Joshimath (also known as Jyotirmath) is a small town in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal about 45 km from Badrinath. If you are coming from Rishikesh then it will take about 11 hours to reach it. And if you are on the way to Badrinath it is a good chance that you will have to stop here for the night as the road to Badrinath closes at 4.30 pm. Before visiting Joshimath for the first time, I expected it to be just a small village but I was pleasantly surprised with the town and it’s atmosphere. Joshimath can be a base station for travellers going to Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers National Park, Badrinath or Auli, popular ski destination.
One of the four main Shankaracharya maths is located here. According to the tradition, this matha is in charge of the Atharva Veda. At the upper part of the town there is the temple and the cave where Shankara is said to have meditated. Right of the temple-entrance there is a Kalpavriksha tree where Shankara is said to have attained self-realization.
In the bottom part of the town, there is a temple dedicated to the Lord Nrsimhadeva. Shankara is said to have installed this Deity. The left wrist of Nrsimhadeva is incredibly thin and gets thinner every day. It is said that when Kali yuga overtakes the world, Lord’s wrist will break and the mountains Jaya and Vijaya will collapse and block the present road to Badrinath. Present Badrinath then will be relocated at Bhavishya Badri about 23 km southeast of Joshimath. To see a Lord’s wrist you can come at the abhisheka time in the morning at 6:30 – 7 am.
Next to the Nrsimhadeva temple, there is also another important temple dedicated to Vasudeva. This temple is one of the108 divya desam, recognized by the Tamil Nadu Vaishnava saints Alvars. Lord Vasudeva is carved from the black stone and stands with His associates Sri, Bhu, Nila and Kama.
To the left of the Temple’s main entrance is a deity of dancing Ganesha, which is said to be one of only two such deities in India.