Tirth Yatra to Char Dham in India not only purifies the soul but is also believed to play a pivotal role in one’s journey as a human to achieve Moksh(salvation) by the Hindus. Badrinath, a Char Dham locale, is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India, in the Garhwal Hill tracks of Chamoli District, Uttarakhand. The majestic temple is at a height of 3133 meters (about 10278 feet) above the sea level, along the banks of Alaknanda River. The other Char Dham sites are, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram.
Badrinath temple, also known as Badrinarayan Temple, dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu is also one of the 108 Divya Desam dedicated to Shri Vishnu
Legends of the Origins of the Temple
According to Hindu Mythology, Bhagwan Vishnu meditated at this place, and while in that blissful state he was unaware of the harsh climatic conditions. In order to protect him, his wife, Devi Lakshmi took the form of a Badri tree and spread around him, sheltering him from the elements. Vishnu ji was impressed by her devotion and named the place after her, Badrika Aashram. It is believed Vishnu ji is depicted in the temple sitting in Padmasana.
Another version narrates the origin of Badrinath where two sons of Dharma, Nar and Narayan (modern names of Himalayan Mountains) chose the place to spread their religion in valleys of the Himalayas. They went into great penance for the well-being of the universe and Bhakt Narad was able to attain salvation. Searching for the perfect place they found the four Badris of Panch badri, which are Bridha badri, Bhavish Badri, Dhyan Badri and Yog badri. They also named the hot and cold springs behind Alaknanda River as Badri Vishal.
The most interesting tale is that of of Shivji and Mata Parvati,who when meditating in Badrinath, were disturbed by a small, crying boy. Upon taking the little boy into her bosom, Mata Parvathi and Shiv ji were tricked into giving away their home to the little boy. When they came to know that the little boy was none other than Shri Vishnu, Shivji and Mata Parvati willingly moved to Kedarnath to grant his wish of meditating on the holy site.
Yet another story narrates that Pandavas during their journey to heaven climbed via ‘Swaragarohini’, known as ascent to heaven and Mana village towards the north of Badrinath.
History of Badrinath Temple
Different accounts narrate different stories of the temple and the local history echoes the same. Some believe that first the shrine was worshiped as Tirthankar Adinath as Bhagwan Vishnu. Converted into a Buddhist Shrine till the 8th century the temple was revived by Adi Shankara in 9th century and then he sanctified it into the Hindu temple.
It is also believed that Queen of Indore, who ruled here, donated a lot to develop the infrastructure of the temple and the region, for the welfare of the people residing here.
During 2006 the state government announced the area around Badrinath as no construction zone because of illegal encroachment and risk of natural disasters.
Architecture and the Shrine
Against the background of the majestic Himalayan range the bright and imposing temple rises to about 50 feet tall with colorful carvings and designs on walls, pillars and gates. The colourful exterior facade of the temple resembles the Buddhist architectural style, while the interior follows the traditional style of Indian temple architecture. The temple includes three main structures, which are Garbhagriha; the sanctum with the conical shikara roof with a small gilt covered cupola. The Darshan Mandap or worship hall and the Sabha Mandap or the convention center have walls and pillars covered with exquisite and intricate carvings.
In the main shrine is the Shaligram deity of Badrinarayan of about 1 ft in height with a Shankha and Chakra in each hand and the other two arms resting on the laps in a Yogamudra Posture, along with Lakshmi, Garuda, Navadurga, kubera, Nar Narayan, Sage Narad and others. The devotees can gaze upon a calm and meditative Lord Vishnu, flanked by Nar and Narayan.
Right below the temple there is a natural thermal spring, Tapt kund, which is believed to be infused with healing properties. It is advisable to the devotees to take a dip in the holy water before visiting the shrine of Badrinath. There are five boulders which are known as, Narad, Varah, Narsingh, Garur and Markanday.
The most celebrated festival at the Badrinath temple is the Mata Murti ka Mela, commemorating the descent of river Ganga on earth. Every year Shri Badrinath visits his mother in the Mata Murti Mandir located about 3km away from the main temple. The locals celebrate this day by worshipping the mother of Shri Badrinath.
Badri Kedar is another festival celebrated during the month of June in the temples of both Badrinath and Kedarnath which lasts for 8 days and artists from all over country performs here.
Celebration of Akshaya Tritiya takes place when the temple reopens during April-May. The temple remains closed during winters because of climatic conditions because of which the celebrations of Bhatridwitya and Vijyadashmi do not take place here.
Other pujas includes Mahabhishek, Rudra Abhishek, Bhagvat puja, Geet Govinda and aarti. Ashtoram and Sahasranama is practiced during the rituals in Vedic scripts. Sugar balls and dry leaves are common prasad offered to devotees. The temple also witnesses Akhanda Jyothi on the first day of opening of temple after winters and also on the day of closure filled with ghee to last for the next 6 months.
Significance of visiting the temple
Badrinath is also a part of the Chota char dham of Uttrakhand along with Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri, and is a significant pilgrimage site as one of the Char dham of the Tirth Yatra,
It is also one of the Panch Badris temple situated in the Garhwal Himalayas and one of the 108 Divya desams of the Vaishnavites. Taking a holy bath at the Alaknanda River and praying to Badrinath is believed to purify one’s soul.
The nearby locations of Vasundhara falls or Mana Village which is the last Indian Village at the Indo-China Border is a must visit during the trip, Neelkanth Peak covered with snow and which receives the first rays of sun at the crack of dawn, Bheem Pul near Mana village, just 3 kms from the temple, Charanpaduka (3kms from the temple), and Sheshnetra (1.5kms from the temple).
How to reach the temple?
The route to reach Badrinath temple is quite long and the trek is considered as one of the longest treks in India.
The approximate distance from Delhi – 536 kms, from Rishikesh – 298kms and from Dehradun – 335 kms to Badrinath.
By Air: One can take flight to Jolly Grant Airport at Rishikesh, Dehradun, the nearest airport to Gangotri. It is quite easy to find a bus or cab from the airport to reach the temple.
By Train: Regular trains to the nearby cities of Haridwar and Dehradun are available.
By Road: Buses and cabs are available frequently from tourist destinations across Uttrakhand to reach the Badrinath temple.
Badrinath Temple Pooja/ puja Timings
The temple is open only for around 6 months during the year for the devotees, mostly April end/beginning of May to June and closes in September /October end or November beginning depending on the climatic conditions in the region.
During the other six months the area is considered inappropriate for tours as the risk of floods, landslide, high temperatures, and other monsoon related problems is high.
The temple is open to visitors from 6 AM to 8PM during the entire week.
The kapat of Shri Badrinath Temple for the year 2022 was 8th May 2022 at 6:15 AM and witnessed approximately 20,000 devotees visiting the opening day and within 2 days the temple witnessed approximately 35,000 pilgrims visiting the Temple. The closing date expected to be in the month of October is yet to be finalized.
Address – Badri to Mata Murti road, Badrinath, Uttarakhand. Pincode – 246422
One can also contact Shri Badrinath Kedarnath Temple committee on their email – firstname.lastname@example.org for related queries.