Badrinath Dham is one of the
oldest of Hindu places of worship. On the right bank of the
river Alaknanda lies the sacred shrine perched at an altitude of
3133 m above sea level, guarded on either side by the two mountain peaks Nar & Narain with the towering Neelkanth peak
providing a splendid back-drop. Also known as the Vishal Badri,
the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the
apt tribute to Lord Vishnu.
The revered spot was once carpeted with wild berries which gave
it the name 'Badri Van' meaning 'forest of berries.' Built by
Adi Shankaracharaya, the philosopher-saint of the 8th century,
the temple has been renovated several times due to damage by
avalanches and restored in the 19th century by the royal houses
of Scindia & Holkar. The main entrance gate is colourful
& imposing popularly known as Singhdwar. References to Sri
Badrinath have been made in the Vedas & perhaps it was a
popular shrine during the Vedic age also. The Skand Purana gives
an accvount of the Adiguru consecrating the idol of Lord Badri
Vishal in the temple after recovering it from Narad Kund, in a
pursuance of a divine call from heaven. The idol is made of
black stone similar to granite. So holy is the shrine that it
forms one of the four prominent places of Hindu worship. The
epic Mahabharat, it is believed, was composed in the Vyas &
ganesh caves close by. The Vishnu Ganga which later becomes the
Alaknanda flows below the temple. Almost 3 km north of
Badrinath, mana is the last Indian village before the Tibetan
border. The Vasudhara falls are quite spectacular. On the
closing day the residents of Mana offer a choli to the deity to
cover the diety all the winter. It is taken off on the opening
day & its fibres are distributed amongst the Yatris
(pilgrims) as a maha prasadam. Joshimath is the winter deity of
The temple opens every year in the month of April-May &
closes for winters in the third week of November. Badrinath's
four subsidiary Badris include Bhavishya Badri, Yogdhyan Badri,
Bridha Badri and Adi badri. It is popularly believed that with
spread of Buddhism, the Buddhists enshrined the statue of Lord
Buddha there and during the Hindu renaissance, the statue of
Buddha was later restored by Adi Guru as the idol of Vishnu.
This possibly explains the deity sitting in Padmasan posture,
typical of Buddha icons. However, also according to Hindu
mythology, Buddha was considered to be the ninth incarnation of
Badrinath is devoted t the worship of Vishnu, who, according to
an amusing tale, usurped this place from Shiva. For Vishnu had
come here as the gods once did, to offer penance. He loved the
place so much that he plotted to unseat Shiva from his
meditation here. He took on the form of a beautiful child and
began to wail. Shiva's wife, Parvati, picked him up but could
not calm the child. Since his wailing continued to disturb
Shiva, he shifted to Kedarnath in exasperation, leaving the spot
free for Vishnu to occupy. But reminders of Shiva's stay
continue to linger, most visible in the name, Badri, a kind of
berry that Shiva was most fond of and the gigantic tree,
invisible to the mortal eye, that served Shiva. Legend also has
it, when the Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help the
suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force
of its descend. Therefore the mighty Ganga was split into twelve
holy channels, Alaknanda was one of them that later became the
abode of Lord Vishnu or Badrinath.
When the sage Narad disapproved of Lord Vishnu's way of living
in worldly comforts, he was hurt and sent his spouse to
nagkanyas. He himself decided to disappear in the Himalayan
valley-whose peaks make for some of the most enticing
manifestations of God's creations. The spot was carpeted with
Badris or wild berries and hence was famous as Badri Van. The
Lord Vishnu assumed a yogdhyani posture and for several years
meditated at the same spot and fed himself with wild berries.
Laxmi on return found the sesha shayya empty, she went to the
Himalayas in search of the Lord and ultimately found him amidst
the badri in deep meditation. He addressed the Lord as Badrinath
and requested him to give up the yogdhyani posture to return to
his original sringaric form.
He agreed to do so provided the entire mankind abides by that he
will be worshipped in yogdhyana form by the Gods and in
sringaric form by the mortals and further Goddess Laxmi will sit
on the left side in yogdhayni form and on right in sringaric
form. The Hindu tradition demands that the place of the spouse
is on the left but sitting of the Goddess Laxmi on the right is
meaningful to convey that they should not be worshipped as a
divine couple but as two individual deities with no marital
relation. It is for the reason that the Rawal (main priest) of
Badrinath must not be married. The pilgrims to the temple
worship the Lord in his sringaric form during the summer and in
the winter, he is worshipped in his yogdhyani form by the devtas
& sages. There are many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the
heaven, earth but there has been none equal to Badri, nor shall
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is built in the form of a cone with
a small cupola of a gilt bull & spire. Legend dates the
temple prior to the vedic age and the original temple is
believed to be built by King Pururava and the icon of the lord
carved by Vishwakarma, the creator of gods. A Hindu reformist
Adi Shankaracharya re-enshrined the temple back in 8th century.
A flight of steps takes pilgrims to the main gate & then
into the temple. The temple is divided into three parts - the 'Garbha
Griha' or the sanctum sanctorum, the 'Darshan Mandap' where the
rituals are conducted and the 'Sabha Mandap' where devotees
assemble. The Garbha Griha portion has its canopy covered with a
sheet of gold offered by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. The complex has
15 idols. especially attractive is the one-metre high image of
Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents Lord
Vishnu seated in a meditative pose-padmasan.
Special pujas are also performed on behalf of individuals. Every
puja must be preceded by a holy dip in the Tapta Kund. Some of
the special morning pujas are Abhishek, Mahaabhishek, Geeta
Path. Some special evening pujas are Aarti & Geet Govind.
Such pujas are to be booked in advance. The temple opens at 0430
hrs & closes at 1300 hrs. Once again it opens at 1600 hrs
& closes at 2100 hrs after the divine song Geet Govind.
Rawal is the administrator-Pujari of the temple well versed in
puja ceremonials & Sanskrit language and is expected to be
SEEING & EXCURSION :
Panch Dharas : (a) Prahalad Dhara (b) Kurma Dhara (c)
Urvashi Dhara (d) Bhrigu Dhara (e) Indra Dhara
Panch Shilas : (a) Narad Shila (b) varaha Shila (c)
Garurh Shila (d) Markandeya Shila (e) Narshingh Shila.
Tapt Kund : Natural thermal springs on the bank of the
river Alaknanda, where it is customary to bathe before entering
the Badrinath temple.
Narad Kund : A recess in the river, near Tapt Kund,
forming a pool from where the Badrinath idol was
Brahama Kapal : A flat platform on the bank of river
Alaknanda. Hindus perform proppitiating rites for their deceased
ancestors. Legends has it that when Shiva chopped of the fifth
head of Brahma, it got stuck to his trident. Lastly with the
blessing of Lord Vishnu at Badrivan, the head of Brahma fell
down from the trident at this place & hence the name Brahma-Kapal
Sheshnetra : 1.5kms. away is a boulder having an
impression of the legendary serpent, better known as the
Charanpaduka : 3kms. away is a beautiful meadow where the
footprint of Lord Vishnu is seen on a boulder.
Neelkanth : A pyramidal shaped snowy peak ( 6,600mts.)
towering above Badrinath presents a dramatic sight. It is
popularly known as the ' Garhwal Queen'.
Mata Murty Temple : Devoted to the mother of Sri
Badrinathji. Other important temples include Sesh Netra Temple,
Urvashi Temple and Charanpaduka.
Mana Village : Inhabited by an Indo-Mongolian tribe, it
is the last Indian village before Tibet.
Vasundhara : As the name suggests, vasundhara is a
magnificent water fall. This place is 5 kms. from Badrinath out
of which 2 kms. is motorable upto Mana.
Bhim Pul : On the other side of Mana village, a massive
rock forming a natural bridge, lies over the roaring Saraswati
river. It presents a spectacular view of water thundering down
through the narrow passage under the rock and is believed to
have been placed there by Bhim, the second eldest among the five
Vyas Gufa (cave) : Near Mana Village, this is a rock-cave
where Ved Vyas is believed to have composed the Mahabharata and
the pauranic commentaries.
Alka Puri : 15 kms. from Badrinath and located via Mana
village, lies the source of Alaknanda river from the glacier
snouts of Bhagirath-Kharak and Sato Panth glaciers. The spot is
supposed to be the adobe of Kuber, Yakshas and Gandharvas.
Sato Panth : 25 kms. from Badrinath and located at an
elevation of 4,402 mts. is a three cornered lake of serene water
with a circumference of about 1 km. The lake is named after the
Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and mahesh, who are believed to
occupy one corner each of this lake. The trek is hazardous and
full of dramatic views. An experienced guide is advisable. There
is no place to rest except in the caves. Cooked food, stove etc.
must be carried from Badrinath itself.
Arwatal : For the more enterprising, a trek to Arwatal
(3,980 mts.) via-Mana, Ghastoli and Arwatal is immensely
rewarding. The trek passes through a hazardous icy and snowy
terrain and a number of streams have to be crossed. badrinath to
Ghastoli is 17 kms. and Arwatal is approximately another 18 kms.
Photography is prohibited in this area and a guide is
Area : 4.5 Sq.kms.
Altitude : 3133 mts.
Rainfall : 1460 m
Temperature : Summer - Max 17.9° C, Min 5.9° C, Winter-
Generally snowbound from December to March with minimum subzero
Best Season : From opening to closing, generally from April to
Clothing : Heavy woolen garments required throughout.
Air : Nearest airport is a Jollygrant, 314kms.
Rail : Nearest railhead is Rishikesh, 297kms. which is connected
to major cities like Howrah, Mumbai, Delhi & Lucknow by rail.
Road : Badrinath is connected by a motorable road with Rishikesh,
Kotdwar, Dehradun, Hardwar and other hill stations of Garhwal. Some
important road distances are Delhi (518Kms), Joshimath (42Kms), Hardwar
(321 Kms), Gopeshwar 9106 Kms).
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