“There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.”
Badrinath, situated in the lap of Nara and Narayana peaks is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in India. In the Bhagavata purana it is stated that Badrinath is the abode of the sages Nara and Narayana who did great penances in Badarikashram for the walfare of all living entities…
It is located about 300 km from Rishikesh and 45 km from Joshimath. To reach this holy place is very difficult. You have to be ready from outside and from inside because journey to Badrinath starts from inside. You can’t approach it if you are not ready. You can’t approach it if you are not invited. You can’t approach it without a permission of Badri-narayana. In Katha-upanishad it is said : “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” On the same way, approaching Badrinath, heaven on Earth, is difficult like passing over the sharp edge of a razor.
From outside you have to face many obstacles like landslides, dangerous roads and extremely uncomfortable journey. The road from Hanumanchatti to Badrinath is like a nightmare. From inside you have to face your own toughts and fears.
But once you arrive there you’ll understand why this place is called heaven on Earth. First thing that will make you breathless is the shining pyramid, fascinating Neelkanth peak (6, 596 m), who changes color at sunrise and sunset. John Muir, an American naturalist and author, once said: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” By seeing Neelkanth, you will surely experience the same. The mystic beauty of Badrinath is unexplored and unique, the beauty which is rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
Probably the main reason why so many tourists / pilgrims visit Badrinath is the Badrinath Temple dedicated to the Lord Badri-narayan. The murti of Lord Badrinath is self-manifested from a two-foot-high black shalagram stone. It is said that the murti was thrown into Alakananda river (Narada kund) for several years during the Buddhist period. Shankaracharya found the Deitiy and installed it in the 9th century.
The temple with a small cupola on top and golden roof with brightly painted facade resembles a Buddhist arhitecture. Inside, the temple is full of ancient stone carvings and canopy over Badri-narayan is covered with pure gold. In Temple enclosure there is also a shrine dedicated to Lakshmi Devi and the sitting place of Shankaracharya. The temple is open six months of the year, May to October. A head priest, rawal, is traditionally a Nambudiri brahmana from Kerala. During the winter, when Badrinath is not accessible because of snow, priests stay in Joshimath for six months and it is said that Gods carry on the worship in Badrinath during that time.
Near the temple there is a Tapta Kund, a hot water tank, where pilgrims take bathe before entering the temple. The temperature of the water is around 45 C.
There are many interesting places around, associated with different legends. If you climb 600 feet you will reach the place called Deva Darshini from where it is said the demigods come to have darshan of the holy town of Badrinath. About 100 m notrh of the Temple there is a place called Brahma Kapal Ghat. It is customary to offer pinda to departed ancestors here. It is said that when Shiva cut off Brahma’s fifth head, it fall here at Brahma Kapal on the bank of the Alakananda river.
With it’s peaceful atmosphere this place surely rejuvenates the body and soul and is must visit destination in Garhwal Himalayas.