Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttarakhand State
Char Dham is referred to the four Hindu religious sites in Uttarakhand state of India. These are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Nestled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, these four sites are the epicenter of religious activity in north India. Traditionally, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east. Thus, the yatra starts from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Amongst the four Char Dhams, Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to goddesses Yamuna and Ganga respectively. On the other hand, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, people also visit Hemkund Sahib in the vicinity, which is one of the highest located religious sites in the country. Thus, pilgrims visit all these places in aspiration of washing away their sins and to attain salvation, by the blessings of the Lord.
Badrinath is also one of the four seats of a larger Vaishnava pilgrimage route Char Dham. Char dham was originally called the popular pilgrimage path in the four holy places of Hinduism, positioned at opposite ends of the Indian subcontinent Puri, Rameshvaram, Dwarka, and Badrinath. It is believed that the custom of pilgrimage to Char dham, a Hindu truth-seeker and started the VIII century reformer Shankara. Only later, the last of the four sites Chardham, Badrinath, a holy place has become a main Himalayan pilgrimage path that became known as "Char Dham".
Owing to the significance of this religious circuit, devotees from all over the world, come here to experience the eternal bliss. Char Dhams are hustling and bustling with activity during the summer months, as hundreds of devotees embark upon the holy journey. The picturesque surroundings of the mountainous region are simply enthralling, giving the visitors a perfect opportunity to unwind themselves by filling their lungs with fresh air. Moreover, these otherwise silent and tranquil locales resound with the names of the Lord as the pilgrims advance towards their destination.
Earlier known as Chota Char Dham or 'Little' Char Dham to differentiate them from the bigger circuit of Char Dham sites, after the mid-20th century they themselves started being called the Char Dham Today, the term "Char Dham" usually refers to the all-denomination Himalayan Char Dham. The Char Dham are often considered the most revered sites for Hindus that have to be visited in one's lifetime.
Badrinath TempleBadrinath temple, sometimes called Badrinarayan temple, is situated along the Alaknanda river, in the hill town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand state in India. It is widely considered to be one of the holiest Hindu temples, and is dedicated to god 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.
Several murtis are worshipped in the temple. The most important is a one meter tall statue of Vishnu as Lord Badrinarayan, made of black Saligram stone. The statue is considered by many Hindus to be one of eight swayam vyakta kshetras, or self-manifested statues of Vishnu. The murti depicts Vishnu sitting in meditative posture, rather than His far more typical reclining pose. In November each year, when the town of Badrinath is closed, the small image is moved to nearby Jyotirmath. However, original image remains in temple only. It is believed Devarshi Narad worships original image during winter
DescriptionThe temple is approximately 50 ft (15.0 metres) 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 the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.
The main shrine area houses the black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan, sitting under a gold canopy, under a Badri Tree. There are fifteen more murtis around the temple that are also worshipped. These include murtis of Nara & Narayana, Narasimha (the fourth incarnation of Vishnu), Lakshmi, Narada, Ganesha, Uddhava, Kubera, Garuda (the vehicle of Lord Narayan), and Navadurga. 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 45°C.
Although Badrinath is located in the far north of India, the head priest, or Rawal, is traditionally a Nambudiri Brahmin from the far south of India in Kerala. This tradition was begun by Adi Shankara, who was a great Indian philosopher from Southern India. The Rawal is assisted by the Garhwali Dimri Pundits belonging to the Village Dimmer. Badrinath is one of the few temples in North India that follow the ancient Tantra-Vidhi of Shrauta tradition more common in South India. 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 Rawal (chief priest) is selected by erstwhile rulers of Garhwal and Travancore. The Rawal has been 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 (during march to pre November), he performs his duties as a temple priest. Thereafter, he either stays in Joshimutt or goes back to his ancestral village in Kerala. The current Rawal is Shri V. Keshavan Namboothiri. 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.
HistoryBadrinath was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. Shankara discovered the image of Badrinarayan in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.
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 Shraddhakarmas (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.
LegendOne legend explains the reason that Vishnu is shown sitting in padmasana, rather than reclining. According to the story, 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. To this day, the area around Badrinath attracts yogis who come for meditation and seclusion.
One more logical Legend explains both name itself and sitting posture as this place was full of Badri (Bael Fruit,'Ber' in Hindi) bushes and Vishnu meditating for couple of hundred years, beloved Lakshmi stood next to him sheltering him from scorching sunlight turned into a Badri herself called 'BADRI VISHAL' and her lord(Nath) became the BadriNath.
Another legend says that Shiva and Parvati were doing tapas in Badrinath. Vishnu came in disguise as a small boy, crying loudly and disturbing them. Parvati asked the reason for his crying and he replied that he wanted Badrinath for meditation. Shiva and Parvati found that it was Lord Narayan in disguise. They then left Badrinath and moved to Kedarnath.
According to the Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram the Personality of Godhead (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara 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 was also celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
The Opening and Closing Date of Badrinath Temple shrine - 2013Note: The kapat of Shri Badarinath Temple will open on Basant Panchami. The exact opening dates of Badrinath 2013 will be updated soon.
The opening date of Badrinath Temple is fixed on Basant Panchami by Raj Purohit and closure date is fixed on Vijaydashmi by Mandir Committee. The temple opens every year in the month of April-May & closes for winters in the third week of November. Joshimath is the winter deity of Badrinath.
Special booking of pujas can be done at Badrinath Mandir Committee by paying some fees. The pooja is organized before the temple is open for general public.
Badrinath in WintersThroughout the winter season, the ‘Utsav Murti' (idol used for public functions and to move around the temple) of Lord Badrinath is worshipped in Narasimha Temple at Joshimath. The idol is taken to the Narashimha Temple on a doli (palanquin) in a colorful procession. The priests of Badrinath Temple continue to perform the rituals on the ‘Utsav Murti’ at Narasimha temple during the winter season.
Panch BadriThe Badrinath temple is one of five related shrines called Panch Badri that are dedicated to worship of Lord Vishnu
- Vishal Badri: Badrinath Temple in Badrinath.
- Yogadhyan Badri: located at Pandukeshwar. It also has an image of Badrinath in meditative posture. Legend has it that King Pandu installed a statue here named Yogadhyan Badri.
- Bhavishya Badri: 17 km (10.6 mi) from Jyotirmath at Subain. Legend says that when evil is on the rise in the world, Badrinath will become inaccessible and Lord Badrinath will appear at the Bhavishya Badri temple. Thus it is the future, or Bhavishya Badri.
- Vridh Badri: 7 km (4.3 mi) from Jyotirmath in Animath. Vridh Badri means 'Old Badri.' Legend says this is where the Badrinath image was originally worshipped, before being enshrined at the current Badrinath.
- Adi Badri: 17 km (10.6 mi) from Karnaprayag. A temple complex consisting of sixteen small temples with intricate carvings houses a three foot black stone statue of Lord Vishnu.
The temple is 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 lie 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. 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.
Vasudhara FallsVasudhara Falls is a waterfall situated near Badrinath, in Uttarakhand, India. Total distance from Badrinath to Vasudhara is 8 KM. It is a 5 km walkable trek from Mana village. Mana village is 3 km road route from Badrinath. The height of this falls is 400 ft(122 mt)
Mana is usually accessible during the same time that the town of Badrinath is open to general public (usually from 2nd week of May to October or November every year*) by road from Badrinath, which in turn is accessible by motor vehicles from Rishikesh, the nearest town serviced by rail transport. Mana village is closely associated with the legendary Pandavas. Vasundhara Falls is about 6 km away from the main town Mana.
- Check the exact dates with a nearby Govt. of India office if you are planning a hike to the region.
Sarasvati Mandir, Bhim Shila and Hindustan ki Antim Dukan (its the final food/water shop) are situated at 1 KM distance from Mana in the way to Vasudhara. Vasudhara Fall is 4 KM trekking route from this temple and small shopping place.
Medicinal value of fall waterIt is proved that water from Alakananda River,(Vasudhara is part of Alakananda) is having medicinal properties after storing for 2 years and its medicinal properties are proved scientifically Traditional Hindus store this water in their house for years and believe using this water for religious practiaces.
Laxmi Van Forest and Satopanth LakeLaxmi van is is a dense forest in the way to Satopanth lake. Camping utilities and cooking equipments are needed to stay here in this forest during night. Its better to consult trekking tour organizers, If you are planning to go so far.
Satopanth lake is 25 KM away from badrinath.
How to reach Badrinath
AirThe nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun 317 km (197 mi) away by road. However, the distance by a helicopter journey is hardly 100 km. There are many providers of helicopter service from Dehradun.
RailwayThe nearest railway stations are at Rishikesh (at 297 km) and Kotdwara (at 327 km). However, Rishikesh is a small railway station not connected by fast trains. Kotdwara is connected by only a few trains. Haridwar railway junction, 24 km farther from Rishikesh, has train connections to most of the major cities in India and is, therefore, the railhead for Badrinath.
RoadBadrinath is reached by national highway NH58 that connects Delhi with Mana Pass in Uttarakhand near Indo-Tibet border. Buses carry pilgrims from New Delhi to Badrinath via Haridwar and Rishikesh in pilgrim season of summer months. Rishikesh is the major starting point for road journey to Badrinath.
Regular buses operate from Rishikesh bus station to Badrinath and start very early before dawn. The last bus from Rishikesh leaves for Badrinath before dawn. The road is narrow after Joshimath and travel is not permitted on the road after sunset. Therefore if one misses the bus for Badrinath at Rishikesh bus station, one has to go only up to Rudraprayag, Chamoli or Joshimath and spent the night there to take the early morning bus for Badrinath from that town.
The road distance from Rishikesh to Badrinath is 293 km (182 mi) via Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Joshimath.
- Delhi to Haridwar 206 km
- Haridwar to Rishikesh 24 km
- Rishikesh to Devprayag 74 km
- Devprayag to Srinagar 34 km
- Srinagar to Rudraprayag 33 km
- Rudraprayag to Karnaprayag 31 km
- Karnaprayag to Nandprayag 21 km
- Nandprayag to Chamoli 10 km
- Chamoli to Joshimath 48 km
- Joshimath to Badrinath 42 km
YamunotriYamunotri (Hindi: यमुनोत्री) is the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna in Hinduism. It is situated at an altitude of 3,293 metres (10,804 ft) in the Garhwal Himalayas and located approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) North of Uttarkashi, the headquarters of the Uttarkashi district in the Garhwal Division of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the four sites in India's Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti (7 km. Away).
The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible; hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself.
The temple of Yamuna, on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna, like the Ganges, has been elevated to the status of a divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
Close to the temple are hot water springs gushing out from the mountain cavities. Surya Kund is the most important kund. Near the Surya Kund there is a shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes, tied in muslin cloth, to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs. Rice so cooked is taken back home as prasadam. The pujaris of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsali near Janki Chatti. They are the administrators of the sacred place and perform religious rites. They are well-versed in the Shastras
History and legendsAccording to the legend ancient, sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. All his life, he bathed daily both in the Ganges and the Yamuna. Unable to go to Gangotri during his old age, a stream of the Ganges appeared opposite Yamunotri for him.
The temple and the place opens every year on the auspicious day of the Akshaya Tritya, which generally falls during the last week of April, or the first week of May. The temple always closes on the sacred day of Diwali in mid-October - first week of November, with a brief ceremony. The temple staff return to their villages and for the rest of the time the valley is gripped in no-man silence and covered with a white sheet of snow. With the melting of the snow next summer, the temple re-opens.
The daughter of the Sun god, Surya and consciousness, Sangya the birthplace of the Yamuna is the Champasar Glacier (4,421 m) just below the Banderpoonch Mountain. The mountain adjacent to the river source is dedicated to her father, and is called Kalind Parvat, Kalind being another name of Surya. Yamuna is known for her frivolousness, a trait that she developed because, according to a common story, Yamuna's mother could never make eye contact with her dazzling husband
Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,235 metres (10,614 ft) in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. The original temple was built by Maharani Guleria of Jaipur in the 19th century. The current temple is of recent origin as earlier constructions have been destroyed by weather and the elements. There seems to be a confusion as to who built the temple of Yamunotri. However according to sources, the temple was originally constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.
Temple and vicinityThe temple opens on Akshaya Tritiya (May) ] and closes on Yama Dwitiya (the second day after Diwali, November) for the winter. A little ahead is the actual source of the river Yamuna which is at an altitude of about 4,421 metres (14,505 ft) approximately. Two hot springs are also present at Yamunotri offering relief to tired hikers at a height of 3,292 metres (10,801 ft), Surya Kund, has boiling hot water, while Gauri Kund, had tepid water suitable for bathing The spring water is said to be hot enough to cook rice and potatoes. Lodging at the temple itself is limited to a few small ashrams and guest-houses. Ritual duties such as the making and distribution of prasad (sanctified offerings) and the supervision of pujas (ritual venerations) are performed by the Uniyal family of pujaris (priests). Unique aspects of ritual practice at the site include hot springs where raw rice is cooked and made into prasad.
HOW TO REACH
- Air: Nearest airport is Jolly Grant.
- Rail: Nearest railhead is at Rishikesh.
- Road: The road to Yamunotri diverts from Rishikesh-Gangotri road at Dharasu.
- Important road distances : Hanumanchatti 13 km; Dharasu 107 km; Tehri 149 km.
Bus Hanumanchatti, the roadhead for Yamunotri is connected by bus services of Samyukt Rotation Yatayat Vyavastha Samiti to Rishikesh, Haridwar and other major centers in the region.
Important road distances : Rishikesh to Yamunotri 222 km via Narendranagar 16 km, Chamba 46 km, Brahmkhal 15 km, Barkot 40 km, Sayanachatti 27 km, Hanumanchatti 6km, Phoolchatti 5 km, Jankichatti 3 km and Yamunotri 6 km.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )