Why Dev Prayag?
It is an early morning in Rishikesh. I have a day at leisure and am checking out day trips from Rishikesh. Dev Prayag, a small town in the Tehri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand in India, catches my eyes while searching on Google for places to visit nearby.
Why Dev Prayag? Well, this is the place where the most sacred of rivers for Hindus, the Holy Ganga or Ganges originates. Prayag is a Sanskrit word which means “confluence” and Dev means ”God” so the name translates to “confluence of Gods”. All through my life, I was under the misconception that Ganga, starts at the Gangotri Glacier, in the Himalayas.
Bhagirathi, one of the major water tributaries of river Ganga rises at the foot of Gangotri Glacier at Gomukh and meets Alaknanda river, flowing from the Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers which are near the border of Tibet.
Legend behind Ganga
Those of us who are familiar with the Hindu religion, are aware that Hindus consider Ganga River as the most sacred body of water and worship the river as a Goddess. Most of the Hindu pilgrimage cities are along the banks of the river.
According to Hindu Mythology, an Indian king, Bhagiratha pleaded with Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe and all beings, to bring River Ganga or Goddess Ganga, daughter of Himalaya, the Mountain God, to the Earth from the heavens.
However, there was a problem. Ganga was very powerful and would damage everything if it flowed on earth. Hence, Bhagiratha begged the mighty Lord Shiva to help contain its force. Shiva gently lowered the river in his hair taking 1000 years to do so. Once Ganga arrived on earth, Bhagiratha guided her across India where she split into many tributaries.
Ganga is considered to be a crossing point between heaven and earth also known as a ‘Tirtha’. There is a belief that at a tirtha, prayers and offerings are most likely to reach the gods and blessings of Gods are most likely to be received.
Journey to Dev Prayag
The map shows that it is just 74 Kilometres from Rishikesh and Google gives the impression that it would be a 2 and a half hour ride.
Well it’s a long journey and all those of us who have travelled in the mountains know that a 74 km distance which normally would take at the most two hours can easily translate into 4. The road is good in stretches but some parts are really really bad.
30 kms into the journey I feel as if I have made the wrong decision. It is extremely hot and that is surprising considering that the town of Dev Prayag is situated at an elevation of 830 m above sea level.
There are a lot of twists and turns on the mountainous terrain and I do feel a churning in my stomach. I let the feeling pass. In a while, the view calms me down as I pass the green hills covered with tall deodar trees. The mountains, the river running parallel, in a deep ravine, now here, now there make for a panoramic view. I think that is what the mountains do to us. They show us that that challenges are what make life worthy.
At Dev Prayag.
The driver stops the car. Dev Prayag is a small town and can be covered on foot and is surrounded by 3 peaks, namely Dashrathanchal Parvat, Giddhanchal Parvat, and Narsinghancal Parvat.
The locals give friendly smiles as I walk around. From there it is a a bit of a small hike, a walk on the bridge, on the narrow streets and then finally the ‘confluence’.
There is a small bathing ghat and amazingly, a small cave.
The beauty all around is stunning. The emerald hued roaring Bhagirathi on one side and the calmer, darker, muddier Alaknanda coming from the other side, meet and form the Ganga. It is a spectacular sight, the confluence or Prayag of the two rivers and all the tiredness of the journey melts away.
I spend some time soaking in the beauty and thinking how India is dotted with such gems and how little we know about our history.
I return to Rishikesh, calm and happy at having seen the stunning beauty of Dev Prayag, and the origin of the river Ganga. The whole trip takes around 9 hours as a day trip from Rishikesh. Dev Prayag is also on the route to Badrinath and is definitely worth a stop over.
Nearest Airport is the Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun while the nearest railway stations are Rishikesh (74 kms) and Haridwar (94 kms). It is an easy day trip from Rishikesh and Haridwar and takes around 8-10 hours for a round trip. Buses and cabs ply from both the cities. Dev Prayag in itself is a small town and can be covered easily on foot.
Read my post on Haridwar here.
The journey and the destination, both will be great memories for me. The sight of the two rivers meeting is priceless and to see the origin of Ganga, well, that’s one off the bucket list.
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