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Uttarakhand: Badri Nath and the Sapta Badri - A Traveller's Guide
Sapta Badri – The Ancient Seven Badris, including Badri Nath :
Adi Badri: Situated at a height of 3200 feet, and 19 kilometers from Karnaprayag are the 14 temples of Adi Badri, 7 of which were built in the Gupta era. The main temple has a black Vishnu idol. In olden times, when going to Badri was near to impossible, the pilgrims used to offer their prayers to Badri from here. Later temples were built, and the black idol was established by none other than Shakarachariya. You should also check out the Jai Chandi temple at Simli en route.
Vridha Badri: It is at the a village caled Paini, which is 5 kilometers from Joshimath towards Helang. This sparsely populated village has the temple of Vridha Badri, which the locals call Budda Badri. Legend has it that when Narada ws medidating for Vishnu, hHe came in the form of an Old man. Later, Narada built the idol and temple as he saw Lord Vishnu, in the form of an old man. Shankarachariya had also worshiped in this temple for som time.
Dhyan Badri: Reach Helang first. Then trek for 6.5 kilometers to Urgam. Keep note of departure time of buses from Helang. It is said that the first Kedarnath temple was built here by Shankarachariya here. The temple is still there. But the place is known for its beautiful 6300 feet high Dhyan Badri temple near Barginda village. Vishnu is the main deity. There used t be a metal idol here, but after it was stolen, it was replaced with a stone idol. Idols of Ganeha, Narada, Kuber and other Gods and Goddesses are also there. The roads are beautiful though deserted, and the scenic beauty is pleasing to the soul and mind. Travel for another 1.5 kilometers from here to reach Kalpeshwar, one of the most important of Panch Kedars. You will find Dharmashalas in the region to stay, eat at Inderlok Hotel.
Bhavishya Badri: From Joshimath, take a bus to Tapovan (5 kilometers). Tapovan is arguably the most beautiful place of this region. On a cloudless day, you will feel the Himalayas have come to you to showcase his beauty in all its extravagance. You will feel close to heaven. After you have absorbed the divinity of Tapovan for some time, take a bus, or better still, trek for 7 kilometers to Subhain. It is the same path that ultimately goes to Manas Sarovar and Kailash. The Rishiganga and the Dhauliganga meets at Reni. Next is a hilly path that leads to Subhain. But Beware, this is only for hardened adventure tourists, as the steepness is such that it will be out of bounds if you are short on fitness and strength, both physical and mental. Subhain is at a height of 3048 meters. Find a small temple with a small deity of Vishnu in it at Subhain. He is Ardha Badri. Climb for another 2.4 kilometers to reach Bhavishya Badri. The deity is forming by itself on the rocky slope of a mountain. It is said that after doomsday, when most of the world will come to an end, worshipping of this Badri will start, hence Bhavishya Badri or Badri of the future. The pathway is as tough as nature has on offer, there is no population, eating joints, or places to stay here, you are absolutely on your own. You might want to carry your tents if you are tredding on this path from Tapovan.
Yog Badri: On the route to Badri from Joshimath, 21 kilometers from Joshimath and 2 kilometers from Govinda Ghat, is Pandukeshwar. Just 500 meters from the bus road is the beautiful temple of Jog Badri or Yogadhyan Badri. It is said that the temple was built by the Pandavas. The deity is Narayana or Vishnu. It is said that the deity was given by Lord Indra to Yudistir to be placed here. Do make a point to visit this temple.
Badri Vishal: Situated at a height of 3155 meters and 42 kilometers from Joshimath is the Vyas tirth and Vishnu Khetra of Badri Narayan, a prime point of Hindu pilgrimage in the whole of India. Note that the deity resides here from Akshay Tritiya to Deepavali (May to November) only. Rest of the months, the deity is shifted to Joshimath for worship, and the temple is left covered in snow. The best times to visit are the months of May, June and October, though you can visit anytime except the monsoon months of July to September.
Buses take you right up to the small town of Badrinath. You can walk down to the hotel or Dharmashala of your choice from thebus. Porters are also available, seal the deal on rates before you take their service. The beautiful Nilkanth mountain form the backdrop, and sunsets are beauties that you will remember for ever. Take the downward path to the pool on the river Alaknanda to reach the temple. The two mountains of Nar and Narayan gives guard of Honor to the temple. Experience the divinity, that cannot be expressed in words.
Shankarachariya had come here in the 8th century. Rani Ahalya Bai of Indore had enveloped the dome of the temple in Gold in 13th century. The temple was partially damaged in the earthquake of 1803, which was repaired by Maharaja or Jaipur.
Check out the grill works on the stone walls. The architecture has traces of Buddha style and Muslim style as well. The doem of the temple is built in Muslim style. Buddhist claim that the deity is of Dhyani Buddha, while the Jains claim that it is of Tirthankar. Legend has it that the temple was built by King Pururuba and engineering was done by Lord Vishwakarma.
Hindus can offer pujas after taking a holy bath at the warm water Kund. The Puja charges ranges from Rs.21 To Rs.1001. To witness the evening Aarti, you will have to sell out Rs.75 or Rs.151 for every two people. The deith is placed on an alter, adorned with precious jems, and seathed on a Padma Asana, with four hands. The market here is similar to that of Rishikesh.
Check out the Pancha Shila here, dedicated to Narada, Baraha, Nrisingha, Garur and Markandeo. Also check the Pancha Dhara or five streams of Prallad, Kurma, Urvashi, Vrigu and Indradhara. You can also bathe here, and it is considered holy. Finally, check out the Pancha Tirtha of Narada Kund, Kurma Dhara, Prallad Dhara, Rishi ganga and Tapta Kund, all of which are water bodies.
Walk for 3 kilometers crossing the water supply center to reach the place where Lord Vishnu's foot prints are imprinted on a piece of rock. You can also see Seshnag's eyes imprinted on another rock.
For those who want peace of sould of their deceased parents, visit Brahmakpal. En route would be the Urvashi temple on the banks of Rishi Ganga.
On the next morning, hire a pony, or a vehicle to Vasudhara Waterfall, 1000 feet higher that Badri Vishal. 8 kilometers from Badri nath, it is one of the most beautiful waterfall of the Himalayas. You will find rainbows forming on the foaming streams that jump from a height of 122 meters. You can also see the glacier. The stream formed is called Vishnu Ganga, that ultimately meets the Alakananda. Do not miss this spectacle at any cost. Cars will take you up to Manar Vetia village only. A pony ride is more captivating, if you are fit enough.
En route would be Mana village, where there is a Vyas Deva temple. You can also see the Ganesha cave, Ghanteshwari temple, Bhima pool and Keshab Prayag, where Swaraswati river and Alakananda river meet.
Satopanth Tal Trek: From the Mana village, keeping the Vasudhara on your right reach Chamtoli valley. Trek for another 13 kilometers via Laxmivan to Bandhara to rest for the night. Next day, trek for another 8 kilometers to reach Chakra Tirtha, which is a circular valley to rest for the night. Here there are a number of caves. Next morning, trek for the toughest and most challenging 5 kilometers to reach Satopanth taal, at a height of 16000 feet. Air is sparse, population is nil. The lake is shaped like a triangle, and it is said that the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar lives on its three corners. Snow covered mountains like Nilkanth, Balakul, Satopanth and Swargarohini all stand side by side.
This for for seasoned trekkers only, and you will needs all trekking and some mountaineering equipments. Crevices abound the whole pathway and without proper ropes, oxygen and guide, the journey should not be taken.
How to reach: From Rishikesh or Haridwar, preferably from Rishikesh. Start with the first bus very early in the morning (even if you have a car, start very early, at about 4.30 am), to reach Joshimath by the evening. If you are late in starting, then you will have to halt at somewhere like Rudra Prayag and you will loose a day. From Joshimath plan your journey of Sapta Badri. You can also hire a car and have all the places fixed beforehand, including return.
Where to Stay: There are good hotels at Joshimath. Elsewhere there are Dharmashalas. In Dharmashalas, no prior bookings are required, you can just walk in. They are basic and inexpensive. GMVN however, runs hotels at almost all the locations, including Badrinath. Check their website, or try our hotel booking links below.