Rudraprayag District was established on 16th September1997. The district was carved out from the following areas of three adjoining districts.
1- Whole of Augustmuni & Ukhimath block and part of Pokhri & Karnprayag block from Chamoli District.
2- Part of Jakholi and Kirtinagar block from Tehri District.
3- Part of Khirsu block from Pauri District.
Internationally Known Shri Kedarnath Temple is at North, Madmaheshwar at east, Nagrasu at southern east and Shrinagar at extreme south. The holy Mandakini originated from Kedarnath is the main river of the district.
Historical Back Ground
Today’s Garhwal was known as kedar-khand in the past. In puranas kedar-khand was said to be abode of God. It seems from the facts vedas puranas, Ramayna and Mahabharat that these Hindu scriptures are scripted in kedar-khand . It is believed that God Ganesha first script of vedas in Vayas gufa situated in the last village Mana only four km.from Badrinath.
According to Rigveda(1017-19) after Inundation (Jalprlya) Sapt-Rishis saved their lives in the same village Mana. Besides there the roots of vedic literature seems to be originated from Garhwal because the Garhwali language has a lot of words common with sanskrit .The work place of vedic Rishis are the prominent pilgrim places in Garhwal specially in chamoli like Atrimuni Ashram in Anusuya about 25 km. from chamoli town and work place of Kashyap Rishi at Gandhmadan parwat near Badrinath. According to Aadi-Puran vedviyas scripted the story of Mahabhrat in Vyas Gufa near Badrinath. Pandukeshwar a small village situated on the Rishikesh Badrinath high-way from where Badrinath is just 25 km away is regarded as Tapsthali of king Pandu. In Kedar-khand Puran this land is regarded the land of lord Shiva.
The authentic script about the history of Garhwal is found only 6th A.D on word. Some of the oldest example of there are the trishul in Gopeshwar, lalitsur in Pandukeshwar .The Narvaman rock script in siroli the chand pur Gari rock script by king Kankpal authentitcates the history and culture of Garhwal. Some Historian and scientist believe that this land is origin of Arya race. It is believed that about 300B.C. Khasa invaded Garhwal through Kashmir Nepal and Kuman. A conflict grew due to this invasion a conflict took place between these outsiders and natives .The natives for their protection builded small forts called “Garhi’’. Later on Khasa defeated the native totally and captured the forts.
After Khasa, Kshatiya invaded this land and defeated Khasa accomplished their regime. They confined Garhwal of hundreds of Garhi in to fifty-two Garhi only. One kantura vashudev general of kshatriya established his regime on the northern border of garhwal and founded his capital in joshimath then Kartikeypur vashudev katyuri was the founder of katyura dynasty in Garhwal and they reign Garhwal over hundreds of years in this period of katyuri regime Aadi-Guru Sankaracharya visited garhwal and established Jyotrimath which is one of the four famous Peeths established by Aadi-Guru Sankaracharya. In Bharat varsh other these are Dwarika , Puri and Srinagar. He also reinstated idol of lord Badrinath in Badrinath, before this the idol of Badrinath was hidden in Narad-Kund by the fear of Budhas. After this ethicist of vaidic cult started to pilgrim Badrinath.
According to Pt.Harikrishna Raturi king Bhanu pratap was the first ruler of Panwar dynasty in garhwal who founded chanpur-Garhi as his capital. This was is strongest Garh for the fifty- two garhs of garhwal. The devastating earthquake of 8th September 1803 weakened the economic and administrative set up of Garhwal state. Taking advantage of the situation Gorkhas attacked Garhwal under the command of Amar Singh Thapa and Hastidal Chanturia. They established there reign over half of the Garhwal in 1804 up to 1815 this region remain under Gorkha rule. Mean while the king of Panwar dynasty Raja Sudarshan Shah contacted east India Company and soughted help. With the help of British he defected Gorkas and merged the eastern part of Alaknanda and Mandakani along with the capital srinagar in British Garhwal from that time this region was known as British Garhwal and the capital of Garhwal was set up at Tehri instead of Srinagar. After the death of Sudarshan Shah Bhawani Shah succeeded him, who died in 1871 and was succeeded by his elder son Pratap Shah. Pratap Shah ascended the throne of Tehri at the age of 21 only. He was the founder of Pratap Nagar. He also tried to improve the forest, judicial and police administration. During his rule several public uprisings took place in the state. He died in 1886. Kirti Shah at the time of his father’s death was still in his adolescence, so his mother Rajmata Guleri appointed Vikram Singh as the regent . But after sometime she herself took over administration. Kirti Shah took over charge of the state in 1892. His rule saw a marked improvement in the functioning of courts, forest and other departments. He is said to have invented typewriter for Hindi but gave the copy write to a company. The religious inclination of Kirti Shah is aptly proved by the fact that he organized a religious conference of the followers of different religion at Tehri. He died on 25th April 1913.
Narendra Shah the successor of Kirti Shah was again a minor at the time of succession. Thus, during the initial years the state administration was looked after by a Regency under the presidency of his mother. During the War period(1939-42) Tehri state supplied a huge amount of wood to the Britishers while the king himself offered his services for them during the first world war. Some of his achievement were developing the new township of Narendra Nagar, construction of Kirti Nagar, Tehri , Muni ki Reti. He died on 22nd September 1950 in a car accident but had already relinquished the throne in favour of his son Manvendra Shah on 26th May 1946. The later ruled the state from 1946 till the state was merged with the Indian Union in August 1949. The newly crated Rudraprayag District was part of three district Chamoli,Pauri and Tehri. On 16th September 1997 Rudraprayag District was carved out from whole of Augustmuni & Ukhimath block and part of Pokhri & Karnprayag block from Chamoli , part of Jakholi and Kirtinagar block from Tehri District, part of Khirsu block from Pauri.
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Places of Attraction
Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), Rudraprayag is situated at the holy confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, at a distance of 34 kms. from Srinagar(Garhwal). The meeting of the Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers has a unique beauty of its own and it seems as if two sisters were embracing each other. It is believed that to master the mysteries of music, Narad Muni worshipped Lord Shiva, who appeared in his Rudra Avtaar (incarnation) to bless Narad.The Shiva and Jagdamba temples are of great religious importance.
Till recently, Rudraprayag was a part of district Chamoli and Tehri. In 1997, the Kedarnath Valley and parts of district Tehri & Pauri were conjoined to form Rudraprayag as a new district. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty, places of religious importance, lakes and glaciers.
The confluence of river Mandakini originating from Kedarnath Dham and river Alaknanda originating from Badrinath Dham is a beautiful sight to behold. The confluence has a great religious significance and thousands of pilgrims come here to take a holy dip. The temple of Goddess Jagdamba and Lord Shiva are also major attractions for tourists and pilgrims.
At a distance of 3 Km from Rudraprayag and on the holy bank of river Alaknanda is situated the Koteshwar temple. The Koteshwar temple is in the form of a cave temple. There are many idols which have been formed naturally. It is believed that before going to Kedarnath, Lord Shiva meditated here. During the months of August and September, thousands of devotees come here to worship Lord Shiva.
18 kms. from Rudraprayag, at an altitude of 1000 mts. and on the bank of river Mandakini, this is the place were rishi Agastya meditated for years. A temple by the name of Agasteshwar mahadev is dedicated to sage Agastya and this temple is also of an archaeological significance; figures of Gods and Goddess have been carved out on stones. On the occasion of Baisakhi a large fair is held and many devotees come here to worship and pay their homage to God. For food and accommodation, a Forest Rest House and private hotels are available. Other facilities include market, bank, hospitals etc.
18 km from Rudraprayag, at an altitude of 1000 m and on the bank of river Mandakini, this is the place where rishi Agastya meditated for years. This temple is dedicated to sage Agastya and is also of an archaeological significance; figures of Gods and Goddess have been carved out on stones. On the occasion of Baisakhi a large fair is held and many devotees come here to worship and pay their homage to God.
Guptkashi has a great importance quite like that of Kashi. The ancient Vishwanath temple, Ardhnareshwar temple and Manikarnik Kund, where the two streams of Ganga and Yamuna are believed to meet, are the main places of attraction in Guptkashi. It is believed that after the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas wanted to meet Lord Shiva and seek his blessing. But Lord Shiva evaded from Guptkasi to Kedarnath as he did not want to meet the Pandavas, the reason being that although they had fought for the right cause, they were also responsible for destroying their own dynasty. Guptkashi is situated at an elevation of 1319 m. The one Stupa is situated in Nala which is quite close to Ukhimath. Some local people call it the grave of Rana Nal.
Remains of Ramgarh
3 km from Guptkashi, the remains of Ramgarh(in Ronitpur) still seem to echo the love between Lord Krishna’s son Anniruddha and Vanasur’s daughter Usha.
At an elevation of 1829 m and on the main Kedarnath route, Son Prayag lies at the confluence of river Basuki and Mandakini. The holy site of Son Prayag is of immense religious significance. It is said that a mere touch of the holy water of Son Prayag helps one to attain the “Baikunth Dham”. Kedarnath is at a distance of 19 km from Son Prayag. Triyuginarayan, which is supposed to be the marriage place of Lord Shiva and Parvati, is at a distance of 14 km by bus and 5 km on foot from here.
Located 19 kms. away from Pauri at an altitude of 1700 m, Khirsu is a peaceful spot, free from pollution. The snow covered mountains of Khirsu offers a panoramic view of the central Himalayas and attracts a large number of tourists. From here one can get a clear view of many named and unnamed peaks. The tranquility of the adjoining thick Oak and Deodar forests and people orchards, is broken only by chirping of birds. The ancient temple of Ghandiyal Devta in the vicinity is well worth a visit. Accommodation is available at Tourist rest house and Forest rest house.
At a distance of 5 km from Son Prayag and at a altitude of 1982 m, Gaurikund is the last bus station on the Kedarnath route. Before proceeding for Kedarnath on foot, people bath in the hot water pond here and visit the Gauri Devi temple. This is the place where Goddess Parvati meditated to attain Lord Shiva.
It is situated on the Chopta-Ukimath road about 2 km from road head at Sari village. This lake has captivating surroundings with forest all around. The reflection of the mighty Chaukhamba peak in the lake creates a beautiful effect. The road is motorable upto Sari, 10 km from Ukhimath and from there one has to trek about 2 km. All arrangements have to be made for a night halt at the spot.
Situated on the Gopeshwar – Ukhimath road, about 40 km from Gopeshwar at an altitude of about 2900 m, Chopta is one of the most picturesque places in the entire Garhwal region. It provides a breathtaking view of the Himalayan ranges and surrounding areas. P.W.D. guest house is available at Dogalbhita 8 km from Chopta.
This is the winter seat of Lord Kedarnath and worship is done here during the winters when the temples of Kedarnath remain closed. The temples of Usha and Aniruddha, Lord Shiva and Parvati are worth visiting. Ukimath is at a distance of 41 km from Rudraprayag and 13 km from Guptkashi. It is situated at an elevation of 1311 m. The Omkareshwar temple at Ukhimath features superbly crafted and carefully maintained icon of Lord Shiva. According to folklore, Usha, daughter of Banasur had lived here once, thus giving Ukhimath its name. In fact, Ukhimath is dotted with temples dedicated to Usha, Shiva, Parvati, Aniruddha and Mandhata, including one with the image of Mahadev with five heads – similar to the one in Kedarnath. An idol of Usha’s confidante, Chitralekha, also exists. And among the several copper plates discovered, two relate to land endowments for the Kedarnath temple made by the king of Nepal in 1797 A.D. and by the mother of an official of the court of Nepal in 1891 A.D. Nearby is the Deoria Tal, which catches the reflection of the Badrinath peak, mirroring its grandeur.
A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is believed to have departed to heaven is known as Gandhi Sarovar. The floating ice on the sparkling water is a fascinating site.
It is 8 km from Kedarnath, at a height of 4135 m. The lake is surrounded by high mountains and offers an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.
A story goes that the Rishi Vyas told the Pandavas that they were guilty of killing of their own relatives and their sins would be expiated only if Shiva pardoned them. So the Pandavas began to look for Shiva. Lord Shiva kept avoiding them as he knew that Pandavas were guilty. So the Lord took refuge underground and later, his body parts resurfaced at five different places. These five places, where five magnificent temples of Lord Shiva stand, are known as the “Panch Kedar”. Each one is identified with a part of his body. Tugnath is where his hands were supposedly seen. Kedarnath, his hump; Rudranath, his head; Kalpeshwar, his hair; and Madmaheshwar, his navel. Out of the five Kedars, three lies in Rudraprayag District.
Shiva took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a Bull. Being followed by Pandavas, he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of God reappeared at four other places. It is one of the twelve “Jyotirlingas” of Lord Shiva. The temple of Sri Kedarnath is situated at an altitude of 3581 m above sea level, against the backdrop of the majestic kedarnath range. As one approaches from Garurchatti, the magnificent Sri Kedarnath temple is visible on advancing barely half a kilometer. With the stunning background of towering white mountains mantled with snow, the temple presents an enchanting sight. All around it is an aura of peace and purity. The temple of Kedarnath is considered to be more than a thousand years old. The temple is magnificent in its style and architecture. At the entrance is the statue of the “Nandi”, the divine bull. The walls inside the temple are exquisitely carved with images. It is built on a morainic ridge jutting out at right angles from the snowy range. The temple has a “garbha-griha” for worship and mandaps for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. Places which can be visited from here are the Bhairav temple, Samadhi of Adi Shakaracharya and Gandhi Sarovar at Chorabari Tal. Vasukital, yet another beautiful lake is situated at a distance of 8 km from kedarnath, floating ice on crystal-clear water fascinates visitors to this lake.
Tungnath is where Shiva’s hands were supposedly seen. It is situated at the height of 3680 m atop the Chandranath parvat, 30 Km from Ukhimath – Gopeshwar Road. To reach it requires a strenuous trek through dense forest. In this temple of Shiva where the dome spans sixteen doors, a 2.5 feet tall idol of Adi Guru Shankaracharya is located along side the lingam. The Nandadevi temple is also situated at Tungnath not far from the awe-inspiring Akash ganga water fall, so called, because the water looks as though is descending from heaven. The spectacular Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and the Gangotri-Yamunotri peaks add to the splendor. During the severe winter months, a number of priests move from this temple to Mukunath, 19 km away.
Madmaheshwar is where Shiva’s navel was supposedly seen. Located amidst serene environs, the temple has no crowd of Pandas, Pujaris, Shops or the bustle of major pilgrimage centres . There is a small Dharamshala and provisions must be carried from the village of Gaundar. The temple is close for six month during winter when the silver idols are taken ceremonially to Ukhimath for worship. Only the Shivling remains. Saraswati kund, where Tarpans are offered is closed by.
This magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, lies in the village of Triyuginarayan, on the ancient bridle path that connects Ghuttur to Shri Kedarnath. It is similar in architectural style to the temple of Kedarnath making this village an important pilgrimage centre. According to a legend, Triyuginarayan was the capital of the legendary Himvat and is the place where Shiva wedded Parvati duing the Satyug. The fire for the divine wedding was lit in the huge four cornered Havan Kund. All the sages attended the wedding of which Vishnu himself was the master of ceremonies. Remnants of that celestial fire are believed to be burning in the Havan kund even today. Pilgrim offer wood to the fire that has seen three Yug hence the name TRIYUGINARAYAN. The ashes from this fire is supposed to promote conjugal bliss. There are three other kund in this village, Rudrakund, Vishnu kund and Brahmakund. These are kund where the Gods bathed at the time of Shiva-Parvati wedding. The water in these kund flows from the Saraswati kund which is said to have sprang from Vishnu’s Navel. Women seeking children bath here, believing that it cures infertility.
Maa Haryali Devi
A route diverting from Nagrasu, on the main Rudraprayag Karnprayag route, leads to the Siddha Peeth of Hariyali Devi. Haryali Devi is 22 km from Nagrasu which in turn is 37 km from the main town of Rudraprayag. At an altitude of 1400 m this place is surrounded by peaks and thick forests. According to the Hindu mythology, when Mahamaya was conceived as the seventh issue of Devki, Kansa threw Mahamaya violently on the ground. Consequently, several body parts of Mahamaya got strewn all over the earth. One part – the hand – fell at Haryali Devi, Jasholi. Since then it become a revered siddh peeth. There are 58 sidd peeths in all. Ma Hariyali Devi is also worshipped as Bala Devi and Vaishnav Devi. The temple houses a regally bejewelled idol of Ma Hariyali Devi, astride a lion. During Janamastimi and Deepawali, this place is visited by thousands of devotees. On these occasions, the devotees accompany the idol of Ma Hariyali Devi, covering a distance of 7 km to reach Hariyali Kantha. The temple houses chiefly three idols namely, Ma Hariyali Devi, Kshatrapal and Heet Devi. From Hariyali Kantha one can see the mountain range in a semi-lunar spread. The splendor of the range is sure to fill one’s heart with awe.
Kalimath is situated close to Ukhimath, and Guptakashi. It is one of the “Siddha Peeths” of the region and is held in high religious esteem. The temple of Goddess Kali located here is visited by a large number of devotees round the year and specially during the “Navratras”.
38 km from Rudraprayag on the Rudraprayag – Pokhri route is a village Kanak Chauri from where 3 km trek leads to Kartikswami. This place has a temple and idol of Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya, situated at a elevation of 3048 m the place abounds in natural beauty and one can have a close and panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks.
Chandrashila is most accessible peak of the U.P. Himalayas, at an Altitude of 3679 m especially since most of the peaks are difficult to scale. A climb to this mini peak in Rudraprayag district is arranged by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam(GMVN). This combines scaling, skiing and trekking through a route of rich flora and fauna, lakes, meadows full of fresh snow in the winter months. The Chandrashila peak itself provides a rare panoramic view of innumerable snow clad peaks. The temple is situated in village Kandali Patti at a distance of 14 km from the main town of Rudraprayag and at about 6 km from Tilwara. It is believed to have been constructed in the age of Adi Shankaracharya. The temple has unique architecture surrounded by temple of Jalkedareshwar, Khetrapal and Jakh Devta. The origin of Indrasani Mansa Devi is described in Skandpuran, Devibhagvata and Kedarkhand. It is believed that Indrasani Devi is a Mansi Kanya of Kashyapa and is known as VAISHNAVI , SHAVI AND VISHARI. Folklore claims that the Devi cures persons who have been bitten by snake. During Devi Jat held in the month of December 2000, on digging a Nag Jalkund was found and snakes were seen by the devotees in Jalkund. It is also claimed that if any person is bitten by snake, the person is brought before the Devi temple for worship and SANKH JAL (water) is applied on the affected area which removes the poison of the snake.
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How To Reach
Well connected by road to all the important places of Garhwal Division. Regular bus services are available
Nearest Airport is at Jollygrant which is 159 Km away.
Nearest Railway station is at Rishikesh, 142 Km away.
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Festivals/ Fairs & Mahotsav of Rudraprayag
Fairs & Festivals are opportunities to meet each other. In the ancient time, when there were no such facilities of communication and transport, these fairs and festivals have played an important role in social gathering and meeting with relatives, friends resided in the far-away geographical locations. Together with recreation, these have social significance to remember the religious importance and social messages behind these events. Most of the festivals of the region are based on mythological traditions
Living in the mountains mostly in places that are not easily accessible the people of the district have been able to preserve their culture, folklore, folksongs and folkdances, the last, a distinctive feature of the district, being seasonal, traditional and religious, some of the better known being described below –
The Thadiya dance, which is accompanied by song, is performed on Basant Panchami, the festival celebrating the advent of spring, the Mela, another dance, is perform on Deepawali and the Pandava during the winter after the harvesting of the crop and depicts the principal events of the Mahabharata. Other folk dances are Jeetu Bhagdawal and Jagar or Ghariyali. These dances enact mythological stories, the participants, both men and women, put on their traditional colorful dress and dance to the tune of drums and Ransinghas. Another dance perform during the fairs and accompanied by song is the Chanchari in which both men and women participate.
Folk songs are usually traditional and are sung particularly by the women, who works very hard in the fields from morning till night in all kind of weather. During the month of Chaitra the women of the village gather at a central place and sing traditional song which generally relate deeds of heroism, love and the hard life which they have to lead in the hills. In the district, fairs, festivals, religious and social gatherings are the main occasions for recreation and amusement . On special occasions people arrange Swangs (open air dramatic performances) particularly depicting scenes or legends connected with Shiva and Parvati.
Festivals play an important role in the life of people in the district, as elsewhere, and are spread over the entire year, the most important being briefly described below.
Ram Navami – falls on the ninth day of the bright half of Chaitra to celebrate the birthday of Rama. The followers of Rama in the district observe fast throughout the day and the Ramayana is read and recided and people gather to listen to the recitations.
Nag Panchmi – is celebrated in the district on the fifth day of the bright half of Sravana to appease the Nagas or serpent gods. Figures of snakes are drawn in flour in wooden boards and are worshipped by the family by offering milk, flowers and rice.
Raksha-Bandhan is traditionally associated with the Brahmanas and falls on the last day of Sravana. On this occasion a sister ties a Rakshasutra (thread of protection)- commonly known as Rakhi – round the right wrist of her brother in token of the protection she expects to receive from him. Fairs are held on this occasion at Kedarnath, Karnaprayag ans Nandprayag.
Janmastami – the festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, falls on the eighth day of the dark half of Bhadra. As in other parts of the state, devotees in the district fast the whole day, breaking their fast only at mid-night when worshippers throng the temples and foregather to have a Jhanki(glimpse) of the shrines and cradles specially installed, decorated and illuminated in homes and other places to commemorate the deity’s birth. A special feature of this festival is the singing of devotional songs in praise of Krishna in shrines and homes. The Chhati(sixth-day ceremony after birth) is also celebrated by the devout. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Nagnath, Badrinath and Kedarnath.
Dushera – falls on the tenth day of the bright half of Asvina and commemorates the victory of Rama over Ravana, the preceding nine days being celebrated as Navaratri dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga. Ramlila celebrations are held at different places in the district particularly at Kalimath.
Dipavali – the festival of lights, is celebrated in the district, as elsewhere, on the last day of the dark half of Kartika when the houses are illuminated and the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Festivities start two days earlier, with Dhanteras, when metal utensils are purchased as a token of the desired prosperity, followed by Naraka Chaturdashi when a few small earthen lamps are lit as a preliminary to the main day of festival. For traders and businessmen Dipavali marks the end of the fiscal year and they pray for prosperity in the new year. On this occasion the people of the district perform mela nritya, a type of folk dance, a distinctive feature of the district.
Makar Sankranti – is a bathing festival which falls either on January 13th or 14th when people take bath in the Alaknanda and big fairs (Uttaraini) are held at Karnprayag and Nandprayag.
Sivaratri – falls on the 14th day of the dark half of Phalgun and is observed in the honour of Siva. People fast throughout the day and a vigil is kept at night when the deity is worshipped. The Siva temples are specially decorated and illuminated and large numbers of devotees offer water and flowers to the symbols and images of Siva and sing devotional songs in his praise. Big fairs are held on this occasion at most of the Siva temples of the district particularly at Dewal, Bairaskund, Gopeshwar, and Nagnath .
Holi – the spring festival, is celebrated on the full moon day of Phalgun. People start singing Phaags (Songs of Phalgun) during the nights, long before the festival. A flag or banner is installed at a central place in the village on the 11th day of bright of Phalgun and is burnt on the 15th day which is known as Chharoli when ash mark is put on the foreheads of friends and relatives. The following day is marked by common rejoicing when, till about noon, people throw coloured water and coloured powder on each other and in evening visit relatives and friends.
Many fairs are held in the district, the important ones being mentioned below.
On the 13th day of April every year the big fair known as Bishwat Sankranti is held in the district. This fair is also mentioned in the Pandukeshwar inscription of Lalitashuradeva issued in the 22nd regnal year. It is also held at Ming (April 14), Aser (April 15), Hans Koti (April 16), and Kulsari and Adbadri (April 17). Another important fair of the district is the Gaucher Mela held at Gaucher in Karnprayag in the month of November every year and is attended by number of persons. Others fairs of importance are the Nautha at Adbadri, Naumi at Hariyali, Nanda Devi at Bedni, Dattatreya Pooranmasi at Ansuya temple, Nagnath at Dewar Walla.