Badrinath is a Hindu holy town and a nagar panchayat in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is the most important of the four sites in India’s Char Dham pilgrimage.
Badrinath temple in night after closing ceremony.
The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs.In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.
The temple has undergone several major renovations because of age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur.
The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.
Neelkanth Parbat from Badrinath
History and legend
The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram (बदरिकाश्रम) in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu’s dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Krishna, addressing Arjuna, says, “Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years.”
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.
The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini – literally, the ‘Ascent to Heaven’. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.
The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
View from Badrinath
Located only a few kilometers from the Indo-China (Tibet) border, Badrinath is generally a two-day-long journey from either Kedarnath, the site that precedes it in the Char Dham circuit, or one of the main disembarkation points on the plains. Hemkund Sahib, an important Sikh pilgrimage site, is on the way to Badrinath, so the road is especially crowded during the summer pilgrimage season. The temple and its substantial surrounding village are accessible by road. The best time to visit Badrinath is between June and September. Warm clothes are recommended all year.
The northern math established by Adi Sankara is nearby at Jyotirmath. Other places in the area are Haridwar and Rishikesh.
The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun, (317 km). The nearest railway stations are at Haridwar (310 km) and Rishikesh(297 km) and Kotdwar, (327 km) respectively. There are regular buses operating to Badrinath, from New Delhi, Haridwar and Rishikesh. As the roads are very narrow, for your safety it is recommended to travel by all terrain vehicles. Until recently you could not drive here, but now you can drive right up next to the temple. There are many private helicopter service providers who provide services at very marginal rates like Heritage Aviation and many more other service providers.