August 2008
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Badrinath in Uttarakhand

Altitude: 3415 meters
Coordinates: 30.73° N 79.48° E
Best time to vist: the temple usually remains open from first week of May to 2nd week of November
Languages: Hindi, English and Garhwali
Area: 3 sq km
Languages: Hindi, English, Garhwali

Situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth peak (6,597mts.) in the background, the River Alakananda flows beside. Badrinath is one of the most revered Hindu shrines of India. This hill resort is a famous pilgrimage for the Hindus as the temple of the God Vishnu is situated here. It is believed that to revive the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite the country in one bond, Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four pilgrimage centres in four corners of India. Among them were Badrikashram in the north, Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. Badrinath situated at an elevation of 3,133 mts. is considered to be amongst the most pious.

The famous temple of Hindus, Badrinath was built by the Garhwal kings about 2 centuries ago. It dates back to the time when Sri Shankaracharya who has found the math in the 8th century A.D. The temple is 15 metes in height and has a dome of a gilt bull and spire. On the right bank of Alaknanda lies the sacred spot. Encircled by a beautiful valley, the 15 mts. high temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is built in the form of a cone with a small cup of a ilt bull and spire.

Map to Badrinath:

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The temple is divided into three parts the ‘garbha griha’ or sanctum sanctorum, the ‘darshan mandap’ where the rituals are conducted and the ‘sabha mandap’ Where devotees assemble. Within the temple complex there are 15 idols sculptured in black stone. Lord Vishnu in a meditative posture flanked by Nar and Narayan is th eprinciple idol while other images of Goddess Laxmi, Garud (Vishnu’s mount), Lord Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha are also there. Specially attractive is the one metre high image of Sri Badrinathji, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose.

On the banks of river Alaknanda on a flat platform called the Brahma Kapal you can catch Hindus propitiating sacred rites for their deceased ancestors. About 1.5 kms away at Sheshnetra you can see a boulder looking like a snake known as the Sheshnag’s eye, the legendary snake. Charanpaduka, about 3 kms away from the Badrinath is a beautiful meadow with foot prints of Lord Vishnu on the boulder. Besides the snowy peak towering over Badrinath is the spectacular Neelkanth Mountain, popularly called the ‘Garhwal Queen’.

Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath refers to Vishnu. Badri is the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jujube tree, which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references also refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath. Legend has it that Goddess Lakshmi took the form of the berries to protect Lord Vishnu from the harsh climate during his long penance.
One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda one of them. It later became the abode of Lord Vishnu or Badrinath. According to the Skanda Purana: “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.”

The hill station is closed almost after Diwali as during the winter months as the area becomes snow-covered. The tourist season starts from the month of May. The weather is not to so hot during the days and cold by the night during the summer months. The gates of the temple are closed from the month of October till April and the idol of Vishnu is shifted to Vasudeva temple at Joshimath. Alaknanda is one of the largest rivers of Garhwal and is equated with the River Ganga in holiness. The origin of the river Alaknanda is from the Glacier Alka Puri, which can be bvisited from this place. Satopanth is a triangular lake and is located at a height of 4402 m from sea level. It is one of the sources of the Alaknanda river.

Joshimath is a well-known hill station as well as a religious center. It is the winter seat of lord Badrinath. Auli, 6 km from Joshimath can be visited for skiing and other winter sports during winters. The Valley of Flower is a place known as Heaven on Earth. There are numerous verities of flowers in the valley, which are rarely found otherwise. You can see flower like Brahma Kamal there in the months of June-August.

Tapt Kund: Badrinath Temple Devotees take a holy dip in the natural thermal springs on the banks of the river Alaknanda, before entering the Sri Badrinathji Temple. The water of the Kund is believed to have medicinal properties.

Neelkanth: A pyramidal-shaped snowy peak towering above Sri Badrinathji, Popularly known as the `Garhwal Queen.

Charanpaduka: The footprints of Lord Vishnu can be seen on a boulder in this beautiful meadow.

Bhavishya Badri: Located at Subain near Tapovan about 17 km east of Joshimath The temple of Bhavishya is surrounded by dense forests. Pilgrims have to trek beyond Tapovan, up the Dhauliganga River. 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. Thus the name ‘Bhavishya Badri’ which literally means the Badri of the future.

Mata Murti Ka Mela: Every year in the month of September a big fair is organized in honor of the mother of Lord Badrinath called Mata Murti Ka Mela.

Badri Kedar Festival: This festival is held in the month of June in the shrines of both Badrinath and Kedarnath. The festival lasts for 8 days.

Mana Village, 4 km away, is inhabited by an Indo-Mongolian tribe It is the last village on the Indo-Tibet border. Many places famous in Hindu mythology lie close to Mana Village such as Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bhimpul and Vasudhara falls.

How to get there :

Airport: Jolly Grant, (317kms.)

Railhead: The nearby railway stations are at Rishikesh, 297 km away, and Kotdwara, 327 km away.

Road: Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Kotdwar and other hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region. Situated 297 kms from the holy town of Rishikesh and about 600 kms from Delhi

Places to stay:

Chardham Camp
Hotel Narayan Palace
Park Inn
Hotel Devlok (GMVN
Travellers Lodge (GMVN)

Other reading information:

1. (link)
2. Photos of Badrinath (link)

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