Thematic Trips: The Panch Prayag of Ganga

In Uttarakhand state, the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar are the only towns that see Ganga river in its entirety. To their east, several towns see the tributaries that make up the mighty river. Several rivers make up India’s longest river — a river that is considered a Goddess or a mother figure by the Hindus. The three major rivers that play the biggest part are Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini. All of them are in the Garhwal region, the region that forms the northern half of the state of Uttarakhand. At the origin of these three rivers are three holy pilgrimages which are part of Uttarakhand’s Char Dham (the 4 abodes): Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. The fourth Dham is Yamnotri, which is the source of Yamuna river. Yamuna plays no part in the Ganga river system within Uttarakhand, in fact not before Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. So let’s ignore Yamuna for this post. We’ll come back to Her in another post.

Along with three of the four Dhams, there are 5 more places that are holy for a different purpose.  These are the places where the major tributaries join forces to form a bigger river. These places are known as Prayags or Sangams. Since there are 5 holy unions, they are collectively termed as the Panch Prayag. In relation to the Char Dham, the 5 Prayags are less known, but they make up extremely beautiful destinations. Let’s go on a beautiful and interesting journey, following the tributaries of river Ganga and pause at the places where She joins other rivers and becomes a bigger river. We will have a closer look at each of the 5 Prayags.

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