The picturesque town of Badrinath is where divinity meets with the serenity of nature. Badrinath is located in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand at the height of 10278.87 ft. above the sea level, the pre-eminent abode of Lord Vishnu is one of the holiest of the holy shrines of Char Dham pilgrimage in India.
Badrinath is the last and most celebrated stop in the pilgrimage tour of Garhwal Himalayas. Badrinath Dham is easily accessible by motorable roads and the Badrinath temple can be reached by walking along an easy trek. Around 3 km from Badrinath is the village of Mana, which is one of the last villages before the boundary of India ends and that of Tibet begins. The peak of Neelkanth stands strong spreading its mighty aura for all pilgrims and travelers alike.
STORY BEHIND THE BADRINATH DHAM
Badrinath being one of the most legendary Temples, it has numerous mythical tales associated with it. According to one mythological tale, Lord Vishnu had performed rigorous atonement at this place. During his intense meditation, he was unaware of the severe weather conditions. To protect him from the scorching heat of the sun, his spouse Goddess Lakshmi acquired the shape of Badri tree and spread over him. Witnessing this, Lord Vishnu was pleased by her devotion and hence he named the spot after her as Badrikashram.
2.0 LORD NARAYANA’S DESIRE TO MEDITATE IN BADRINATH
Another legend states that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were once performing tapasya in Badrinath. It was then Lord Vishnu came in disguise as a small boy and disrupted them, by crying loudly. On hearing that Goddesses Parvati asked him the reason behind his mournful behavior, to which he replied that he wanted to meditate in Badrinath. Shiva and Parvati, on discovering Lord Narayan in disguise, left Badrinath and moved to Kedarnath.
3.0 TALE OF NAR AND NARAYANA
Badrinath Dham is also related to the tale of the two sons of Dharma, Nar, and Narayana who wished to set up their hermitage and expand their religious base amidst the pious Himalayas. Going by the legends, during their quest to find a suitable place for their hermitage they led to a chanced discovery of the four sites of Panch Badri, namely Dhyan Badri, Yog Badri, Bridha Badri, and Bhavishya Badri. Finally, they came across a spot which was blessed with two fascinating cold and hot springs behind river Alaknanda. They were extremely overjoyed on finding this place and thus they named this place as Badri Vishal, this is how Badrinath came into being.
4.0 PANDAVA’S ASCENT TO SWARGAROHINI VIA BADRINATH
It is also said that the Pandavas of the holy epic Mahabharata climbed via ‘Swargarohini, popularly known as the ascent to heaven, and Mana town, north of Badrinath while on their route to heaven.
5.0 THE ORIGIN OF RIVER ALAKNANDA
Last but not least, there is another great legendary tale, which is associated with Badrinath. Legends state that the holiest and curse reliever, river Ganges had granted the request of Bhagiratha, for relieving the humanity from the curse of sufferings and sins. While ascending to earth, the intensity of river Ganges was such that it could have immersed the entire earth under its waters. To release the earth from such unbearable consequences, Lord Shiva bore her onto his tresses and ultimately, the river Ganges got divided into twelve holy rivers and river Alaknanda, which flows past the sacred Badrinath Temple, was one of them.
PLACES TO VISIT IN BADRINATH DHAM
1.0 BADRINATH TEMPLE
Ancient texts hold this abode of Lord Vishnu at very high esteem, stating – “there are many spots of pilgrimage in the heaven, earth and the world, but there has been none equal to Badri, nor shall there be.” At the height of 3,133 meters, it stands proudly with its rich past along the banks of Alaknanda River. Regarded as the most important temple of Vishnu, the Badrinath shrine is said to be established by Adi Shankaracharya. He found the Saligram idol of Lord Badri immersed in the waters of Alaknanda and installed it in a cave near the Tapt Kund.
It was in the 16th century that a Garhwal King got a temple erected to house the statue of the God. The present structure is the result of plenty of restorations the temple has undergone due to damages caused by avalanches and earthquakes. Lord Vishnu can be worshipped in a black stone idol sitting in a meditative pose surrounded by idols of other gods like Nar, Narayana, Narad, Ganesha, Garud and Kuber. In the winter season, the idol of Lord Badri is shifted to Yogadhyan Badri in Pandukeshwar (Chamoli district).
2.0 TAPT KUND
Just below the temple, there is a natural thermal spring which is believed to be infused with therapeutic properties. A dip in the holy and hot waters of the Kund is necessary before a devotee visits the sacred shrine of Badrinath. Near the Tapt Kund also lie five boulders which are, as per mythology, Narad, Narsingh, Varah, Garur, and Markanday.
3.0 NEELKANTH PEAK
Known as the ‘Queen of Garhwal’, Neelkanth Peak, standing with its gigantic height of 21643.7 ft. above sea level, sets a great background to the Badrinath shrine. Named after Lord Shiva, the splendor of the snow-covered peak gets augmented as it receives the first rays of the Sun at the crack of dawn.
4.0 VASUDHARA FALLS
HOW TO REACH BADRINATH DHAM?
Haridwar – Rishikesh – Deoprayag – Kirtinagar – Shrinagar – Rudraprayag – Gauchar – Karnaprayag – Nandprayag – Chamoli – Birahi – Pipalkoti – Garur Ganga – Helang – Joshimath – Vishnuprayag – Govindghat – Pandukeshwar – Hanumanchatti – Badrinath.
Jolly Grant airport, Rishikesh Road, Dehradun, is the nearest airport to Gangotri. One can hire a cab or get a bus from here.
Regular trains to Haridwar and Dehradun are available at all times of the year. One can hire a cab or get a bus from here.
Badrinath is well-connected with motorable roads from important destinations of Uttarakhand.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BADRINATH
Badrinath has a chilly and cold climate almost throughout the year. The peak season to visit this place is from May to June and September to October. With the onset of the Monsoon season, Badrinath witnesses heavy rainfall and a drop in temperature. Winters here are extremely cold due to heavy snowfall. Mostly in winters, the temperatures touch the sub-zero level, making the climate too frosty. Hence the summer season is the ideal time to visit this place.
In Badrinath, summers begin to set in from the Month of May and last till June. During this time, the climate here is moderately cold yet pleasing. In this season the temperature ranges between 7°C – 18°C. The days are pleasant while the nights are cold. Summer season is ideal for a spiritual visit to the Badrinath shrine and also apt for sightseeing trips.
Don’t forget to pack light woolen clothing as Badrinath remains a lot cold even in the summers. Along with it, one must carry a list of essentials including a daypack, a pair of comfortable walking shoes/ trekking shoes, trekking pants, windproof jacket, sun cap, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, walking stick, personal toiletries and torch/ flashlight with extra batteries. One must carry a water bottle and some dry fruits, along with energy bars. To avoid dehydration, energy drinks like electoral/ Gatorade are also vital to carry.
Monsoons in Badrinath, begin from July and end in the month of September. This season experiences heavy rainfall with the temperatures dropping down to 15°C. The days are cold and the nights are chilly. Travelling can be a little difficult at this time as the frequent rains make this area prone to landslides. Apart from this one can still enjoy sightseeing and can also take pleasure in the snow at higher altitudes.
Don’t miss to carry a day pack with rain cover, a pair of trekking pants, waterproof hiking/trekking shoes, woolen clothing, thick fleece, windproof/ water resistant jacket, thick woolen socks, waterproof gloves, raincoat/ poncho, walking stick, personal toiletries and torch/ flashlight with extra batteries. One must carry a water bottle along with some dry fruits to munch on and energy drinks to avoid dehydration.
In Badrinath, October marks the beginning of the winter season which lasts till the month of April. The days in this season are frosty with average minimum temperature going down till 5°C. This is the time when Badrinath experiences heavy snowfall with temperatures touching the sub-zero level. At this time, the roads to Badrinath remain closed due to extreme weather conditions. Thus, it is not advisable to travel to this place during the winter season.