Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Badrinath Temple

Day 4 : Badrinath - Alaknanda River and the Brahma Kapal Ghat - Tapt Kund and Panch Shilas - THE BADRINATH TEMPLE - Mana Village (Here and There) - Mana Village (Places to visit)  - Diwali celebrations in the Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

I stood there outside…starring at the temple for several long minutes...

...It’s a dream to be at this holy place and God calls only the lucky ones to His abode

The sound of my elders echoed deep in my ears… I felt highly blessed… for I felt like I was among the chosen few… who had gotten a chance to enliven a dream… The dream of visiting and experiencing the spiritual and the mystic aura surrounding “the holiest” of all shrines… The Badrinarayan shrine in Badrinath once again after several long years…

The temple also kept its promise… of leaving me awestruck and captivated at first sight itself! Surrounded by pristine spotless beauty, nestled in the verdant protective folds of the Himalayan mountains - The Badrinath Temple was draped in a jamboree of bright colors and it looked every inch beautiful and magnificent as when I had seen it in as a small child of seven, as I had envisioned it since then and as it had looked  from a distance while standing on the narrow footbridge over the Alaknanda river a few moments earlier…

Badri Vishal Temple In the Garhwal Himalayas

Although Badrinath temple is a place that originally dates back to the 9th century but the present temple is a modern one which has been renovated and restructured many a times from its original construct. Adi Shankaracharya, the founder of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, had initially discovered the Badrinarayan idol in the Alakananda River from the Narad Kund and installed it in the Garud Gupha near the hot water spring of Tapt Kund. Seven centuries later, it was moved to the spot where the current temple stands today by the Garhwal kings and a swarna kalash (golden pot) was placed at its shikhara by the Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in the 18th century. The building was again damaged by a massive earthquake in 1803 and was then refurbished by the king of Jaipur.

Badrinath Temple, Char Dham Yatra

But inspite of all the modernizations, the land still reverberates with a heart of a divine era that it has witnessed, the love of the devotees is inescapably palpable in the ambiance, the original idol has remained untouched and this is what makes this tirtha so mesmerizing.

The latticed windows and the exquisitely ornate stone fa├žade are impressive and superb and was one of the first features to strike me visually. The temple is a tad different in its appearance and resembles a Buddhist Vihara (temple) in its looks, the primary reasons for this being the design of the temple top which is a row of kiosks covered with curvy roofs and the brightly colored exteriors.

Latticed artwork on the door of the Badrinath temple of 
the Char Dham in the Himalayas

The temple stands 50 mtrs high, raised on a plinth overlooking the Alaknanda river sandwiched between the two mountains of Nar and Narayan named after the two sages by the same name. There was a hustle and bustle of pilgrims around owing to the festival day of Diwali but at the same time there was a sense of calmness in its salubrious air and gorgeous natural settings that even this din of pilgrim traffic could not rob away from us.

Badrinath temple, one of the divya desams in the Garhwal Himalyas

Walking up a few flights of steps we entered the Temple through an artistic arched gateway. At the Gate, directly opposite the main Idol of the Lord himself, is seated the idol of Bird Garud, the vehicle of Lord Badrinarayan, sitting in prayer with his hands folded. Above Him hangs a large bell gifted by the Garhwal rifles. The gate leads us to a large courtyard with the main hall in the middle known as the Sabha Mandap. The Sabha Mandap has intricately carved pillars and walls and a wide space for pilgrims to spend some time in peace and connect with their dear Lord Vishnu. In the centre of this is the Garbha griha or the sanctum sanctorum wherein rests the divine picture of Shri Badrinarayan or Lord Badrinath – the self manifest black shaligram shila image of Lord Vishnu seated in pensive Padmasana pose (lotus pose - the posture in which he had meditated in the holy town…described in the introductory post) with His palms resting on His lap.

Badrinarayan Vishnu Temple in the Garhwal Himalayas

There were a very few pilgrims in the temple and hence there was no jostling and pushing, everyone, including us, was taking the darshan (blessings) peacefully and to their heart’s content. Though photography is prohibited inside the temple, you can picture the scarcity of the crowds from the fact that the priest personally identified the numerous idols alongside the main idol for us. At the entry of the sanctum is the gaddi of Adi Shankaracharya, the seat where He meditated. The images of Kuber - the God of wealth, Ganesh, Lord Vishu’s vehicle Garud, His two wives – Sridevi and Bhoodevi as well as the sages Nar, Narayan, bhakta Narada are all seated around the main deity. The priest also informed us that this is one of a kind idol as this is the only idol of Lord Vishnu in this yogic pose.

After spending some time in the mandap, we moved towards the circumambulation of the temple which is also one of the distinctive features of the temple. The entire circular route has smaller shrines of Gods and Goddess, each dedicated to a devotee of the Lord and facing the Lord directly in such a way as if ensuring that Their Master doesn’t vanish away from their eyes even for one moment! Lord Vishu’s consort Goddess Laxmi has a shrine just next to the main temple. Besides this, there are other shrines of dakshinmukhi Hanuman, Narsimha, Nar-Narayan, Ghanta Karna (known as the lokpal or the guardian deity of the region) and an Ashta bhuja (eight armed) Ganesha surrounding the main temple.

After the circumambulation, we took the evening Arti (prayer) coupon to attend the prayers of the Diwali night…and I waited eagerly for the dusk to fall…

Tired and exhausted we returned to our hotel rooms for a brief rest before we ventured out again to explore the other places in and around Badrinath…

Puja Schedule, Temple Timings, Festivals and other Related information:

The prayer ceremonies commence in the morning from 6.30 am and go on till dusk. Among these, the Nirmalya darshan, the first puja ceremony is considered to be the most auspicious of all.

Temple Timings: 4 am - 12 noon, 3 pm - 9 pm

Visiting Season:
The Temple doors are closed down around October (dates are fixed on Basant Panchami (Feb)) at the advent of winters and are opened again for worship at around Mid April (dates are decided on Vijayadashmi (mid-Oct)). Thus the temple is shut down for 6 months every year during which prayers to the BadriVishal continue at the Narsimha temple in Joshimath. Before closing the temple doors, the priests light a lamp before the idol in the sanctum. It is said that during this period of 6 months, bhakta Narad who had attained salvation here, continues with the prayer services. This belief is further strengthened based on the fact that when the temple is again reopened after six months in spring, the lamp is still seen to be flickering!

Badrinath is one among the 108 divya desams (holy shrines for Vaishnavites) of Lord Vishnu. The temple is the holiest of the four dhams (sites) of Hindus, in Garhwal ranges, and draws pilgrims from all over India. It is the most visited of the char dhams, when doing the entire circuit, it comes last in the course but many do it standalone too.

Badrinath temple is also known as Vishal Badri. It is the largest and the most popular of the pilgrimages among the five badris or the Panch Badris namely Badri Vishal or the Badrinath Temple (described above), Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Vridha Badri and Adi Badri.

Coupons for any special pujas are available in the temple premises itself. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple.

Festivals: The Mata Murti ka Mela is celebrated on Bavan Dwadashi (Sep-Oct), when the statue of Uddhavji is taken to the Mata Murti temple, 3 km away, and brought back on the same day. Krishna Janmashtami (Jul-Aug) and Badri-Kedar Utsav (Jun-Jul) are other notable occasions.

Previous posts from this trip -

71 comments:

  1. So pristine! Nice pics. You have written it so detailed and beautiful. I am sure to visit your blog the next time I plan to visit any place in India!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's so good to see Badrinath again. I love Badrinath.
    Did you go to Kedarnath and Yamunotri?

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ The Chair Speaks
    I did not visit Kedarnath and Yamunothri this time around...
    I have visited Kedarnath about 15 years ago, it is just an awesome place.
    Have you visited all the 4 dhams?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Arti dear,

    It is splendid to see how all around the world, art, religion and culture seeks what we all need...and that is the knowledge and love of the Almighty, Yeshua, Jevovah, Ala, with what ever name we give HIM...we all come seeking. Such beautiful images here of an enchanting land of great philosophes and great souls that lead us to a place we all have to face....thank you for visiting me today!

    ReplyDelete
  6. great post...lovely pics...I have great memories of this place....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Arti, once again, I got my spiritual dream shrine on my pc without moving anywhere. Thanks a lot. You are doing a wonderful job. A huge info and pics too. All this is not just beneficial for Indians but for foreigners too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. wow! this is some documentation!
    great work Arti, love the every bit of information you cover on the places you visit.
    keep visiting, keep blogging

    jai badri vishal!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This was a very uplifting post. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am very spiritual.I had visited their many times.

    ReplyDelete
  11. wow Arthi thanks for sharing ur divine experience with all of us ..I was so happy to view all the pictures beautifully captured by you..Thanks once again ....lovely post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful pictures! So you have not been here since you were a child? When it was moved, and also rebuilt, did they use the old materials that were in the old building? You got a great picture of that one intricate carving.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just like the sentence , God calls only the lucky ones to His abode . Nice pics and great detailing .

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are so lucky to visit this holy place - must be a wonderful experience. I think Sri Ramakrishna lived in Badrinath, no? Have a lovely evening! xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. Marvelous, fascinating and interesting post as always, Arti!! Delightful captures! I do love the tours you take us on! Hope your week is going well!

    Sylvia

    ReplyDelete
  16. You have some fantastic pictures of the place and a very descriptive and elaborate details of the temple town.
    Cruise Pictures

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful Arti.. How much I wished , I trekked on the wonderful silver mountain.. At last, my wish will be fulfilled. I will be joining a group of Yatris on the 8th of July to Amarnath..! I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope my leave doesn't get cancelled in the last minute..!
    Your posts on the Himalayas have kept my interest and fascination for Himalayas alive...I still would love to visit Badri sometime..!

    ReplyDelete
  18. That was a wonderful yatra finale. I thought that the mountains Nar and Narayan symbolised human (nar) and Go (Narayan). I didn't know they signified the names of sages.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @ Ginny
    The temple was destroyed by a massive earthquake so I guess that same materials would not have been used.

    ReplyDelete
  20. @ Martina
    Sorry, I am not aware of that fact. I tried searching on the net but could not find anything related. Where have you read it?

    ReplyDelete
  21. @ Shridharan
    Thats very good news, have a nice Amarnath Yatra... You are lucky to do it, so few people get a chance to take part in it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @ Zephyr
    There is more to come!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ All
    Thanks for your wonderful comments :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. It is interesting to see the Badrinath Temple
    and also it is impressive to learn that the temple has a long history and renovated well.
    Thank you for sharing this, and for your comment on my post again.
    Redrose.

    ReplyDelete
  25. wonderful, Arti!! the place doesnt seem to have changed much in the last 20 years... guess it might be just a little more crowded.. am planning a trip next year.. shall send u a mail for help :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Awesome. Landed into your blog after you voted for my post on indiblogger. Reciprocation's important :).

    This is an amazing post. You must become a travel blogger for you have that knack of explaining things well. Made my journey into your post even more exciting thanks to the photographs. Well done!

    Keep Writing!

    ~~
    RuThLeSs

    ReplyDelete
  27. I simply love your blog sweetie! I think you are one of the finest bloggers in India! hats off! keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Aha !! We are planning a trip next month which includes Badrinath. This post is what's going to help me !

    I am sending your post link right away to others.

    Thanks for sharing, Arti. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. You are right it is colourful. Are the paths as steep as they look in the first photograph?

    ReplyDelete
  30. What a wonderful spiritual experience!

    ReplyDelete
  31. The current structures have owed to generations of people's efforts for maintenance, renovation or restructure. Man-made things don't last forever without that. Spiritual places are supported by individual spiritual mind.

    Thank you for the detailed report and superb photos as always, Arti. Have a happy week ahead!

    ReplyDelete
  32. @ Anu
    Yes the place has not changed one bit in the last 20 years, only some more construction!
    But the crowd was not much at all as I had visited when the Temple closing date was very near...
    And Ya, send in the mail, will be happy to provide any help:)

    ReplyDelete
  33. @ Ruthless Ramblings
    I am a Travel Blogger:)
    And thanks for liking my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Comprehensive info on Badrinath, got to use it as a guide when i visit Badrinath

    ReplyDelete
  35. @ Nisha
    If any further help is required do tell me:)

    ReplyDelete
  36. @ Petty Witter
    The path is not that steep Tracy, there are some steps to climb and you reach the Temple easily:)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I can understand that you are prohibited from taking photos inside temples.
    It must be solemn places.
    However, we can take a photo in most of temple in Japan.
    That may be strange.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Arti, thanks a lot for such a beautiful blog. A serene temple with old history. Yes, it is right people who can visit this place are very lucky ones. Nara, Japan has many Buddhist temples whose histories are dating back to the 7th, 8th centuries. Whenever I visit those temples, I strongly feel religious faith of people in ancient through present days, and feel the same from your photos and words. Thank you for sharing.
    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  39. your posts leave me breathless. the peace and holiness of this spot, well, they leave me speechless too. what a remarkable narrative you've gifted us with. and thanks for taking me along. I'm glad it hasn't changed much in 20 years.

    ReplyDelete
  40. How wonderful that you got to go again -- is it actually open for anyone to visit? It seems like such a special holy place that I almost can't believe any tourist could go there.

    Well..I do know that I will not get to go there and I grateful to you for taking us along on your travels and teaching a little bit of your history~

    ReplyDelete
  41. Beautiful! I have been there to that very spot with my whole family, brought back a lot of memories!
    Great post Arti.
    US Masala

    ReplyDelete
  42. I feel you when you said you are one of chosen ones because really, being near this temple alone, is already a blessing. Thanks for your wonderful stories.

    ReplyDelete
  43. @ Sallie
    Yes its a very important pilgrimage destination in India, you can say the most important.
    And Yes anyone can visit it, infact many foreigners do visit the place.

    ReplyDelete
  44. @ All
    Thanks for the most amazing comments. Really appreciate them.

    ReplyDelete
  45. beautiful pic with detailed info

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hello Arti, I've greatly enjoyed your description of the Badrinath Temple. Your writing and photos helped me see and feel the holy place. I am now wondering if you were named after prayer ("Arti")?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Yes Arti, I have visited all the 4 dharms.

    ReplyDelete
  48. It's wonderful to feel blessed, in this wonderful spiritual place, Arti!!!!
    With your beautiful photos, I was there, in this sointeresting journey!
    Thank you so much!
    Have a good month
    many greetings

    ReplyDelete
  49. @ Barb I am glad my post made you feel the place :)

    Yes my name 'Arti' does mean a prayer, its a holy prayer ceremony done by lighting wick lamps in front of Hindu deities. It can also refer to the devotional songs that are sung during this ritual!

    The lighted lamp pic that you see in the header photo (the middle pic in the collage)... that is 'Arti'.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Fascinating site. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am now following you, and I invite you to follow me as well. Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  51. sorry for coming late... got little busy after college reopened...
    a wonderful lengthy post focusing on both history and temple regulations...
    a very artistic temple... particularly the hilly background and the minute details add to the beauty of the temple...

    ReplyDelete
  52. wonderfully detailed with beautiful images!
    am waiting for the call! :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. I love all the interesting information you pack into your posts - just fascinating. And of course I love your photos - beautiful. I learn so much each time I visit you.

    ReplyDelete
  54. wonderful post, dear arti! Great pictures too. Almost every post, i felt travelling with you...just wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Hi Aarti,

    Love this post ... you have transported me to badrinath without moving a inch from chennai : ) The temple history and the temple details are so divine...especially the part where the lamp continues to flicker even after 6 months !!

    I was not doing well for the last 2 weeks but today I felt good after reading this post.

    Luv you

    Satya

    ReplyDelete
  56. great pictures , first time here wow ... the best blog that I have seen so far....feel like seeing the chardham .... glad to follow you.
    www.rajafood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  57. I usually try to avoid visiting your blog because he inspires me to travel and check out the world for real instead of sitting in front of computer... and I cannot afford it. ;)
    Love post with such amazing details and beautiful pictures. Keep the good work.. this is the next best thing to those who cannot visit those places.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Your series on Badrinath Yatra is a must read for all the travelers visiting the place.And i agree your blog is one of the best in India.
    You too have a great week Arti .
    Sorry for being late here .Kid's vacations have started so getting very little free time in hand.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I love visiting this blog - like a magic carpet, lifts the spirit. Also thanks for the useful info.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Such gorgeous pictures... I love the one that has the house outlined with lights. Diwali is one of my favourite festivals and you have captured it beautifully! Indeed, festivals bring people together like nothing else does. To say nothing of the happiness and celebration in the air.
    I am bookmarking this one.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Arti,

    Awesome report. It was as if I had been virtually transported to Badrinath. I am planning a trip next year will definitely write to you before that.

    May God bless you abundantly for this noble task.

    Warm regards,
    Priya

    ReplyDelete
  62. Very informative to the last mile. Very colorful temple.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Brilliant post, you should be on Discovery travel and living...

    ReplyDelete
  64. Nice detailed coverage on Badrinath, never knew that temple is closed from October to March during winter.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Great post......and lovely pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Very well described Arti, as always:)
    It was such a visual journey and true when you say about 'the calling'! Not everyone is so lucky.
    God Bless, Dear:)

    ReplyDelete
  67. Lovely, and great information!
    A treat for my eyes, much cherished.

    ReplyDelete
  68. As comprehensive as it gets... but that is only expected from you...

    I need to plan another visit to the Himalayas...

    Do check out my Hampi travelogue... posted something after a long time...

    ReplyDelete
  69. Would like to go again and again. I loved this place. Spiritual! Recalled all my memories at Badrinath of 5 years ago. :)

    ReplyDelete
  70. Indeed, its quite a location. It happens to be one of the most holiest of all Vishnu shrines.

    ReplyDelete

Delighted u stopped by... Your suggestions, feedback are really appreciated. Thanks a lot! Hope you visit again!

If you have asked a question, please give me at least 2 days to reply back. Thank you :)

SHARE

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogger Widgets