Badrinath

The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu's dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Krishna, addressing Arjuna, says, "Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years."
Badrinath has been mentioned as a holy place in scriptures and legends for thousands of years. According to the Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram the supreme being (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." 
One 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.
Badrinath located at 30°44′N 79°29′E30.73°N 79.48°E, has an average elevation of 3,415 metres (11,204 feet). It is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m). Badrinath is located 293 km north of Rishikesh. 
Badrinath was re-established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally 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 because of 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. The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) 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. 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 mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini - literally, the 'Ascent to Heaven'. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.
General Information
Nearest Airport : Jolly Grant 316 Km.
Nearest Rail : Rishikesh 293 Km. / Kotdwar 320 km.
Road : Badrinath is well connected by road and approx. 293 km. from Rishikesh & Approx. 320 km. from Kotdwar. Badrinath is reached by National Highway NH58 (Connecting Delhi - Mana Village). 
Accommodation : Tourist Rest House, Temple Committee Guest, Private Hotels, lodges and DharamShalas are available.
Places to Visit:
Tapt Kund
Tapt kund is a natural hot water pool fed by a sulphur spring which is said to be the abode of Agni, the god of fire. It is customary to bathe before entering Sri Badrinath temple. This water has a temperature of 130 degrees C. To the left of this pool is the Surya Kund fed by a branch of the same thermal spring. These waters are said to be very nourishing to the body. The Alakananda flows swiftly just below these kunds and the boiling water falls into the icy waters of the river giving rise to clouds of steam.
Panch Dharas in Badrinath 
The Panch Dharas (five streams) which are famous in Badrinath are Prahlad, Kurma, Bhrigu, Urvashi & Indira dhara. The most striking of these is the Indira dhara, about 1.5 km north of the town Badaripuri. Bhrigudhara flows past a number of caves. The one on the right of river Rishi Ganga, originally from the Neelkanth range is Urvashi dhara. Kurma dhara water is extremely cold whereas Prahlad dhara has lukewarm water, which glides majestically down the rocks of Narain Parvat.
Panch Shilas
Around the Tapt Kund there are five blocks of mythological importance called Narad, Narsimh, Barah, Garur & Markandeya Shilas (stone). Standing between Tapt and Narad Kund is conical formed Narad Shila. It is said that the sage Narad meditated on this rock for several years. Standing in the waters of Alaknanda just below the Narad Shila is a huge stone looking like a lion with its gaping jaws and hooked claws. It is said that Bhagwan Narsimh after killing the demon King Hiranyakashyapa remained in the shape of a block of stone forever.
Near the Narad Kund the Barah Shila has the shape of boar. Barah is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Garur Shila near the Tapt Kund had Garur (the carrier of Vishnu) fasted & meditated on this stone. Sage Markandeya on the advice of Narad left Mathura to meditate here in Badarivan and attained ultimate peace. Markandeya Shila is the stone on which the Sage meditated.
Narad Kund
A recess in the river, near Tapt Kund, forming a pool from where the Badrinath idol was recovered. 
It is sheltered by a projecting rock which breaks the force of the river and allows people to bathe in it. Adi Shankaracharya knew this by his great powers and retrieved the idol from this pool. He is the one who has laid down the rules by which the Lord is to be worshipped. He decreed that the Rawal or chief priest of the temple should come from the state of Kerala, far down south. He also decreed that the chief priest of the temple of Rameswaram in the south, should be from the state of Garhwal. Thus he ensured that there was a good interchange between the north and south of this holy land. This tradition is followed to this day and the Rawal of Badrinath is always a Namboodiri Brahmin from Kerala, the land of Adi Shankara’s birth.
Brahma Kapal
To the north of Sri Badrinath temple is the spot known as Brahma Kapal where Lord Brahma is said to reside. Ceremonies for departed souls are performed here. In a quest to ensure a heavenly abode for the dead ancestors, the shradh ceremony (propitiating rites) or the offering of pind is an important part of Hindu rituals. After offering pind here, it is believed, the spirits of the dead are permanently enshrined in Heaven and no more pinds are to be offered elsewhere. The Brahma Kapal, on the bank of the Alaknanda is a flat platform a few yards north of the temple. Legend has it that when Shiva chopped off the fifth head of Brahma, it got stuck to his trident. Lastly with the blessing of Lord Vishnu at Badarivan, the head of Brahma fell down from the trident at this place & hence the name Brahma-Kapal (head).
Sheshnetra
1.5 km away is a boulder having an impression of the legendary snake, better known as the Sheshnag’s eye (Shesh meaning Sheshnag and Netra meaning eye).
Charanpaduka 
3 km away is a beautiful meadow carpeted with wild flowers in the summer. Here is a boulder bearing the footprints of Lord Vishnu. It is said that when Lord Vishnu descended from Vaikunth (the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu) he stepped on this boulder. The area is a steep climb from the town and is full of caves & boulders. 
Byas Gupha
Vyas Gupha is a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.
Mata Murli Mandir 
Mata Murli Mandir is 3 km from Badrinath, on the bank of the Alaknanda. The temple is dedicated to the mother of Shri Badrinathji. An annual fair is held in the month of September in the temple.
Mana Village 
Mana Village a tribal village 4 km from Badrinath, is mostly inhabited by the Bhotias. This last Indian village on the Indo-Tibetan border is the base point for journeyes Ganesh Gufa, to Vyas Gufa, Bhimpul and Vasundhara Falls.

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