Badrinath is the holiest of all the dhams i.e. Jagganath Puri (Orissa), Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu) and Dwarka(Gujrat). Reference of Badrinath is found in Mahabharata and it is believed that sage Ved vyas dictated the epic of Mahabharata at Mana and that the Pandavas made their way towards heaven through Badrinath. Reference regarding existence of Badrinath is also found in Skand Puran wherein it is written that - 'There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath'. Reference to this holy place is also found in form of hyms in several other Puranas and in Padma Puran the place is referred to as repository of spiritual treasures. Similarly, as per Vamana Puran it is considered that Badrinath is the above of fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Nar & Narayan, who performed penance here. Badrinath temple which is situated at a height of 10,248 feet in the lap of Narayan Parvat whereas the opposite range is called the Nar Parvat. The presiding diety of Badrinath temple is Lord Badrivishal which is made of black stone shaligram. The details are not well defined as a result of weathering and as also the fact that the idol was recovered from Narad Kund by Adiguru Shri Shri Sankaracharya. As per the rituals we took bath in hot waters from Narad Kund and got into que early in the morning for performing puja on the next day fo arrival -
Shri Badrinath temple -
View of Badrinath temple from across Alaknanda-
During winter of 2000 due to major avalanche in the area the outer facade of the Shri Badrinath temple was damaged and the inner sanctum sanctorum visible -
Having performed puja we decided to approach Narayan Parvat for darshan of famed Charan Paduka - feet of the lord. We started our ascent at around 12.00 noon and it took us an hour and a half to reach our destination -
Birds' eye view of Badrinath township from atop Narayan Parvan - Nar Parvat range is on opposite side -
Close-up view of the Charan paduka -
Although the journey uphill was back breaking and arduos, yet the sheer display of nature's magic mesmerized us and we sat there imbibing the scenic beauty all around -
Close-up of Nar Parvat peaks from Narayan Parvat -
Distant Neelkanth close-up from Narayan Parvat -
Optical illusion - view from Charan Paduka (Narayan Parvat)
It was getting late and all of a sudden the weatheralso threatened to let loose a barrage of rain or hails and we quickly beat a hasty retreat. However, by the time we reached our dharamshala, it had already started to pour. Suddenly, with wind picking up the chill factor also became a point for reckoning. Having ordered a cup of hot tea and pakoras, we decided to spend the evening indoors.
View of Badrinath during night as viewed from the verandah of dharamshala -
The next morning was fresh as lily, with no signs of the night torment by thundering rain & hail storm. We packed ourselves well and headed for Mana, a small village 7 Kms. from Badrinath which boasts of several Mahabarata period relics -
Ganesh gufa - where Lord Ganesha is supposed to have written down Mahabharata using both his hands simultaneously as dictated by Sage Ved vyas
5000 years old cave wherefrom Sage Ved vyas is supposed to have dictated Mahabharata epic to Lord Ganesha -
Statute of Sage Ved vyas inside Vyas gufa at Mana -
Emergence of mytichal river Saraswati at Mana - it merges with Alaknanda at a distance of a few kilometers from its source -
Road to heaven - Swargarohia little beyondMana
Apart from the above, there is the Bhim pul at Mana which is a monolithic stone thrown across the mighty Saraswati river and as per legend while travelling towards Heaven, Draupadi refused to sully Saraswati river with her feet and therefore, Bhim threw this stone across the river to fecilitate the passage of Draupadi. The place abounds with serveral such anecdotes dating back to the Mahabharata era.
Having completed the darshan to our heart's content we proceeded back the next morning and drove down straight to Rishikesh where we reached at around 4.30 P.M having started at the first gate release from Badrinath at 6.00 A.M. There were many a picturseque valley, but this one is one of my favourites -
Adieu Ganga -
(The photographs have lines across their faces, this is because the phtographs were scanned from the originals by me) Video for the destination
This part of the travelogue concludes the entire Chardham yatra undertaken by millions of devout Hindus every year. Hope my little contribution can help the cause of those who cannot make due to some reason or the other.