Located between the two mountains Nar and Narayan and beside the majestic Alakananda River, Badrinath is a magnificent site as well as the most important of all the ‘Char Dhams’ in Uttarakhand. In Badrinath Temple, Lord Vishnu, in his incarnation as the sages Nar and Narayan is worshipped and lakhs of tourists visit this temple every year to seek blessings and to get a glimpse of the famous shrine of Shri Badrinathji. Badrinath is one among the four pilgrimage centres in four corners of India, also known as ‘Bada Char Dham’; the other three are Dwarkapuri in Gujarat (western India), Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu (southern India) and Jagganathpuri in Odisha (eastern India).
The Badrinath Temple complex is divided into three main parts – the ‘Garbha Griha’ which houses the idol of Lord Badri Narayan (Lord Vishnu), Lord Kuber (God of wealth), Narad Rishi, Udhava, Nar and Narayan; the ‘Darshan Mandap’ where the rituals are conducted for the devotees, and the ‘Sabha Mandap’ where devotees and pilgrims assemble. The main entrance of the temple is popularly known as ‘Singhadwar’. The main temple is approximately 50 feet tall with a small cupola on top covered with a gold gilt roof.
The temple at Badrinath opens for only about seven months of a year (mid-April to early November) when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries and it is closed when the sun enters Scorpio. Daily, the temple opens at 4.30 AM till 9 PM except 1 PM to 4 PM.
Height: 3300 m
Climate: Badrinath remains cut off from other parts from end November to April due to heavy snowfall. Heavy woolens are required during this time. In summers, light woolens are recommended during daytime and heavy woolens are suggested at nights.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Badrinath
Rail: Rishikesh is the nearest railhead to Badrinath. However, the connectivity to this station is very limited. Haridwar at a distance of 324 kms is connected to all parts of India by an extensive railway network.
Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun, at a distance of 317 kms. Badrinath can also be reached directly via Helicopter services which operate from Dehradun.
Tourist Attractions in Badrinath
Neelkanth: Just behind the Badrinath Temple, the valley opens to a conical shaped mountain peak, the Neelkanth (6600 m). This snow clad peak is also known as the ‘Garhwal Queen’ and forms the background of the temple. Visitors can trek up to Brahman Kamal area to get a better magnificent view.
Satopanth: This is a triangle shaped lake surrounded by snow covered peaks and is named after the Hindu gods of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Lord Shiva). Permissions are required for visiting this lake.
Tapt Kund: This is a natural hot sulphur spring just beside the main temple complex. Pilgrims has to take a holy dip in this pool before entering the temple complex. Separate arrangements for men and women are available and the water is considered to have medicinal value.
Brahmkapal: Near the temple and just beside the river Alakananda, this is the place where the pilgrims perform the last rituals for their ancestors.
Charan Paduka: 3 kms away from the main temple complex, in between a carpeted meadow with wild flowers, there is a huge stone bearing the footprints of Lord Vishnu.
The Urvashi Temple: Near the site of Charan Paduka, there is a small pond dedicated to Urvashi, the celestial maiden. It is believed that when Nar and Narayan were meditating, Lord Indra sent a group of celestial maidens to distract them. Narayan tore his left thigh and out of the flesh, created several beautiful nymphs. The most beautiful of them, Urvashi led the group of these nymphs to Indra and shattered his pride near this pond.
Narad Kund: Near the Tapt Kund, Narad Kund is the place where the idol of Lord Vishnu was recovered by Adi Guru Sankaracharya. The hot water comes from beneath this Kund and falls into a tank.
Mana Village: This village is the last village in the Indian Territory at China Border and lies 3 kms from the temple. The village is full of caves and the Vyas Goofa (cave) is situated here. It is believed that the sage Ved Vyas dictated the famous epic of Mahabharata to Lord Ganesh sitting at this cave.
Vasudhara Falls: This waterfall is situated in Mana village. The water of this cascading falls flows down from an approximate height of 400 feet.
Vasuki Tal: This is a high altitude lake which can be reached by an 8 kms trek from the Badrinath town. The lake is situated at an elevation of 14200 feet.
Leela Dhongi: As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Shiva first selected this place for meditation. However, Lord Vishnu decided to meditate here and took the form of a little child and lay on a rock and cried. Unable to console him, Lord Shiva left the place and went to Kedarnath for meditation.
Saraswati River: 3 kms north of Mana village, emerges the river Saraswati from a lateral Glacier. The river after touching the Vyas Goofa merges with Alakananda at Vishnu Prayag. From here, river Saraswati flows incognito up to Allahabad where it confluences with Ganga and Yamuna, but still remain invisible.
Bheem Pul: This is a huge rock which acts as a bridge across the Saraswati River. It is believed that the Pandavas along with their wife Draupadi was unable to cross this river during their journey towards heaven. Bhima, the second brother of the Pandavas, known for his immense power, put this huge rock to join the two mountains and created the path.
Sheshnetra: On the opposite bank of the Alakananda River, in the lap of the Nar Parvat, there are two small seasonal lakes. In between these lakes, there is a boulder having an impression of a snake. This is believed to be the eye of the legendary snake Sheshnag. This place is about 1.5 kms from the main temple complex.
Mata Murti Mandir: About 3 kms from Badrinath, on the right bank of river Alakananda, this temple is dedicated to the mother of Lord Badrinath, Maa Murti.
Panch Dharas: The Panch Dharas or streams which are famous in Badrinath are Prahlad, Kurma, Bhrigu, Urvashi and Indira. These streams glide majestically down the rocks of Narayan Parvat and touch many caves during their journey.
Panch Shilas: Around the Tapt Kund, there are five rocks of great mythological significance. These rocks are named as Narad, Narsimha, Baraha, Garur and Markandeya. Among these, Narad Shila, standing between the Tapt Kund and Narad Kund is the most important. It is believed that Rishi Narad meditated on this rock.
Mana Pass: Dungri La, popularly known as Mana Pass is situated at an elevation of 5608 m (18,399 feet) and is only 53 kms from Badrinath town. It is a high altitude pass between India and Tibet. Foreigners are not allowed to visit this pass. Indian tourists, with proper permission from the Army Authority and District Magistrate, can visit this place as a one day excursion. En-route to this pass, lies the Deo Tal, a high altitude lake which is the source of Saraswati River.