Alakānandā (Alakananda) is the name of a pilgrimage site, named after the river. It is said that the river is situated in heaven. Mandākinī (Mandakini) emerges from the feet of God Viṣṇu (Vishnu). After falling upon Merupṛṣṭha (Meruprishtha), the same Mandākinī comes to be known by four names, as it flows in four different directions. Emerging from the feet of Viṣṇu, Gaṅgā (Ganga) at first falls in Brahmapurī (Brahmapuri). Then it flows in four different directions. One of these flows is called Alakānandā.

The flow of Gaṅgā in Devaloka (the heavenly abode of gods) is known as Alakanandā.

According to scholars, from the combined flow of Viṣṇugaṅgā (Vishnuganga) and Sarasvatī (Saraswati)– emerges Alakānandā, which flows across Garwal Himālaya (Himalaya). Captain Repar discovered this river at a small distance from Vadrīnātha. A fountain-fall called Viṣṇudhārā is located at the point of its origin. Srinagar, the capital of Garwal is situated on its bank. Later, with the increase of the grace of Gaṅgā, it was said that this is a branch of Gaṅgā, that gets divided into seven flows. In other opinions, Gaṅgā, after coming down to earth, comes to be known as Alakānandā, and later Bhāgirathī (Bhagirathi) gets merged into it in Devaprayāga. This combined flow is again known as Gaṅgā. According to the geologists, Alakānandā has been assimilated with five rivers in five separate places — Devaprayāga (Devaprayaga), Nandaprayāga (Nandaprayaga), Karṇaprayāga (Karnaprayaga; with the river Piṇḍāra), Rudraprayāga (with Mandākinī), and Viṣṇuprayāga (Vishnuprayaga). This river is known as Alakānandā.