Karnprayag, is one of the 5 or panch prayags or confluence points for the Alaknanda river. At this place, 2 rivers i.e the Alaknanda coming from Badrinath and the Pindar river (coming from Pindari Glacier in Kumaon region) meet and further continue their journey together as Alaknanda upto Rudraprayag where it is met by Mandakini river coming from Kedarnath. Pindar is probably the only major river from the Kumaon region (originating in the Bageshwar district and drawing the water largely from the Pindari Glacier, Kafni Glacier and Sunderdhunga Glacier) that travels to the Garhwal region (covering a total distance of approx. 105 Kms) otherwise all the other major Kumaon region rivers drain out in the Kali or Sharda river.
Karnprayag, is a tehsil in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and falls right on the Rishikesh – Badrinath highway. It is also the gateway to the Kumaon region and connects the Garhwal region with the adjoining districts of Almora and Bageshwar. It is a major transit point / commercial centre in this part of Garhwal. The newly established summer capital of Uttarakhand (Gairsain) is also close to Karnprayag and it takes about 1.5 hours by road to reach there (Karnprayag – Adibadri – Diwalikhal-Gairsain). There are ample number of budget hotels available and Karnprayag also has a thriving market catering to many nearby villages/towns. Public/private buses are available from here for different destinations and one can even hire a taxi from the stand which is located in the heart of the town.
The Prayag or the confluence point is a huge open rock-strewn area where you can clearly see the mixing of the 2 rivers. Its indeed an experience as you can clearly see the rivers that have very distinct colors until they mix and become one. The sangam is located right at the city centre (the path goes just beneath the main bridge in town, you will easily spot it). You pass by the famous historical temple of Ma Uma Devi while going to the confluence point. Soak in the cool breeze, the sound of the fast-flowing river,the chirp of the birds and the silence of the mighty mountains , indeed a pure bliss.
The legend of Ma Uma Devi Temple
Ma Uma Devi, a manifestation of Goddess Parvati, is highly revered in this part of the region. It is said that she appeared in the dreams of a Dimri Brahmin ( Dimri is a small village about 10 kms from Karnprayag) and directed that her idol be established at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Pindar River. Interestingly, similar to the Nanda Devi Raj Jat , once in 12 years, Ma Uma Devi’s procession goes from Karnprayag to her native (‘Maika’) village in Dimar. The people of the region celebrate this procession in a big way.
The legend of Karn Temple
The Karn temple is perched on top of the hilllock adjacent to the confluence point. The legend has it that the famous mythical character from Mahabharata, Karn, did penance at this place to please his father – the Sun God. Pleased with Karn’s devotion, he was given an armor which made it impossible for his enemy to impregnate when attacked.
Another legend states that during the battle, it is at the place that Krishna buried Karna after his tragic death during the battle of Mahabharata.
Uttarakhand is truly blessed with these mythical stories and that’s what makes this ‘the land of the Gods’. The next time you decide to travel in this part of Garhwal, or are going ahead to Badrinath, you may wish to stop-by at these 2 temples and experience these tales on your own. The divine power somewhere beholds its people even till today.
Who knows, maybe you too get enchanted by the folklore of Karnprayag.
Wow…. Great going 👍. I am really happy to know so much intricate details about the places…. Being a Pahadi I have great love for Uttarakhand 🙏
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Its so good to know Mam. thanks for reading the blog. I aim to continue writing about our magical state. thanks again.