The celestial land of Lord Vishnu
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Area||: 3 square kilometers|
|Population||: 841 (As Per Indian Census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 3,753 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: March to September|
|Clothing recommended||: Light woolen in summer, heavy woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Hindi, Garwali|
|Telephone Code||: India (01381), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 246422|
|What to buy||: Shaligram Shilas, Sacred Threads, Aarti CDs and Booklets, Holy Books, Sea Shells, Brass Articles and Artifacts, other Religious Stuff and Temple Requirements, Ayurvedic Medicine, Woolen Clothes, Caps, Shawls, Blankets, Ancient Coins, Colorful Beads and Bracelets, Antiques and Knick Knacks, Electronic Goods From China.|
|Local transportation||: Auto Rickshaws, Cycle Rickshaws, Tonga (Horse Cart), On Foot|
One of the ‘Dhams’ of India’s most auspicious ‘Char Dham Yatra’ and also a part of the ‘Chota Char Dham Yatra’, Badrinath; a highly aggrandized Vaishnavite and Jain pilgrim destination, is a small town located in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand. Nestled amidst the Garhwal Hills on the banks of the river Alaknanda, this holy abode of Lord Vishnu and Lord Adinath lays flanked by the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges against the splendid backdrop of towering Nilkantha Peak. Stationed only some kilometers away from the Indo-China (Tibet) boundary, Badrinath; the epitome of Hindu-Jain harmony is situated nearly 301 kilometers away from Rishikesh.
The term ‘Badrinath’ means the ‘Lord (Nath) of Badri’. The Sanskrit word ‘Badri’ refers to the berry trees or Indian Jujube trees that are said to be growing in abundance in this area since ages. Badrinath, regarded as one of the 108 Divya Desams mentioned by the Tamil Azhvar saints, is also acknowledged as one of the five Badris i.e. ‘Panch Badri’. The rest four Badris are Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Bridha Badri and Adi Badri. Moreover, Badrinath is also reckoned by other appellations such as ‘Tapobhoomi’, which means ‘the land of penance’ and ‘Bhubaikunth’ meaning ‘the heaven on the earth’.
Besides, it is also believed that Badrinath is one of the five Punyakshethras and if the Shraddhakarmas are offered to your ancestors here, the 42 lines of the ancestors receive salvation. Badrinath, the sacred town consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya in 9th century AD and tremendously venerated by every Indian draws thousands of visitors every year not only due to its religious significance but also owing to its immense natural splendor. The snow clad Himalayan mountain ranges, rolling precipices, beauteous landscapes of the Garhwal region bejeweled with picture book sceneries, meandering Alaknanda River, pristine water lagoons, dazzling cascades and supreme gorgeousness of the entire milieu leaves its beholders totally flabbergasted and bowled over.
The mythological background of Badrinath suggests that Lord Vishnu after being criticized by the Sage Narada for being immersed into worthless worldly pleasures came to a place called ‘Badri Van’ the forest of berry trees and performed a severe penance. Hindu scriptures refer to Badrinath as ‘Badarikaashram’ where Lord Vishnu is believed to have meditated for ages in his twofold forms Nara and Narayana for the well being of entire universe. In the Mahabharata we find citation to this incident when Lord Krishna while addressing Arjuna on the battleground of Kurukshetra stated that Arjuna was the ‘Nar’ in his previous birth who had performed a dreadful austerity at Badrinath along with Narayana i.e. Lord Vishnu Himself. This anecdote is further testified by the presence of two mountains Nar and Narayana alongside the blessed town Badrinath. Furthermore, it is also assumed that originally Badrinath was the domicile of Lord Shiva but then he shifted to Kedarnath and Lord Vishnu came to reside at Badrinath.
According to yet another allegory, when the heavenly river Ganga descended on the earth with fierce force, the course of the river was divided into twelve sub channels so as to enable the earth to withstand the mighty force of the Ganges. Thus, the holy river Alaknanda on whose banks the town Badrinath is nested is considered to be one of the twelve currents of the Ganga. Moreover, it is also supposed that after the battle of Mahabharata and the peaceful and prosperous governance of the Pandavas over the years when the five Pandava Brothers headed northwards to attain to the heaven, they had ascended a peak in western Garhwal named ‘Swargarohini’ which literally means the ‘Ascent to Heaven’. On their way to Swargarohini they had passed through Badrinath. Additionally, at Mana; located approximately 4 kilometers away from Badrinath there is a cave where Maharshi Ved Vyasa is said to have dictated the Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha.
History Of Badrinath
The story that knits the veil of the history behind the temple of Badrinath relates that in 9th century AD, Adi Shankaracharya had found a black Shaligram stone in the divine waters of river Alaknanda that resembled the image of Lord Vishnu. Adi Shankaracharya enshrined the Shaligram Idol in a cave near the Tapt Kund where it remained for next 700 years. Eventually in 16th century AD the Kings of Garhwal built a temple in the honor of Lord Badrinath and moved the Shaligram to its present location. The present day Badrinath Temple has undergone a number of major renovations. The Garhwal Kings expanded the temple in 17th century and subsequent to the great damage caused by Avalanche and the Himalayan earthquake of 1803 AD, the King of Jaipur rebuilt the Badrinath Temple.