Panch Prayag, Part 3


Deity of Lord Vishnu at Vishnuprayag

Dec 30, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — Places of Pilgrimage: A serial exploration of the Pancha Prayag.

Vishnu Prayag

The Alaknanda River, which originates on the eastern slopes of the glacier fields at Chaukhamba, is joined by the Saraswathi River near Mana, which originates on the south from the international border. It then flows in front of the Badrinath Temple, one of the most revered Char-dhama shrines. It goes on to meet the Dhauli Ganges River, whose origin is around Niti Pass, after traveling a distance of 25 km (15.5 mi) from its source to form the Vishnu Prayag. Vishnu Prayag is situated 10 km past Joshimath, on the Joshimath–Badrinath road, at an elevation of 1372 meters above sea level.

Small temple at Vishnuprayag

This stretch of the Alaknanda River is known as the Vishnu Ganges. Although Vishnu Prayag is the smallest of the five prayags, this confluence is quite breathtaking. The waters of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga meet at a very high speed here at Vishnuprayag, giving pilgrims a terrific view of the potency of these sacred rivers.

Vishnu Prayag

There is a small octagonal temple located near the confluence. The current shrine is dated to 1889, and credited to Ahalyabai, the Maharani of Indore, although the original temple here is said to be 2,000 years old. Lord Visnu resides here in His vigraha form, being a very beautiful marble deity of the Lord in a sitting posture. The temple has a large compound where pilgrims gather. Making pilgrimage to Vishnuprayag is considered equal to visiting the Triveni Sangam at Allahabad.

Confluence of the Dhauli-ganga (right) and Vishnu-ganga (left), forming the river Alaknanda
at Vishnu Prayag, in the outer Garhwal Himalayas

One stairway from the temple leads to the Vishnu kund, and another to a ghat at the confluence of Alakananda and Dhauliganga. Dhauliganga travels 80 km, rising to an altitude of 5,000 meters before meeting Alakananda here at Vishnuprayag. The Alakananda, one of the two headwaters of the Ganga, rises at Satopanth glacier and flows about 190 km before meeting the Bhagirati River at Devprayag.

    "Alakananda flows from the southern side of Brahmapuri. Passing over the tops of mountains in various lands, it falls down with fierce force upon the peaks of the mountains Hemakuṭa and Himakuṭa. After inundating the tops of those mountains, the Ganges falls down onto the tract of land known as Bharata which she also inundates. Then the Ganges flows into the ocean of salt water in the south. Persons who come to bathe in this river are fortunate."
    (Bhagavata-purana 5.17.9)

Ganga headwaters seen from space, flowing down from the Himalayas

The great sage Narada came to worship Lord Vishnu at this prayag, and there is a small Rishi Narada temple here at the sangam. Sage Narada performed austerities here for many years, and is said to have ascended from this holy Vishnuprayag. The Pandava brothers are also said to have passed through Vishnuprayag while enroute to the deep Himalayas.

There are no sizeable cities near Vishnuprayag. The closest towns to this tirtha are Joshinath (1.2 km), and Pandukeshwar (9.3 km). Badrinath Dham is 20.2 km from Vishnuprayag, at an altitude of 3,133 meters above sea level. The Vishnu Deity at Badrinath was installed during the 9th century by Adi Shankaracharya. The temple is situated on the right bank of the Alaknanda River.

The Alaknanda River at Vishnu Prayag

Also nearby is Hanuman Chatti, a few kilometers away from the Vishnuprayag. A murti of Hanuman resides there, in the place where Hanuman met the great Bhima and tested his strength.

Vishnuprayag - Confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga

Sources: IndiaTravel17@Wordpress, Wikipedia, Yahoo India-Travel


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