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Panch Badri - The Five Holy Abode of Lord Vishnu

Panch Badri

The land of untouched tranquil beauty, the state Uttarakhand is a Himalayan state of North India. It is carved out from Uttar Pradesh. The beautiful state is a famous pilgrimage site as it is the originating spot of the sacred Ganga and Yamuna the sacred rivers for Hindus. The state is divided into 2 divisions- Garhwal, and Kumaon and has 13 districts. The winter capital of Uttarakhand state- Dehradun is the largest city of the state and is a railhead. Gairsain is a town in Chamoli district that is the summer capital of Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand state borders Tibet to the north, Nepal to the east, the state of Uttar Pradesh to the south, and Himachal Pradesh to the west. The state holds artisans and has numerous varieties of arts and crafts. This beautiful state is truly a land of untouched beauty, religious temples, abundant wildlife, and umpteen adventure sports. The astounding Uttarakhand is home to Char Dhams the four holy sites of pilgrimage revered by Hindus- Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.

One coming to Uttarakhand can enjoy trekking that leads to gorgeous trails, paragliding, ropeway rides, and attending the Ganga Aarti in Haridwar. There is no dearth of activities in Uttarakhand. One can find both commercial tourist hill stations and quaint offbeat hilly hamlets for a memorable vacation. Travelers coming to Uttarakhand will find Uttarakhand a piece of paradise that is truly worth visiting. Some of the astounding destinations the state holds are- Dehradun, Mussoorie, Nainital, Ranikhet, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Chakrata, Kanatal, Lansdowne, Bhimtal, and some other stunning locations that truly deserve to be visited once in a lifetime.

What is Panch Badri

Originally seven in number Panch Badri are reckoned to be the Hindu holy shrines devoted to Lord Vishnu. These temples- Vishal Badri(Badrinath) – are also part of the popular Char Dham of Uttarakhand, Yogdhyan Badri- is located at a height of 1920m, Bhavishya Badri- located at a height of 2744m, Vridha Badri- is located at a height of 1380m, and Adi Badri- is nestled 19kms away from Karanprayag on Chaukuthia-Ranikhet road, are considered the abode of Lord Vishnu and are nestled in the area starting from Satopanth around 24 km above Badrinath extending to Nandprayag in the South. The entire area is known as the Badri-Kshetra and is a major pilgrimage destination for both Lord Vishnu devotees as well as other people of the Hindu faith.

The mythology behind Panch Badri temples

Badrinath legend states that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana did penance in an open space at Badrinath. Lord Vishnu's consort Lakshmi created a shelter for him in the form of a Badri tree to protect him from adverse climate conditions. According to the scripture Bhagavata Purana there is Badrinath the personality of Vishnu in his incarnation as the sage Nara Narayana had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of living entities.

The mythology related to Yogdhyan Badri states that in Pandukeshwar, King Pandu took penance and asked Lord Vishnu to cleanse him of the sin of killing the two mating deer who were ascetics in their previous lives. It is believed that King Pandu installed the bronze statue of Lord Vishnu here and it is where the Pandavas were born and King Pandu died. Another belief states that after defeating Kauravas, in Mahabharata, the Pandavas came here to repent.

According to the legend Bhavishya Badri temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya. As per mythology when Adi Shankaracharya took Badri Vishal from Tapta Kund, a celestial announcement was made. When Kal yuga will befall on mankind the mountains of Nara and Narasimha will be blocked and Badrinath will become inaccessible and Lord Badri will appear here. Thus Bhavishya Badri will be the new place of worship of Lord Badrinath.

The mythology related to Vridha Badri narrates that when the sage Narad decided to perform penance at this place to please Lord Vishnu. Happy with the penance Lord Vishnu appeared before Narad disguised as an old man and answered his prayers, therefore, an idol of Lord Vishnu in the form of an old man was created by Vishwakarma the architect of Gods and Goddesses.

The mythology related to Adi Badri narrates that Lord Vishnu resided at Adi Badri during the Satya, Treta, and Dwapar yugas before moving to Badrinath in Kali Yuga. The ancient saints and seers prophesized that Lord Vishnu would shift his abode to Bhavishya Badri in Satya Yuga after the completion of Kali Yuga. There is another story that states that Maharishi Ved Vyas- known to have divided the Veda into Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda, and Atharveda wrote Bhagwat Gita at Adi Badri that was delivered by the god himself.

Panch Badri Temples

1. Vishal Badri (Badrinath)

Badrinath is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand in the town named after the temple. It is one of the prominent pilgrimage sites in India. It is at an elevation of 3133 m and nestled between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges. This abode of Lord Vishnu is also one of the 108 temples of Lord Vishnu. This temple was constructed in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya and has been renovated from time to time by different kings and dynasties.

One can witness the three structures here- The garbhagriha-sanctum, the Darshan Mandap-worship hall, and the Sabha Mandap-convention hall. The walls and pillars of the hall are all covered with intricate carvings. The main shrine houses the feet Shaligram or black stone- the deity of Lord Badrinarayana that is housed in a gold canopy under a Badri tree. One can find the Tapt Kund- a group of hot sulfur springs that are just below the temple and are considered medicinal. The devotees consider it a must to bathe in the springs before visiting the temple.

2. Yog Dhyan Badri

Yog Dhyan Badri is nestled in the Pandukeshwar village which is a very short distance away from Hanuman Chatti and Govind Ghat. The temple is as old as the Badrinath temple.  In Yogdhan Badri the deity of Lord Vishnu presides in a meditation pose and thus this place got its name as Yodhyan. The village Pandukeshwar is located at 1920 m and is named after the father of the Pandavas Pandu.

The Yogdhyan Badri is also considered the winter abode for the Utsava-Murti of Badrinath when the main Badrinath temple is closed. A pilgrimage tour is incomplete without offering prayers at this place. Attend the famous festival in Pandukeshwar’s Yogdhyan Badri temple- Devwar. On this auspicious day, the idol of Udhava and Kuber leaves for Badrinath. The other festival is celebrated on the day when these idols Udhava and Kuber come back to Yogdhyan Badri temple in winter.

3. Bhavishya Badri

Bhavishya Badri or Bhabisya Badri is located 17 km away from Joshimath in a beautiful village Subhain that is beyond Tapovan and is located at a height of 2744 meters. One can witness the pretty water spring in Bhavishya Badri. One can also find plenty of Cedar trees too. The place is predicted to be the future Badrinath when evil will cast itself in the world and mountains of Nara and Narayana shall be blocked and Badrinath will become inaccessible.

One paying visit to this temple can witness the image of Narasimha-one of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple of Bhavishya Badri is opened and closed on the same dates as Badrinath.

4. Vridha Badri

Vridha Badri, a holy Vishnu temple is located in the beautiful Animath village that is situated at a distance of almost 7kms from Joshimath and is 1380 meters above sea level. This beautiful temple is built in the North Indian style of architecture and has a sanctum that contains representations of Lord Vishnu. Vridha Badri is the place where Lord Vishnu appeared as an old man before sage Narada who undertook penance here.

Thus the idol presiding the temple is also in the form of an old man. This temple is the only temple amongst the Panch Badri that remains open all through the year for performing pilgrimage.

5. Adi Badri

Adi Badri, is nestled around 17 km away from Karnaprayag near Chulakot and is located on the confluence of the Pindar river and Alaknanda river in the Chamoli district. It is the second temple complex among the Sapta Badri temples. In ancient times the path to the temple went through the Badri Van, thus the suffix Badir is added to the five holy shrines of Lord Vishnu. It is the temple where the Vishnu devotees offered prayers when Badrinath became inaccessible during the winter season.

Adi Badri is the astounding temple complex that is believed to be built by Adi Shankaracharya. The seven temples of this complex were constructed by the Gupta rulers between the 5th and 8th century AD. The main temple of this complex is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is constructed on a raised platform with a small enclosure of a pyramid shape. One can witness inside the temple a black stone image of Vishnu that depicts him holding a mace, lotus, and Chakra.

Travel route of Panch Badri

Panch Badir Yatra is considered one of the divine pillars of Hinduism. The religious journey of Panch Badri takes one on a memorable journey to remember for a lifetime. Panch Badri includes- Vishal Badri(Badrinath)- Yogdhyan Badri- Bhavishya Badri- Vridha Badri- Adi Badri. To reach Badrinath one can avail buses run from Haridwar and Rishikesh. One can hire a taxi to reach Badrinath from Haridwar or Rishikesh. One can reach Rudraprayag, Chamoli, or Joshimath and then one can travel to Badrinath.

One can even avail of a helicopter service to reach Badrinath. After visiting Badrinath devotees head towards Yogdhyan one needs to drive 21 km ahead of Joshimath to reach the village of Pandukeswar in which Yogdhyan Badri is nestled. The temple is located half a km below the motorable road. One can witness the steps built that lead one to the temple from the road. After paying a visit to Yogdhyan Badri one visits Bhavishya Badri. One needs to reach Saldhar village which is around 19kms from Joshimath.

The rest of the yatra involves trekking 6kms. After paying a visit to Bhavishya Badri, one visits Vridha Badri. One needs to drive to Joshimath. The shrine is located at Animath village which is 7kms distant from Joshimath. After paying a visit to Vridha Badri one head towards Adi Badri. It can be reached from Nainital, Ranikhet, Karna Prayag, and Ramnagar. It is almost an hour’s drive from Karnaprayag and falls close to Chulakot en route to Ranikhet. The one-hour drive suffices to finish the 19kms distance from Kanaprayag to Adi Badri.

Best time to explore

The best time to undertake the Panch Badri yatra is from May to September. Avoid the monsoon months as the monsoon time is not the apt time to pay a visit to the Panch Badri temples. Pay a visit to the Panch Badri temples during the summer months- May, and June and the post-monsoon months- August, and September. Seek blessings of Panch Badri during the above-mentioned months for a memorable yatra.

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