(Printed to fit A3)
The Abode Of Lord Vishnu
Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of the four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank river Alaknanda. With the splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is an important destination on the scared itinerary of every devour Hindu. Once the spot was carpeted with ‘badris’ or wild berries and hence was famous as ‘Badri Van’.
Badrinath is considered the holiest of the four important shrines in Garhwal. The town is at an altitude of 3,133 m. above sea level, situated on the left bank of river Alaknanda and exactly between the two mountains Nara and Narayan. The shrine is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver and falls in the religious itinerary of every devout Hindu.
The present temple was built about two centuries ago by Garhwal Kings. It is a conical structure, 15 m. tall and has small cupola of a gilt bull and spire. There are 15 idols in the temple complex, each sculpted in black stone. The principal idol represents Vishnu in a meditative posture and is flanked by Nara-Narayan. Legend dates it prior to the Vedic age though it is believed to have been re-established by Adi Shankaracharya, an important Hindu saint in 8th century A.D. Some of the other images include Laxmi (Vishnu’s consort), Garud (Vishnu’s mount), Shiva & Parvati and Ganesha.
The temple has been renovated several times due to damages by avalanches. It looks fairly modern now due to the colourful “Singh Dwara” or the main entrance gate. It has three parts- Garbha Griha (the sanctum sanctorum), Darshan Mandap (for pujas) and Shobha Mandap (for devotees to assemble). The revered shrine is still alive with myriad legends from mythology. Its sanctity is emphasised in the ancient scriptures as “There are many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the heavens, earth and the nether world, but there has been none equal to Badri, nor shall there be”.