In 2020 September, we decided to bring Fluffy home. As she was due to come to us by the third week of October, we knew we had to have a last hurrah because once she came home, we would be confined within our four walls till her vaccinations were complete.
We also had more than a long weekend with us. One of our friends had recently visited Devprayag & we thought of giving one of these Panch Prayag’s a shot.
Devprayag is the town where the holy River Ganges takes shape. The rivers Alaknanda & Bhagirathi merge at this holy town to form the Ganga which then flows through the northern plains of India & end in the Bay of Bengal.
Devprayag is one of the five sacred confluences (called Panch Prayag) of the Alaknanda. Apart from the Sangam (confluence), pilgrims & tourists alike throng to the ancient Raghunathji Mandir.
For pilgrims, Devprayag is replete with holy spots – Baitalshila, Varahishila, Bhairava Shrine, Bhushandi Shrine, Durga Shrine, Pushyamal Tirth, Varah Tirth, Vishveshvara Shrine & more.
We took the Noida – Modinagar – Bijnor – Najibabad – Lansdowne – Devprayag route as we had information about the main route (NH 334 & NH 7) being constructed. Unfortunately, this alternate route had bad patches too.
When we were crossing Bijnor, we noticed a billboard at the Barrage advertising a Dolphin Jalaj Safari. In 2020 itself, the National Mission for Clean Ganga had launched Ganga Dolphin safaris at six destinations in India to preserve the river ecology & to conserve the Dolphins.
On this Dolphin Safari, tourists can also spot Gharials. Bijnor comes under the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary where, as of 2020, there were thirty-six dolphins. Now, this wildlife sanctuary is something we would like to return to someday.
Gangetic Dolphins are blind. They catch their prey with the help of ultrasonic sound waves.
We took just one break on this journey – at Kanha Farms, Bijnor – for lunch.
Kanha Farms (also called Hotel Kanha & Resort) is located on NH119. It is a hotel, restaurant & banquet hall rolled into one. There was ample space to park our vehicle. The restaurant was spacious too.
We pigged out on parathas on both our stoppages. Unfortunately, their tea was too sweet to our liking. Service was good. The washrooms were decently clean & usable.
Despite this single halt, it was late evening by the time we reached Devprayag. Well, technically not Devprayag, but Vyas Ghat, a village seventeen kms before Devprayag, where our accommodation – Banyan by The Ganges (BBTG) – was located.
There are hops when we are out & about. And then there are hops where we just relax. Our Devprayag holiday was of the latter kind. Well, at least this day was!
This was a time when we did pranayama regularly, thanks to the COVID scare. So, our day began with a round of pranayama overlooking the river Ganges, under the banyan tree. The serene morning made our practice even better!
After breakfast, N went off for a kayaking lesson. BBTG has trained guides who create a welcoming environment for all participants. Deepak, the guide, introduced N to navigation & safety on the river. BBTG is right on the banks of the river; so, one does not have to go far either.
In the evening, we drove to Devprayag & back.
If you are not someone who is into thrill, BBTG has easy activities too.
Deepak, a staff member took us to a nearby pristine waterfall. This is hidden; only locals & the hotel staff know about. Guests staying at BBTG become privy to this cascade. We enjoyed a heady shower under it.
The force with which the water tumbled down was quite something. The stream with the most concentration of water, there was no way we could put our heads there; it would feel like rocks coming down on our crown!
And the water temperature… Brr!
Please note that the way to the waterfall is through a mud path with uneven footholds & slopes. So, wear proper footwear & ensure you are sure – footed when you visit.
In the evening, we drove to Devprayag again but this time, to bow our heads at the Sangam. When you drive at/ after dusk from BBTG to Devprayag, there is a good chance you will see one or the other wild animal on the road. We saw a Spotted Deer! Deepak, who was accompanying us, mentioned that leopards too have been sighted on this road!
From the main road, where you can park your vehicle, you must climb downstairs, walk through a market, cross a suspension bridge over the river, climb up inclines & stairs & it is only then that you get to offer prayers!
Suspension bridges over both the rivers provide grand views – the river flowing beneath, the charming town & the sublime mountains in the background!
Our first stop was the Raghunathji Mandir. It is also known as Tirukantamenum Kadi Nagar & is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama’s sacred shrine is crowned by a conical roof.
We came to know interesting legends related to the Raghunathji Mandir. That it has existed since the Ramayana days. That the Pandavas came to the temple at the onset of the Mahabharata war. That the lost/ mythical River Saraswati flows directly below Lord Rama’s shrine. That a nearby banyan tree has mysteriously withstood all calamities.
Legends aside, the Raghunathji Mandir came into existence & its present form due to the devotion of Hindus. The Himalayas are earthquake – prone & in 1803, a quake did shatter the temple but was subsequently repaired.
Please note that you must further climb a flight of steep stairs to reach the Raghunathji Mandir.
Apart from Alaknanda & Bhagirathi, it is believed that the mythical Saraswati meets these two rivers at the confluence albeit underground. We walked up to the Sangam & waited for the evening aarti to begin.
We always think of rivers (or any water bodies) as being blue. And we think all rivers are of the same blue color. After having seen two confluences – Indus & Zanskar and Alaknanda & Bhagirathi – we can safely say that is not the case. Rivers can vary drastically in their colors; & they may not be blue all the time.
At the Devprayag Sangam, if you stand facing the meeting point, on your left will be the Bhagirathi & on your right, the Alaknanda. We were visiting right after the monsoon season; thus, both the rivers were of brownish – grey shades. The Bhagirathi was clear while the Alaknanda was muddy.
Also at the confluence were tens, if not hundreds, of Himalayan Golden Mahseer. We saw locals & pilgrims tossing dough bits to the fish who got into a mad scramble to catch it. The size of the Mahseer was huge!
The stairs on the Sangam Ghat are a good spot to meditate. The peace you will get will be unparalleled.
Soon, the aarti began. It was simple & yet peaceful. We felt the blessings of the gods on us just by being there. Despite spending only a few minutes here, we were already feeling affection for the Sangam.
This was our last full day in Devprayag & we made the most of it by visiting the Danda Nagraja Mandir, bird watching & angling!
Danda Nagraja Mandir
Danda Nagraja is a Lord Krishna temple, 1.5 hours’ drive from BBTG. Anil, a staff member, took us there in a hotel vehicle. The temple is located on a higher altitude. Hence, on a bright day, you can see snow-capped peaks.
And we did! But we are jumping the gun. First things first – the place where you park your vehicle, an uphill path takes you to the temple. The path is a cemented one with shades provided at frequent intervals, but it is, nonetheless, uphill. So be prepared!
While we huffed & puffed our way to the top, we were greeted along the way by the chirping of birds. Being beginner bird watchers, seeing a few distinct kinds of birds brought us happiness.
Danda Nagraja Mandir is surrounded by oak & rhododendron trees. We could see that the temple held a place of reverence for locals, as well as people from across Uttarakhand.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna still resides in the temple. When devotees’ prayers are fulfilled, they return to Danda Nagraja Mandir to tie bells in the premises.
If you want to see the temple in all its festivity, make your way here in April for the Mela. Dharamshalas, shops & rest houses can be found around it.
After offering our prayers, we turned towards the viewpoint. It was a cloudless day & we got to see the peaks of Chaukhambha, Trishul, & Hathi Choti! The proverbial cherry on top!!
Descending from the temple, Anil took us to a forest road where we walked & spent some time watching birds. We heard many but saw only a few!
Nonetheless, it was good to be able to breathe in some clean, fresh air.
Our last activity in Devprayag was trying our hand at angling. BBTG arranged a fishing guide who took N to a spot on the banks of the Ganges to catch the Himalayan Golden Mahseer (on catch & release basis).
Mahseer is regarded as a challenge by anglers across the world. It is a perseverance test. N did not catch any fish!
We left Devprayag to return to our home. On the way, we halted at Lansdowne Trip Travel Café as it had caught our eye on our onward journey.
Lansdowne Trip Travel Café
Lansdowne Trip Travel Café caught our eye due to its colorful décor in a rustic setting. When we browsed for more information, we became aware that it was the idea of Shipra & Amit who quit their city lives to pursue their passion.
Trip Travel Café is an artistic café & a vintage store set in a converted donkey shed. We hopped in & took our seats on the low chairs.
Then something quite interesting happened – P had seen their Instagram post featuring coffee. So, we ordered that, but the server told us that they did not have coffee that day. So, P left a comment on the Insta post regarding coffee being unavailable.
Immediately, Shipra called her staff & asked to speak with P. She apologetically explained the situation (something to do with coordination if we remember correctly). We were impressed. Not every hospitality business takes its customer complaints seriously. And this level of promptness is unheard of.
We switched our orders to Bread Pizza, Fresh Lime Soda & Ginger Honey Lemon Tea, all of which were toothsome.
Note – Since our visit, Travel Café has moved to a new location with a new décor. We are sure the ambience & service remain as warm as ever!
This brought our Devprayag expedition to an end!
Accommodation Recommendation & Review
If you visit Devprayag purely from a pilgrimage POV, we recommend you stay in the main town. There are a few stays near the holy spots. A more popular way of visiting Devprayag is on an excursion from Rishikesh/ Pauri/ Haridwar.
However, if, like us, you visit with the desire to have the best of all worlds, then we highly recommend Banyan by The Ganges.
Banyan by The Ganges
We must thank our friend S; she truly has a knack for finding bewitching accommodations. BBTG is named after a banyan tree that stands on the banks of the Ganga.
BBTG is located on the Devprayag – Satpuli road, in a hamlet called Vyas Ghat. Everything about BBTG was captivating. The hotel premises were well – maintained.
The view of the Ganga & accessibility to it is simply excellent. Listening to the sound of the flowing river made us feel close to nature. (Not having network helped too!)
We were in the Riverfront Cottage. The cottages are Swiss Tents & thus, give you the feel of glamping. Though they are in a row, there is ample privacy.
Every cottage has a sit out ideal for meditating or simply soaking in nature. Our cottage had all the basic amenities & was comfortable. Housekeeping was on point.
BBTG has a lounge & a restaurant serving finger – licking cuisines. Over all our meals, we demolished dishes like Kadhi, Chocolate Cake, Malai Chicken, Methi Paratha, Pahadi Daal, Aloo Baigan Capsicum, Puri & Aloo Sabzi, and so many more. Our compliments to Chef Mukesh!
Servers Ashish & Ravinder ensure we ate well, always attentive to what we may need in the next moment. All the staff members ensured we had a brilliant stay.
The feature that seals the deal for our future visits – BBTG is pet – friendly!
Our Two Cents
- It may be difficult to access Devprayag or other nearby attractions if you do not have your own vehicle. But BBTG can arrange that for you.
- BBTG is better suited for adults – couples, groups of friends, people with pets etc.
- There is neither network nor TV nor Wi-Fi at BBTG. If you are a sucker for these, this hotel will not be the right choice for you.