Panch Prayag

Panch Prayag – Five Sacred Confluences in Uttarakhand

Panch Prayag is a manifestation in the spirit of the Hindu religion. The expression is used to signify the five holy river confluences in the Garhwal district of Uttarakhand.

The word ‘Prayag’ breaks down to the confluence of two or more rivers. Moreover, Panch Prayag goes by the name ‘Panch Pentad’ in Sanskrit. Nevertheless, five confluences in the descending order of their existence are Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag.

Holy Pathways of Panch Prayag

Alaknanda originates from the triangular lake called Satopanth. It is present 4402 metres above sea level. Moreover, Satopanth gets its name from Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Bhagirath Kharak Glaciers lying near Nanda Devi peak in Uttarakhand.

Holy trail of Panch Prayag
Satopanth is the origin of the Holy Alaknanda river.

In the course of 229 km from its origin Alaknanda crosses all the five Prayags. Moreover, it finally unifies with Bhagirathi and gives rise to the Holy Ganges or Ganga. Nevertheless, it continues to flow down further to Rishikesh and Haridwar that share the banks of Ganges in Uttarakhand.

Each Sangam or confluence has developed religious towns near them due to the inflow of pilgrims visiting Panch Kedar and Sapta Badri temples. Also, devotees take bath at these holy Sangam while undertaking the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand.

The town names inspired by these confluences are titled as Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. However, Vishnuprayag does not have a town at its bank yet it is 12 km from Joshimath.

The Essence of the Five Prayags

According to Hindus, Prayag is the sacred Sangam of rivers where devotees take a dip before worship. Also, people arrive at these sacred sangams to perform the last rites for the dead. Moreover, the devotees worship holy confluences as God’s manifestation on Earth.

Essence of Panch Prayag
Dip in the holy waters of Prayag is believed to wash away ones sins.

However, the Prayag at Allahabad is considered to be the holiest. Nevertheless, the Panch Prayag of Uttarakhand is just next to them. Apart from numerous tales from the Puranas, these Prayags are home to the amazing scenic beauty.

Moreover, the religious texts state that Panch Prayag in Uttarakhand is the Svargarohana route that the Pandavas took to reach heaven.

How to get to these confluences?

Rishikesh is the point of start for your Panch Prayag journey. It is near to Haridwar that has train connectivity to all the major cities of India. Moreover, Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is at a distance of 18 km from Rishikesh.

Besides these, one can take a road trip to Rishikesh from different parts of the country. However, one can hire private taxis to Rishikesh as per their convenience.

From Rishikesh, the distance of the five Prayags are –

Name of the PrayagDistance from Rishikesh
Vishnuprayag263 km
Nandaprayag193 km
Karnyaprayag 173 km
Rudraprayag141 km
Devprayag74 km

Portrayal of Panch Prayag

  • Vishnuprayag– After Alaknanda descends from Satopanth, Dhauliganga merges into it at this Sangam. Moreover, Ahlayabai, the queen of Indore constructed a Vishnu temple at this Prayag.
  • Nandaprayag– Here, Alaknanda meets Nandakini river and the two rivers unify. However, this confluence gets its name from King Nanda who performed yagna at this place in pursuit of a son.
  • Karnaprayag– This is the confluence of river Alaknanda and Pindar. Beliefs say that Krishna cremated Karna at this place only. Hence, there is a Karna temple by the banks of the confluence.
  • RudraprayagAt this place, Mandakini river joins Alaknanda in its flow. Moreover, traditional tales suggest that Shiva appeared in its Rudra avatar at this place in front of Sage Narada. Hence, the place has Shiva temples in abundance.
  • Devprayag– This confluence gives birth to the mainstream Ganges as Alaknanda and Bhagirathi unify. Devprayag means ‘Godly confluence‘. Moreover, the inspiration of the confluence’s name is taken from sage Dev Sharma from Satyug, who got blessings from Lord Vishnu. Lord Ram also meditated here so it has many Ram temples too.

Frequently Asked Questions About Panch Prayag

Where is the Panch Prayag located?

Panch Prayag is present in the ‘God’s Land’ i.e. Uttarakhand.

Which river meets Alaknanda at Karna Prayag?

Pindar meets Alaknanda at Karna Prayag.

How many Prayags are there in Uttarakhand?

As the name, Panch Prayag suggests there are five Prayag in Uttarakhand.

When should one visit these Prayags?

The best time to visit these Prayags is from March to October.

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