Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple located on the banks of the Alaknanda River in Chamoli district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu and this place is one of the most sacred places mentioned in this religion, the Char Dham, it is an ancient temple whose construction is found in the 7th-9th century.
The city around it is also called Badrinath after the name of the temple. Geographically, this place is situated in the middle of the high peaks of the Himalayan ranges, in the Garhwal region. It is situated at an altitude of 3,133 meters (10,279 ft) above sea level. Due to the harsh weather conditions of the Himalayan region in winter, the temple is open only for a limited period of six months of the year (late April to early November). It is one of the busiest pilgrimage centers in India; In 2012 the arrival of about 10.6 lakh pilgrims was recorded here.
Original Badrinath Idol
The Badrinath temple worships “Badri Narayana”, the Hindu deity Vishnu. Here is his 1 meter (3.3 ft) tall idol made of Shaligram, which is believed to have been established by Adi Shankaracharya after taking it out of the nearby Narada Kund. The idol is considered by many Hindus to be one of the eight self – manifested kshetras (self-manifested images) of Vishnu. Although this temple is located in Northern India, the chief priests here called “Ravals” are Brahmins from the Namboodiri sect of the state of Kerala in South India.
History of Badrinath
Badrinath temple history dates back to the distant past. This temple is mentioned in many ancient texts like Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata and Skanda Purana. Its glory is also described in the Nalayar Divya Prabandha. The city of Badrinath, where this temple is located, is also counted among the smaller Char Dhams in addition to the holy Char Dhams of Hindus and is also one of the 108 divine countries dedicated to Vishnu. According to another concept, this temple is called by the name of Badri-Vishal and the whole group is called “Panch-Badri” by connecting it with four other nearby temples dedicated to Vishnu – Yogadhyana-Badri, Bhavishya-Badri, Vriddha-Badri and Adi Badri. is referred to as.
It is situated in the north direction at a distance of 294 km from Rishikesh.
The Badrinath region located in the Himalayas has been popular with different names in different times. The Badri region is mentioned in the Skanda Purana as ” Muktiprada “, which makes it clear that this was the name of this region in the Sat Yuga . This area of Lord Narayana in Treta Yuga was called “Yoga Siddha”, and then “Manibhadra Ashram” or “Vishala Teerth” because of the direct darshan of the Lord in Dwapara Yuga. In Kali Yuga, this Dham is known as “Badrikashram” or “Badrinath”. The place got its name because of the abundance of Badri (Plum) trees found here. Edwin T. Atkinson, in his book, “The Himalayan Gazetteer”, mentions that this place was once home to dense forests of Badri, though no trace of them remains.
The history of Badrinath temple also includes a legend on the origin of the name Badrinath, which is as follows – Muni Narada once visited Kshirsagar to see Lord Vishnu, where he saw Mata Lakshmi pressing his feet. When Narada, astonished, asked the Lord about it, the guilt-ridden Lord Vishnu went to the Himalayas to do penance. There was a lot of snowfall when Lord Vishnu was engaged in penance in the yogadhyana posture . Lord Vishnu was completely submerged in the snow. Seeing this condition of her , the heart of Goddess Lakshmi was moved and she herself took the form of a Badri tree standing near Lord Vishnu and began to bear all the snow on herself. Mata Lakshmi ji engaged in austere penance to save Lord Vishnu from the sun, rain and snow. After many years, when Lord Vishnu completed his penance, he saw that Lakshmi was covered with snow. So, seeing the austerity of Mata Lakshmi, he said, ” O Goddess! You have also done penance like me, so from today I will be worshiped along with you at this Dham and because you have protected me in the form of a Badri tree, so from today onwards.” I will be known as the Nath-Badrinath of Badri.”
Historical Stories related to Badrinath Temple
According to mythological folk tales, Badrinath and the entire area around it was once situated in the form of Shiva Bhoomi (Kedarkhand). When the river Ganges descended on the earth, it was divided into twelve streams, and the stream flowing through this place came to be known as Alaknanda . According to the belief , when Lord Vishnu was searching for a suitable place for his meditation, then he liked this place very much near Alaknanda. Near the Neelkanth mountain, Lord Vishnu incarnated in the form of a child, and started crying. Hearing his cry, Mother Parvati ‘s heart was moved, and she tried to persuade him by appearing near the child, and the child asked her for that place to meditate. This holy place is presently known as Badrivishal.
There is another story related to this area in Vishnu Purana , according to which Dharma had two sons – Nara and Narayan , who did penance at this place for many years for the expansion of religion. In search of an ideal place to establish his ashram, he traveled to four places namely Vriddha Badri, Yog Badri, Dhyan Badri and Bhavishya Badri. Eventually he found one hot and one cold water basin behind the Alaknanda river, the area around which he named Badri Vishal. It is also believed that Vyasa ji wrote the Mahabharata at this place, and Nar-Narayan took birth as Arjuna and Krishna respectively in the next life. Another belief during the Mahabharata is that the Pandavas had donated their ancestors at this place. For this reason, even today in the Bramhakapal area of Badrinath, pilgrims offer Pind Daan to their ancestors for the peace of the soul.
References to Badrinath in Hindu Scriptures
The Badrinath temple history finds its roots in many ancient texts including Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata and Skanda Purana. Several Vedic texts also mention the temple’s principal deity, Badrinath.
Describing this temple in Skanda Purana, it is written: “Bahuni Santi Tirthani Divya Bhoomi Rasatale. Badri savisya teertam na bhuto na bhavishatih”, which means that there are many places of pilgrimage in heaven, earth and hell, but then there are many places of pilgrimage. There was never any pilgrimage like Badrinath, nor will there ever be. The area around the temple is said to be full of spiritual treasures in the Padma Purana. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Lord Vishnu has been engaged in penance since eternity in the form of Nar and Narayan for the salvation of all living entities in Badrikashram.
In the Mahabharata, it is written mentioning Badrinath – “Ayaratra Maranamukti: Swadharma Vidhipurukat. Badridarshanadev Mukti: Punsam Kare Pratishtha.” That is, in other pilgrimages, man gets salvation only by following the lawful practice of Swadharma, but Badri Vishal. Liberation comes in his hands only by the mere sight of him. Similarly, according to the Varaha Purana, if a person keeps on remembering the Badri Ashram from anywhere, then he attains to the Vaishnava abode, which is not repeated, namely:” Shri badaryashram punyaam yatra yatra situated: smeret. sa yati vaishnavam sthanam repetition taboo:” Seventh The Nalayar Divya Prabandha composed by the Alvar sages in the middle of the ninth centuryThe glory of this temple is also described in the text; Seven stotras written by Saint Periyalvar and 13 stotras by Thirumangai Alvar are dedicated to this temple. This temple is also one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
History of Badrinath Temple
There are many theories about the history of Badrinath temple. The temple was established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankaracharya. Another belief is that Shankaracharya lived at this place for six years. During his residence in this place he lived in Badrinath for six months, and then in Kedarnath for the rest of the year. Hindu followers say that the idol of Badrinath was installed by the gods. When the Buddhists were defeated, they threw it into the Alaknanda. It was Shankaracharya who discovered this idol of Badrinath from the Alaknanda river, and installed it in a cave located near the hot glasses called Tapt Kund. After that the idol was shifted again and for the third time it was established by Ramanujacharya by taking it out of Taptkund.
Location of Badrinath on the map of the Garhwal region of 1882.
According to a traditional story, Shankaracharya, with the help of the Paramara ruler King Kanaka Pal, expelled all Buddhists from the region. After this Kanakpal and his successors took over the management of this temple. The kings of Garhwal established a group of villages (Ghunth) to meet the expenses of temple management. Apart from this, many villages were also established on the road leading to the temple, the income from which was used to make arrangements for food and lodging of the pilgrims. Over time, the Parmar rulers adopted the name “Boland Badrinath”, which means speaking Badrinath. His other name was also ” Shri 108 Badrischarayaparayan Gadraj Mahimendra, Dharmavaibhav, Dharmarakshak Shiromani “. By this time the throne of the Garhwal kingdom had come to be called the ” Gaddi of Badrinath “, and devotees paid obeisance to the king before entering the temple. This practice continued until the late nineteenth century. In the sixteenth century, the then king of Garhwal brought the Badrinath idol from the cave and installed it in the present temple. After the temple was built, Maharani Ahilyabai of Indore had raised a golden urn here. When the Garhwal kingdom was divided into two parts in the twentieth century, the Badrinath templecame under British rule ; Although the chairman of the management committee of the temple was still the Raja of Garhwal.
Image Courtesy: Abhishek Ghosh, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The age of the temple, and the damage caused by frequent avalanches in the area, has resulted in the temple being renovated several times. The temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal in the seventeenth century. In 1803, an earthquake in this Himalayan region caused heavy damage to the temple, after which this temple was renovated by the Raja of Jaipur. Construction work continued until the late 1870s, although the temple was fully completed by the time of World War I. By this time a small town had also begun to form around the temple, with 20 huts as residences for the temple staff. The number of pilgrims then usually ranged from seven to ten thousand, although the number of these visitors increased to 50,000 during the Kumbh Melde festival every twelve years. The temple also received revenue from several villages donated by various kings. In 2006, the state government declared the area around Badrinath as a no-construction zone to check illegal encroachment.
Architecture of Badrinath Temple
The Badrinath Temple is built on a ground about 50 meters above the Alaknanda River , and its entrance is overlooking the river. The temple consists of three structures: the sanctum sanctorum, the darshan mandapa, and the sabha mandapa. The face of the temple is made of stone, and has arched windows. The main entrance can be reached through wide stairs, which is called Singh Dwar. It is a long arched gate. At the top of this gate are three gold vases, and a huge bell hangs in the middle of the ceiling. On entering the inside is the mandapa: a large, pillared hall that leads to the sanctum sanctorum or the main temple area. The walls and pillars of the hall are decorated with intricate carvings. Sitting in this mandap, devotees perform special pujas and aartis etc. In the assembly hall itself, there is a place for the religious officers of the temple, Naib Rawal and Vedapathi scholars to sit. The roof of the sanctum is conical in shape, and is about 15 meters (49 ft) long. There is also a small cupola at the top of the roof, which is gilded.
The sanctum sanctorum houses a 1 meter (3.3 ft) tall Shaligram idol of Lord Badrinarayan, placed in a golden canopy under the Badri tree. This idol of Badrinarayan is considered by many Hindus to be one of the eight self – manifested kshetras (self-manifested images) of Vishnu. The deity in the idol has four hands – two are raised: one holds a conch shell, and the other holds a chakra, while the other two are present on the Lord’s lap in yogamudra ( padmasana pose). The face of the idol is also adorned with a diamond.  In the sanctum sanctorum, the gods of wealth Kubera , the gods Narada , Uddhava,There are also idols of Nar and Narayan. Fifteen more idols are also worshiped around the temple. These include the idols of Lakshmi (the wife of Vishnu), Garuda (the vehicle of Narayan), and Navadurga ( Durga in nine different forms ). Apart from these, outside the sanctum sanctorum in the temple complex there are also idols of Lakshmi-Nrasimha and saint Adi Shankaracharya (788–820 AD), Nar and Narayan, Vedanta Deshik , Ramanujacharya and Ghantakarna, a local folk deity of the Pandukeshwar region. All the idols located in Badrinath temple are made of Shaligram.
Pilgrimage to Badrinath Temple
Followers of all faiths and sects of Hinduism come to visit Badrinath temple. The Kashi Matha, the Jeyar Math (Andhra Matha), the Udupi Sri Krishna Math and the Manthralayam Sri Raghavendra Swamy Math the branches and guest rests of almost all the major monastic institutions.
Badrinath Temple is one of the five related temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who are worshiped together as Panch Badri. These five temples are Badri-Vishal ( Badrinath Temple) at Badrinath, Yogdhyana-Badri at Pandukeshwar, Bhavishya-Badri at Suben, 17 km (10.6 mi) from Jyotirmath, 7 km (4 km) from Jyotirmath . Vriddha-Badri located at Animath, .3 mi) away and Adi Badri on Ranikhet road, 17 km (10.6 mi) from Karnprayag . When two other temples are also combined with these five temples, then these seven temples are jointly called Sapta-Badri . Apart from these five temples in Sapta Badri, KalpeshwarDhyan-Badri located near K. and Ardha-Badri located near Jyotirmath- Tapovan are also included. Narasimha Badri of Jyotirmath is also sometimes placed in Panch-Badri (in place of Yogadhyana Badri) or Sapta-Badri (in place of Ardha Badri). In Uttarakhand, Panch Badri, Panch Kedar and Panch Prayag are considered very important from the mythological point of view and from the point of view of Hindu religion.
Badrinath is one of the most popular and sacred temples of India’s Char Dham ; Other dhams are Rameshwaram , Puri and Dwarka. Although the origin of these dhams is not clearly known, the Advaita sect of Hinduism founded by Adi Shankaracharya has attributed their origin to Shankaracharya. A visit to these dhams located in the four corners of India is considered sacred by Hindus, and every person belonging to the Hindu religion aspires to visit these dhams at least once in his life. Traditionally, the pilgrimage begins at Puri at the eastern end, and then proceeds clockwise (clockwise). Apart from these dhams, there are four monasteries located in the four corners of India and their attendant temples are also located near them. These temples are: the Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the north, the Jagannath Temple at Puri, Orissa in the east, the Dwarkadhish Temple in Dwarka, Gujarat, in the west, and the Sri Sharada Peetham Sringeri at Sringeri, Karnataka.
Although Hinduism is mainly divided into two sects on the basis of ideology, namely, Shaivism (worshippers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavas (worshippers of Lord Vishnu), people of both the sects openly participate in the Char Dham pilgrimage. On the lines of the Char Dham, there are four famous pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand , which are jointly called the Chhota Char Dham : Badrinath, Kedarnath , Gangotri and Yamunotri – all located in the foothills of the Himalayas. The word “Chhota” was added to their name in the middle of the twentieth century to distinguish them from the original Char Dhams. Since there has been a huge increase in the number of pilgrims to these sites in modern times, they have now come to be called the “Char Dham of the Himalayas”.
There are many other places of interest in and near Badrinath. These include “Brahma Kapal” (a flat platform used for religious rituals), “Shesnetra” (a rock purportedly imprinted with Sheshnag), “Charanapaduka” (footprints of Lord Vishnu), “Mata Murti Mandir” (Badrinath, a temple dedicated to the Mother of God), the “Ved Vyas Gufa” or “Ganesh Gufa” (where the writings of the Vedas and Upanishads took place) and a “pair of snakes” mentioned in mythology. At a distance of 9 km from Badrinath there is a waterfall named Vasu Dhara, Where the Ashta-Vasus did penance. It is believed that the drops of this spring do not fall on sinners. Apart from this, it is said about the salt place situated near Satopanth (Swargarohini) that it is from here that King Yudhishthira left for the body of heaven.
Festivals and Traditions of Badrinath Temple
The most important festival organized in the Badrinath temple is the fair of Mata Murti , which is celebrated in the joy of the arrival of the river Ganges on Mother Earth . The mother of Badrinath is worshiped during this festival, who is believed to have divided the river into twelve streams for the welfare of the creatures of the earth. The place where this river flowed then has become the holy land of Badrinath today. Badri Kedar is another famous festival celebrated in the month of June in both Badrinath and Kedarnath temples. The festival lasts for eight days, and artists from all over the country perform during the ceremony.
Picture of a temple decorated with green light during the night Badrinath temple at night Major religious activities that take place in the early morning in the temple include Mahabhishek, Abhisheka, Gitapath and Bhagwat Puja, while in the evening the worship consists of Gita Govinda and Aarti. Vedic texts like Ashtotram and Sahasranama are recited during all the rituals . After the aarti, the decorations are removed from the Badrinath idol, and sandalwood paste is applied to the entire idol. This sandalwood applied to the idol is given to the devotees on the next day as prasad during Nirmalya Darshan. Almost all temple rituals are performed in front of the devotees, unlike some other Hindu temples where some such practices are kept secret. Devotees worship in front of the Badrinath idol in the temple as well as take a dip in a pool of river Alaknanda. The popular belief is that taking a dip in this pool purifies the soul of a person. Here offerings of Vanadulsi garland, raw gram lentils, kernel balls and sugar candy etc. are offered. Sugar balls and dry leaves are usually offered to the devotees in the prasad. From May 2006, Panchamrit has also been given in the form of Prasad. This Panchamrit is prepared locally, and is given in a bamboo basket.
The doors of the temple remain closed during the winters around October-November on the day of Bhatri Dwitiya (or after). On the day when the doors of the temple are closed, the Akhand Jyoti is lit by filling enough ghee in a lamp for six months. Special pujas are also performed on that day by the chief priest in the presence of pilgrims and temple officials. The Badrinath idol is then shifted to the Narasimha Temple at Jyotirmath, 40 miles (64 km) away from the temple. After being closed for about six months, the doors of the temple are reopened around April-May on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya . On the day of the opening of the doors, a large number of pilgrims gather to see the Akhand Jyoti. The Badrinath Temple is one of the few holy sites in India where Hindus offer sacrifices to their ancestors with the help of priests.
Featured Image Courtesy: Naresh Balakrishnan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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