Uttarakhand is popularly known as Devbhumi (land of divine) for its array of temples and shrines which dot the state. Initially known as the sapt (seven) Badri this temple ensemble consists of a pilgrimage tour to seven sacred Hindu temples which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Located on the lap of Himalayas in the Garhwal Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, this temple journey covers 5 of the most important and significant temples where Badri Vishal is the main shrine of worship. Apart from this, there are four other temples in the circuit of Panch Badri where Lord Badrinath is worshipped under different names. All the locations of these temples are quite remote and the devotees are expected to trek their way to reach there.
Here are the important Panch Badri sites:
The Five Badris or ‘Panch’ Badris
01. Badrinath Temple (Vishal Badri)
Re-established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara during the 7th century and located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand Badrinath has always been a center of pilgrimage for Hindu devotees from far and wide. As a part of the char dham yatra the Vishal Badrinath Mandir is the most important worship site for pilgrims. Vaishnavites flock this place during ‘on’ season. Nestled between the picturesque Nar Narayan mountain ranges at an elevation of 3,133 meters this abode of Lord Vishnu has continuously been renovated and re made from time to time. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu, in his incarnation as Nar Narayan, had taken penance in an open area within Badrinath. Apart from Lord Vishnu, sage Narada had also taken up an act of penance here. All this put together makes Badrinath one of the most holy pilgrimage sites in India.
02. Bhavishya Badri
Located at a whopping elevation of 2,744 metres and nestled in Subhai village, this temple pilgrimage site can be reached by trekking through a thick and dense forest. It is also placed on the ancient route which the pilgrims and devotees used to reach Mount Kailash and Mansarovar. The route here is on a distance of 17km from Joshimath and the site is only approachable through trekking since there are not motor able roads available to reach here. According to the name this place is predicted to become the Badrinath of the future (most significant Vishnu pilgrimage), which will happen when the world will be shadowed by evil and the Nary Narayan mountains will be completely blocked making Badrinath inaccessible in any way. The presiding deity of the shrine is a Narasimha image which is the lion faced incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
03. Yogadhyan Badri
Located at Pandukeshwar at an elevation of 1,829 metres this centre of pilgrimage is as old as the Vishal Badri mandir. During the off season when the main Badri mandir is unreachable hence closed off for public visit, this temple is the next best destination for pilgrims seeking to worship the lord making this mandir the winter abode of Badrinath. The temple gets its name from the idol which adorns this place. The life size idol is of Lord Vishnu sitting in a meditative position carved out of Shaligram stone, which was installed by king Pandu, the father of Pandavas. Legend has it that king Pandu meditated at this spot to Lord Vishnu. It is also believed that after defeating and killing their cousins, Kauravas, in the Mahabharata war, the Pandavas came to this place to repent. Ever since, this temple has been an extremely important site of pilgrimage for Hindu devotees from across the globe.
04. Vridha Badri
This pristine shrine is located at an elevation of 1,380 metres in Animath village, which is located at a distance of 7km from Joshimath. This highly revered Hindu pilgrimage site is home to one of the most significant deity in india, Lord Vishnu. The idol that is installed inside this temple is in the formation of an old man since, as per legend, that Lord Vishnu appeared in the incarnation of an old sage or Vridha in front of sage Narada, who was performing penance here during that time. It is also said that before the enshrinement of the Badrinath mandir and before its inclusion in the char dham yatra, Adi Shankara worshipped Badrinath at this exact spot. The temple remains open all along the year with south Indian priests serving as chief priests here.
05. Adi Badri
Located at a mere distance of 3 kms from Chandpur fort and built by the Gupta rulers between 5th and 8th AD, this 16 temples complex was the very first complex in its establishment which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple is also one among a chain of 16 shrines which is located in the hilly range of 17 km. this range pans beyond Karnaprayag, which is the confluence of Pindar and Alaknanda River in the Chamoli district. Inside the temple is a black stone image of Lord Vishnu holding a lotus, chakra and a mace. The temple was established by Adi Shankara with an aim of spreading Hinduism in the remotest parts of the country. During olden times when the worship of Badrinath in the main temple was restricted in case of bad weather conditions, pilgrims used to visit this temple complex and offer their worship and prayers to Lord Vishnu.