The origin of this legendary temple is still unknown due to the absence of any sort of historical record however the presiding deity, Lord Vishu has found mention in numerous Vedic scriptures which date between 1750 – 500 BC. Some available accounts for the temple refer to it as a Buddhist Vihara (temple) due to it earlier architectural designs which was a typical style in Buddhist temples. It is said that up until the 8th century Badrinath was a Buddhist temple which was later on converted into a Hindu pilgrimage Dham by Adi Shankaracharya.
Another origin theory states that Adi Shankaracharya had established the temple during the 9th century after having resided there from 814 to 820 AD. He had stayed in Badrinath for duration of 6 months prior to moving on to Kedarnath where he had spent the remainder of the year. As per staunch devotees, it is a common belief that Adi Shankaracharya had discovered an image of Lord Badrinath in the pristine waters of the holy Alaknanda River, beside which the temple is situated. Shankaracharya decided to place his discovered image in a cave close to the hot springs of Tapt Kund.
Another story regarding the establishment of the temple is a story where Adi Shankaracharya had gotten all the Buddhists expelled from the area with the help of King Kanak Pal which was a Parmar Ruler. Although these expelled Buddhists were given some amount to meet their daily expenses which was generated from the temple funds.
Due to its location the temple has suffered some unfortunate damages due to avalanches and especially due to the 1803 Himalayan earthquake. The temple was largely reconstructed and renovated by the king of Jaipur. It again gone through some significant renovation working during the late 1870s which was completed by the first world war.
Mentioned as Badrikashram in various Hindu scriptures and texts, Badrinath was once a hub for saints and sages due to its unparalleled spiritual vibes. The temple has found no mention in the holy Vedas but some of the earliest Vedic hymns were first mentioned by the saints who used to inhabit the region. Badrinath has found its most mention in the post Vedic texts like puranas that has stories referring to the creation of the universe. Bhagavad Gita States that during his incarnation as Nar and narayan, Lord Vishnu has been going through a constant stage of penance for the welfare of all the living beings ever since time was conceived. Later on in the epic Mahabharat, Nar and narayan appeared in human form as Krishna and Arjun with an aim of helping the mankind. Another iconic mention for Badrinath has been seen in the Skanda Purana where it says ‘there are several sacred shrines in heaven, earth and hell, but there is no shrine like Badrinath’. The region surrounding Badrinath is also mentioned in Padma purana for being home to innumerable spiritual treasures which is still persistent to present day.
Joshimath or also popularly known as Jyotirmath, serves as the winter abode for the presiding deity of Badri Vishal. During the time of shutting down of the temple for winter months the idol of Badrinath ji is taken down to this quaint holy village. Sitting at an elevation of 1,890 metres above sea level this hill town is located against the glorious backdrop of the mystifying, snow clad Himalayan peaks. This place also serves as the gateway to a number of Himalayan trekking trails, expeditions and other outdoor adventure activities.
- Lord Vishnu’s 2nd Vaikuntha (celestial home): As mentioned in the Hindu scriptures, texts and mythologies, like that in the Shastras and Puranas, Badrinath is the 2nd celestial abode for Lord Vishnu the first one being located in Kshir Sagar that is situated in the heavenly realm.
- Akhand Jyoti: When the temple doors are shut down for darshan during the winter months, the insides of the temple remains illuminated throughout these months with the help of a constantly burning flame, which is also known as Akhand Jyoti and is an extremely divine flame among the devotees.
- Narasimha Temple and Badrinath Dham Connection: It is a common belief that when the arms of the Narasimha idol present in the Narasimha temple of Joshimath starts thinning and breaks away then both the Nar and Narayan peaks will collapse and merge into each other. This will end all connections of Badrinath to the rest of the world marking the end of times.
- One of the 108 Divya Desams: All the important temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu that are spread across the entire Indian subcontinent are known as Divya Desams. There are 108 divya desams present in India out of which 105 are situated in India. This is the reason why the char dham yatra remains flocked with pilgrims from all over the world.