situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth
peak (6,597mts.) in the background. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the
largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute
to Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that to revive the lost prestige of Hinduism and to unite
the country in one bond, Adi Guru Sri Shankaracharya built four
pilgrimage centres in four corners of India. Among them were
Badrikashram (Badrinath) in the north, Rameshwaram in the south,
Dwarkapuri in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. Badrinath
situated at an elevation of 3,133 mts. is considered to be amongst the
The revered spot was once carpeted with wild berries which gave it the
name 'Badri Van' meaning 'forest of berries.' Built by Adi
Shankaracharaya, the philosopher-saint of the 8th century, the temple
has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches and
restored in the 19th century by the royal houses of Scindia & Holkar.
The main entrance gate is colourful & imposing popularly known as
Yog Dhyan Badri (1920 m.)
The temple of Yog Dhyan Badri, one of the five Badris is located at
Pandukeshwar (1920 m), just 24 km short of Badrinath on Rishikesh-Badrinath
highway. The image, depiciting a meditative posture of the Lord, is
worshipped here. The Pandavas are said to have handed over Hastinapur to
King Parikshit and retired here.
Bhavishya Badri (2,744
The temple of Bhavishya Badri is at an elevation 3641 m, and is
surrounded by dense forests. It is located at Subain near Tapovan, about
17 km east of Joshimath on Joshimath-Lata Malari route. Pilgrims have to
trek beyond Tapovan, up the Dhauliganga river.
It is believed that a day will come when the present route to Badrinath
will become inaccessible and Lord Badrinath will then be worshipped
here. Hence the name 'Bhavishya Badri', which literally means the
Approachable from Karnprayag by a motor able road on the way to Ranikhet,
are remains of 16 small temples. Seven among them are ancient ones,
belonging to the late Gupta period. The credit for building these
temples is generally given to Shankaracharya. The main temple of Narayan
is distinguished by a raised platform in the pyramidal form, where the
idol is enshrined. Sculpted out of black stone, the idol of Lord Vishnu
is a metre high.
Situated at an altitude of 1380 m and at a distance of 7 km from
Joshimath is Animath, the place where several centuries before the
advent of Adi Guru Shankaracharya, the idol of Badrinath was enshrined
and worshipped. The idol is known as Vriddha (old) or the first Badri
and the temple remains open throughout the year.
The temple has been renovated several times due to damages by
avalanches. It looks fairly modern now due to the colourful "Singh Dwara"
or the main entrance gate. It has three parts- Garbha Griha (the sanctum
sanctorum), Darshan Mandap (for pujas) and Shobha Mandap (for devotees
to assemble). The revered shrine is still alive with myriad legends from
mythology. Its sanctity is emphasised in the ancient scriptures as
"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
Legend has it, when the Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help
suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of its
descent. Therefore the mighty Ganaga was split into twelve holy
channels. Alaknanda was one of them that later became the abode of Lord
Vishnu or Badrinath.
The temple of Shri Badrinathji on the banks of the Alaknanda river,
dates back to the vedic times. Situated at an altitude of 3,133 mts.,
the present temple is believed to have been built by Adi Guru
Shankaracharya- an 8th century's philosopher-saint, who also established
a 'math' here. Also known as 'Vishal Badri', Badrinath is one of the
Panch Badris :Besides the main temple of Badrinath there are four other smaller badri
temples. These are collectively called the panch badris or five badris.
Very few pilgrims however, visit the other four Badri temples.
Yogadhyan Badri :
Closest to the main temple of Badrinath lies this tiny, sleepy hamlet
which remains unnoticed by most pilgrims and is the winter home for the
idol at Badrinath. Pandukeshwar is also an important archaeological
site. Some years ago, four ancient metal foils engraved with a
description of several kings in the region were discovered here.
Believed to be over 1500 years old, these foils are kept at Joshimath,
30 km downstream.
Bridha Badri or the 'Old Badri'
Bridha Badri or the 'old Badri' is the third temple about 7 kms short of
Joshimath, on the main Rishikesh-Badrinath motor road at Animath. It is
believed that Badrinath was worshipped here before its enshrinement by
Shankaracharya at the main Badrinath seat. The temple of Bridha Badri is
open throughout the year.
Tapt Kund :
Devotees take a holy dip in the natural thermal springs on the banks of
the river Alaknanda, before entering the Badrinath Temple. The water of
the kund is believed to have medicinal properties.
Near the Valley of Flowers is the holy lake Hemkund- an important
pilgrimage of the Sikhs and Hindus. Along its shores is the sacred Sikh
Shrine where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru unified with God after
prolonged mediation in his previous birth.
Nearby is the Lakshman Temple where Lakshman - the brother of Lord Rama
performed his penance. The reflection of surrounding snow-clad peaks in
its placid waters offers a scenic sight.
Brahma Kapal :
A flat platform on the bank of river Alaknanda where Hindus perform
propitiating rites for their deceased ancestors.
A Pyramidical-shaped snowy peak towering above Badrinath, popularly
known as the 'Garhwal Queen'.
Inhabited by Indo-Mangolian tribe, it is considered to be the last
Indian village before Tibet on this route. Nearby are Vyas Gufa- the
rock cave of saint Ved Vyas, the writer of Mahabharata; Bhim Pul- a
natural bridge over the Saraswati river and Vasundhara Falls- a 122 mts.
high waterfall- all forming and important part of the pilgrimage to
Mata Murti Temple (3 kms.)
On the right bank of Alaknanda stands the temple dedicated to the mother
of Sri Badrinathji.
Alka Puri (15 kms.)
The source of Alaknanda river from the glacier snouts of Bhagirath-
Kharak and Satopanth glaciers.
Satopanth (25 kms.)
A three cornered lake with a circumference of about 1 km., situated at
an elevation of 4,402 mts. above sea level. It is named ater the Hindu
triad- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who are believed to occupy one corner
each of the lake. The trek is hazardous with dramatic landscapes. An
experienced guide is advisable.
(25 kms.) :
The confluence of Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers. It has an
imposing Gurudwara named after Guru Gobind Singh.
(44 kms.) :
The winter home of Shri Badrinathji is situated on the slopes above the
confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. It is one of the four 'maths'
established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
The five important confluences- Deoprayag, Nandprayag, Rudraprayag,
Karnaprayag and Vishuprayag, form the Panch Prayag.
The confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers. Ancient stone
scriptures are found here. Important pilgrim spots are Shiv Temple and
The confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The temples of
Rudranath and Chamunda Devi are noteworthy.
The confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. The Gopalji Temple is
worth a visit.
The confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar rivers with temples of Uma and
The confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers. An ancient temple of
Lord Vishnu stands here by a pool called Vishnu Kund.
The old capital of Garhwal, it is an important cultural and educational
centre. Places to visit include Kamleshwar and Kilkeshwar temples and
the Shankar Math.