|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Panchaprayaga (पंचप्रयाग) is an expression used to connote the five sacred river confluences in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, India. The five prayags - prayag meaning "place of sacrifice" in Sanskrit - also termed as "Prayag pentad" are Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag, in the descending flow sequence of their occurrence.
It starts with the Vishnu Prayag on the Alaknanda River, which is one of the two source streams of the river Ganges in the Garhwal Himalayas; the other streams are the Dhauliganga, Mandakini, Pindar and the Bhagirathi - the head stream of the Ganges.
Alaknanda descending from the foot of the Satopanth (a triangular lake, which is located at a height of 4,402 m (14,442.3 ft), above the sea level and named after the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers near the Nanda Devi peak, in Uttarakhand cascades over a length of 229 km (142.3 mi) encompassing the five prayags and is joined at Dev Prayag by the Bhagirathi, a shorter river source vis-à-vis Alaknanda to form the main stream of the Ganges. It flows down south towards Rishikesh and Haridwar, two holy places on the bank of the Ganges in Uttarakhand.
At each of the confluences, with large influx of pilgrims who visit the state for the pilgrimage of the Panch Kedar and Sapta Badri temples, large religious towns have developed. Pilgrims take a dip in the river at these locations before embarking on visiting the holy shrines in the "Deva Bhumi" (god's land) as Uttarakhand is commonly known. The religious towns are named after the confluence sites as: Devaprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, except Vishnuprayag, where there is no town but it is about 12 km from Joshimath town another famous Hindu religious centre), along a winding road that further leads to Badrinath Temple and beyond. Some pilgrims do ablution at all the five prayags before worshiping Vishnu at Badrinath.
गढ़वाल में नदियों के संगम पर बसे स्थानों को गंगा-यमुना के संगम पर बसे प्रसिद्ध प्रयाग की अनुकृति पर प्रयाग कहा जाता है।
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