Badrinath is a small temple town located in Garhwal, Uttarakhand. The majestic River Alaknanda flows beside the temple. It is one of the most sacred vaishnavite pilgrimage sites in Hindu culture. Badrinath Temple is one of the temples which form the Char Dham Pilgrimage in India. It is also a part of the 108 Divyadesams dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The Badrinath Temple is surrounded by two peaks named Nar and Narayan (twin forms of lord vishnu as the fifth avatar) against the backdrop of the Neelkanth Mountain. The temple can be visited only between April and November. The Temple remains closed and unapproachable due to extreme weather conditions prevailing in the Himalayas during the winter season.
The Badrinath Temple is composed of three structures: The Garbhagraha, The Darshan Mandap, and The Sabha Mandap. The height of the temple is approximately 50 mts with a gold roof. The walls of the temple are built of stone with broad arched windows placed among them. The walls and the pillars of the mandapam are covered with sculptures and scriptures from the glorious past. The figure of Garuda can be seen just in front of the main deity Lord Vishnu. The temple pandit or the Rawal Ji must be from the clan of Nambudiri Brahmins from Kerala.
Badrinath Temple History
- The origin or the date of construction of the Badrinath Temple is unknown. It is, however, believed to be at least a thousand years old.
- According to a Skandapuranam, in the 9th century, Sri Adi Shankara found a large black statue of Lord Vishnu lying on the banks of the Narad Kund. He established the statue in a cave near the Tapt Kund which later came to be worshiped as the Badrinath Temple.
- According to legend, this place was initially chosen by Lord Shiva for his Tapasya, but Lord Vishnu wanted the place to himself. He took the form of a little boy and cried lying down on the rock. He could not be consoled by both Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Eventually on Parvati’s insistence, Lord Shiva left to Kedarnath to do his Tapasya. The place where this incident happened is still worshiped near Badrinath.
- Another legend says that when Lord Vishnu started his penance, Goddess Laxmi stood beside him and sheltered him from the heat and cold by turning herself into a Badri Tree. Hence, Vishnu was given the name of Badrinath (Lord of Badri).
- According to the ancient scriptures, Badrinath is home to several occurrences and legends from the great Mahabharata. The Pandavas were supposed to have passed Badrinath by crossing over a peak called “Swargarohini” on the way to their last pilgrimage.
- A popular legend associated with Badrinath is that of River Ganga. When Ganga was asked to descend on Earth to relieve human suffering, the Earth was unable to tolerate the intensity of her flow. To distribute the flow, Ganga passed through the locks of Lord Shiva and turned into twelve channels of water. River Alaknanda became one of the channels.
Significance of Badrinath Temple
- Badrinath Temple is one of the most revered vishnu temples in hindu culture. The Temple is one of the temples of Char Dham Yatra and is also a part of 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the statue of the Deity Lord Vishnu is Swayambhu in nature meaning that it is self-born.
- The idol of Lord Vishnu is said to be self-manifested. It is supposed to be one of the eight swayam vyakta kshetras of Lord Vishnu.
- The Badrinath Temple is a part of the Panch Badri Temples, the others being the Yog Dhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Adi Badri and the Vriddha Badri.
- The legendary River Saraswati originates from a glacier near Badrinath. The river joins The Alaknanda and then vanishes. The Saraswati along with Ganga and Yamuna meet at Allahabad to form the Holy Sangam.
- It is mentioned in the Vamana Purana that the sages Nara and Narayana (the dual form of Lord Vishnu’s fifth avatar) did penance here. The great sages of folklores like Kapila Muni, Gautam and Kashyap also did penance here.
- According to Hindu mythology, the head of Brahma fell from Shiva’s trident at the Brahma Kapal ghat located 300 mts from the Badrinath temple. Homages are offered to departed souls on this ghat.
- It is believed that Narada attained salvation atop the Narad Shila located at Badrinath.
- It is believed that the Vyas Cave situated near Badrinath is the place where Ved Vyas dictated the entire Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha.
- The Bheem Pul near Badrinath Temple was constructed by Bheem to make a path between two mountains so that Draupadi could cross it easily.
- The water of the hot spring Tapt Kund has medicinal values and therefore, a dip is a must to cure all ailments.
Badrinath Temple Timings
- The Badrinath Temple opens at 4:30am and closes at 9:00pm. The afternoon break is from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
- The Abhishekam is performed from 7:30 AM to 12:00 PM and at 3:00 PM.
- The Geet Govind and the Aarti are performed between 6 PM and 9 PM.
- After the last Aarti of the day, the deity is covered with sandalwood paste which is offered as Prasad to the devotees during the Nirmalya darshan.
Even though, the temple is open only during the summer months, it is highly advised to wear woolen clothes with socks and scarfs. Carry umbrellas as the region is prone to seasonal rains.
Poojas and Rituals
- Shrimad Bhagwat Saptah Path – It is a special pooja performed at the temple on request. This pooja continues for seven days. This ritual is dedicated to Lord Krishna. There are 18000 mantras in the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha. A Yagna is performed on the last day of the Pooja. It is believed that by doing this Pooja, one gets rid of fear and misfortune in life.
- Vishnu Sahasranamam – It is a prayer consisting of the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu, each signifying the different attributes of Lord Vishnu.
- Ved Path – A recitation of verses from the four Vedas – Rig, Sam, Yajur, and Atharva.
- Geeta Path – The complete recital of the Shrimad Bhagawat Geeta is done in front of the deity.
- Akhand Jyoti – This temple is closed for pilgrims on VijayaDasami. On the last day, a special ghee mixture brought from the Mana village is bought here and lit. This lamp remains lit for six months.
- Badri-Kedar festival – The festival is usually organized in the month of June. Artists from all over Uttaranchal come together to showcase their musical talent dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The festival is celebrated for 8 days.
- Mata Murti ka Mela – A large fair is held at the Badrinath temple every September to commemorate the day the river Ganga landed on the Earth. The day is dedicated to Mata Murti, mother of Nar and Narayan (fifth avatar of Vishnu). It is believed that she divided the River Ganga into twelve channels.
- Janmashtami – This festival is celebrated on the day Lord Krishna (eighth avatar of Vishnu) was born. It is celebrated in the months of either August or September. Several processions and Poojas are organized for Lord Krishna on this day.
How to reach: Road, Rail, and Air
- By Air – The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. It is 314 km away from Badrinath. Regular flights are operated out of New Delhi to Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis and Buses are available from the Airport to Badrinath.
- By Rail – The nearest railway station is Rishikesh which is 295 km away. Trains to Rishikesh are available from all major cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
- By Road – Badrinath is well connected to other parts of the Uttarakhand state. One has to take a bus from New Delhi to Haridwar or Rishikesh, from where the state transport buses are available to Badrinath. Buses and Taxis are available from major places in Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Chamoli and Ukhimath.
Where to stay
Few government-run guest houses are available for pilgrims to stay. Some of them are GMVN Yatri Nivas Badrinath, GMVN Tourist Bungalow Devlok at Badrinath and GMVN Badrinath Rest House.
Private accommodation is also available with price ranges suitable for all. Some of the recommended hotels are Hotel Narayan Palace, New Snow Crest Hotel and The Sarovar Portico, Badrinath.
Where to eat
There are a lot of small hotels and dhabas in the town of Uttaranchal providing the local cuisine of Uttaranchal as well as the traditional North Indian Cuisine. The type of food is pure vegetarian. Some of the popular restaurants are the Brahma Kamal restaurant and the Saket restaurant.
- Mata Murti Temple – It is situated 3 km away from the Badrinath Temple. The Temple is dedicated to the mother of Lord Narayan. According to a legend, it was Mata Murti’s wish that Lord Vishnu should come out of her womb when he takes the next avatar. Lord Vishnu agreed and took birth as twins Nar and Narayan to kill a devil. A fair is held every August at the Temple to celebrate the legend.
- Neelkanth – This majestic peak overshadows the Badrinath Temple. The cliff of the peak is where the sun rays first fall on in Badrinath. The peak is named after Lord Shiva and it is a common faith that if you observe the peak for some time, you can see the outline of Lord Shiva sitting on the top facing the sky.
- Satopanth – This is a lake 25 km away from Badrinath which is considered a sacred site. The lake is triangular in shape signifying the deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. It is believed that all three come down to earth to take a bath in this holy lake on every Ekadasi of the Hindu Calendar. However, permission is required to visit the lake.
- Urvashi Temple – This temple is dedicated to the Apsara Urvashi. The story behind the temple is intriguing. It is believed that Lord Indra sent several Apsaras to distract Nar and Narayana during their meditation. In response, Narayan tore his left thigh and created several Apsaras, Urvashi being the most beautiful among them all. Urvashi led all the Apsaras and shattered Lord Indra’s pride near a pond 2 km away. There is a temple built at the pond dedicated to her.