“The wise say that by bathing in the confluence of Sindhu and vitasta especially on the full moon day of the month of Prausthapada , one obtains the merit of the performance of Ashavmedha .”
(Neelamat Purana verse 1384 )
As Jhelum moves downwards to join lake Wular , it meets three important streams . The first One is known as LIDDER which joins VITASTA near khannabal , next comes VESHOV which joins VITASTA ( Jhelum ) near Bijbihara . This confluence is known as SANGAM in Kashmir . The third confluence occurs at Shadipora where SINDH stream joins Vitasta ( Jhelum ) and this confluence is known as known PRAYAG . kashmiri Pandits attach more importance to the Confluence at SHADIPORA where SINDH stream joins VITASTA . Kindly do not confuse the Mighty INDUS with Sindh Stream Both are different . One being a mighty river originating from Kailash Mansarovar and going to Pakistan via Ladakh while the other being a small stream originating from inner Himalayas somewhere near Drass and joining VITASTA at Sahdipopra near SUMBAL . Shadipora is about 21 Kms from Srinagar city. It is approached through Srinagar -Baramulla Road . At NARBAL one has to take the right turn and go about 10 kms via the BANDIPORA road to reach this village . To reach the exact confluence point boats are readily available at Shadipora Ghats on vitasta.
Kashmiri Pandits believe that VITASTA at Shadipora is full of holy water brought from all the mountains , lakes and springs of Kashmir including Naraan Naag , Gangabal , Kounsernag and Shesh Nag. I need to elaborate a little..
The origin of VESHOV is KOUNSERNAAG lake in Pir Panjal Range . Kounsernag is also considered the abode of SHIVA . VESHOV passes through Aharabal , Shopian , Khudwani and Arwani area before it joins VITASTA at Bijbihara . ThenLIDDER brings water ofSHESHNAAG from Pahalghaam side and it joins VITASTA at khannabal . The SINDH stream again brings water from Panjtarini from the holy Amar Nath cave and then adds to it the water from the holy shrine ofKheer Bhawani brought by Tulamula Nallah. TULAMULA Nallah joins theSINDH stream a little above theSHADIPORA .
The water of KANAK VAHINI ( as mentioned in Neelmat Purana and Rajtarangini of kalhana ) or the present day KREINK NADI which flows to the south of the temple complex of Naran Naag is formed by two tributaries flowing out from two lakes below Harmukh . These lakes are known as NUNDKOL ( Referred to as lake Kalodka in Neelmat Purana and Rajtarangini ) and GANGBAL ( Referred to as Uttarmanasa in Neelmat Purana and Rajtarangini .Kalhana mentions Harmukutganga or Harmukha or Nandikheshtra or Nandisa repeatedly in Taranga I canto 36,113,148 and Taranga II canto 169 and 170 ).KREINK NADI joins SINDH stream near KANGAN in Kashmir . Finally Sindh stream also merges with VITASTA at Shadipora .
Once you understand this blending of Holy waters of all the lakes and springs of Kashmir at SHADIPORA you also realize the sanctity and importance of this TIRTHA. Kashmiri Pandits call it PRAYAG. They used to consign the ASHES of their dearest and loved ones to the Holy Waters of PRAYAG at Shadipora . Kashmiri Pandits consider the Sindh stream as sacred GANGA and Vitasta to be another name of river YAMUNA. This belief is also supported by verses 305-306 -307 appearing in NEELMATA PURANA. i quote the verses.
” Bound by affection , Tapana’s daughter , the goddess GANGA , due to great respect and devotion for the sage , augumented with her own part the VITASTA , the best of the rivers , the destroyer of all sins . The sindhu should be regraded as GANGA and the Vitasta should be regarded as the Yamuna .The place where the confluence of these two , should be regarded as equal to PRAYAGA.. ”
There is a Chinar Tree that stands on a small island exactly at the Confluence spot,. It is surrounded by water on all sides. This is known as PRAYAG CHINAR . One has to come to this CHINAR TREE in a Boat and go up some steps to have a commanding view of the CONFLUENCE . A SHIVA lingam kept under the shade of this CHINAR TREE since ages is also worshipped ..This chinar Tree is considered Mystical and sacred by kashmiri Pandits . Even if the river is in flood , the Tree never sinks . It is said that with any rise in water level around it, the Chinar Tree, mysteriously rises in height . Kashmiris call this spot as PRAYAAGICH BOONIE .
About this Chinar Tree and the Confluence ,
“ Kashmiri Pandits believe it to be a magical tree which “neither becomes taller, nor shorter, nor bigger” — “Prayaagachy boony na thadaan, na loktaan, na badaan” as the Kashmiri proverb says. The Pandits believe that the tree has remained of the same size for centuries. .The Chinar tree of Prayaag stands on a small island — “just big enough to pitch your tent on” in the midst of the confluence. .As Aurel Stein has pointed out, the Nilamata Purana identifies the Sindhu River with the Ganga and the Vitasta with the Yamuna. That is why the confluence has been given the name Prayaag : “Ganga Sindus tu vijneya Vitasta Yamuna Tatha.” Across the river there is a Bhairava temple in the area called NARAYAN BAGH.