Celebrated the New year in Devprayag The mystical birthplace of The Ganga .
Uttarakhand, popularly known as the Dev Bhoomi (land of Gods) and is also the site of the much sought after Char Dham Yatra in India. The Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath Dham.The state is also the source of the two major north India rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna. Geographically, 86% of the state is covered by mountains and 65% by forests.
The Panch Prayag meaning the sacred five confluences orchestrated by the mother nature is present in the Dev Bhoomi. They are namely, Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag, (mentioned as per the descending flow sequence).
Since time immemorial rivers are the lifeblood for any civilisation including the natural flora and fauna that it also supports. Our rivers are our basic providers in life. In India we worship our rivers next to God and their importance has been clearly mentioned in all of our ancient scripts. Ganga is the holiest river in India and is revered both spiritually and scientifically therefore we rightly call her Maa Ganga. In this blog we intend to share how and where is Ganga born in India.
Devprayag meaning "Godly confluence" is the first confluence that one will come across when we are travelling towards Badrinath Dham from the plains. Devprayag is the womb where the mystical river Ganga is born.This place is not as popular as Haridwar and Rishikesh but the place has its own importance. Dev Prayag is a small town located in the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand and is around 310 kms from Delhi and 70 kms away from Rishikesh. located on the highway between Rishikesh and Kedarnath. Locals say that the original venue of Kumbh Mela was supposed to be in Devprayag however due to lack of infrastructure and space, it gets organised in Rishikesh.
Our journey from home
As we were travelling from Delhi our first halt was planned Rishikesh.We decide to take a day halt here and immerse ourselves in the calmness that the place offers.
We have been to Rishikesh several times and we also happen to know the place like the back of our hands and yet it is one of the first go to places for us when we intend to disconnect with our hectic city life. This time was it was definitely more special as we watched last Ganga Aarti of the passing year at the ghats.
Around midnight we peaceful welcomed the new year overlooking the Ganga . This by far has been one of the best new year I have ever spent in my life so far.
We decided to call it a night pretty soon as we were really looking forward to the next day in Devprayag and also because it would be our first time ever.
The Day of New year
Next morning we stared around 6:30 am from Rishikesh on our Royal Enfield Classic 350, after crossing Shivpuri and moving further ahead on Badrinath highway we realised that we had underestimated the weather as we were feeling the morning chill inspite of our jackets, warm liners and gear. Around 8:30am we decided to stop by in one of the tea stalls in a village on the way. We ordered for our desi chai, while it was being prepared we took out a few more warm clothes from our backpack , we felt much better after packing ourselves further more with the woollens and undoubtedly the hot cup of chai also added to the sigh of relief .
A pleasant surprise
As we were sipping our tea and chatting about the Char Dham road which is under construction and because of which we had to stop very frequently, we suddenly saw a small Shiva temple next to us and a flight of stairs going downwards adjoining the temple, we decided to explore the way. As we climbed down the stairs we couldn't believe our eyes, we didn't expect such a serene beach by the river at a stone's throw away. We were so glad with our decision and patted our back as we stood on the white sand beach stretching far and wide.
Moving ahead towards Devprayag
As we continued our journey towards Devprayag and we had glimpses of aerial view of the meandering Ganga the ride was refreshingly pleasant. We spotted Devprayag from the highway around 11:40am and we were literally dumbfounded. What we saw could not be expressed in words, it was visceral feeling. We had previously heard about the place and seen many pictures but the experience was nothing close to what we saw on social media. We parked our motor cycle in a near buy place and entered the temple complex which was on the other side of the river though there was bridge that connected both the sides but we were not sure about parking facilities across. So we followed the signage to the temple entry and parked out vehicle and started walking towards that magnetic spot. The flight of stairs down the slope seemed never ending but we were extremely excited and almost couldn't resist the anticipation to be right there, so we galloped quickly.
Walking down the slopes
We crossed many settlements as we descended through the stairs, this place is also the home of the priests of Badrinath they had settled here a thousand years ago when they had migrated from the southern India with Adiguru Shankaracharya every panda as they are called has a own region assigned to them in the whole country, they stay 6 months in Badrinath and the remaining time in devprayag , each of them play a very important role for the yatris from their own region visiting Badirnath every year, as they are responsible for everything including food, stay ,darshan and pooja of all those devotees. The story of these pandas is also very intriguing they are supposed to have some thousand year old literature which has information about the devotee's last 3-4 generations and all pandas have various types of books containing the yatri's information, like Bahi, Daskhati etc and every yatri can be identified with the help of these books.
Geographically Devprayag is surrounded by three peaks Giddhanchal Parvat, Dashrathanchal Parvat, and Narsinghancal Parvat. As we were absorbing the vibes of the place while walking we finally reached close to the holy union of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda, it is also believed that the mythical river Saraswati remains underground and meets these two rivers at the confluence. Bhagirathi flows from Gaumukh and Alakanda flows from Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak glacier near tibet border. Alaknanda meets Saraswati in Mana village near Badrinath and flows ahead.
Watching the sacred confluence is overpowering
Standing by the triangular bank we watched the heavenly confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, as both these rivers come flowing from the either sides with strikingly different colours and temperaments. Alaknanda is vivacious and Bhagirathi is deeply intense, it is indeed a mystical experience to watch the the two mighty rivers become one and flow ahead as the holy Ganga crossing the plains and finally empties herself into Ganga Sagar (confluence of Ganga into the Bay of Bengal).The sound that they make while they approach and meet is trance like. A perfect place to become one with the nature.
Do you know how Devprayag got its name?Long ago a sage named Dev Sharma led his ascetic life here by the sacred confluence and this place was named after him.
People and their engagements observed
You will see many devotees offering their prayer and also take a holy dip, this area is protected with iron chains to stop over enthusiast devotees being carried away by the strong current of the confluence .The course of the river here is said to be very deep.We offered our prayers to the divine and spent some quiet time sitting by the bank on the stairs and watching the confluence we then bought a small container from the local market to fill Ganga jal and carry her back with us.
There is a cave temple dedicated to lord shiva just by the confluence and several devotees offer ganga jal on the shiva linga. There are many other temples in the complex with historic relevance. Raghunathji temple is the main temple here in the complex.
We did see a few devotees littering the Ganga with left over items of their worship rituals, we peacefully managed to stop them. We would urge our readers to take charge and show care in such places to prevent such malpractices towards mother nature.
Things to do besides the confluence
A walk in the pundal village which is just by the confluence would be highly recommended by us , you can explore the three local markets and find out about their culture and also see how those people live throughout the year maybe you probably get to know about their history while talking to them,
You would't find any restaurants market near the confluence side, only a few sweet shops, We bought the popular garwali mithai from Devprayag called singori (sweet wrapped in a form of a cone with maalu leaves) and bal mithai (caramelised khoya with sugar balls on top) from one of the shops.
Facilities in and around Devprayag
For food and accommodation one has to get back on the highway as there are quite a few accommodation options available with excellent view of the Ganga and there are restaurants as well.
After spending the afternoon here we moved further towards Karnaprayag depending where we manage to reach considering the road condition we will decide our night halt. Our final destination was Auli for this trip so had a long way to go.
We will share our further experiences in our next blog. Thanks for reading .