Panch Prayag – Where Moksha Finds its Meaning
Prayag meaning confluence in Hinduism signifies the unification of two holy rivers. This sangam is believed to possess the power to eternally cleanse a being who takes a dip and open the doorway to moksha (liberation).
Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhoomi (land of gods), is home to the five confluences; known as Panch Prayag. They are Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. They flow through the route carved by River Alakananda beginning from Satopanth glacier to meet Dhauliganga, Pindar, Bhagirathi, Nandakini and Mandakini Rivers.
Know the Holy Confluences
First in the list of Prayags is Vishnuprayag; named after Lord Vishnu. At 35 km it flows downstream from Badrinath. As per legend, this is the place where Sage Narada meditated and Lord Vishnu appeared before him. Alakananda, here got the name of Vishnu Ganga as it meets Dhauliganga. Apart from religious significance, Vishuprayag is also visited by trekkers and hikers.
Nandprayag, second in the list, is said to have been named after Lord Krishna’s foster father Nanda. This is the place where River Alaknanda connects with River Nandakini that emerges from the foot of Nanda Devi Peak. Pilgrims who come here to take a holy dip also go for a nature walk in the lush green surroundings and quaint villages. Those who wish to do some meditation find ultimate solace here.
Named after Karna, the legendary character of Mahabharata, Karnaprayag has a huge religious significance. It is formed over the confluence of Alaknanda and Pindari Rivers. The town has some famous temples like Chandika Mata Mandir, Uma Devi Temple, Adi Bari Temple and Karna Temple. As per the Hindu legend, this is the place where Karna performed penance and worshipped Sun God. In return he was gifted the indestructible kavacha (armour) and kundala (ear rings). People who come here also take a trip in the surrounding villages and explore the life of the village folks.
One of the most popular pilgrimages in India, Rudraprayag sits on the confluence of River Alaknanda and Mandakini. This is believed to be the place, where Lord Shiva performed tandava (dance of destruction) and also played his Rudra Veena. Temples of Lord Rudranath and Goddess Chamunda are visited by Hindus from all over the country.
Last in the list is Devprayag, where River Alaknanda meets Bhagirathi. Meaning Godly confluence, this is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and his father King Dasharatha used to perform self-mortification. Pilgrims going to Badrinath pass through this place while on a visit to the temple.