In India, meeting of rivers has always amplified the holiness of any place. As the belief goes, two rivers are better than one & three even better! It is also believed that those who bathe at a place where rivers, white and dark, flow together rise up to heaven.
The “Triveni Sangam”, in Allahabad, is a conflux of 3 rivers – the “Holy Ganges”, the “Sacred Yamuna” & the “Mystical Sarasvati”. Of these three, river Sarasvati has been referred to as dead / invisible since years however is believed to be flowing underground. “Sangam” is referred to the point where the “originally” pale-yellow waters of the Ganges merge with the “originally” blue waters of the Yamuna with the invisible Sarasvati co-joining them. A dip at this point is said to wash away all sins!
There is a reason why I have used the word “original” for the colors of the holy rivers.
I was visiting the “Triveni Sangam” after almost 10 years. I remembered from my earlier visit, that the color of the Ganges was actually off-white & that of the Yamuna bright blue. I still recall a conspicuous difference between the waters of the two rivers. I still remember that ‘line’, called the “Sangam”, beyond which the off-white color of the Ganges turned into blue & became the Yamuna! However, 10 years down the difference is neither so obvious nor so easily perceptible. As of last week (that’s when I was there), the color of Ganges is dark green & that of Yamuna is almost black! The rivers seem to have aged in these 10 years, & how! There is an age-old famous Bollywood song … “Ram teri ganga maili ho gayi paapiyon ke paap dhote-dhote” … sadly this seems so true now.
Inspite of this, it is quite amazing to see how the 2 rivers have maintained their identities and are still different as they merge. While Yamuna is deep but calm, the Ganges is shallow but forceful! They are quite the opposite, yet seem to be co-existing peacefully!
Since I am neither a religious person nor am too keen of being a part of any religious ceremony, this was a good time for me to visit the place. The annual “Magh Mela” had just gotten over. I could still see the temporary shacks / tents / washrooms that would have been set up during the mela to make the visit convenient for the devotees. I could also see the remains of temporary roads built during the mela. Since it was almost afternoon, there were fewer people and ample space to roam around. While it was a bright sunny day it was not really hot & we more than happily hopped on to a boat for a ride till the ‘Sangam’. The boatmen ask for very high charges so tourists must be ready to haggle quite a lot.
There was a sense of calmness about the place.
There were shops selling colorful bangles, beaded necklaces & colors, women had dried their sarees along the bank of the rivers, people bathing both at the ‘sangam’ & also at the river shores, kids running around & playing in the water. We also spotted a newly-wed couple praying to the holy rivers for their togetherness. The rivers were dotted with pretty while migratory birds.
We had quite a talkative boatman who was also nice enough to let us try our hands at rowing the boat! That was fun. He told us about the “Kumbh Mela” which happens after every 6 years and the “Maha-Kumbh Mela” which takes places after every 12 years. I could recall seeing these at some point in time in the Discovery channel!
It’s not some place I would go back again & again to however it was worth a visit after such a long time. For people who have enough sins to be washed off, can try a bathe there ;) though I think that will only further age the rivers!