India is a nation known for its majestic mountain ranges, thick forests and also the bountiful rivers that are the countries lifelines. Great rivers such as the Ganges, the Yamuna, Narmada, Carvery and more have proven to be the pride of India. With many rivers, there are bound to be confluences - points where two or more rivers join and flow in unison. The confluences which are formed by other rivers joining the Alaknanda River are considered as scared points by the Hindus.
There are five such river confluences in India known as the ‘Panch Prayag'. These five confluences have even been mentioned in the ancient vedic scriptures and puranas as sacred sites. Worshippers practice various rituals at these conferences such as taking dips to rid themselves of their sins, performing the last rites of the departed and so on. Apart from being religious sites, the five Panch Prayags are also major tourist destinations for their scenic beauty.
On the occasion of major Indian festivals such as Makara Sankranthi, Uttarayan and Basanth Panchami a large number of devotees are seen taking holy baths in the Panch Prayag. Read along to know more about the five sacred river confluences of India.
Formed from the union of River Alaknanda and River Saraswati near Mana, this confluence of rivers then flows in front of the revered Lord Badrinath Shrine.
Later this confluence joins the Dhauli Ganga river. There is a temple at the Vishnuprayag confluence which houses a Vishnu idol inside and there is also a beautiful pool which is known as the Vishnu Kund.
The second river confluence of the five Panch Prayags is the Nandprayag where River Nandakini is joined by River Alaknanda. Though there are many legends about this sacred confluence, the important one states that, King Nanda performed a fire-sacrifice at this place and hence the confluence was named after him. Devotees can also visit the Lord Gopal shrine here, who is another form of Lord Krishna.
Formed at the place where River Alaknanda meets River Pindar, the Karna Prayag is also one of the Panch Prayag. Epic Mahabharata states that Karna performed a penance here which resulted in him acquiring the protective armor and earrings from his father, the Sun God. The Karnaprayag has also been mentioned in Megaduth, a work by the great poet Kalidasa. Visitors can see temples dedicated to Karna, Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha here.
Named after Lord Shiva's form ‘Rudra', this holy confluence is formed by the union of River Alaknanda and River Mandakini. According to popular legends, Lord Shiva performed the ‘Rudra Tandava', a form of intense dance. at this place and hence the name. Shrines of Lord Rudranath and Goddess Chamunda are found here.
The Devprayag is formed by the holy union of River Alaknanda and River Bhagirathi.
Legends say that a poor Brahmin, Deva Sharma performed penance here and was blessed by Lord Rama, hence the name. In addition, Raghunath Math, a shrine of Lord Rama can be visited here which houses a 15 feet tall black granite idol of Lord Rama. A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and ancient inscriptions can also be witnessed at Devprayag.