Panch Prayag, Part 4
BY: SUN STAFF
Nandaprayag: Confluence of the Nandakini and Alaknanda Rivers
Dec 31, 2012 CANADA (SUN) Places of Pilgrimage: A serial exploration of the Pancha Prayag.
Nanda Prayag is the second prayag in the cascade sequence of confluences coming down from the Garhwal Himalayas. This prayag is the point where the Alaknanda River, which at this point also embodies the Dhauli-ganga, joins up with the sacred Nandakini River.
This section of the Garhwal Himalayan range is deeply cut into by the headwaters of the Alaknanda. The major portion of the Alaknanda river basin falls in Chamoli district. From its source up to Hallang (58 km), the valley is known as the Upper Alaknanda Valley. Below, it is the Lower Alaknanda Valley. While moving from its source, the river flows in a narrow deep gorge between the mountain slopes of Alkapuri, from which it derives its name. The Nandakini rises from the Semudra Glaciers on the western slopes of Trishul mountains, joining the Alaknanda at Nandprayag.
The confluence gets its name from the Yadava king Nanda, the foster-father of Sri Krishna, and there is a temple of Gopal Krishna here. Nanda Maharaja is said to have performed a great sacrifice at this spot.
Nandakini River (foreground) meets the Alaknanda River (background)
at Nandprayag in the Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand
Ravana is said to have done austerities here, and the sage Kanva also performed tapasya here. This prayag is well known as the spot where the wedding of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala took place. The story of Shakuntala, told in the Sanskrit play by Kalidasa, describes King Dushyanta meeting Shakuntala, daughter of the sage Vishvamitra, while on a hunting trip.
Nandaprayag is also associated with Badrinath Temple, being the Char-dhama whose sacred waters flow south as the Alaknanda. The town at the confluence is in the Nagar panchayat in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, situated at 1,358 metres (4,455 feet) above sea level.
The site of Nandaprayag is also mentioned in the Mahabharata:
"In the midst of big trees, the sacred river Malini was flowing. The water of this river was sweet and sacred. This ashram was spread out on both the banks of river. In this sacred river different types of birds used to come and stay. Due to the tapovanam on both the sides, the ashram was even more beautiful. Here poisonous creatures and wild animals used to stay together in peace. On seeing this, Raja Dushyanta was filled with joy and happiness."
Bangali Village near Nandprayag
Malini is the river name that preceded Alaknanda, and it was the river that flowed through the forest where the ashram of Kanva Rishi resided. Although there is some disagreement on the location of Kanva Rishi's asrama, Ramayana (1.68) seems to confirm that the Malini here is the river at Nandaprayag, being the river "flowing between the passing Aparatala Mountain and the northern end of Pralamba Mountain.
There are a number of annual festivals held at Nandaprayag, including Makar Sankranti, when devotees come to take a very chilly sacred bath at Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag and Kedernath, and Raksha-bandhan, likewise held at Kedernath and Karna Prayag).
Grove Garden at Nandprayag
Sources: Chamoli District Government, Anbu@IndiaTravel17Wordpress, Wikipedia
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