Abode Of Lord Vishnu
Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of
the four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank river Alaknanda.
With the splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is an
important destination on the scared itinerary of every devour Hindu.
Once the spot was carpeted with 'badris' or wild berries and hence was
famous as 'Badri Van'.
Badrinath is considered the holiest of the four important shrines in
Garhwal. The town is at an altitude of 3,133 m. above sea level,
situated on the left bank of river Alaknanda and exactly between the
two mountains Nara and Narayan. The shrine is dedicated to Vishnu, the
preserver and falls in the religious itinerary of every devout Hindu.
The present temple was built about two centuries ago by Garhwal Kings.
It is a conical structure, 15 m. tall and has small cupola of a gilt
bull and spire. There are 15 idols in the temple complex, each sculpted
in black stone. The principal idol represents Vishnu in a meditative
posture and is flanked by Nara-Narayan. Legend dates it prior to the
Vedic age though it is believed to have been re-established by Adi
Shankaracharya, an important Hindu saint in 8th century A.D. Some of the
other images include Laxmi
(Vishnu's consort), Garud (Vishnu's mount), Shiva & Parvati and Ganesha.
The temple has been renovated several times due to damages by
avalanches. It looks fairly modern now due to the colourful "Singh Dwara"
or the main entrance gate. It has
three parts- Garbha Griha (the sanctum sanctorum), Darshan Mandap (for
pujas) and Shobha Mandap (for devotees to assemble). 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".
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 Ganaga 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 Guru
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 or Five Badris
Besides the main temple of Badrinath there are four other smaller badri
temples. These are collectively called the panch badris or five badris.
Very few pilgrims however, visit
the other four Badri temples.
Yogadhyan Badri (1920 m.)
Closest to the main temple of Badrinath lies this tiny, sleepy hamlet
which remains unnoticed by most pilgrims and is the winter home for the
idol at Badrinath.
Pandukeshwar is also an important archaeological site. Some years ago,
four ancient metal foils engraved with a description of several kings in
the region were discovered here. Believed to be over 1500 years old,
these foils are kept at Joshimath, 30 km downstream.
Bhavishya Badri (2,744 m.)
The bhavishya or future badri is situated at Subain near Tapovan, about
17 km east of Joshimath. According to Hindu belief, when evil is on the
rise in this world, the two mountains Nara and Narayan at Badrinath will
close up on each other and destroy the route to the present Badrinath.
This would also mark the end of the present world and the beginning of a
new one. Lord Badrinath will then appear at the Bhavishya Badri temple
and be worshipped here instead of at the present one.
Bridha Badri or the 'Old Badri'
Bridha Badri or the 'old Badri' is the third temple about 7 kms
short of Joshimath, on the main Rishikesh-Badrinath motor road at
Animath. It is believed that Badrinath was
worshipped here before its enshrinement by Shankaracharya at the main
Badrinath seat. The temple of
Bridha Badri is open throughout the year.
Pilgrimage Attractions in Badrinath
On the right bank of Alaknanda lies the sacred spot perched at an
altitude of 3,133 metres above the sea level. Encircled by a beautiful
valley, the 15mtrs. High temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is built
in the form of a cone with a small cupola of gilt bull and spire. Built
by Adi Guru Shankaracharya - the philosopher-saint of the 8th century,
the temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches.
Its colourful 'Singh Dwara' or the main entrance gate gives it a new,
The temple divided into three parts - the 'garbha griba' or sanctum
sanctorum, the 'darshan mandap' where the rituals are conducted and the
'sabha mandap'where devotees assemble.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 inmeditative
Mata Murti Temple (3 kms.)
On the right bank of Alaknanda stands the temple dedicated to the mother
of Sri Badrinathji.
Alka Puri (15 kms.)
The source of Alaknanda river from the glacier snouts of Bhagirath-
Kharak and Satopanth glaciers.
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 ater 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 kms.)
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.
Panch Prayag The five important confluences- Deoprayag, Nandprayag,
Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag and Vishuprayag, form the Panch Prayag.
The confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers. Ancient stone
scriptures are found here. Important pilgrim spots are Shiv Temple and
The confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The temples of
Rudranath and Chamunda Devi are noteworthy.
Airport Jolly Grant (317 kms.)
Railhead Rishikesh (300 kms.), Kotdwar (327 kms.)
Road Well connected to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Kotdwar and
other hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region.