Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple
About the temple and the Deity-
Badrinath Dham, located in Uttarakhand Chamoli district and along River Alaknanda bank is a much revered religious destination belonging to Lord Badrinarayan who is none other than lord Vishnu. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham. Char Dham are the names of four pilgrimage sites in India that are widely revered by Hindus. It comprises Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram. It is considered highly sacred by Hindus to visit Char Dham during one’s lifetime. The Char Dham defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of four Vaishnavite pilgrimages.
This temple, which is situated at a height of about 3133 m above sea level, is located on the shores of Alaknanda River in the district of Chamoli, near the hilly areas of Garhwal in Uttarakhand state. Due to the proximity to the Himalayas, this temple is exposed to extreme cold conditions during the winter. As a result, the temple is open only from April to November every year. There are few pilgrimage destinations in India that are considered to be very pious and Badrinath is one of them. So, far the number of devotees who have come here is around 1060000.
The architecture of Badrinath temple bears a striking resemblance to Buddhist viharas or monasteries. The height of the temple is around 50 feet. The roof this temple contains gilt made from gold. One can spot a small cupola at the top of the temple. The main entrance is an arched gateway and there are big stairs that lead into this. The windows are arched too and the temple is built out of stone entirely. The bright colours used at the entrance and walls are so similar to the ones found in Buddhist structures. On entering into temple, we can find a huge hall, from where devotees can reach the main sanctum sanctorum. This hall contains pillars and walls that are beautifully decorated with stone carvings.
The main deity of Badrinarayan is a small black statue under a gold canopy, under the Badri tree. Apart from this main deity, some other shrines too, that you need to visit when you come here. They are idols of Lord Narasimha (one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu), Nara & Narayana, Navadurga, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Naradha, Guberal, Karuda (Lord Vishnu’s vehicle) and Uddhava. The prashad offered at the temple consists of candies made from hard sugar, Tulsi leaves or dry fruits.
Historical and religious significance-
Legend has it that the idol of the main deity of Badrinarayan was discovered by the great saint, AdiShankara during the ninth century. The deity was then installed inside a cave found in the vicinity of TaptKund hot springs. However, during the 16th century, the idol was removed from here and installed in the current location (Badrinath temple) by Garhwal’s ruler.
From the time the idol was installed, the temple has undergone a series of renovations and changes due to exposure to extreme climatic conditions. The Garwhal kings expanded the temple during the 17th century. However during the early 18th century, that is, around 1803, the temple was severely affected due to the Himalayan earthquake, after with the Jaipur rulers reconstructed the temple.
Badrinath temple has many interesting stoires associated with it. They are as follows:
Once Lord Vishnu in his reclining position was enjoying a foot massage by His consort, Goddess Laskhmi. During that time, He was chastised by a sage who passed that way. In order to attain salvation, He came to the town of Badrinath and did penance in padmasana position. This is the reason as to why Lord Badrinath is seen here in the padmasana position her and not in the usual reclining position. This is probably one of the main factors as to why devotees and Yogis come here for doing meditation.
Another legend behind the name of this place is that, in the early years, this place was surrounded by Badri bushes all around. Lord Vishnu performed severe penance here for at least 200 years and His consort Goddess Lakshmi stood beside Him, protecting him from the harsh rays of the sunlight. Due to this, she turned into a Badri Vishal and her husband or Nath, came to be known as Badrinath.
Another interesting history behind Badrinath temple goes this way. Once, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were doing penance in Badrinath. Noticing, Lord Vishnu came in the form of a small boy and started crying loudly. His cries disturbed their penance. When Goddess Parvati asked the small boy why he was crying, he said that he wanted to be in Badrinath. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati understood that the small boy was Lord Vishnu and they left the place immediately to go to Kedarnath. Badrinath became Lord Vishnu’s place thereafter.
The temple is open only for six months a year from April to November. The timings when the temple is open from early morning 4.30AM in the morning till 1.00PM in the afternoon. In the evenings, the temple functions between 4PM and 9PM. Geet Govind is sung in the night before the temple closes at 9PM.
Best time to Visit-
The period between May and October, when the Char Dham Yatra is in progress, is the best time to visit this temple. All the four important pilgrimage sites are located in this area, which is in close proximity to the Himalayas. During winters, the roads are completely blocked as the region is prone to heavy snowfall. During the monsoon season, lots of landslides happen in this area, making it quite impossible to visit the temple.
Badri Kedar Festival
During the month of June, the festival of Badri Kedar is celebrated around the temple towns of Badrinath and Kedarnath.
Mata Murti Mela
During the month of September, Mata Murti Mela is celebrated here with great fervour and it signifies the descent of Ganga River on Mother Earth.
Places to Visit-
This place is believed to be the abode of Lord Agni. This is a natural hot water spring, where the water is at a temperature of 130 degrees Celsius and has immense healing effects on the body. The source of the water is a sulphur spring and adjacent to this, one can spot the Surya Kund. Just beneath these one can spot the Alaknanda River.
The five streams that are quite popular in Badrinath are Brighu, Kurma, Prahlad, Indradhara and Urvashi. Indradhara is the most famous of these and flows through a large number of caves. Urvashi flows to the right of Rishi Ganga River. Kurma Dhara is known for its ice cold water and Prahlad Dhara for its lukewarm temperature of water.
There are five important stone sculptures around the town of Badrinath – Narad, Narasimha, Markandeya, Barah and Garur. The Narad has got its name because of the legend that the great sage Narad meditated here for a long period of time. The stone which is in the shape of a lion with open jaws and sharp claws is known as the Narasimha stone. It is believed that Lord Narasimha took the shape of this stone after killing the demon King Hiranyakashyapa.
The Barah Shila quite close to the Narad Shila is in the shape of a boar, which is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The Garur Shila is the place where Garud (the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) mediated and fasted for many years. Markandeya Shila was the place where Markandeya meditated for a long period of time, after leaving Mathura as per the advice of Sage Narad.
The Brahma Kapal is the place where it is believed that Lord Brahma resides. Even today, many people perform rituals for the departed souls here. The Shradh ceremony is conducted here and the pind is offered to them. Offering to the dead souls is considered to be an important and pious Hindu ritual. If one offers pinds to the departed souls at Brahma Kapal, it is believed to please the departed souls to a great extent. It is not necessary to offer pinds anymore in the world once it is offered here.
This is found on the banks of the Alaknanda River, towards the northern corner of Badrinath temple. When Lord Shiva destroyed Lord Brahma’s fifth head, it didn’t fall to the ground. It got stuck to the trident of Lord Shiva. Finally, Lord Vishnu blessed the situation at Badrinath and the head fell off at Brahma Kapal (head of Brahma).
There is a huge boulder at about 1.5 km around the Badrinath town, in the form of the traditional snake, Sheshnag. Sesh denotes snake and Netra denotes eye.
The boulder that is found in this garden bears the footprints of Lord Vishnu even today as it is believed that he landed directly from Vaikunth. During summer, this place is replete with wild and beautiful flowers. This area is situated in a steep area and has lots of caves and boulders all along the way.
There is a snowy peak situated near Badrinath, at a height of around 6597feet above the town of Badrinath. Known as the Garhwal Queen, this place presents a panoramic view of the entire town.
How to Reach-
The Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun, at a distance of 317km away from Badrinath is the nearest airport. The railway stations that are close to Badrinath are Rishikesh, Haridwar and Kothdwar that are at a distance of 297km, 310km and 327km respectively. From Delhi, one can also get regular buses to Badrinath, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Many terrain vehicles take you through the narrow roads leading to the temple.
Pictures of the temple-
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