Badrinath in Uttaranchal state of India is one of the holiest shrines according to Hinduism. It is one of the four holy sites of Char Dham Yatra. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Badrinath temple is located in Chamoli district in Uttaranchal. Situated at a height of about 3130 meters in the Garhwal Himalayas, the holy town is easily accessible from Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kotdwar and Dehradun by road. Located on the banks of the Alokananda with the magnificent Neelkantha peak as its backdrop, it derives its name from `badri', a local berry.
The divine site also finds place among the `Chardhams' of the Himalayas, also known as Chota Chardham. The other three `dhams' are Kedarnath (the seat of Lord Shiva), Gangotri (the source of River Ganges), and Yamunotri (source of River Yamuna).
A pilgrimage to the Badrinath temple is considered an immensely holy activity for all Hindus. Though legend dates the origin of the temple to Vedic period, the common belief is that the shrine was established by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century A.D. The temple is characterized by a colorful frontal facade and a golden cupola with spires. The entire structure is around 15 meters tall and is approached by a flight of steps.
The principal deity is that of Lord Vishnu sitting in a meditative posture with Nara-Narayan at the sides. The other idols are of Laxmi - Lord Vishnu's consort, Lord Shiva, Garuda - Lord Vishnu's vehicle, Parvati - Lord Shiva's consort, and Ganesha. In totality there are fifteen idols inside the temple all made of black stone. The entrance to the temple is through a colorful gateway which leads to the `Shobha Mandap' or the assembly. The other two portions of the temple are the `darshan mandap' used for performing pujas, and the Garbha Griha or the sanctum sanctorum.
Pilgrimage attractions in Badrinath
Pilgrims traveling to Badrinath can also visit the under mentioned sites:
- Tapt Kund - This hot water spring on the banks of the Alokanada River supposedly has medicinal properties. It is a common practice among devotees to take a holy dip in the hot spring before entering Badrinath shrine.
- Neelkanth - This snowy peak forming Badrinath's backdrop is called the `Garhwal Queen'.
- Brahma Kapal - This flat platform on the banks of River Alokananda is used for performing rites for appeasing deceased ancestors.
Mata Murti temple, Mana village, and Alka Puri are other tourist sites near Badrinath.
A pilgrimage to Badrinath is said to absolve all sins of a liftime and help attain salvation. The season to plan your darshan and holy yatra is from April-May to October-November. These months are the only time the routs to the temple remain open.
Rishikesh and Kotdwar at respective distances of 300km and 327km from Badrinath are the nearby railway stations. Helicopter yatra is also available for pilgrims.
*Pilgrims must note that Badrinath shrine closes after Diwali (end Oct - mid Nov) and opens after Holi (in March).