Badrinath Char Dham Pilgrimage
Badrinath temple is in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand state in India. Badrinath is one among the four pilgrimage sites of the Char Dham Pilgrimage; the other three being Dwarka (in Gujarat state), Puri Jagannath (in Odissa Sate), and Rameshwaram (in Tamilnadu State). These Char Dham sites are must-visit places in one’s lifetime for Hindus to attain Moksha (eternal freedom).
Geographically, the Char Dham pilgrimage temples make a perfect square with Badrinath (North) and Rameswaram (South) falling on the same longitude and Dwarka (West) and Puri (East) on the same latitude, representing the farthest points of India existed during the time of Seer Adi Sankaracharya who defined these Char Dham temples. (Over the last centuries, the coastline has changed a little).
Badrinath temple is a holy Vaishnavite temple at a height of more than 11100 feet above sea level. It is referred to as a holy place in many of the old scripture books. ‘Adi Shankara’ re-established Badrinath as a holy pilgrimage center in the 9th century when he visited this temple and found a black stone of Lord Badrinarayan from the river nearby.
The temple has undergone renovations many a time and the last one was by the Jaipur King in the 18th century.
The temple will be closed anytime during October or November; once snowfall starts. It will be closed for the next 6 months or so. The temple re-opens once “Akhand Jyothi” at the nearby Joshimath or Jyotirmath is observed.
Abisheka Puja and Vishnu Sahasthra Nama puja are the main pujas at this temple. (Puja means the act of worship.)
Unlike other temples, the deity at Badrinath temple is covered with a blanket!
The head priest at this temple is known as Rawal. Rawal is traditionally chosen from the Nambudiri caste. (Brahmin community in Kerala state is known as Nambudiri.) Eswari Prasad Nambudiri from Payannur near Kannur in Kerala is the Rawal from 2014. Rawal should be a bachelor.
Rawal is also the head of Adi Shankara Adwaitha Foundation headed at Badrinath. He is also the head of the village to which the temple belongs.
Unlike other temple priests, Rawal at the Badrinath temple wears a special type of coat. Temple priests in India normally does not wear a shirt or dress for the upper part of the body, while conducting rituals.
How do I Go to Badrinath Char Dham Pilgrimage Site?
Rishikesh at around 300 kilometers is the nearest railway had to Badrinath temple. NH 58 connects Badrinath with Rishikesh, New Delhi, etc. Regular bus services from Rishikesh to Badrinath. There are no buses to Badrinath after sunset as the road is narrow after Joshimath or Jyotirmath. It is very dangerous to travel at night. You can travel up to Joshimath and stay there (by other modes of transport) if you miss the last bus.
Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun is the nearest airport at 315 kilometers which is well connected to New Delhi International and Domestic airport.
The temple is at around 20 kilometers from the China border and the area is totally under the control of the Indian military.