|Primary Deity:||Badrinarayan (Vishnu)|
|Date built:||9th century C.E.|
Badrinath Temple, also called Badrinarayan Temple, situated along the Alaknanda river, in the hill town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand state in India, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. The temple and town are one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, holy shrines for Vaishnavites. The temple is open only six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), due to extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks, along the banks of Alakanda river at an elevation of 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level. The temple is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres of India, with a recorded number of visitors of 1,060,000.
The image of the presiding deity worshipped in the temple is a 1 m (3.3 ft) tall statue of Vishnu in the form Badrinarayan, made of black stone. The statue is considered by many Hindus to be one of eight swayam vyakta kshetras, or self-manifested statues of Vishnu.
Mata Murti Ka Mela is the most prominent festival celebrated in Badrinath Temple to commemorate the descent of river Ganga on mother earth. Although Badrinath is located in North India, the head priest, or Rawal, is traditionally a Namboodri Brahmin chosen from the South Indian state of Kerala. The temple was included in the Uttar Pradesh state government Act No. 30/1948 as Act no. 16,1939, which later came to be known as Shri Badarinath and Shri Kedarnath Mandir Act. The committee nominated by the state government administers both the temples that has a total of seventeen members in the board.
The temple finds mention in ancient religious texts like Vishnu Purana and in the works of 5th century poet Kalidasa. The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Badrinath and his consort Lakshmi as Aravindavalli.
The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks, along the banks of Alakanda river in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. The hill tracks are located 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level. The Nar Parbat mountain is located opposite to the temple, while the Narayana Parbat is located behind the Neelakanta peak.
The temple has three structures namely, Garbhagriha (sanctum), the Darshan Mandap (worship hall), and Sabha Mandap (convention hall). The conical shaped roof the sanctum, the garbhagriha', is approximately 15 m (49 ft) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhism temples. Just inside is a mandap, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbhagriha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandap are covered with intricate carvings.
The main shrine houses the 1 m (3.3 ft) Shaligram (black stone) image of Badrinarayan, housed in a gold canopy, under a Badri Tree. The image of Badari Narayan is armed with Shankh (conch) and Chakra (wheel) in two of his arms in a lifted posture and two arms rested on the lap in Yogamudra posture. The sanctum also houses images of Kuber (God of wealth), sage Narada, Udhava, Nar and Narayan. There are fifteen more images around the temple that are also worshipped. These include that of Narasimha (the fourth incarnation of Vishnu), Lakshmi, Ganesha, Uddhava, Kuber, Garuda (the vehicle of Narayan), and Navadurga. Behind the temple, there is a shrine for Lakshmi Narasimhar, which has shrines of Adi Shankara, Desikaryacharya and Ramanujacharya. All the idols of the temple are made of black stone. Hard sugar candy, Tulsi, and dry fruits are the typical prasad offered at Badrinath temple.
The Tapt Kund hot sulphur springs just below the temple are considered to be medicinal—many pilgrims consider it a requirement to bathe in the springs before visiting the temple. The springs have a year-round temperature of 55 °C (131 °F), while the average temperature outside is less than 17 °C (63 °F) all year around. The two water ponds in the temple are called Narad Kund and Surya Kund.
|Chota Char Dham|
There is no historical record about the temple, but there is mention about the presiding deity, Badrinath in Vedic scriptures, indicating the presence of the temple during the Vedic period. Badrinath was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. It is believed that Shankara resided in the place for six years from 814 to 820 AD. He resided six months in Badrinath and the rest six months of the year in Kedarnath. He is believed to have discovered the image of Badrinarayan in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. Shankara is believed to have expelled all the Buddhists in the region, with the help of the Panwar ruler king Kanak Pal. The hereditary successors of the king governed the temple and endowed lot of villages to meet the expenses of the temple. The income from a set of villages in the route to the temple were set to feed th pilgrims and accommodate them. The Panwar rulers held the title "Bolanda Badrinath", meaning speaking Badrinath. The rulers also had other titles like Shri 108 Basdrishcharyaparayan Garharj Mahimahendra, Dharmabibhab and Dharamarakshak Sigamani. The throne of Badrinath was referred after the presiding deity and the king enjoyed ritual obesience by the devotees before proceeding to the shrine. The practice was continued till the late 19th century. During the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple. When the state of Garwal was split in king, the Badrinath temple came under the British rule, but the king of Garwal still continued as the chairman of the management committee.
The temple has undergone several major renovations, due to age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the Kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur. It is one of the five Punyakshethras (Holy places) where the Hindus offer Shrarddhakarmas (oblations) to their 42 line of ancestors (Both from mother's and father's side) (Other four are Kashi (Varanasi), Gaya, Prayaga (Allahabad) and Rameswaram). It is believed that once the Shraddha Karma is performed here, the descendants need not perform the yearly ritual.
As per Hindu legend, the Hindu god Vishnu sat up in meditation at this place, keeping away from Thuling, a place in Himalayas which was corrupted by meat-eating monks and unchaste people. During his meditation, he was left unaware of cold the weather and Lakshmi, his consort, came protecting in the form of Badri tree (jujubi tree). Pleased by the devotion of Lakshmi, Vishnu named the place as Badrika Ashram. As per Atkinson (1979), the place used to be jujubi forest, which are not found in modern times. Vishnu in the form of Badrinath, is depicted in the temple sitting in padmasana posture. According to the legend, Vishnu was chastised by a sage who saw Vishnu's consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Vishnu went to Badrinath to perform austerity, meditating for a long time in padmasana.
The Vishnu Purana narrates another version about the origins of Badrinath. According to the tradition, Dharam had two sons namely, Nar and Narayan Parvat (both are mountain names in Himalayas in modern times). They chose the place to spread the religion and each one of them wed the spacious valleys in the Himalayas. In search of their ideal place for setting up a hermitage, they came across the other four Badris of the Pancha Badri namely, Bridha Badri, Yog Bhadri, Dhyan Badri and Bhavish Badri. They finally found the hot and cold spring behind the Alakandha river and named it Badri Vishal.
According to the Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram the Personality of Godhead (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nar and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities." The Skanda Purana states that “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.” The area around Badrinath is also celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Periazhwar in eleven hymns and Thirumangai Azhwar in thirteen hymns. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Badrinath and his consort Lakshmi as Aravindavalli. Kalidasa, the 5th century poet described the Himalayan city of Alaka, a shortened form of Alakanda. "Where maidens who the gods would gladly wed are fanned by breezes cool with Ganga's foam in the shadows that the trees of the heaven spread".
|Number of tourists|
Dwarka • Puri
Devotees of all faiths and all schools of thought of Hinduism visit the place. Many religious heads of various Muths, such as Jeeyar Mutt (Andhra mutt), Sringeri, Kanchi, Udupi Pejavar and Manthralayam Sri Raghavendra Swamy Muths have their branches/guest houses.
The Badrinath temple is one of five related shrines called Panch Badri that are dedicated to worship of Vishnu. The five temples are Vishal Badri - Badrinath Temple in Badrinath, Yogadhyan Badri located at Pandukeshwar, Bhavishya Badri located 17 km (10.6 mi) from Jyotirmath at Subain, Vridh Badri located 7 km (4.3 mi) from Jyotirmath in Animath and Adi Badri located 17 km (10.6 mi) from Karnaprayag.
The temple is considered one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites, comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer. The four monasteries are located across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair. There are four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas. The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams. As the number of pilgrims increased to these places in modern times, it is called Himalayan Char Dham. The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime. Traditionally the trip starts are the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circuambulation in Hindu temples.
Festivals and religious practices
The Mata Murti Ka Mela is the most prominent festival celebrated in Badrinath Temple to commemorate the descent of river Ganga on mother earth. The mother of Badarinath is worshiped during the festival and she is believed to have divided the river into twelve channels for the welfare of earthly beings. The place where the river flowed became the holy land of Badrinath. Badri Kedar festival is celebrated during the month of June every year in both the temple and Kedarnath temple. The festival is celebrated for a period of eight days when artists from all over the country perform during the function.
The major religious activities every morning are mahabhishek (ablution), abhishek, gitapath and bhagavat pooja, while in the evening, the poojas include geet govinda and aarti. Recital in vedic scripts like ashtotram and Sahasranama is practiced during all the rituals. After aarti, the decorations are removed from the image of Badrinath and sandalwood paste is applied on the image. The paste from the image is given to the devotees the next day as prasad during the nirmalaya darshan. All the rituals are performed in front of the devotees, unlike in some Hindu temples, where some practices are hidden from them.
Administration and visit
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The temple was included in the Uttar Pradesh state government Act No. 30/1948 as Act no. 16,1939, which later came to be known as Shri Badarinath and Shri Kedarnath Mandir Act. The committee nominated by the state government administers both the temples. The act was modified in 2002, which provisioned adding additional committee members including Government officials and a Vice chairman. There are a total of seventeen members in the board; three selected by the Uttaranchal Legislative Assembly, one member each by the Zilla Parishads of Garhwa, Tehri, Chamoli and Uttarkashi, and ten members nominated by the state government. On the religious side, there is a Rawalji (chief priest) and three other priests namely, Nayab Rawal, Dharmadhikari and Vedpathi. The administrative structure of the temple consists of a chief executive officer who executes the orders from the state government. A deputy chief executive officer, two OSDs, an executive officer, an account officer, a temple officer and a publicity officer assist the chief executive officer.
Although Badrinath is located in North India, the head priest, or Rawal, is traditionally a Namboodri Brahmin from the South Indian state of Kerala. This tradition is believed to have been initiated by Adi Shankara, who was a great Indian philosopher from Southern India. The Rawal (chief priest) is requested by the Uttarakhand government (Uttar Pradesh government before the formation of Uttarakhand state) to the Kerala government. The candidate should possess degree of Acharya in Sanskrit, be a bachelor, well-versed in reciting mantras (sacred texts) and be from the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism. The erstwhile rulers of Garhwal, who is the tutelary head of Badrinath, approves the candidate sent by the Government of Kerala. A Tilak Ceremony is held to instate the Rawal and he is deputed for a period of six months from April to November, when the temple remains open. The Rawal is accorded high holiness status by Garwhal Rifles and also the state governments of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. He is also held in high esteem by the Royals of Nepal. For six months in a year (From April to pre November), he performs his duties as a temple priest. Thereafter, he either stays in Joshimutt or goes back to his native village in Kerala. The duties of the Rawal starts at 4 A.M every day, with the Abhisheka. The Rawal should not cross the river till Vamana Dwadasi and must adhere to Brahmacharya. The Rawal is assisted by the Garhwali Dimri Pundits belonging to the Village Dimmer, Nayab Rawals, Dharmadikari, Vedapathi, a group of priests, Pandas Samadhini, Bhandari, Rasoiyas (cook), devotional singer, clerk of devashram, Jal Bhariya (water keeper) and temple guards. Badrinath is one of the few temples in North India that follow the ancient Tantra-Vidhi of Shrauta tradition more common in South India.
From 2012, the temple administration introduced a token system for visiting the temple. Tokens indicating the time of visit were provided from the three stalls in the taxi stands. The time allocated for each devotee to visit the presiding deity is 10–20 seconds. It was mandatory to have an identification proof to enter the temple.
The temple can be reached from Rishikesh, located 298 km (185 mi) away, by passing through Dev Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Karna Prayag, Nanda Prayag, Joshimutt, Vishnuprayag and Devadarshini. From Kedarnath, the temple has two routes, namely the Rudra Prayag route taking 243 km (151 mi) and Ukthimath and Gopeswar route, taking 230 km (140 mi).
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