Panch Prayag

Panch Prayag, confluence of most sacred rivers, is considered the epitome of immortal piety. River confluences in India are considered very sacred, especially since rivers themselves are extolled ad goddesses. And outside of Prayag, the great confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the most revered confluences are in the Garhwal Himalayas. Since the two mighty rivers and tributaries trace their source to these mountains, the points at which they meet are sanctified as major pilgrimage centers. It is here that propitiatory and cleansing ceremonies are performed as part of the tenets of Hindu religion. Five Prayags are Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karna Prayag, Rudra Prayag and Deo Prayag.

 

Dev Prayag
Deo Prayag is regarded as the most complete showcase of legends, heritage and tradition. If on one hand Lord Rama and his father King Dashratha did penence here. On the other, some of the oldest stone inscriptions in the region can be found here. However, the most celebrated event at Deo Prayag is the congregation of devotees, who come here to worship the image of Lord Rama at Raghunath temple. Located at a height of only 618 mts, Deo Prayag is an invocation to the gods who have generously endowed this spot with tremendous natural beauty. Other believes its name comes from a Brahmin priest who meditated here for long years, asking for the birth of Vishnu's incarnation, finally granted in the guise of Ram. For most Indians, this confluence is no less holy then the Sangam at Allahabad.

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Rudra Prayag
When the Alaknanda and the MandaKini, two of the most beautiful among Himalayan rivers, meet, the confluence is called Rudra Prayag. Here so says legend, the sage Narada came, hoping to complete with Shiva ( or Rudra ) in a music composition. The smug sage was humbled, however, when the nymphs of musical composition complaint about his insensitive handling of musical composition. It was here, also that Shiva's wife, Sati was reborn after her self - immolation because her father had humiliated her husband. In her new wife, as the daughter of Himalaya, she did penence here to ask the boon of Shiva as a husband once again.

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Karan Prayag
The icy flow from the Pindari glacial becomes the Pindari river, and when it joins the Alaknanda at 788mts, the confluence is known as Karna Prayag. The wooded thickets of the hills surrounding Karna Prayag were the meeting ground for Shakuntala and Dhyanta, immortalised in Kalidasa's immortal classic of the same name, and a favorite ballad ever since, There is a temple dedicated to Karna here, the son of queen Kunti and her fiery lover , Lord Surya. Karna's lineage was kept a secret, but he practiced austerities before his father and was granted the boon of a pair of earrings and armour that made him invincible, Ultimately, he fell in the bettle the Pandavas and Kauravas, but he remin a tragic hero for in life he never had the legitimacy he desired. Other temple at the confluence are dedicated to Narayan, Gopal, Shiva and Uma.

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Nand Prayag
The confluences of the Alaknanda and Nandakini rivers forms Nand Prayag at 914 mts. Trekkers are often seen here on their way to Tapovan across Kunwari pass, or on their way to Roopkund. This beautiful spot is a major tourist point. It is said that the confluence is named for the pious Raja Nanda who had performed a huge fire purification ceremony here. According to one legend, the king had been granted to Devaki, the imprisoned sister of the tyrant king Kansa. Ultimately, the gods found an ingenuous if wily solution: Vishnu would be born as Krishna to Devaki but would be brought up by Nanda's wife, yashoda.

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Vishnu Prayag
Formed by the confluences of the impetuous Vishnu Ganga (known, after this point, as the Alaknanda) and the Dhauliganga rivers, Vishnu Prayag, 1,372 mts. has an ancient temple here by a pool called Vishukund. It is said that the sage Narada worshipped Vishnu at this sanctified spot, and the Lord, pleased with his austerities, had given him his blessings. Visitors are find the Kagbhusandi lake bewitching with its emerald green depths giving it a still surface, while on the banks, blossoms evoke the colours of nature in all her glory. The lake can be approached from either Bhundar village near Ghangaria or from Vishnu Prayag.

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