Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wonderful Thunderful Devprayag

Yes this post is about Devprayag. Like my all previous posts this post too is mostly pictures. A picture speaks a million words. Devprayag is where Alaknanda and Bhagirithi rivers meet (or rather slam into each other with great thunder) and hence at that point it becomes Mighty-Holy-Ganges.
Confluence of Bhagirithi and Alaknanada.
Devprayag is easily accessible from Haridwar or Rishikesh. Once can fetch just any bus going towards Srinagar, Karanprayag or Joshimuth. Jeeps are available from Rishikesh. Or once can visit Rishikesh and then hail a bus or jeep from Lakshman Jhoola main road bazaar. I advise to spend here a couple of days to get the taste of this place. Most people going to Badrinath, they just stop at the view point and gaze at the confluence and carry on. They miss the fun and joy to be here.

View from my hotel
There are some hotels at the main road where bus will drop you off. I rather stay in one of the two Dharmashalas. Room is for about 200-300 rupee depending upon season. One is a university guesthouse/dharamshala and other is Badrinath Kedarnath Mandir Simity Dharamshala. Both are situated right above the confluence. Very basic food is available at bus stand and also can be ordered in your dharamshals.
picture taken from tea stall.
It is a small place but good enough for 2 days of enchanting walks in and around the small town. Leave the bus stand and find a place to stay. Then take a towel and come out of room and walk towards the prayag. All ways lead there. Now you are near the bridge that you have to cross. This is Bhagirithi river coming from Uttarkashi or Gangotry. This is bringing bubbling and roaring water and you can hear the rocks crashing under it. Whole area is thundering. Bridge too is thundering. Otherwise there is no noise in the town. Don’t forget to drink a cup of tea from tea shop by the bridge. With a cup of tea and refreshing gale and thundering river will make this cup of tea a very memorable one.
Now you cross this bridge. and walk in the bazaar. Very clean and peaceful bazaar. Then you arrive at a small square. Hundreds of stairs going up leads to Ram Mandir (you can visit there later on; although you are dying to go there now) First thing first; you must take a bath in Mother Ganges.
Bridge to the town.
View of the bridge from my dharamshala (University guest house)
view from my room
Well Devprayag is not just about views but it is a very refreshing and peaceful place. Now you are in the village square where stairs go to Ram Mandir. A couple of Halwai shops here, you can have another cup of tea or can have Samosa or Jalebi etc. Ask the time for fresh Samosa or Jalebi etc so you can return here. Well, if I were you; I’d eat some Samosas because ghat is just next door but lots of stairs to go to the bottom. Then at the ghat you don’t want pangs of hunger to uproot you from there because you will not like to leave the ghat forever.
Well, had your samosa or not; now walk a bit and take the red stairs down; you won’t miss them. During monsoon rivers rise to the top of stairs. Now get down the stairs to the water.
Vies of ghat
Just a word of caution. Pundits will surround you right from the bus stand or on the way. They won’t leave you alone for pooja. So here is a trick. When you see your first pundit; give him 20 rupee and tell him that he can come on ghat for pooja but after 2 hours. Ask his name. Then any other pundit comes to you; you tell him that you already booked a pundit and his name is ….. So no other pundit will bother you here. Pundits here are not that vicious as of other places they are gentle and don’t much bother but still some of them persist for pooja.
On the ghat
now you are on the Ghat. You can use soap or oil here but for the courtesy to other pilgrims go to the corner area. Nobody will bother you here. I love bathing here for hours. Water is cold so when I get cold then I sit under the sun and when I am hot then I again take bath. Water is roaring but good arrangement on the ghat and it is very safe. So many poles and grab chains etc. Or you can borrow a lutia from a priest. I wash my clothes here and then sit here at least when my clothes are dry. It is utter joy to sit here for hours. Pilgrims come and they have their pooja and go. Mostly Tamil pilgrims or locals come here but all other just say “Jai Ganga Mai” from the road.
Joy at Ghat
Well this is the point where two rivers meet and become the Mighty Holy Ganges.
Origin of Ganges
I usually keep a book with me to read here but so much is going on this ghat so there is no need for a book. Just sit here and be with Ganga Mai. Bhagirithi is with cleaner water slams into Alaknanda that is a bit peaceful. Result is crashing and thundering waters. Time to time a splash of water fall over me and I feel blessed. Even if I am not in the Ganga Mai but Ganga Mai is coming to me.
Stairs leading to Ram Mandir.
Well Sir, it appears that you got to go now; time is limited but you must go see the other things. So now is the time to visit Ram Mandir. I prefer going there in the evening but what the heck; you can go there now. Take the right fork of stairs to the street above and make a right. After some yards take the first street climbing. This will lead you to the temple or you can return to the square and take millions of steps leading to temple. Your choice. I prefer gentle walk but taking step at return is joy. Well a bit of climb and you are at the gate of temple. Pass the gate and enter in the temple and ….
Wow! Wow! Wow! the views. So peaceful and nice gale and gentle weather and the views or river and mountains.
You can sit on the cool floor (I lie down in reclining position) and you can spend hours. Priest or other visitors don’t bother you; they may try to start a conversation in their curiosity but nobody will bother you or ask you about whey are you sitting here for hours. People often do sit here for hours (I am one) so it is a norm here.
View from Ram Mandir
Well, I know that you must go from here too now but I bet that you are promising to yourself that you will bring yourself here again and then will have more time here. Now you take the stairs and get back to square. May be fresh Samosas or Jalebis are cooking. So why not ………..
If day is not over. You can walk from temple to the road and have a walk on the way that leads to Chandarbadni. Views of river are enchanting. You can see scenes here and a fragment of Pauri town is visible from here; other major parts are hidden by another mountain. From here you can walk back on the main road towards bazaar or take the trail back to the ghat area.
From the bridge.
Devprayag in monsoon time.
In the monsoons
Taking bath at Davprayag ghat
Hope you have enjoyed the trip to Devprayag. Here are more pictures.
If you love to walk, I can suggest you a very scenic walk that crosses all three rivers; Bhagirithi, Alaknanda and then Ganges. First come to the footbridge of Bhagirithi; and don’t forget to have a cup of tea by the bridge. This is the best tea you will every have. Tea shop by the bridge serves the best tea and then views and thunder of river too adds taste to it. Best time to have this walk is in the evening. It is barely 3km or even less walk but one of the memorable.
OK Sir, you had your tea and I know that you just want to sit here and immerse yourself in the roars of Bhagirithi but there is more to come so get up and walk the bridge. I bet that you will stop in the middle of tree and look at the thundering waters. I don’t blame you. Now you walk towards the ghat. Want to sit on the ghat for sometime; OK. I don’t blame you. You are just hypnotized and you are not in your control.
Now you leave the ghat, you have to. Now walk towards Alaknanda foot bridge. Pass the rest of the bazaar that you didn’t visit so far.
Alaknanda foot bridge in Devprayag
Bazaar continues after the bridge. First tea shop here is best in this area so you can have another cup of tea but views are not enchanting here as you had other cup of tea. It is just bazaar in the ancient homes. Some homes go back to the time of Aadi Shankracharya.
Now you walk in the street and then make a right at the top to other main road or you can just take a shortcut stairs (at various places) and hit the road. I take the longer way (just half km). Now you are on the road and walk towards Ganges and view the whole town of Devprayag. View both bridges. Most probably someone is waving at you who stopped you for a chat or just pulled you into conversation.
After a turn or two you will see at your right side a new resort; Ram Kund Resort. Pass this and then you can sit on the ledge on the road barrier and watch the scenes of Ganges and other side of mountain. This area seems dry and desert like be it is very pleasing to be here. Then after half km you are on the road that is coming from Pauri Garhwal. A little way down there is a newly opened restaurant. If you wish you can have another cup of tea before crossing Ganges bridge.
Ganges bridge
Now cross the Ganges bridge. Either you can take a trail going by the river because Sangam views are THE BEST from this trail. Only problem is that at the end this trail becomes very filthy. So you better take the road towards Main Highway and then after some half km you are at the bus stand.

Sitting at the ghat
Vies from the main road toward Badrinath
Since we were there at the day of Holi. Some friends came to bath at the ghat and they washed each other’s backs and I took this picture.
Removing holi colors at the ghat.
Bye now. See you in next post.

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