Watching Ganga take its name, shape and flow at Devprayag

Devprayag, where Ganga gets its name.
Devprayag, where Ganga gets its name.

The clouds came out and the chill returned to the air! I secretly thanked all the Devs of Dev Bhoomi who seemed to have listened to my silent prayers. Yeah yeah, how selfish of me to wish for a cloudy-chilly day in April when most of Uttarakhand had just had a break from almost 6 months of winter.

It just happened that we had taken a short trip to Devprayag on one of the busiest weekends of 2015 and we were already cursing ourselves for carrying woollens. So a nip in the air that Saturday morning was a welcome relief!

The journey from Dehradun to Devprayag was a hot one (it had to be, we were wearing heavy jackets) but my husband’s smartphone had this app which said it is going to rain the entire weekend in Devprayag. But it was sunny and hot and sticky and we had no light clothes to last us for another two days.

The final product -- Ganga, as seen from our hotel balcony.
The final product — Ganga, as seen from our hotel balcony.

Hell we had even packed a rain-poncho and two umbrellas in our tiny backpack. We left Dehradun early on Day1 to reach Devprayag in time for breakfast. We had to first get to Rishikesh from where the road to Shivpuri (NH58) would take us further ahead to Devprayag. We also did not want to get in the way of the rafting-camping tourists from Delhi and Chandigarh. But we did get stuck for a while in Rishikesh — good thing we were on a bike, it lets you violate traffic rules like no other vehicle allows.

Devprayag is about 70 kilometres from Rishikesh, into the Shivalik hills, and is a pretty busy town when the pilgrimage season starts. The rush hadn’t started yet, so it was very peaceful there.

What is the big deal about Devprayag you say? This is where Ganga gets its name… No, that river originating near Gangotri is not Ganga. That is Bhagirathi, which people say is another name for Ganga. At Devprayag, Bhagirathi confluences with another noisy Himalayan river Alakananda, and the resulting river is called Ganga.

Bike ride!
Bike ride!

This was a spur-of-the-moment trip, so we had made no hotel reservations, thinking, “wahan jaake dekhi jayegi”. From the distance, we saw Ramkund Resorts that looked really expensive but had a killer view of the Sangam. And viola! We got a pretty good deal for having arrived there in the off-season time!

So we checked in and I kid you not, the Sangam (the confluence) was at stone throw distance from our balcony. Here’s the thing about this Sangam, the colour of the two rivers is quite different. Infact you can make out this difference for a good 500-600 metres after the meeting point of the two rivers. Bhagirathi is kind of green-blue in colour and quite energetic. Alakananda was a little muddy and seemed to have calmed down a bit.

The Bhagirathi-side of the Sangam.
The Bhagirathi-side of the Sangam.

Another interesting thing about these rivers is that the five tributaries of Ganga meet Alakananda at various other Prayags (Vishnuprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag and Rudraprayag) before meeting Bhagirathi here. So technically, Alaknanda should be called the source river of Ganga right? But it is infact a much smaller river Bhagirathi that gets all the credit! That’s now fair isn’t it, but I’ll leave the rivers to sort it out among themselves.

Devprayag is a tiny town, with narrow lanes that go up and down. It is impossible to get your bike inside those lanes (no, we didn’t even try). In the evening, we went for a stroll and covered all three hills on which Devprayag is spread out. I saw people walking up small paths that led to their houses (probably) that were located even higher up the hills! No wonder I did not find a single obese person there 🙂 .

At the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alakananda.
At the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alakananda.

At the Sangam, I went down to the ghats while my husband went out in search of an ATM. Apparently, ATMs there close by 7pm…funny how we have all become used to 24×7 ATMs.

At the ghats, I saw a couple of sadhus in meditating pose, among them a young lad trying to meditate but still ogling at all the women who passed by! Talk about 100% focus.

Oh and what fun we had gorging on lip-smacking food from the local dhabas! Aloo parantha, curry made of spring onion masala and the latest pahadi fast-food — Maggi! Of course on the second day I ended up with a terrible feeling in my stomach, but it was still worth it.

So having utilised the woolens as well, we left Devprayag on Sunday morning to return to Dehradun. It took us four hours to reach back home. On the way I saw numerous camps on the white sand beaches on the banks of Ganga. It indeed looked like a busy day for all the adventure sports outfit in Rishikesh. We squeezed past almost 4km of traffic jam near Rishikesh’s Laxman Jhula and reach home in the evening, completely fresh and energetic. Bring it on, we fear you not Monday morning blues!

On full moon night! Wish I had taken my camera along. This photo was taken with an iPhone.
On full moon night! Wish I had taken my camera along. This photo was taken with an iPhone.
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