River Alakananda carves out Badri-Kshetra in between her origins at Satopanth Lake and Nandprayag, her merger with river Nandakini. Badri-Kshetra is revered as the scared chalice holding Lord Vishnu’s supreme grace in the Himalayas. Five sacred shrines of Vishnu in the region are together called as Panch Badri, the thread binding them allegedly takes us eons back into the legend of Nar and Narayan.
Legend of Nar and Narayan behind Panch Badri
Nar and Narayan were said to be the dual incarnation of Lord Narayan upon earth. They sought an ideal place to engage in beneficial spiritual practices for the upliftment of the whole of Humanity. All the five spots of in Badri-Kshetra are said to be where they halted and spent time, delving deeper into meditative union with one’s inherent oneness with Divine. Their search culminated at Badrinath, the main temple in the whole circuit, as its region provided the ideal ground for their engaging in spiritual practices for thousands of years. The land thus rendered holier by being instilled the descent of divine grace into its sacred premises attracts myriad of pilgrims every year to share in its blessings.
Of the five Badri temples strung together as Panch Badri, Bridha Badri and Yogadhyan Badri can only be reached after embarking on moderate treks due to unavailability of motorable roads till the actual shrines. Badrinath, Yogadhyan Badri and Adi Badri pose no major risk to a pilgrim wishing to pay obeisance at them as per their Panch Badri Yatra Tour.
An integral part of Himalayan Char Dham and all India Char Dham circuits, Badrinath attracts thousands of Vishnu bhakts every year to its sacred abode. It is said that the present idol of Badrinarayan was discovered by Adi Shankaracharya from the waters of Alaknanda River. Tapt Kund and Mana village with its mythologically reverent sites of Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, and Bhim Pul are the other major pilgrim attractions in the region. The temple is easily accessible by road from adjacent major cities like Haridwar, Delhi, Rishikesh and Joshimath.
It is in fact rare to come across a pilgrim shrine where Lord Vishnu is worshipped in the form of an old man. At Bridha Badri, Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared to Narada after his earnest practices to evoke the Divine in the form of an old man. The village of Animath that houses the shrine is accessible after a 7 km trek from Joshimath.
The village of Subhain worships its abode of Lord Vishnu as the site to which Badrinarayan would permanently shift to, once the present shrine at Vishaal Badri i.e Badrinath gets destroyed in due time. The shrine, again, is only accessible after a 6 km trek from Saldhar preceded by a 19 km drive from Joshimath. In fact, it is believed the route lead one directly to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar in the earlier times.
As ancient as the shrine at Badrinath itself, Yogdhyan Badri worships Lord Vishnu in his meditative form. The temple truly lets one descend deeper into the ecstasies of meditation quite according to what its name suggests. The temple is markedly important for its being the site at which the kingdom won by Pandavas were transferred to their successor Parikshit. Also, Pandu, the father of Pandavas, attained salvation at this site.
As the name suggests, the temple is said to have been the first or Adi Badri. Apparently, during the first three yugas – treat, dwapara and satya, Badrinarayan made this house abode, while He moved on to a dwelling place at Badrinath with the advent of kali Yuga. The shrine is easily accessible via road.