Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttarakhand State
Mahasu Devta Temple, Uttarakhand
Mahasu Devta Temple is on the eastern bank of Tons River (Tamas) at Hanol village, near Chakrata, about 180 km from Dehradun and 78 km from Mussoorie.
HanolThe name of the village according to the legend was kept after the name of Huna Bhatt, a Brahmin. Earlier the place was known as Chakrapur, and it is said to be the place to which the pandavas escaped from laksha graha or the Lakhmandal on River Yamuna. The village is at an altitude of 1,050 m above M.S.L. on the left bank of River Tons earlier known as River Tamas (meaning short-tempered). No water can be drawn from it for irrigation purposes, because of its precipitous banks and deep gorges. It is for this reason the river is called Karam Nashini. According to the another tradition, the water of River Tons are the tears from the eyes of Bhubruvanan.
The temple village of Hanol is a sort of pilgrimage place for people living in vast areas in the mountainous parts of Uttrakhand, west of Yamuna River, The trans giri area of Sirmaur district and major part of Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh.
Hanol is approachable from Tiuni, a well-known trijunction of roads on the Pabbar River after covering a distance of 15 km on an all-weather motorable road which meanders smoothly through the pine clad mountain slopes. Although the terrain through which the road passes is very narrow and by the another side of road one can see the river tons. Besides his ancient and principal temple at Hanol, Mahasu Devta has number of temples scattered in his deitydom. Besides Hanol temples situated at villages namely Thaina, Basoi and Gabela are regarded as Thans (Abode) of Mahasu. Also the temples dedicated to Mahasu Devta birs (His two deputies) Kaulo and Shedkulia has exclusive temples for them in Tiuni and Raaigi.
A temple of Mahasu Devta is situated at Lakshiyar village, which is 70–80 km far from Dehradun. Number of temples of Mahasu and his brothers are situated at various places of Devghar, Bawar, Sirmour, Jaunsar areas. mahasudevta mandir-lakshiyar
About Mahasu DevtaIn the deitydom, Mahasu Devta is not only the sole arbiter over the mortals, he also reigns supreme over the innumerable indigenous gods and goddesses. He exercises his authority over the religious dispensation of people and secular matters. Disputes among the people are settled through a unique LotaPani adjuration. For this purpose water is ritually filled in a metallic goblet in the name of Mahasu Devta by a neutral person, then the disputants are asked to drink that water in the name of Mahasu Devta. The party who has given the false statement suffers on drinking the water.
The age-old theocratic governance of Mahasu Devta, although acceptable to people and local rulers, was not taken kindly by the British authority. One of their officers, Major Young, found the authority of Mahasu Devta 'a great nuisance'. During land settlement of the territory under the British control in AD 1827 he felt that the traditional twelve-year sojourning of Mahasu (the Chalda Mahasu) with his large entourage to deitydom was extremely burdensome and exploitative to common people. To check the practice, Young passed a summary order in Kalsi in an assembly of the Senyanas banishing the Chalda Mahasu and his deputy attendants (birs) from Jaunsar and Bawar parangna. That order, however, did not have lasting effect because the people regarded the Rohru tehsil for his verdict. The deity decision is always regarded as final and irrevocable.
Mahasu Devta is very touchy about the disposal of gold or gold ornaments by anyone of his subject to outsiders. The person involved in such offence may suffer the loss of property, a serious disease, or even life until he gets it back intact. However, that does not absolve the defaulter from the crime. As a punishment the defaulter is obliged to deposit the article in the treasury of deity. Therefore the people in the deitydom have to be very careful about the transaction of silver and gold articles outside his realm. It is believed that the bullion in the Mahasudom, even if in the possession of people, belongs to the deity. If such gold goes outside his deitydom the person doing so provokes the ire of Mahasu Devta.
LegendsMahasu Devta appears in quadruple form as the four brothers. The legend tells when Krishna disappeared at the end of DwaparYuga the pandavas followed him. They cross the River Tons. Yudhishtra was fascinated by the beauty of place and asked Vishwakarma to build a temple here and stay with Draupadi for nine days. The place subsequently came to known as Hanol, after the name of Huna Bhatt.
At the start of Kaliyuga demons wandered over Uttrakhand devouring people and devastating villages. The greatest demon was Kirmir who had devoured all the seven sons of a pious-hearted Brahmin named Huna Bhatt. Demon cast an evil eye and desired to have the Kirtaka wife of the Brahmin; she prayed to Lord Shiva to protect her chastity. Lord Shiva blinded Kirmir and thus she could run away to her husband. They then prayed to Hatkeshwari Devi of Hatkoti (ashtbhuji Durga) who advised the couple to go to the Kashmir mountains and offer prayer to Lord Shiva to help. They did, and Lord Shiva granted them their wish that all the evils will be killed shortly.
Huna Bhatt was told to go back to his home and perform certain rituals and worship devi. On doing so the shakti emerged from the ground with flames around and told Huna Bhatt to plough every Sunday a part of his field with a plough of solid silver with a shoe of pure gold having yoked a pair of bullocks who had never been put on yoke before. On the seventh Sunday the Mahasu brothers with their ministers and the army will come out and rid the people from the clutches of demon. Huna Bhatt did accordingly, but on sixth Sunday when he had turned on five furrows out of each sprang a deity from the first came Botha from second Pavasi, out of third Vasik and Chalda from the fourth one. All the brothers were called by a common affix of Mahasu (Char Mahasu). From the fifth furrow appeared their heavenly mother Devladli Devi and their ministers. Countless army sprang out like mushrooms from the field. Huna Bhatt did as directed and the whole army of the demon was killed by Mahasu brothers. Kirmir was taken by Chalda Devta in a ravine of Mount Khanda. The marks of his sword on the rock can be seen today.
During the absence of the Mahasu brothers, demon Keshi took control of Hanol. Chalda Devta and his warriors Shitkulia, Kaolu and others set out with the army to the mountains of Masmor where Keshi had gone. The demon was killed; Chalda Devta returned jubilantly to visit with his heroes the places named by him. He divided the country among the brothers so that they may rule their respective territory and guard against calamities of all the people who would worship them as god and perform jagara.
However, a mistake erupted the in venture of the Mahasu brothers. In the beginning, Mahasu Devta had pledged their word to Huna Bhatt that they would appear on the seventh Sunday. Since they arrived a week earlier, the Mahasu brothers were hurt by the blade of Huna Bhatt's plough — he was in the field unaware of their untimely arrival. As a result Botha was hurt in the knee and became unable to walk. Vasik's eye was damaged by the blade of grass which impaired his vision. Pavasi had a small piece cut out of his ear. Only Chalda and Devladli Mata remained unhurt. Thereafter Botha preferred to settle within his temple at Hanol on the right bank of river tons. Pavasi keep moving over his domain and spend years turn by turn at Hanol, Lakhmandal, Authana and Uttarkashi. Chalda, being sound of limb, was to exercise away in the whole dominion in the Botha Mahasu name — twelve years on end he roamed among his subjects.
Each of four deities has a bir (attendant). They are Kapala, Kaolu, Kailath and Shitkulia. All the birs have balyayinis (female helpers).
Jagara of Lord MahasuThe Jagara celebrated for Lord Mahasu is quintessential to his cult and is unheard of outside his deitydom. Held in the month of Bhadon on the eve of Naga chauth (Bhadraprada shukla chaturtha), i.e., the fourth day of the bright half. This day is very important because the lord appeared from the ground on that day. On this occasion, during the day the mohras images are ritually bathed and carried ceremoniously duly wrapped in the folds of a sheet of cloth. These are soiled by an ominous sight. No one is allowed to be near the image as the deity may feel offended and curse the defaulter. After the rituals the images are consigned to the altar for none to see, and one of them is kept in a palanquin for the consummation of ceremonies during the day. By sunset that image is also taken inside the temple and placed on the altar with others.
As the night falls, a tall, straight pole cut from a kail (blue pine) tree is planted firmly on the ground. On it a flag of deity is hoisted. Another pole of similar tree of much shorter length having number of forking branches is taken. Its branches are chopped off at about half of meter from the stem so that a large squarish slate can be securely placed over the branches. This is called chira. The goat reserved for the deity is brought near the altar and offered to the deity by sprinkling water over it. If the animal shivers (bijana), it signals acceptance by the deity.
As night gets darker, the men and women team around with the burning torches of resinous wood in their hands. They dance in a circle around chira. The fire keeps on burning on chira with more fuel fed to it throughout the night. Dancing and singing continues around the chira throughout the night on the beat of Nagaras and other instruments. At times people, people fall from the circle and more take their places so that chain is never broken. At times, a man or two would drop from the circle being possessed by deity or his deputy (shedkulia) starts shouting and crying in frenzy of divine afflatus.
In the Mahabharata eraDuring the Mahabharat era, King Duryodhana came to Purola after traveling through Kullu and Kashmir. Duryodhana liked Purola so much that he decided to reside there. He prayed to Mahasu Devta for a piece of land. The deity accepted his pleas and made him the king of the area. King Duryodhana made Jakholi his capital village and constructed Mahasu Devta Temple. In medieval time the great Mughal emperor Akbar made frequent visits to the temple.
Shaant Festival at Hanol (May 2004)A festival of shaant was held at Hanol, the principal seat of Botha Mahasu, from 22 May 2004 to 26 may 2004. There are three main types of ceremonies, namely khura shau (one hundred legs of animals sacrificed), munda shau (one hundred heads of animals sacrificed) and singhaan shau (one head of lon or at least representative a cat). This festival which was observed on may 2004 at hanol in which twenty-five goats are required to be sacrificed, twenty five is the minimum number of goats that can be sacrificed. Khura shau ceremonies locally called as shaant festivals are held after several years in the habitats where the tradition of such ceremonies is continuing since past.The second type of shaant ceremony Munda Shau is difficult to arrange in comparison to Khura shau as it involves hundred heads of animals. The shaant festival held at hanol in Jaunsar-Bawar region in Uttarakhand was arranged after about one hundred years. About fifty-two village gods(Gram Devtas) attended the shaant festival.
According to Pandit Devi Ram of Maneoti, tehsil chopal,who was among the pandits performing puja during the ceremony, told the eleven pandits conducted the puja during the ceremony in the temple for five days. According to him,the decision of stopping the practice of offering goats to the deities was taken in the ceremony and all the participating deities and their representatives (Vazirs), Excepting Shedkulia of Fateh Parvat in Uttarakhand,consented to stop sacrificial practices in their temples. Two other important decisions arrived at the ceremony (1) To allow entry of ladies in the temple,(2) To stop the practice of sacrificing animals in name of village gods
Mahasu Devta fairMahasu Devta fair is held every year in August. It is the most important religious fair of the local tribe. Basically Mahasu Devta fair at Hanol is celebrated by the Jaunsari tribe and people of other communities join them. This fair depicts the cultural harmony between the communities.
There is a deity idol inside the temple known as Chalta Mahasu. During the fair, this deity is taken out in procession. Large crowds walk on the both sides. The prayers are continued for three days and nights. They are accompanied by music and folk dance mainly performed by locals and people from nearby villages. The musicians and folk dancers from dehradun and nearby districts comes to participate in this fair.
The materials for performing rituals (like havan, etc.) are provided by the Government of India. Since the Mahasu Devta fair at Hanol is local, the majority of the people come from nearby districts of Uttarkashi, Tehri, Saharanpur, etc.
Mahasu Devta fair at Hanol is the best venue to view the cultural heritage and traditions of local tribes.
Palanquins of Mahasu DevtaThe palanquins of Mahasu Devta is generally of roof type-Box type design.In roof type-box type palanquins,the deity's image (Murti or Muharas) is hidden inside the box. Usually made up of silver and sometimes inlaid with gold,both the box and the roof are typically ornamented with repousse images of Shiva,Ganesha,Krishna,The Pandavas and Kauravas and Gopis. The placement of silver parasol at the peak of the roof and the four ball at each of the corner of the box reproduces the mandallic geometry of centre and four directions,the
visual signature of world-ordering sovereignty gives visual form to Mahasu's paramount status as "king of the gods" (Hindi: (देवो का राजा)). A woven silver cummerbund tied around the box, through which the deity's sword is slung, indicates the palanquin's anthropomorphic construction as the martial body of a demon-slaying ruler
Architectural aspects of temple
Architecturally Mahasu Devta Temple at Hanol is one of the rarest examples of perfect and harmonious blend of stone and wooden structure to form one composite grand edifice. The sanctum proper is a pure stone shikhara in classical naga style. The whole wooden structure is covered with a high pitched slated pent roof surmounted by a two-tiered conical canopy over it on which a gracefully tapered kalash pinnacle stands. The roof ends and the projection of balcony are ornamented with danging fringes a pendent corner bells which sway with the slightest movement of breeze.The stone built classical sanctum sanctorum enshrines many mohras and one bronze image. Those in front row from left to right are Chalda Mahasu (the Mahasu who keeps on moving), Devladli Devi (mother of Mahasu Devta), Kapala Bir (one of the four birs (attendants) of Mahasu Devta), and Shedkuliya (the attendant who emits the whistling sound). Behind them in the preceding order are Pavasi Devta, Kailu (a bir), Natari (polyandrous wife of four Mahasu brothers). All the face images are seated in a middle a small bronze image which is regarded as Botha Mahasu.
Entry to sanctum is restricted strictly for others except the pujari. Even he is required to undergo ritual ablution every time he enters the celestial realms; the tradition pujari of temple is a Brahmin. He is not supposed to eat meat, only eat food once a day, avoid proximity with other persons during the term of his deity as pujari.
In front of sanctum is a large room which functions as an extension to the sanctum where sacramental objects are stored. This room is called Bhandar. Entry to this room is restricted to Brahmins only. The gilded door of the bhandar is very interesting. It surface is profusely embossed with human and animal figures in a very bold manner depicting the episodes associated with the birth of Mahasu Devta. The door frame is intensively covered with coins nailed over one another through years but non of them are numismatic interest and range from recent past. The lion head is fitted with a gold brass ring that serves as a handle. Such ornamental door are common in temple near east of satluj. In front of the vestibule is a sabha mandap followed by an open frontal portico. All the four apartments of this temple are roofed separately. Vestibule and bhandar have a combined three-tiered pent roof with pyramid canopy. The frontal porch has a gable roof over it supported by two wooden pillars with an intermediate ornamental arch.
Unique aspects of templeThe most unusual aspect of the temple is the two spherical rocks about one foot in diameter. The fun part is to lift these rocks on your shoulder and head and then throw them to the ground. It is believed that only a pious-hearted person can only lift up these rocks.
The hanging of trophies on the temple wall is the another unique aspect. Matches are played between teams of local gods. On winning, the trophy is awarded and hanged on the interior walls.
On the premises one can notice numerous sheep roaming. It is believed that whatever one wishes in this temple, Mahasu Devta fulfills it, provided that on the fulfillment one has to bring a certain number of sheep to Mahasu Devta Temple. After prayers the sheep are set free to roam on the premises.
Legend of Chaturmukha NagaMahasu Devta has to yield before the another powerful deity: the Chaturmukha Naga of the Kotgarh-Khaneti area of the Satluj valley in the Simla district. It is said that Chaturmukha Naga happened to be the guest of the Mahasu Devta at Hanol while he was returning from pilgrimage of Kedarnath. The door attendant of Mahasu Devta, Shirpal, harassed the deity and his attendant during the night and they had to spend a sleepless night at Hanol. The Chaturmukha Naga took exception to the misconduct of that attendant. He made his displeasure known to Mahasu Devta and caused a man with his bullock yoked to a plough ram into his temple. Mahasu Devta begged for mercy, but Chaturmukh Naga can only be calmed down after the offender was surrendered to him as a captive. Shirpal later earned the confidence of Chaturmukh Naga who made him his wazir.
Pavasi Devata TemplePavasi Devta is the second brother of Mahasu Devta. The Pavasi Devta Temple is just across the River Tons on a hillock. The temple is about 2 km from Mahasu Devta Temple. A road from Mahasu Devta Temple goes one km downward toward the suspension bridge at the river. On crossing, one enters Thadiyar, a small village in Uttarkashi district. Then footpath goes up the hill about 1 km to reach Pavasi Devta Temple.
AccommodationThe Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam guest house is the reasonable and comfortable accommodation option at Hanol. It has five rooms and a dormitory. Accommodation is also available on the premises of the templ
AccessibilityThe Mahasu Devta Temple is about 180 km from Dehradun via Chakrata. It takes about seven hours from this route. The road is narrow and difficult during rainy season. Another route to reach this temple is via Mussoorie, Purola, Naugaon. This route is much better than the former one and takes approximately the same time to reach. The temple is also connected to Shimla via Chaupal and via Jubbal.
The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun. The nearest railway terminus is also at Dehradun.
Best time to visitIn summer (March to May) The climate is very pleasant. Most of the pilgrims visit temple during this time.
In the rainy season (July to September) there is mild rainfall. Most of the roads are slippery during this season.
In winter (November to February) the weather is chilly
Places to See
5 kms from Chakrata by foot, it is a beautiful water fall, falling from a height of 50 mts.converging into a small pond which creates an enchanting effect in the scenic surroundings. It is in the north east of Chakrata and is at a height of 1395 mts above sea level. Roaring, gushing water, thickly forest and a beautiful view makes it an ideal place for enchanting outing.
16 Kms away from Chakrata this place is surrounded by dense forests and lies at an altitude of 9,500 ft. It provides a panoramic view of the majestic Himalayan ranges.
At a distance of 26 kms situated near Chakrata and 105 kms from Dehradun on Chakrata-Tyuni motorable road, surrounded by high peaks and dense rain forests the place is ideal for tourists. A forest Rest House in the picturesque surroundings is available for accommodation.
ChakrataChakrata is a cantonment town in Dehradun district in the state of Uttarakhand, India.
It is situated between the Tons and Yamuna rivers, at an elevation of 7000–7250 feet, 98 km from state capital, Dehradun, it was originally a cantonment of British Indian Army. Due west lies Himachal Pradesh, and due east are Mussoorie (73 km), Garhwal.
Local attractionsChakrata can be reached from Dehradun via Mussoorie or Vikasnagar. Both routes pass through beautiful mountainous road. Travelling in the monsoon can be quite tricky as the area sees frequent road blockages due to landslides.
The area has an abundance of conifers, rhododendrons and oaks. The red rhododendrons are the most abundantly found in this region. A key attraction near Chakrata is the waterfall named Tiger Fall. A secluded -nearby, leafy hamlet of Deoban offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas stretching from Kinnaur to Garhwal and Kumaon.
The region also has a number of temples including ones at Hanol, Mahasu Devta Temple dedicated to Lord Mahasu (Though this is still a topic of discussion that Lord Mahasu is Lord Mahashiva or Lord Ramchnadra), Radina, Thaina, Indroli, Lakhwar, and Lakhamandal, on the banks of river Yamuna, known for its ancient Shiva Temple, which traces its existence to the legends of Mahabharata, the village also has several natural caves.
The alpine meadows of Mundali (2776 mts.), offers skiing opportunities, November to April.
There are approx. 2-3 basic private hotels in Chakrata, and some dhabas. Petrol and diesel are hard to come by (for civilians), but can be obtained in small quantities from local traders. The most famous hotel of chakrata is Hotel Himalayan Paradise and Hotel Snow View(estd 1936).
Sapta Badri, Uttarakhand
Sapta Badri (Sanskrit: सप्त-बद्री) constitutes a group of seven sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to god Vishnu, located in Garhwal Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Badrinath temple (बद्रीनाथ), called the Badri-vishal (बद्री-विशाल) (altitude 3,133 m (10,279 ft)) is the primary temple among the seven shrines, followed by six others, namely, Adi Badri (आदि-बद्री), Vridha Badri (वृध-बद्री), Dhyan Badri (ध्यान-बद्री), Ardha Badri (अर्ध-बद्री), Bhavishya Badri (भविष्य-बद्री) and Yogadhayan Badri (योगध्यान-बद्री). The Panch Badri (पंच-बद्री) temple circuit consisted of only five temples, omitting Ardha Badri and Dhyan Badri or sometimes Vridha Badri. Rarely, Narasingh Badri (नृसिंह-बद्री) is included in the Sapta Badri or Panch Badri list.
The abode of Vishnu in the Alaknanda river valley, starting from Satapanth about 24 kilometres (15 mi) above Badrinath extending up to Nandprayag in the south, is particularly known as the Badri-Kshetra in which all the Badri temples are located. Since the early times, approach to the main temple of Badrinath was only along a bridle path passing through badri van or (forest of berries). Thus, the word "Badri", meaning "berries", is suffixed to the names of all the Sapta Badri (seven) temples.
The main shrine of Badrinath is well connected by road and air but is closed during the winter season due to snow conditions, from October–November to April–May depending on the astrological dates fixed by the Temple Committee; the Raj Purohit (Royal priest) decides the auspicious day for opening the temple patak (doors) on Vasant Panchami day in end of April/early May while the closing day is Vijayadashami day in October/November. The other six temples are located in villages, largely in remote locations. A few of them can be approached only by trekking along bridle paths.
BadrinathBadrinath is the northern Dham of the four sacred Dhams (pilgrimage centres) called Char Dham. Though the Badrinath temple is believed to date to the Vedic period, the current structure was built in the 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya. The other three dhams are Rameshwaram in the south, Dwarka in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east; all three temples, except Rameshwaram, are dedicated to god Vishnu. Adi Shankara’s basic intention was to unite the country under the banner of Hinduism. The temple, which had been subjected to damage due to snow avalanches and landslides, several times in the past, was last restored in the 19th century with the royal patronage of the Scindias and Holkars. Badrinath is also part of Chota Char Dham, four sacred temples in Uttarakhand. The others include the Shiva temple of Kedarnath and the sources of the holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna.
The Badrinath legend states that Vishnu (Mahavishnu), did penance in an open space at the location of the Badrikashram or Badrinath. His consort Lakshmi (Maha-lakshmi) created shelter for him in the form of Badri tree (berry tree) to protect him from adverse climatic conditions. The sage Narada did penance here, and is believed to continue to do so to this day by reciting the divine chants called Ashta Akshara mantras (eight lettered hymns). Narada was also informed by Vishnu that his divine form subsumed both Nara and Narayana. According to the scripture Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram (Badrinath) 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." (3.4.22)
The layout of the temple has three enclosures namely, the Garbhagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum), the Darshan Mandap (worship hall) and Sabha Mandap (Conference hall). The sanctum holds the central image of Badri-narayana (Vishnu), which is made in black stone and 1 metre (3.3 ft) in height. The four-armed Vishnu holds the Shankh (Conch) and Sudarshana Chakra (discus) in two arms in a raised posture and the other two arms rest on the lap in Yogamudra (meditative pose). The images of religious leaders Adi Shankara, Swami Vedanta Desikan and Ramanujacharya are also worshipped here.
In the sanctum, to the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Narada is kneeling in front on the right side and is difficult to see. On the left side is Kubera, the god of wealth. Garuda, Vishnu's vehicle is kneeling in front, to the left of Badri-narayana. Wings at the entrance are adorned with images of Hanuman, the monkey-god and a silver Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. In the enclosure (prakara) surrounding the temple, a small shrine is dedicated to Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort. Nambudiri Brahmins from southern state of Kerala serve as head priests here.
The Adi Badri (Karnaprayag (confluence of Pindar River and Alaknanda River in Chamoli district. Seven temples of this chain were built during the late Gupta period (5th century to 8th century). According to tradition, Adi Shankara is attributed as builder of all the temples. Adi Shankara is believed to have sanctioned these temples in order to spread Hinduism to every remote part of the country. In ancient times, when approach to the main shrine of Badrinath was closed due to weather conditions, pilgrims worshipped Vishnu at this temple. Adi Badri, also known as Helisera according to revenue records, is a tiny temple complex enclosed within a space of 14 metres (46 ft) X 30 metres (98 ft). The height of the temples vary from 2–6 metres (6.6–20 ft). The chief temple is dedicated to god Vishnu, which is built over a raised platform, with a small enclosure in a pyramidal form. The sanctum holds black stone 1 metre (3.3 ft) image of Vishnu. The image depicts Vishnu holding a mace, lotus and chakra (discus). Brahmins from South India serve as chief priests in the temple. ) the first temple complex among the Sapta Badri temples is an ancient shrine dedicated to Vishnu and is one among a chain of 16 small shrines located in the hill ranges 17 kilometres (11 mi), beyond
Adi Badri is located 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Chandpur fort or Garhi located on the hilltop, which was built by the Gurkha kings to fight the British. Adi Badri is an hour's drive from Karnaprayag and close to Chulakot on the way to Ranikhet. On shifting of Badrinath (also known as Raj Badri) to Bhavishya Badri, Adi Badri will be called the Yog Badri.
Vridha BadriVridha Badri - also spelled as Vriddha Badri or Bridha Badri - an austere shrine, is located in the Animath village ( 1,380 m (4,530 ft), above sea level) 7 km (4.3 mi), from Joshimath on the Rishikesh–Joshimath-Badrinath road. The Vridha Badri legend says that Vishnu appeared in the form of a Vridha or old man before sage Narada who performed penance here. Thus, the idol installed at this temple is in the form of an old man.
According to legend, the image of Badrinath was carved by the divine craftsman Vishwakarma and worshipped here. At the advent of Kali yuga, Vishnu chose to remove himself from this place, later Adi Shankara found the partly damaged image in Narad-kund pond and established it at the central Badrinath shrine. According to legend, Badrinath was worshipped here by Adi Shankara, before his enshrinement at the Badrinath temple. The temple is open throughout the year. Brahmins from South India serve as chief priests in the temple.
Bhavishya BadriBhavishya Badri, also spelt as Bhabisya Badri, 2,744 metres (9,003 ft), above sea level) is located in a village called Subhain at a distance of 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Joshimath, beyond Tapovan and approach is through dense forest, only by trekking. It is situated on an ancient pilgrim route to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar, along the Dhauli Ganges River. It is situated on the way from Tapovan to Lata in the Niti valley. Bhavishya Badri is connected by a motorable road to Saldhar,19 kilometres (12 mi), from Joshimath, beyond which a 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) trek is undertaken to reach the shrine.
According to the legend of Bhavishya Badri (literally "Badri of the future"), when evil transcends the world, the mountains of Nara and Narayana would block up the route to Badrinath and the sacred shrine would become inaccessible. The present world will be destroyed and a new one established. Then, Badrinath will appear at the Bhavishya Badri temple and be worshipped here, instead of the Badrinath shrine. The shrine of Narasingh Badri at Joshimath is closely associated with the legend of Bhavishya Badri (see section below). Currently, the Bhavishya Badri has an image of Narasimha, the lion-faced incarnation of Vishnu.
Yogadhyan BadriYogadhyan Badri, also called Yoga Badri, is located at Pandukeshwar ( Pandukeshwar is located on route from Govind Ghat to Hanuman Chatti, 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) away from Hanuman Chatti. Legend has it that King Pandu, father of the five Pandavas - heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, meditated here to god Vishnu to cleanse him of the sin of killing of two mating deer, who were ascetics in their previous lives. The Pandavas were also born here and Pandu died and attained salvation here. Pandu is believed to have installed the bronze image of Vishnu in the Yogadhyan Badri shrine. The image is in a meditative posture and thus the image is called Yoga-dhyan (mediative) Badri. The idol is life size and has been carved from Shaligram stone. According to legend, the Pandavas, after defeating and killing their cousins Kauravas in the Mahabharata war, came here to repent. They handed their kingdom of Hastinapur to their grandson Parikshit and went to perform penance in the Himalayas. ) at the elevation of 1,829 metres (6,001 ft), close to Govind Ghat and is as ancient as the main Badrinath temple.
Copper plate inscriptions found here indicate rule by early Katyuri Rajas and the region was known as Panchal Desh, now officially designated as Uttarakhand. One inscription extols the grant of land given by King Nimbarana. Another historic location is the Suryakund, on top of Milam glacier, which is a hot water spring, where Kunti - mother of Pandavas gave birth to her illegitimate son Karna, fathered by the sun-god Surya. Kunti was married to Pandu at Pandukeshwar.
Yogdhyan Badri is also considered the winter abode for the Utsava-murti (festival-image) of Badrinath, when the temple of Badrinath is closed. Hence, it is religiously ordained that a pilgrimage will not be complete without offering prayers at this place. Bhatts (priests) from South India serve as chief priests in the temple.
Dhyan BadriDhyan Badri (2,135 metres (7,005 ft), above sea level) is located in the Urgam valley, close to Kalpeshwar ( ) on the banks of river Alaknanda. It can be reached from Helang Chatti by a 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) trek en route to Joshimath from Badrinath. The legend of Dhyan Badri (meditating Badri) is linked to the Urvarishi, son of King Puranjaya of the Pandavas lineage who meditated in the Urgam region and established the temple for Vishnu. The image of Vishnu is four-armed, made of black stone and in a mediatative posture. There is also a temple to god Shiva built by Adi Shankara Kalpeshwar, one of the Panch Kedar sacred temple of Shiva, is situated 2 kilometres (1.2 mi), away. The temple is sometimes included in the Panch-Badri list. Brahmins from South India serve as head priests in the temple.
Ardha BadriArdha Badri, located on the Joshimath-Tapovan road is in a remote village and can be approached only by trekking along a steep bridle path. As the size of the idol is small, the temple is called Ardha Badri (literal meaning half Badri).
Narasingh BadriThe existing temple of Narasimha (Narasingh) at Joshimath ( ), also called as Narasingh Badri or Narasimha Badri, is closely linked to the Bhavishya Badri legend, even though usually it is regarded as not one of the famous Panch Badri or Sapta Badri. Sometimes, it may be included in the Sapta-Badri list instead of Ardha-Badri or Panch-Badri list instead of Dhyan Badri.
The chief image of Narasimha is made out of the Shaligram stone, in the eighth century during the reign of king Lalitaditya Yukta Pida of Kashmir. Some believe the image is self-manifested (swayambhu). The image is 10 inches (25 cm) high and depicts the god sitting in the lotus position.
It is believed that one arm of the image is getting emaciated with time and finally fall off. When the arm disappears, the main shrine of Badrinath will be closed to the world and Lord Badrinath will shift to Bhavishya Badri shrine. With this cataclysmic event, Kali yuga will end ushering in the Satya yuga. Then the Badrinath shrine would get re-established. When the chief Badrinath shrine is closed in winter, the priests of Badrinath shift to this temple and continue their worship to Badrinath here. Along with the central Narasimha image, the temple also has an image of Badrinath.
AccessWhile some shrines are approached by motorable roads, others are approachable from the nearest road head by trekking, on the Rishikesh-Badrinath main State Highway. The nearest airport to the Sapta Badri is Jolly Grant Airport close to Rishikesh, but 25 kilometres (16 mi) to Dehradun. Motorable road distance to the seven shrines from Rishikesh are: to Badrinath - 299 kilometres (186 mi); Yogdhyan Badri-277 km (172 mi), 23 kilometres (14 mi) short of Badrinath); Adi Badri - 200 kilometres (120 mi) up to Karnaprayag and a further deviation on the Ranikhet road for17 kilometres (11 mi) to reach the shrine; Dhyan Badri - 299 kilometres (186 mi) to Badrinath and a further trek of 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) en route to Joshimath; Vridha Badri - 7 km (4.3 mi) trek from Joshimath; Bhavishya Badri - 280 kilometres (170 mi) up to Siladhar by road and further trek of 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) to the shrin
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )