Badrinath, a Hindu holy town is situated in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. In 2006, around 6,00,000 pilgrims visited this place compared to only 90,676 pilgrims in 1961. This place has found its mention in the scriptures and legends for many years now. Its importance as a holy place has been imbibed in us since childhood. The name Badrinath was derived from Badri meaning 'berries' and Nath meaning 'Lord'
The town acquires the label of being a 'holy town', which is due to the presence of the famous Badrinath Temple, one of the Char Dhams. The pilgrim site is a famous Hindu and Jain holy place.
The Badrinath Temple also known as the Badrinarayan Temple, located in Uttarakhand's Badrinath town, is considered as the most holy among the char dhams. It is among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is worshipped in this temple as Shri Badrinath. The temple stands tall at a height of 50 ft, has a colorful main entrance also known as the Singhdwar. It is known to have three sections; the Garbhagriha, the Darshan Mandap, and the Sabha Mandap. The idols of Lord Badri Narayan, along with other God's statues are situated in the Garbhagriha or the Sanctum. The Sabha Mandap is the spot where all the pilgrims gather to offer their prayers.
The statue of Lord Vishnu or Badrinarayan is around 3.3 ft tall and is made of black stone (Saligram stone), which is worshipped by pilgrims as one of the eight forms of Lord Vishnu. The image is believed to have Vishnu in a dual form of Nara and Narayana.
Location of Badrinath
The Badrinath temple is situated along the River Alaknanda banks in the hills in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It stands tall at a height of 3,133 m, and is among some of the most visited pilgrimages in India. The temple is surrounded by the Nar and Narayan mountains, which lies 9 km east of the Nilkantha peak. Badrinath lies north of Rishikesh and 62 km northwest from Nanda Devi mountain peak.
History of Badrinath
The existence of the temple can be dated back to the Vedic period, and is known to have been turned from a Buddhist shrine into a Hindu temple by Adi Shankara. The current structure of the temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was created by the King of Garhwal, known as the place where Lord Vishnu performed his penance. And, in order to provide him shelter, Goddess Mahalaxmi took the form of a Badri tree, giving the name Badarinarayan. Various other legends are attached to the town, one of which speaks that the Pandavas crossed the town of Badrinath, on the way to heaven passing through the Mana village, also known as the last Indian town near the Tibetan border. A cave in the village named as the Vyasa cave, named after the Saint Vyasa, who is known to have authored the Mahabharata in the cave.
The Main Attraction
Badrinath temple was worshipped as a Buddhist temple, when King Ashoka was the ruler of India. According to Skand Puran the idol of Lord Badrinath was recovered by Adiguru Shankaracharya from Narad Kund and was re-enshrined in the 8th century A.D. in this temple. Skanda Purana describes more about the place: "There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath".
According to mythics, Badrinath oftenly called as Badri Vishal, was re-established by Adi Shri Shankaracharaya to revieve the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite nation in one bond. Badrinath is one land richly infused with sacred accounts from numerous ancient Hindu scriptures. Be it the puranic story of the Pandav brothers, along with Draupadi, going past on their last pilgrimage by ascending the slopes of a peak near Badrinath called Swargarohini or the ‘Ascent to Heaven’ or the visit by Lord Krishna and other great sages, these are just some of the many tales which we associate with this holy tirtha. According to Vamana Purana, the sages Nara and Narayana (fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu) perform Penances here.
Great sages of yore like Kapila Muni, Gautam, Kashyap have performed penance here, Bhakta Narada attained salvation and Lord Krishna loved this region, medieval religious scholars like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Sri Madhavacharya, Sri Nityananda have come here for learning and quiet contemplation and so many still continue to do even today.
Badrinath is the only sacred place which is a part of the chota char dham as well as the char dham yatra. The char dham yatra holds an important significance in the Hindu religion. Pilgrims visiting only the Badrinath Temple go on the Ek Dham yatra. This holy trip or the dham yatra is considered as the most auspicious religious activity. There is a common belief that those who go on the char dham yatra would have the gates of heaven opened for them. The same can be achieved by ek dham yatra or the Badrinath Yatra.
Best Time for Badrinath Yatra
The period between May until October is the most ideal to visit the Badrinath Temple, and is also the peak season for tourists. The monsoon months must be avoided as the region is prone to landslides. Tourists are advised not to visit during winters as the region sees heavy snowfall and harsh cold conditions. The temple is closed from October to November, and is reopened around April.