Prayag means a union of two rivers. Allahabad boasts of the most pious Prayag – the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. However, much before Ganga becomes Ganga, it goes through five major Prayag. These Pancha Prayag (five confluences) are all situated in the Devbhoomi (Abode of Gods) as Uttarakhand is called.
The topmost one is Vishnu-Prayag. Alaknanda flowing from the Satopanth meets Dhouliganga near Joshimath. It flows down to Nanda-Prayag where River Nandakini joins Alaknanda. The third Prayag is Karna-Prayag where River Pindar flows into Alaknanda River. At Rudra-Prayag, Ganges is met by River Mandakini. Finally, it flows down to Dev-Prayag where it meets the Bhagirathi river and after this confluence, the river is called Ganga which flows down to Haridwar.
Rudraprayag has two main legends about the name. One is that Narada Muni sat on a stone at this confluence and offered austerities to Lord Shiva because he wanted to learn music. Shiva appeared in his Rudra avatar and taught him all the music. Even now, there is a stone called Narad Sheela (Stone of Narada) right next to the meeting point of the rivers. The second legend goes that Lord Shiva in his Rudra avatar performed his vigorous dance – Tandava at this place. It is the dance that sets into motion the eternal cycle of life and death and life again.
The spot where the two glittering white rivers meet forming a land triangle is mesmerizing. You can spend hours just watching and listening to the roars of the two rivers and soak in the positive energies of raw nature. The waters of both are chilly, but the pilgrims take a holy dip at the Prayag before moving on with their journey. Rudraprayag today is a small town which is flourishing mainly as a religious place- being on the route to Badrinath and Kedarnath.
The town is generously blessed by nature, surrounded by spellbinding views of snow covered Himalayan peaks, covered in thick forest rich in flora and fauna, lakes and glaciers and great weather all the year around.
The place is teeming with ancient temples. The most prominent temples here are Rudranath or Lord Shiva temple, Chamundadevi and Koteshwar temple. Chamundadevi is worshiped as a consort of Lord Shiva here. Koteshwar temple is situated in natural caves and the word literally means ‘ten million Gods’. Kartikeya Temple is at about 3 kilometers’ trek from Rudraprayag and Basukedar temple is known for the tranquility it offers for meditation. Lord Shiva Himself is said to have sat and meditated here before moving on to Kedarnath.
Close by, in Chopta village there is Tungeshwara Maharaj Temple which is supposed to be built by the Pandavas. They stopped and meditated to atone their sins of killing their brothers in the Kurukshetra war, after building a temple here. The idols are of Shiva and Parvati and are dated to be 1000 years old.
A newer aspect of Rudraprayag is its emergence as an adventure sports center. It is an ideal starting point for Whitewater rafting in Alaknanda. The route takes rafters to Devprayag down till Haridwar- Laxman Zula. It is a week-long route full of adventure and some dangerous rapids. Trekking enthusiasts are discovering this place too and the trekking routes take them to Chopta, Ukhimath and so on from Rudraprayag.
If you want to be in commune with nature and the Himalayas you need to visit this Abode of Gods.