Hum toh dariya hai...*
Another aspect of this yatra that had me hugely excited was the water: the glacial sources, the streams, the rivers, the confluences... and finally these amazing, wide swathes of life-giving, life-enhancing goodness.
Everywhere we went, almost every road we took had a gurgling stream of water flowing alongside. The presence was never far away – deep ravines, rounded rocks and boulders, clean flowing water – now turquoise, now jade, now a frothy blue-white... no wonder that the journey seemed to have cleansed me.
And then there were the prayags – the confluences of rivers that are said to generate immense energy. As these streams and rivers hurtle downhill, they meet and go on from that point as one. The Mandakini and Vasuki meet at Son Prayag, the Alaknanda and Mandakini meet at Rudra Prayag, the Pindar and Alaknanda meet at Karna Prayag... and finally, the big two, Bagirathi and Alaknanda meet at Dev Prayag to flow on as the massive Ganga.
|Dev Prayag, Bagirathi and Alaknanda.|
|Mystery Prayag - I can't remember which one this is! Maybe Rudra Prayag, after all.|
We came across many of these and since we criss-crossed the many landmarks, I have pictures of some confluences and have absolutely forgotten which ones they are. I wonder if I’ll have another chance at visiting these glorious places, take them in more slowly? I didn’t know even a quarter of the history associated with these places... I didn’t know, for instance, that Karna Prayag, the only confluence where we had the time and opportunity to go down to the customary temple was so rich in significance. This was where Karna earned the protective kavacha and kundalas from his father, the Sun God. Kalidasa refers to this spot in Meghadoota and the famous love story of Dushyanta–Shakuntala played out here. Wikipedia tells me Swami Vivekananda meditated here for eighteen days. And, and, and... that the stone temple at the confluence was rebuilt by the ubiquitous Adi Shankara!
We visited the even more remote Keshav Prayag as well, and I'm kicking myself for not getting a good enough look at the source of the Saraswati before yielding to 'time to go' urgings from tyrannical bus leaders. But that is the problem – roughly every third stone in this blessed place is terribly important. And the mind can only soak so much. But never mind the mind – if my energies have managed to absorb what they needed, I’ll not ask for more.*Title is from this sher:
Hum toh dariya hai, humein apna hunar maloom hai
Jis taraf bhi chal padenge raasta ho jaayega