cursed them and turned into ashes. After years, when Bhagirath realized about his ancestors past meditated to goddess Ganga to come down to earth and wipe away the ashes so he can free them from their sins and relieve himself from Pitri Rin (homage to ancestors). Goddess Ganga accepted the request and requested lord Shiva to bear her force so the earth can handle. Lord Shiva accepted Ganga’s request and sat on earth to land Ganga through his Jata (hair locks).
The place where goddess Ganga appeared was Gangotri Glacier. You can see Submerged Shivalingam in the origination point of river Ganga before winter when the ice is melted. While falling down to earth, river goddess Ganga divided into 12 streams to make it easier for earth to endure her force. Panch Prayag are the places where five different streams of Ganga confluence at five different places. Alakhananda meets Dhauli Ganga at Vishnuprayag, then she meets Nandakini river and creates Nandprayag. She now moves to form Karnaprayag uniting with Pindar river, then goes to meet Mandakini river and forms Rudraprayag and finally mixes with Bhagirathi river and forms the last of five prayags, Devprayag.
Panch Prayag | Best Time to Visit
Panch Prayag stands for Five Confluences of holy river Ganga (popularly known as Ganges). Some of the confluences are easily accessible and can be visited any time of the year, for example DevPrayag. You can reach DevPrayag few kilometers away from Rishikesh on the route to Badrinath. Thus, you might be interested on sightseeing and spending time by DevPrayag any time of the year. While Vishnuprayag and Karnaprayag are not accessible during winter when CharDham pilgrimages remain closed.
Panch Prayag | How to Reach?
You can reach all Panch Prayag and the pilgrimages on the bank of Prayags through Rishikesh on Rishikesh-Badrinath route. The distance varies. Please visit individual pages for details. Mode of Transportation is roadways from Rishikesh. You can reach Rishikesh through air or rail or roadways.
Panch Prayag | Places Nearby
- Srinagar: Situated 560 meters above the sea level on the left bank of Alaknanda river, Srinagar is the largest city of Pauri Garhwal district. 32.5Km from Devprayag, Srinagar is on the way to Badrinath from Rishikesh.
- Narendranagar: Deriving its name from King Maharaja Narendra Shah who moved the capital city of Tehri Garhwal district to this beautiful land in 1919 A.D., Narendranagar provides clear view of Rishikesh, Haridwar and enchanting beautiful view of holy Ganga flowing from mountains to the plane land of Haridwar. Narendra Nagar palace 3000 feet above sea level in Narendra Nagar is utilized as spa spot and named ‘Ananda-in the himalayas’ from where you can have a majestic view of Dehradun valley.
- New Tehri: The district headquarter of Tehri Garhwal district, New Tehri town lies between 1,550 to 1,950 meters above sea level and is 16Km far from Old Tehri. The Tehri Dam reservoir controlling waters of Bhagirathi and Bhilangana rivers, is one of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects that you will definitely want to visit. The planned city of Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand, New Tehri attracts thousands of internal and external tourists throughout the year.
- Joshimath: Gateway to several mountain climbing expeditions, trekking route to major Char Dham pilgrimage Badrinath, Joshimath in Chamoli district of Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand is 6,150 meters above sea level. The Narsinha temple of Bhavishya Badri denoting the future Badri and one among Panch Badri sits majestically at Joshimath. Trek for 10Km and you will reach Tapovan with hot water spring and enthralling beauty of Dhauliganga comes to your sight.
- Gangeshwar Temple: Before reaching Nandprayag, there comes a small diversion which leads to a Gangeshwar Mahadev temple residing grandly under a vast Peepal tree. You need to cross a bridge over Alaknanda river to reach Gangeshwar temple.
- Gopalji and Chandika Maa Temple: When you are in Nandprayag market, you will encounter a path that leads to Gopalji temple dedicated to lord Krishna. If you move further ahead, you will reach Chandika Maa temple dedicated to goddess Parvati sitting under an umbrella.
- Other Places are – Dronagiri Trek | Hemkund Sahib | Valley of Flowers | Badrinath | Kakbhushandi Lake | Auli | Kedarnath | Rishikesh | Rudranath | Tungnath