Monday, 28 July 2014

Panch Prayag.

Panch Prayag is the word used for the five sacred confluences of rivers  in the  Garhwal  region  in the Himalayas. The five prayags (prayag meaning  confluence)  are Vishnu  Prayag,  Nand  Prayag, Karn  Prayag,  Rudra Prayag  and Dev  Prayag,  in the descending order. After Rishikesh one has to go through all these on the way to the Badrinath dham.

Vishnu Prayag 

The Alaknanda River, originating from the eastern slopes of the glacier at  Chaukhamba, is  joined  by the Saraswathi River near Mana village and then flows in front of the Badrinath temple. At Vishnu Prayag, it meets the Dhauliganga River, which originates from the Niti Pass. 

Nand Prayag

The Nandakini River meets the Alaknanda River at Nand Prayag. A legend has it that confluence derives its name from the Yadava king Nanda, Krishna's foster-father. According to the legend, Vishnu granted a boon of the birth of a son to Nanda and his wife Yasoda and also the same boon to Devaki, wife of Vasudeva. Placed in a dilemma, since both were his disciples, he ensured that Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, was born to Devaki and Vasudeva but was fostered by Yashoda and Nanda. 

Karna Prayag

At Karn Prayag the Alaknanda River joins the Pindar River that originates from the Pindar glacier, below Mount Nanda Devi. The epic Mahabharta legend narrates that Karna did penance here and earned the protective gear of Kavacha (armour) and Kundala (ear rings) from his father, the Sun god. The name of the confluence is thus derived from the name of Karna. 

Rudra Prayag

At Rudra Prayag the Alaknanda meets the Mandakini. The confluence is named after god Shiva, who is also known as Rudra. According to a legend, Shiva performed the Tandava, a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution, here. Shiva also played his favourite musical instrument the Rudra veena here. By playing the Veena, he enticed god Vishnu to his presence and converted him to water.

Dev Prayag 

Dev Prayag is the confluence of two holy rivers, the Bhagirathi, the chief stream of the Ganges and the Alaknanda. It is the first prayag on the way to Badrinath. Downstream this confluence, the river is known as Ganges. The holiness of this place is considered equal to the famous Sangam at Allahabad where the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers merge.

The Bhagirathi, which flows in rapids with strong currents meets a much calmer river in the Alaknanda. The contrast between the two rivers joining here is striking. The confluence got the name tag 'Dev' from a poor Brahmin called Deva Sharma who performed “rigorous religious austerities” here and was blessed by Rama. 
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