Ganga has been called as the tirath of kaliyug. This tirath is fast receding. It is said that once Ganga retreats completely, kaliyug will end a few years after that. In this series of articles, we will attempt to trace the epic journey of Ganga, from Gomukh to Gangasagar. Har Har Gange!
In the previous issue, we visited the Gangotri town and traced Bhagirathi uptil Gangnani. From here the river streams down to the ancient town of Uttarkashi, that is, the Kashi of the North.
KASHI OF THE NORTH
Also known as Somya Kashi and Shivnagri, the town of Uttarkashi is situated on the banks of river Bhagirathi, it is here that the Asi Ganga originating from the Doditaal meets Bhagirathi. The town acts as a base camp for treks to Gangotri, Doditaal (21km), Dayara Bugyal and Nachiketa Taal (32km).
From Uttarkashi, Bhagirathi flows down to Old Tehri, which was once a glorious town, now submerged in water after the construction of Tehri Dam.
Old Tehri was once a small town situated on the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna Rivers, famous for its Chipko Movement to save the decreasing forests in the state. By the time, Chipko Movement died and this town was chosen for a dam site of an ambitious power project. Today, it is a city submerged in water. One can see its reminiscences in the Tehri Lake, surrounded by natural beauties and terraced fields on the hills.
Dev Prayag or the Confluence of Gods, is the sacred merging of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers to form Ganga. It is one of the five sacred confluences in the hills and is considered to be the place where sage Devasharma led his ascetic life.
On a terrace in the upper part of the village is the temple of Raghunathji, built of huge stones, pyramidal in form and capped by a white cupola. As per the legend, the Saraswati River emanating from Mana Village in Badrinath, washes the feet of Shri Raghunath ji and joins Alaknanda and Bhagirathi to become the third river of the great confluence.
Other than Sangam and Raghunath Ji Temple in Devprayag, one can visit sacred places like Mata Bhuvneshwari temple at nearby village Pundal followed by Dhaneshwar Mahadev temple, Danda Naggaraja (Lord of Snakes) temple and Chandrabadni temple. The peaks of Giddhanchal Parvat, Dashrathanchal Parvat and Narsinghancal Parvat surround the confluence. Lord Shiv is worshiped here in the form of Linga, named Tondeshwar Mahadev and Dhaneshwar Mahadev.
Devprayag also houses a historic observatory equipped with ancient and modern astronomical equipments as well as reservoirs of research on the subject. It also contains about 3000 manuscripts from 1677 AD onwards collected from various parts of country.
Devprayag is the home of ‘pandas’, the priests of Badrinath. These Brahmins are said to have come along with Adi Shankracharya in the 8th century and settled here.
The Story of Old Tehri
In 1815 King Sudershan Shah chose Trihari (Old Tehri) of the Garhwal Himalayas to be the new capital of his kingdom, and laid the foundation stones on the banks of river Bhagirathi. According to local legends, when King Sudershan Shah was building this capital, he was forewarned by his pandits that the age of the town might not cross 200 years. It is the soothsayers’ prophesy which is now being remembered by the old and the young alike!
From 1815 to 1949, descendants of Sudershan Shah ruled the town, the last being Maharaja Manvendra Shah. In the late 1960s, during the period of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Tehri project was conceptualised. And soon after the completion of the project, the town was engulfed by the Bhagirathi river reservoir.
A word of caution, these places are not for tourism and must not be frivolously approached for “fun”. The energies in these places are conducive for sadhaks and those treading the path of their Guru to further their own spiritual journey on the path. If they are used for social outings then you will disturb the energies there and bring misfortune to yourself. The various calamities that happen at such places are ample proof of this. These places are for vairagya and moksh, not for fun and games.
If you want to complete a sadhna without disturbances for your spiritual evolution, then these places are ideal for you.