Char Dham is referred to the four Hindu religious sites in Uttarakhand state of India. These are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Nestled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, these four sites are the epicenter of religious activity in north India. Traditionally, the Chardham yatra is undertaken from the west to the east. Thus, the yatra starts from Yamunotri, then proceeding to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Amongst the four Char Dhams, Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to goddesses Yamuna and Ganga respectively. On the other hand, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, people also visit Hemkund Sahib in the vicinity, which is one of the highest located religious sites in the country. Thus, pilgrims visit all these places in aspiration of washing away their sins and to attain salvation, by the blessings of the Lord.
Owing to the significance of this religious circuit, devotees from all over the world, come here to experience the eternal bliss. Char Dhams are hustling and bustling with activity during the summer months, as hundreds of devotees embark upon the holy journey. The picturesque surroundings of the mountainous region are simply enthralling, giving the visitors a perfect opportunity to unwind themselves by filling their lungs with fresh air. Moreover, these otherwise silent and tranquil locales resound with the names of the Lord as the pilgrims advance towards their destination.
A flight of steps takes pilgrims to the main gate & then into the Badrinath 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-metre high image of lord Badrinath, finely sculpted in black stone. It represents Lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose called padmasan.
Darshan Mandap: Lord Badrinath is sitting meditating in the padmasana (lotus yogic posture). As you look at the Deities, standing to the right side of Badrinarayana is Uddhava. To the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Narada Muni is kneeling in front on the right side and is difficult to see. On the left side are Kubera, the god of wealth, and a silver Ganesh. Garuda is kneeling in front, to the left of Badrinarayana.
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, Geeta Path. Some special evening pujas are Aarti & Geet Govind. Such pujas are to be booked in advance. The Badrinath 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-Pujari of the temple well versed in puja ceremonials & Sanskrit language and is expected to be celibate.
Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath refers to Vishnu. Badri is the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jujube trees, which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references also refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath. Legend has it that Goddess Lakshmi took the form of the berries to protect Lord Vishnu from the harsh climate during his long penance.
The best time to visit Badrinath is between May-June and September-November. Due to heavy rainfall in the area, visitors may face difficulty reaching the temple during monsoon season (late June to Aug). the temple usually remains open from first week of May to 2nd week of November.