Badrinath – the holy town
Badrinath, the holy town is situated on the right bank of the river Alaknanda. It is located 300 km from Rishikesh in the Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal state of India. Badrinath is couched between two mountain ranges namely, Nar and Narayan, with Neelkanth peak in the background. Indians are known for their religious fervor and this town is an important place in the itinerary of devout Hindus. The etymological root of the name of this town is derived from Badri Van, where lush green Badri trees or wild berries grew.
Ancient scriptures say that, “there are many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the heavens, earth and the nether world, but there has been none equal to Badri, nor shall there be.” Badrinath, the revered shrine is still alive with myriad legends from mythology. Legend has it that the river Ganga descended to earth to help the suffering humanity. As the earth is unable to withstand its force, Ganga was split into 12 channels. Alaknanda is one among the channels, on whose banks the Badrinath shrine is located. This shrine dates back to the Vedic period. The current temple was built by Adi Guru Sankaracharya in the eighth century AD.
Badrinath, the holy shrine is located at an altitude of 3,133 m from the sea level. The shrine is 15 m high and it is encircled by a beautiful valley. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple was built in the form of a cone with a small cupola of gilt and a spire. The main entrance, called as “Singh Dwara” gives a modern look to Badrinath temple. The temple has 15 idols. The one meter high idol of Lord Vishnu, beautifully sculpted in black stone is most attractive. The shrine is divided into three parts, “Garbha Griha”, the “Darshan Mandap”, where all rituals are conducted and the “Sabha Mandap” where devotees assemble.
Before entering the holy shrine, devotees have a dip in the thermal springs in Tapt Kund, on the banks of the river Alaknanda. These springs have medicinal qualities. Tourists can see devotees perform rites to their deceased ancestors on the flat platform called Bhrama Kapal, on the river bank. The boulder in Sheshnetra having the impressions of the legendary serpent named Sheshnag’s eye is also a place to be visited. Charanpaduka, the beautiful meadow has a boulder which has the footprints of lord Vishnu on it.
Mata Murti Temple:
The Mata Murti temple on the river bank, three km away from this town is dedicated to the mother of Badrinathji.
There are lots of sightseeing spots around this pilgrim centre. Mana village is the last Indian village in the route to Tibet and is four km away from here. Alka Puri, the source of Alaknanda from glaciers is 15 km away from the holy town. The valley of flowers lies 42 km east of Badrinath and is a national park. It is an ideal place for trekking too. Hemkund, the holy lake for Sikhs and Hindus is situated nearby in this valley. Satopnath is a three cornered lake at an altitude of 4,402 m from sea level with one km circumference and is 25 km from Badrinath.
Govindghat (25 km), Auli (57 km), Pipalkoti (80 km), Panch Prayag and Panch Badris are other scenic and pilgrim spots located near Badrinath. The best times to visit this holy town is April-May and October-November.
The airport nearest to this town is at Jolly Grant, which is about 317 km from here. The nearest railheads are at Rishikesh (297 km) and Kotdwar (327 km). Delhi, the capital of India is 238 km from Rishikesh. All India Tourist Permit vehicles are also available for local transportation and intercity drives.