Badrinath Temple ( Uttarakhand)
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Badrinath Dham is one of the oldest Hindu places of worship. On the right bank of the river Alaknanda lies the sacred shrine perched at an altitude of 3133 m above sea level, guarded on either side by the two mountain peaks Nar & Narain with the towering Neelkanth peak providing a splendid back-drop. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu. Once the spot was carpeted with ‘badris’ or wild berries and hence was famous as ‘Badri Van’. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is built in the form of a cone with a small cupola of a gilt bull & spire. Legend dates the temple prior to the vedic age and the original temple is believed to be built by King Pururava and the icon of the lord carved by Vishwakarma, the craftsman of the gods. A Hindu reformist Adi Shankaracharya re-enshrined the temple back in the 8th century.
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Badrinath, the seat of the god Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayan, is the most important of the four sites in India’s Char Dham pilgrimage.Situtaed in the hills of Himalaya, at the height of 10,248 feet above sea level. Lord Badri Narayan, also called as Badri Vishal, is armed with Shankh and Chakra in two arms in a lifted posture and two arms rested on the lap in Yogamudra. The principal image is of black stone and it represents Vishnu seated in meditative pose. The temple also houses Garuda (Vahana – vehicle of Lord Narayan) and Goddess Mahalaxmi. Also here are the idols of Adi Shankar, Swami Desikan and Shri Ramanujan Guru-Shisya parampara is supposed to have its roots here.The principal image is of black stone and it represents Vishnu seated in meditative pose. The temple also houses Garuda (Vahana – vehicle of Lord Narayan) and Goddess Mahalaxmi.
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The route to Badrinath is one of the most arduous one due to the lofty hilly terrain, curves and cliffs amidst the most scenically beautiful place on the earth. The temple’s was built by the Kings of Garhwal about two centuries ago. The temple has three sections – Garbhagriha (Sanctum), The Darshan Mandap, and Sabha Mandap. The Garbhagriha (Sanctum) houses Lord Badri Narayan, Kuber (God of wealth), Narad Rishi, Uthavar, Nar & Narayan.
A flight of steps takes pilgrims to the main gate & then into the temple. The temple is divided into three parts – the ‘Garbha Griha’ or the sanctum sanctorum, the ‘Darshan Mandap’ where the rituals are conducted and the ‘Sabha Mandap’ where devotees assemble. The Garbha Griha portion has its canopy covered with a sheet of gold offered by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. The complex has 15 idols. Especially attractive is the one-meter high image of Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents Lord Vishnu seated in the meditative pose of padmasan. Special pujas are also performed on behalf of individuals. Every puja must be preceded by a holy dip in the Tapta Kund. Some of the special morning pujas are Abhishek, Mahaabhishek and Geeta Path. Some special evening pujas are Aarti & Geet Govind. Such pujas are to be booked in advance. The temple opens at 0430 hrs & closes at 1300 hrs. Once again it opens at 1600 hrs & closes at 2100 hrs after the divine song Geet Govind. Rawal is the administrator.The Pujari of the temple is well versed in puja ceremonies & Sanskrit language and is expected to be celibate..