The Badrinath temple is in the lap of
Narayan Parvat with Nilkanth in the background. Sri Badrinath is the
other name of Lord Vishnu. The mythological story as to why Lord
Vishnu chose this valley as his abode sounds quite logical and
interesting. As Lord Vishnu rested on his Sesha Sayya on the
Kshir-Sagar whilst Goddess Lakshmi caressed his feet, Narad, the
sage who was the doyen of highest learning, expressed his
displeasure at Lord Vishnu’s ways of living in worldly comfort. Lord
Vishnu was hurt and he sent Lakshmi away to the Naga Kanyas and he
himself disappeared into a Himalayan valley. He assumed a yogadhyani
posture and meditated for several years. Lakshmi returned from the
Naga Kanyas and on finding the Sesha Sayya empty, went to the
Himalayas and found Lord Vishnu in a meditating posture amidst the
Badri. On finding abundance of Badri, she addressed the meditating
lord as Badrinath and requested him to give up the yogadhyani
posture and return to his original form and the lord agreed to do
so. Thus, the place became known as Badrinath. This is one of the
four Dhams established by Sri Adi Guru Shankaracharya. Badrinath is
44 kms North West of Joshimath and is linked with a metalled road.
It is rapidly growing into a big town.
The town is vacated during winters and
the Shrine is closed for nearly six months and the temple was closed
on 17 Nov 2011. Traditionally the local Army formation has been
providing assistance during opening and closing ceremonies of the
shrine. During the closing ceremony Bhandara was provided by the
local Army units.
After the massacre of the Kauravas in
the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas set out on a yatra to Kashi
in order to be blessed by Lord Shiva and be absolved from the sin of
killing their kinsmen- the Kauravas. Lord Shiva unwilling to give
darshan to the Pandavas, fled from Kashi to Uttarakhand and lived
incognito in Guptakashi. On being detected at Guptakashi by the
Pandavas, Shiva went to Kedarnath, but the Pandavas followed him.
Then he assumed the form of a bull. Shiva being pleased with the
determination of Pandavas, exonerated them from their sins, gave
them darshan and bestowed upon them the opportunity to worship his
hump. It is from that day that the hump of Shiva is worshipped in
the temple of Kedarnath- in the conical Shiva pinda form.
The Kedarnath Temple remains closed
for nearly six months from the month of October and only reopens in
the month of May. The temple was closed on 28 October 2011 in which
the local Army unit assisted in the closing ceremony by providing
pipe band, maintenance of security and Bandhara was also established
providing food for pilgrims for two days.
Mythology has it that Ganga, daughter
of heaven, came down to the earth as a result of King Bhagirath’s
severe penance. Gangotri is the place where the Ganga landed on
earth. Thousands throng this place to pay homage to her. By
November, Gangotri is snow bound. It is believed that the Goddess
retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode 12 km downstream. Gaumukh, the
mouth of the Ganga, is about 18 km away in the Gangotri glacier.
The Gangotri Temple remains closed for
six months from the month of October and only reopens in the month
of May. The temple was closed on 27 October 2011 in which the local
Army unit assisted in the closing ceremony by providing pipe band,
medical cover, maintenance of security and Bandhara was also
established providing food to nearly 500 pilgrims.
It is situated at an altitude of
15,100 ft. There is a gurudwara and the only temple dedicated to
Laxmana, the brother of Rama, near this holy pond. Pilgrims from all
walks of life visit this shrine unmindful of the vagaries of the
nature. Long before people started frequenting Sri Hemkund Sahib;
the local inhabitants of that area held the lake with great awe and
reverence and called the area around it Lokpal, i.e. sustainer for
people. In spite of the fact that Hemkund was mentioned in the
autobiography of Guru Govind Singh, its site remained in oblivion
for well over two centuries. The first person to discover the actual
location of the Tapasthan was Sant Sohan Singh (of Tehri, Garhwal),
a retired Granthi from the Army. The Sant, along with Havaldar Baba
Modan Singh of Bengal Sappers engaged a contractor and had a
ten-foot square room constructed there and installed the sacred
volume of Shri Guru Granth Sahib and established a Gurudwara.
Havaldar Baba Modan Singh stayed on to perform service at the
Gurudwara and in 1960, established a seven member trust called the
Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib Management Trust.
Shri Hemkund Sahib receives heavy
snowfall every winter and 6 km long route from Ghagaria till Shri
Hemkund gets covered by 10-12 ft snow. Every year volunteers of the
local Army units open the tough six km glaciated route to the
shrine. The Shrine opens to the pilgrims in the first week of June