Saraswati River: The Mysteries Of The Hidden River
Since time immemorial the worship of rivers in India has existed. From civilisations popping up at the banks of some holy rivers, to rivers being personified- India has always held rivers in the highest regard. Rivers like Ganga, Yamuna and many others have even found their mention in Hindu texts like Rig Veda and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Among holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna, the elusive Saraswati river also finds a mention in the holy texts. One of the best places to witness this hidden river is at the Mana Village located in Uttarakhand. Here, you will find the restless river roaring with all its might, surrounded by lush greenery, hidden caves and a legendary stone bridge, as it eventually disappears and merges with Alaknanda River. To see this grandeur right in front of your eyes, you must pack your packs, set off for Mana and station yourself at the famous Bhim Pul:
Origin of Saraswati River
River Saraswati is one of the tributaries of Alaknanda River which flows through Badrinath as well. You can see the source of Alaknanda River if you embark on the beautiful and refreshing Satopanth Tal Trek. The stunning glacier flows through little spaces in amid the intimidating Himalayan mountains, and it slowly merges with Saraswati at Bhim Pul.
The place where you can see this hole union of Saraswati and Alaknanda has become a tourist hotspot, and visitors come here just to witness the marvel. Bhim Pul is the natural stone bridge which is built across the river in the village of Mana. The tiny hamlet of Mana will also fall on your route if you are trekking to Swargarohini or Satopanth Tal. You must halt at this village and have a tasteful picnic, or just spend some time at Bhim Pul to gaze at the serenity of Saraswati and Alaknanda.
The Legend Of Bhim Pul
This stone bridge built across the Saraswati River is named after the Bheem– a mythical character in the great Indian epic- The Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, Bheem was the one who built this strong and mighty bridge over the river. He did so to join the two huge mountains so that Draupadi, who was also on her way to Swargaloka, could cross the river.
Another story suggests that Saint Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha inside a natural cave at this very spot. Since then Bhim Pul is not just a place to admire the breathtaking natural beauty, but is also a highly revered and pious place, frequently visited by devotees and pilgrims.
The Beauty Of River Saraswati
The ethereal river flows with a gushing sound as the wind sways to its tune. The enthralling bridge rests silently welcoming hordes of people every day. Small caves are scattered all over the place, and your mind wanders- what if I just go inside and sit there for a while and forget all about civilisation. The valley is all around you as it engulfs your senses and makes you feel at ease- you are in heaven!
The Saraswati River is also called Gupt Gamini or the Hidden River since it only flows about 100 metres from its origin before merging with Alaknanda at Keshav Prayag in Mana. Many believe that while Saint Vyasa was dictating the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha, the noise of the river kept disturbing him, so he cursed the river and wished for it to disappear.
Other Places You Can Enjoy Near Bhim Pul
After you are done staring at the wondrous Saraswati River and Bhim Pul, you can spend some time at some other places located near Bhim Pul:
Mana Village, Last Indian Village
Said to be the last Indian village, Mana is located in the Chamoli district near the Indo-Tibetan border. You will have to cross an army checkpoint to enter Mana. This little hamlet is bubbling with amazing scenic beauty and a view that will make you fall in love with the place. Away from the polluted city life, Mana is a reprise that you needed. Situated at the banks of the Saraswati River, this place is a natural bounty. From lofty snowy peaks in the background to lush green fields, Mana is a place where time stands still.
Brahma Kapal in Badrinath
Situated near the campus Badrinath Temple, Brahma Kapal is a highly sacred place for Hindus. Many believe that Lord Brahma is present at this very p[lace, and thus if you perform your last rites here, you will attain moksha. Throughout the year hundreds of devotees flock this place to pay tribute to their ancestors. You can visit this place just to get a feel of the culture, and how sacred Brahma Kapal is.
Vyasa Cave in Mana Village
Saint Vyasa was a reverend saint who dictated the story of Mahabharata. It was in one of the caves that surround Bhim Pul, where Vyasa sat in meditation for several years and recited the Mahabharata. It was written down by Lord Ganesha as Saint Vyasa recited the tale. The cave is a wonderful place to understand the life and thinking of Saint Vyasa. He has recited several Puranas, Sutras, and Vedas in this very cave. The roof of the cave is an absolute highlight as it represents the pages of the scripts, and make the cave look unique.
How to Reach To reach River Saraswati
To reach River Saraswati and the Bhim Pul, you have to first reach the village of Mana. Once you reach Mana, Saraswati is a short hike and you can reach their fairly easily by foot.
By Air– Since Badrinath doesn’t have an airport you will have to get down at Jolly Grant Airport of Uttarakhand, which is about 281 km from Badrinath. You can also hire a helicopter service to Badrinath which will make your trip more comfortable.
By Rail– The Rishikesh Railway Station is the nearest railway station to the village of Mana. It is connected to the major cities of India. From the station, you can easily hire a bus or cab to reach Mana or Badrinath.
By Road– Many buses ply from New Delhi and few other Northern cities which will drop you till Rishikesh. From Rishikesh just get on a bus or cab and reach till Badrinath. From Badrinath, Mana is only about 3 km only.