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Himalayas, Pancha Prayags - Sri Ramanin Padhayil

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Himalayas, Pancha Prayags - Sri Ramanin Padhayil
Bhagwan Sri Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita that "I am the Himalayas among the mountains". Himam means snow. The name "Himalaya" comes from the Sanskrit language and means "the House of Snow" or "the Snowy Range". The Himalaya Range is the highest mountain system in the world. It is said that seeing, climbing, staying and even uttering the name of Himalaya will bestow punya (pious deed). Millions of years ago, these mountain peaks didn't exist. The Asian continent was mostly intact, but India was an island floating off the coast of Australia. Around 220 million years ago, around the time that Pangea was breaking apart, India started to move northwards. It travelled some 6,000 kilometres before it finally collided with Asia around 40 to 50 million years ago. Then, part of the Indian landmass began to go beneath the Asian one, moving the Asian landmass up, which resulted in the rise of the Himalayas. The Himalayas abut or cross six countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the first three countries having sovereignty over most of the range. Most of the rivers have its origin in the Himalayas.

Among them the major Himalayan river is Ganga, which was brought by the great king Bhagiratha to the Earth from heaven. The Ganga is known as Bhagirathi, after King Bhagiratha. Alkapuri is located above the Badrikasharam. Since Ganga originates from AlkaPuri, she is known as river Alaknanda. On the other side we have Gangotri glacier, from where Ganga originates and this is known as river Bhagirathi. So we have two rivers - Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. Many such rivers are flowing in Himalayas. The river flowing near Badrikasharam in known as Alaknanda. We have two mountains in Badrikasharam - Nara and Narayanan. The Nara Parvatham (mountain) is on the Eastern bank of Alaknanda river and Narayana parvatham on the west bank of Alknanda river. The mountain Nara is lower in height than Narayana.

Himalayas, Pancha Prayags - Sri Ramanin Padhayil
In-between Nara and Narayana mountains, beautiful Alaknanda river flows. When Bhagiratha brought Ganga with force on to the earth to pass through Himalaya, Himalaya stopped it. Then Airavata (Indra’s white elephant), pierced the Himalaya through his tusk, which created split in the mountain as Nara and Narayana mountains, and let the Ganga flow in between.

The above event is stated in Periya Thirumozhi verse 1-4-6 by Alwars:

Kaaranan thannaal kadum puyal kayaththa karuvari pilavu
Ezhak kuththi vaaranam konarntha gangai

Meaning: The Ganges in its mighty flow, splits dark mountain rocks, and pushing mighty elephants down the slopes.

The Himalayas feature a fragile ecosystem. We should not tamper it by coming up with many construction projects. The sacred mantra (tiru-mantram - Om namo narayanaya - Ashtakshara Mantra) was preached by Sriman Narayana to Sri Nara, at Badarikasrama. Now we saw the place where Ganga originates. Ganga, Gita, Govinda and Gayatri are the four words beginning with the consonant 'ga'. The person who incorporate these four ga's will obtain pious deeds. Now we are on the banks of river Ganga where river Son is joining Ganga. In this place, Vishwamitra narrated the birth story of Ganga in detail to Lord Rama and Lakshmana.

Although many small streams comprise the headwaters of the Ganges, the six longest and their five confluences are considered sacred. The six headstreams are the Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini, and Bhagirathi rivers. The five confluences, known as the Panch Prayag, are all along the Alaknanda. They are, in downstream order, Vishnuprayag, where the Dhauliganga joins the Alaknanda; Nandprayag, where the Nandakini joins; Karnaprayag, where the Pindar joins, Rudraprayag, where the Mandakini joins; and finally, Devprayag, where the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda to form the Ganges River proper.


01. Devprayag (Located at a distance of 70 KMs from Rishikesh)

02. Rudraprayag (Located at a distance of 140 KMs from Rishikesh)

03. Karnaprayag (Located at a distance of 169 KMs from Rishikesh)

04. Nandaprayag (Located at a distance of 190 KMs from Rishikesh)

05. Vishnuprayag (Located at a distance of 256 KMs from Rishikesh)


Vishnu Prayag:

Vishnu Prayag
Nanda Prayag:

Nanda Prayag
Karna Prayag:

Karna Prayag
Rudra Prayag:

Rudra Prayag
Deva Prayag:

Deva Prayag
To reach these places, one can go till Delhi and then reach Rishikesh/Haridwar. From there we need to take small buses/Jeeps to travel further. The path is narrow and at times we might even think that the wheels of our vehicle is outside the path. If we look down the valley we shall see a silver line following us which is the river. During the night the entire place is under control of the military and hence the gate needs to be opened and the gate needs to be opened for us to go up or come down. Yatra to Badri is a wonderful experience.

Let see Deva Prayag in detail in upcoming articles.


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