Karnaprayag is one of the sacred ‘Panch-Prayags’ and is at an altitude of 4750 feet above sea level. This is where the Alaknanda River meets the Pindar River, which originates in the Pindari Glacier almost 200 km further north in the mountains. Karnaprayag gets its name from Karna, of the Mahabharata.
Karna the Generous
Karna, one of the major characters of the Mahabharata was the son of Kunti and the half brother of the Pandavas. This was not known to the Pandavas and they came to know only after he had died. In the Mahabharata war, Karna fought on the side of Duryodhana and the Kauravas.
Stories of Karnaprayag
There are two stories connected with Karnaprayag. The first is that Karnaprayag is the place where Karna worshipped Surya Dev. Pleased with Karna’s prayers, Suryadev gave him a shield that would protect him from any weapon.
The second story tells us this is the place where Karna was cremated by Lord Krishna. Karna was killed in the great Mahabharata War by Arjun.
Another legend says Lord Krishna cremated Karna at this place. It was not possible to kill Karna as he was protected by his massive accumulation of good deeds. He was eventually killed by trickery. Before dying he requested Lord Krishna to cremate him in a place where none other had been cremated. That is why his body was brought to Karnaprayag for the last rites.
Places to see in and near Karnaprayag
Karnaprayag Sangam – This is the meeting place of the two rivers – Alaknanda and Pindar. The unimaginable beauty of this spot has to be seen to be believed. The two rivers gushing down from the mountains and incredible views all around fill you with awe and reverence.
Karna Temple – A beautiful temple dedicated to Karna near the confluence of the rivers. This is believed to be the spot where Lord Krishna cremated Karna.
Uma Devi Temple – A temple with unique but simple architecture and design. Along with Uma Devi, the Murtis of Nanda Devi, Mahadev, and Karna are also enshrined In the sanctum.
Chopta – is an incredibly beautiful destination with rolling meadows, evergreen forests, and colorful flowers blooming all around. This is also the base for the Tungnath trek. It is about 50 km from Karnaptayag.
Besides these places, there are a number of small but quaint temples in and around Karnaprayag. Walking along the rivers or on the countryside slopes is another enjoyable activity here.
Where to stay in Karnaprayag
There are a number of hotels and guesthouses in Karnaprayag to choose from. Alternatively one can opt to stay in Srinagar, about 65 km from Karnaprayag.
How to reach Karnaprayag
Rishikesh is the nearest railhead, about 173 km from Karnaprayag.
The nearest airport is Dehradun Airport, about 185 km from Karnaprayag.
Distances from Karnaprayag
- Srinagar – 65 km
- Ranikhet – 132 km
- Rishikesh – 173 km
- Haridwar – 197 km
- Dehradun – 211 km