Dev Prayag – where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda become the Ganga
Altitude : 472 mtr.
Devprayag, 37 Kms from Biasi and 70 km from Rishikesh, is the first important town on this route. Here the Bhagirathi from Gaumukh and the Alaknanda from Alkapuri glaciers north of Sri Badrinath meet and become the sacred Ganga. In the literal sense, Devprayag is the birthplace of the Ganga and is next only to Prayagraj in its importance as a confluence. It is a delightful and fascinating sight to watch the Bhagirathi, and Alaknanda mingling to form the Ganga that flows majestically through sculptured channels carved through the rocks. This sight reminds one of the story of King Bhagirath’s undaunted efforts in carrying the Ganga in a canal to the Ashram of sage Kapil where the ashes of 60000 sons of king Sagar were to be cleansed. Garhwal is known for five Prayags ( Panch Prayags) and Dev Prayag is the first of these to be followed by Rudra Prayag, Karna Prayag, Nand Prayag and Vishnu Prayag.
These three great rivers ie Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Ganga have carved out three angular blocks of land around the Sangam and the town is picturesquely set into these conical formations. The confluence area is extremely rocky and the houses have been constructed with surprising ingenuity in this difficult land formation. Most interesting are the bridges that connect the three blocks of the town and the narrow lanes carved out of the rocks.
Visitors are happy to visit the Sangam and enjoy a refreshing bath. It is at the sangam where pind (a prasadam made of flour balls) is offered to ancestors. One has to be extremely careful while at the sangam as the steps can be slippery and the waters can be ruthlessly sweeping. The iron chains provided on the steps should always be used as safety measure.
The most important temple at Devprayag is the temple of Raghunathji, which was first constructed by the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal. This temple was damaged in an earthquake in 1803 and was renovated by one Dev Sharma, a follower of Ramanujacharya. The existing temple is the one reconstructed by Daulat Rao Scindia who had once come here on pilgrimage. The temple is 80 ft high with a tall image of Lord Vishnu made of black granite. Sri Vishnu and Sri Raghunath ji are two names of the same ultimate One.
There also is a small temple in Devprayag known as Bharat Mandir. It is said that when the Bharat Mandir of Rishikesh was feared to be the target of Aurangzeb’s religious adventurism, the pujaris fled Rishikesh with the idol of Bharatji and installed the same in a small make shift temple at Devprayag for some time. When the clouds of persecution passed over, the pujaris took the idol back to Rishikesh, but the small temple at Devprayag continues to be known as Bharat Mandir in recluse.
The pandas of Sri Badrinath hail from this town. Most of the pandas are pandits and are scholarly. Their knowledge of Sanskrit comes as a family inheritance. A local pandit called Sri Chakradhar Joshi had established an elaborate observatory known as Vidya Mandir. This institute is considered to be the base for astronomical and astrlogical learning in this area. The observatory has a library with a collection of large number of books and hand written manuscripts dealing with subjects of ancient learnings. This observatory is open to visitors.
From Devprayag, the road goes along the right bank of the Alaknanda for a distance of 29 km up to Kirtinagar, a small township founded by one of the former Maharajas of Tehri Garhwal named Kirti Shah. Here Alaknanda is crossed over on a bridge to its left bank and then at 6 km comes the town of Srinagar. The road from Devprayag to Srinagar is all level driving with out any climbs or downhill runs. It passes through Bagwan, Maletha and Kirti Nagar.
Excursion to Chandrabadni: Uttarakhand is known for several shakti peethas or the shrines of goddess Durga, the repository of power and energy. Chandrabadni is one of them and is at a distance of 30 km on a mountain road leading to Tehri. The temple, located at a height of 2756m, is visited by scores of local devotees who have to trek the final distance of 1 km to reach the temple. Devotees are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Himalayas.
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