Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and
Narayan is the holiest of the four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank
of river Alaknanda. With the splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is
an important destination on the sacred itinerary of every devout Hindu. Once the
spot was carpeted with ‘badris’ or wild berries and hence was famous as
‘Badri Van’. This is the seat of the god Vishnu in his aspect of
Badrinarayan or NarNarayan, is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham
(Four abodes) pilgrimage.
The revered shrine is still alive with myriad
legends from mythology. Its sanctity is emphasised in the ancient scriptures as
" There are many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the heavens, earth and the
nether world, but there has been none equal to Badri, nor shall there be".
Located in Uttaranchal only a few kilometers from China, Badrinath is generally a two-day's journey from either Kedarnath, the site that precedes it in the Char Dham circuit, or one of the main disembarkation points on the plains. Also a member of the all-India Char Dham, Badrinath is one of the most important Vaisnava temples in India. As the route to Badrinath is for much of the way also the route to Hemkund Sahib, an important Sikh pilgrimage site, the road to Badrinath is especially crowded. The temple and its substantial surrounding village are accessible by road. The actual temple is a striking building whose bright colors evoke the painted Buddhist ghompas of the region; rumor has it that the temple was originally controlled by Buddhists.
Legend has it, when the Ganga was requested to
descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand
the force of its descent. 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.The temple of Shri Badrinathji on the banks of the Alaknanda river,
dates back to the vedic times. Situated at an altitude of 3,133 mts., the
present temple is believed to have been built by Adi Shankaracharya - an 8th
century’s philosopher-saint, who also established a ‘math’ here. Also
known as ‘Vishal Badri’, Badrinath is one of the Panch Badris.
The temple remains closed during the winter
season and is open from April-May to October- November
Panch (Five) Badris
Badrinath, Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri,
Bridha Badri, Adi Badri form the panch badris, situated in the valleys along the
Yogadhyan Badri ( 24 kms.) :
Located at Pandukeshwar on Rishikesh-Badrinath
highway. The image here in a meditative posture, is worshipped at Badrinath.
According to the myth, the Pandavas handed over Hastinapur to King Parikshit and
Bhavishya Badri ( 69 kms.) : Located
at an elevation of 2,744 mts., the temple is surrounded by dense forests. Nearby
is the picturesque Tapovan valley famous for sulphurous hot springs.
Traditionally it is believed that a day will come when the present route to
Badrinath will be inaccessible and Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here and
hence the name Bhavishya Badri meaning Badri of the future.
Bridha Badri ( 52 kms.) : 7 kms. from
Joshimath is Animath. It is believed that Badrinath or Lord Vishnu was
worshipped here before the enshrinement of Badrinath by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
The temple is open throughout the year.
Adi Badri ( 146 kms.) : 17 kms. from
Karnaprayag on the Karnaprayag-Ranikhet road, Adi Badri has 16 small temples.
Seven of them, having flat roofs, belong to the Gupta period. In the main temple
of Narayan, a 1 metre high idol of Lord Vishnu in black stone is enshrined on a
raised platform in pyramidal form
Travel attractions around
Mata Murti Temple ( 3 kms.)
On the right bank of Alaknanda stands the
temple dedicated to the mother of Sri Badrinathji.
Mana Village (4 kms.)
Inhabitated by Indo-Mangolian tribe, it is
considered to be the last Indian village before Tibet on this route. Nearby are
Vyas Gufa - the rock cave of saint Ved Vyas, the writer of Maharashtra; Bhim Pul
- a natural bridge over the Saraswati river and Vasundhara Falls - a 122 mts.
high waterfall - all forming an important part of the pilgrimage to Badrinath.
Alka Puri (15 kms.)
The source of Alaknanda river from the glacier
snouts of Bhagirath - Kharak and Satopanth glaciers.
Valley of Flowers (42 kms.)
An exotic valley in a conical shape lies to the
east of Badrinath with river Pushpawati flowing through it. The valley that is
presently a national park, is 19kms. trek from Govindghat. A must-see for all
Hemkund Sahib ( 43 kms.)
Near the Valley of Flowers is the holy lake
Hemkund - an important pilgrimage of the Sikhs and Hindus. Along its shores is
the sacred Sikh Shrine where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru unified with God
after prolonged meditation in his previous birth.
Nearby is the Lakshman Temple where Lakshman -
the brother of Lord Rama performed his penance.
The reflection of surrounding snow-clad peaks
in its placid waters offers a scenic sight.
Satopanth ( 25 kms.)
A three cornered lake with a circumference of
about 1 km, situated at an elevation of 4,402 mts. above sea level. It is named
after the Hindu triad - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who are believed to occupy
one corner each of the lake. The trek is hazardous with dramatic landscapes. An
experienced guide is advisable.
Govindghat ( 25 kms.)
The confluence of Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga
rivers. It has an imposing Gurudwara named after Guru Gobind Singh.
Joshimath ( 44 km.)
The winter home of Shri Badrinathji is situated
on the slopes above the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. It is one of
the four ‘maths’ established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
Auli ( 57 kms.)
An ideal Aki resort in the Garhwal Himalayas
with its slopes comparable to the best in the world. Perched at an elevation of
2,500-3,050 mts, Auli not only offers a magnificent view of the Himalayan ranges
but is a delight for winter sports enthusiasts.
Pipalkoti ( 80 kms.)
A scenic spot amidst snow-clad peaks.
Chamoli ( 10 kms.)
From Gopeshwar on Badrinath highway is the tiny
mountain retreat that attracts visitors for its verdant landscapes and fresh
The five important confluences Deoprayag,
Nandprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag and Vishnuprayag, form the Panch Prayag .
Deoprayag : The confluence of Alaknanda and
Bhagirathi rivers. Ancient stone scriptures are found here. Important pilgrim
spots are Shiv Temple and Raghunath Temple.
Rudraprayag : The confluence of Alaknanda and
Mandakini rivers. The temples of Rudranath and Chamunda Devi are noteworthy.
Nandprayag : The confluence of Alaknanda and
Mandakini rivers. The Gopalji Temple is worth a visit.
Karnaprayag : The confluence of Alaknanda and
Pindar rivers with temples of Uma and Karna .
Vishnuprayag : The confluence of Alaknanda and
Dhauliganga rivers. An ancient temple of Lord Vishnu stands here by a pool
called Vishnu Kund.