India is famous for holy shrines. There are Shrines of self manifested, enshrined by Sages and with mankind. It is believed that the self manifested shrines are the first among them and are called Swayambhu temples. Sri Ranganatha Temple of Srirangam, Balaji Temple in Tirumala, Bhu Varahaswamy temple in Ganjigera, Varahanatha Kallahalli near Mysore, Vanamamalai Perumal Temple near Tirunelveli, Mukthinath on the banks of Gandaki River, Varaha Temple in Puskar of Rajasthan, Lakshmi  Narayan Temple in Naimisharanya and Badrinath of Uttarakhand are the eight self manifested Temples of Lord Vishnu.

Badrinath is a holy Shrine to Hindus and it is at a distance of 46 km from Joshimath. Pilgrims may reach Badrinath on hired vehicles. There will be no hurdle of trekking to reach Badrinath like as was in reaching Kedarnath. Badri refers to a berry means a small pulpy and edible fruit grow in a large area, and nath means “Lord”. There are plenty of Jujube trees in Badrinath. Goddess Lakshmi safeguard Lord Vishnu from the sun in the form of Badari (Regu or Jujubee) Tree while doing penance in this place. Since Maa Laxmi protected her husband (Nath) Lord Vishnu in the form of Badari (Jujubee) tree, Vishnu was called with the name of Badrinath. In olden days, Pilgrims used to reach Badri on foot. The temple was damaged seviourly due to repeated earthquakes. The population occupancy developed year by year due to the increase of popularity and attracting pilgrims as a holy pilgrimage place.                                    

badrinath dham

Badrinath is the gateway to several mountain expeditions like Nilakant. The surrounding mountains of Badrinath have great importance in Mahabharat.       Pandava travelled through Swargarohini mountain existing on the west Garewal Mountains and left their souls in the mountain slopes. During their journey they travelled through Mana Village, 4 km from Badrinath. Sage Vyas wrote Maha Bharat in a cave near Mana Village. There are eight mountains with the names Gowri Sankar, Kailash, Badrinath, Nanda, Dongri, Drogree, Nara Narayan and Trishul.

Badrinath is at a height of 12000 feet above sea level with famous hot springs Tapta Kund and Surya Kund which will maintain the temperature round the year. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and one of the eight Self Manifested temples of the Lord Vishnu. The Shrine engraved along with Veda and Sri Hari glorified by Narada and others glowing as one of the Char Dham. The temple existed in the centre of the Village and became the main attraction. Shiva suffered with the sin of Brahma Hatya. He made penance in Badrinath. It is believed that Jagadguru Adi Shankara resided in the place for six years in the eighth century from 814 to 820. He resided six months in Badrinath and the rest of the year in Kedarnath. It is believed that he has discovered the deity of Badarinarayan in the form of Saligram (Black Stone) in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund. Later Ramanujacharya shifted Badarinayan from the cave to the present temple. The Queen of Indorel visited the temple and presented a Golden Umbrella. The present temple consists of a roof of 50 feet height and plated with gold. The Dome was constructed with stone and windows with bamboo. The wide stairs took the pilgrims to the entrance gate. The Porch with big pillars leads to the main temple. 

Badrinath is nothing but heaven on earth with natural beauty. The temple will be closed for six months in winter and an Akhand Jyothi (Lamp) will be lightened with ghee. The thread for the lamp got prepared by the villages of Mana with devotion. After Lightening the Jyothi, the temple doors will be closed for a period of 6 months. Again the temple opens on the dates decided by the Badri, Kedar temple committee in consultation with the priests of the temples. It is believed that the gods worship Badrinarayan in the closure period and the Panchayatan council helps them to perform rituals during that period. The lamp remains lit even after opening. It is nothing but the highness of Sri Badrinath Ji. The priest of the temple is called Ravalji and is from the Nambudri family of Kerala.  

In the Sanctum of the temple pilgrims may visit Panchayatan members comprising Kubera, Uddhava, Nara Narayan, Narada and Garudha. It is traditionally believed that Lord Badrivishal presides over the Panchayat (Divine Council). Lord Badrinarayana shows Him holding a Shankha (conch) and a Chakra (wheel) in two of his arms in a lifted posture and the other two arms resting on his lap in a Yoga Mudra (Padmasana) posture. Ganesh and Kuber sit, Uddhav stands on the right side of Badrinath Ji Lakshmi stands and Nara Narayan sit on the left beside Garuda and Naradha sit at his feet. Vedic scriptures believe that Lord Vishnu takes help of the council in deciding the right course of action for the Universe. Kuber worship is famous at Badrinath.

Uddhava (also known as Pavanayadhi) is the friend and counsellor of Krishna. He plays a prominent role in Bhagavata Purana, in which Krishna taught the processes of yoga and devotion called as Uddhava Gita, like Bhagavad Gita told to Arjuna. It is also believed that Uddhava was the cousin of Sri Krishna and son of Devabhaga, brother of Vasudev. His physical appearance was so like that of Krishna’s and in some instances he is temporarily mistaken for the latter. Before the havoc of the Yadava clan, Krishna advised Uddhav to go to Badari and spend the rest of his life there.

As per legends Lord Brahma is creator, Vishnu is survivor and Shiva is the destroyer. There are two legends to remain Brahma with four faces losing one head. Brahma has five faces. The four faces see the four sides and the fifth towards up. Brahma is called as Pancha Mukha and later Chaturmukha Brahma after losing one head. Brahma showed his superior complex among Trimurthi before his obedient followers stating that creation is the major in universe and there will be no survival and destruction without his creation. The sages and followers praised him. Brahma felt proud and some among them went to Vaikuntam to inform the matter to Lord Vishnu. Disputes rose among the followers of Brahma and Vishnu. Vishnu tried to convince Brahma that there is no superior among them but the words became in   vain. Vishnu agreed with the superiority of Brahma.                                                                                                                        

Brahma felt triumphantly and went to Kailash and raised a dispute with Shiva. Shiva convinced that there will be no superior among them and all are equal in performing their acts and Brahma agreed to the argument. The four heads of Brahma agreed to the words of Shiva but the fifth head felt that he was superior to the two Gods. Shiva recognised  the feelings of Brahma. He felt that the creation will become haywire. Shiva has cut the fifth head of Brahma with his Trident and thrown into Alaknanda River near Badrinath. The fifth head of Brahma attains salvation and the haughtiness of Brahma come down from his superior feelings.     

Another legend says that Brahma satisfied with the penance of Manmadha and presented three arrows informing that the person on whom the arrow launched felt seduced and will effect with eroticism. Manmatha desired to test the arrow and launched against Brahma. Brahma was affected with eroticism and fascinated Sataroopa, a beautiful lady created by Brahma to assist him in creation. Later, Brahma glanced at her with a view of lust in thoughts. She escaped to the sky from the  lustful glances of Brahma. Brahma started to insert with his fifth head and stopped creation of the  universe. Lord Shiva understood and created Veerabhadra by cutting off the fifth head of Brahma. Veerabhadra implemented the orders of Lord Shiva separating the fifth head of Brahma and threw it in Alaknanda River near Badrinath. The place is named as Brahma Kapal. Since Brahma was fascinated towards Sataroopa, who was born from his mind, equivalent to a daughter with lust ignoring the sacred relationship, Lord Shiva gave curse to Brahma without having temples and worship. Legend says that ever since Brahma chanted four Vedas with his four heads to compensate for his sin. 

Hence forth, Lord Shiva resided in Badrinath along with his wife Parvathi an other sages doing penance. Shiva performed penance and got relief from the sin of cutting off the fifth head of Brahma. It is so the uniqueness of Varanasi and Badari is special and both are beloved Shrines to Lord Shiva.  Hindus feel Brahma Kapal as the most holy place to perform ritual ceremonies to their ancestors. It is also stated that the annual ritual ceremony may be ignored by performing ritual ceremonies in Brahma Kapal and it is not necessary to conduct in other places. Thousands of Hindus visit Brahma Kapal to perform ritual ceremonies to their ancestors.  

It is presumed that Badrinath worship shall give Nirvana without re-birth. Lord Shiva resides in the form of Adi-Kedar Shiva Ling near Tapta Kund on the banks of Alakananda River. Those devotees who worship the Adi-Kedar Shivalinga which is located beneath the lotus feet of Lord Badri Narayana remain everlasting. It is stated that those devotees who die in Badrinath Shrine get Nirvana. Such is the glory of Badrinath Dham. In order to get rid of the sin of killing their kin, Pandava stayed here on their way during their journey to heaven to offer their prayers to the souls of their departed ancestors. They performed the ritual for Shradh to attain salvation to their ancestors and the people who lost their lives in Kurukshetra. It is said that performing deep penance here will grant the ancestors with Nirvana (Moksh) or salvation from the karmic cycle of birth and rebirth.