The Vishnu temple of Badrinath is located 298 kms from Rishikesh and 48 km from Joshimath . This holy town nestles at a height of 3,133 metres, at the site where a forest of Badri (berry) trees, known as the mythical Badrivan, once covered the area.
The original Badrinath shrine, built by the 9th century saint Shankara, has been re-built several times over due to damage from avalanches and snowfall. Made of wood, the temple stands 15 metres high, topped with a gilded cupola. The exteriors are painted in bright colours every year before the temple gates open. Standing in sharp contrast to the grey concrete buildings around it and the stark mountain slopes behind, the temple resembles a Tibetan gompa from a distance. The head priest of Badrinath is also that of Kedarnath, hailing from the Namboodiri Brahmin caste of Kerala in southern India. Below the temple are the Tapt Kund and Surya Kund, hot sulphur springs where pilgrims take a ritual dip before entering the temple. The ancient village of Badrinath is to the south of the temple.
24 kms from Badrinath is the famous site of Govindghat, the confluence of the Alaknanda with the Lakshmanganga. This is also the entry point for the mystical Valley of Flowers and the Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib. The Vasuki Tal at a height of 4,135 metres is 8 kms from Badrinath. Besides the main shrine of Badrinath, there are four other shrines that together form the Panch Badri or five Badris. Bhavishya Badri is believed to be the future Badrinath shrine, which will be used once the present shrine site is blocked when the twin peaks of Jay and Vijay join together.
All tourists should be careful of cheats in the form of seers and saints. They usually dupe the tourists with both their money and other belongings. One should always keep an eye out for the frauds, who also exploit the religious and spiritual sentiments of the visitors for immoral motives.
Places to visit
Dev PrayagIt is where the tranquil Alaknanda embraces the tempestuous Bhagirathi and it is here that the Ganga is truly born. Devout Hindus consider this prayag second only to the Triveni in Allahabad. The most ancient stone inscriptions found in Uttarakhand are located here. The famous Raghunatha Math, one of the many names for the Rama Temple, is also situated here and it is at Deva Prayag that the priests of Badrinath sojourn in winter. According to an old legend this spot is named after Deva Sharma, a poor Brahmin who performed rigorous austerities at this spot and obtained the favor of Vishnu_s incarnation Rama. The hero of the Ramayana had come here to expiate the sin of brahma hatya (Brahmin-slaughter) after killing the demo-king Ravana. King Dashratha, the father of Lord Rama, is also said to have undergone penance here.
JoshimathIt is a well-known hill station as well as a religious center. It is the winter seat of lord Badrinath. Auli, 6 km from Joshimath can be visited for skiing and other winter sports during winters. The Valley of Flower is a place known as Heaven on Earth. There are numerous verities of flowers in the valley, which are rarely found otherwise. You can see flower like Brahma Kamal there in the months of June-August. Hemkund is near the Valley of Flowers. There is beautiful lake, Hemkund and the Gurudwara of Hemkund Sahib. It is the highest gurudwara in India.
Rudranath TempleDedicated to Lord shiva, this temple was constructed in 8th Century A.D and is located 23 km from Gopeshwar.
Bagnath TempleBageshwar gets its name form this ancient temple of Lord Shiva set in the heart of the town. According to popular legend, sage Markandey stayed here and this sacred place was visited by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva in the disguise of a tiger. This sacred shrine was constructed during the reign of the Chand dynasty and according to popular legend absolutely no one could establish the Shivlinga inside the temple sanctum and finally one Manorath Pandey of Palayn village went on penance and succeeded in installing the Shivlinga within the temple sanctum on the festival of Shivratri.
Ever since a huge fair is held at this location every year on the festival of Shivratri. Pilgrims from all over the country come to this shrine on temple tours, especially during the festival of Shivratri.