Badrinath is 320 kms from the sacred pilgrim city of Haridwar and road distance from Badrinath to Kedarnath 220 Kms. If you are desirous of doing a road trip to Badrinath then Haridwar is an ideal start up point for you, you can reach Haridwar using your own vehicle or can use Indian railways to reach the town, from Haridwar you can alight on the journey to Badrinath on your own vehicle or can choose to hire a taxi which are readily available at Haridwar.
Badrinath Mandir History
This is a temple very much venerated in the Hindu religion dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped as Badrinath. Badri is the name of the thorny bush, it is said Vishnu in his incarnation was meditating at this place in the high mountains, Laxmi the Goddess of wealth who is known as the consort of lord Vishnu shaded Vishnu while he was meditating as the Badri, the lord who was master of Badri came to be known as Badrinath.
Adi shankaracharya in 8th century established this temple as a dhaam. Later the natural calamities took the toll and the temple was destroyed multiple times owing to landslides and earth quakes infact there were only few huts around the temple two centuries back and these huts belonged to the priests of the Badrinath temple. This area also finds mention in various Hindu texts. Mahabharat details the final journey of Pandavas when they ascended to the heaven passing across this holy land, The steps to the heaven taken by the pandavas are said to be near and around Badrinath.
Badrinath temple falls in the Chamoli district of Uttrakhand state of India, this is the area of deep Himalayas with high altitude peaks around. Badrinath itself is situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet approximate, there is a 6596 m high peak called Nilkantha very near, the trek to Nilkantha starts from Badrinath. Nanda devi is just 62 kms from Badrinath. The temple also has a hot water spring called as Tapt kund in local parlance. Those offering prayers at Badrinath do take a dip in this hot water spring as its believed that a dip in this kund relieves the devotees off their accumulated sins. Normally it takes around 2-3 Days to explore the area after which you can start your journey back.
Best Time to visit Badrinath
The temple door usually open in the month of may every year and the pilgrimage continues till the onset of winters in the October month. The snow activity starts in the November month in the upper Himalayas making driving treacherous on these snow covered roads. Because of heavy snow fall these roads might be closed also so the best time to visit Badrinath is between May to September.
The same holds true for Sikh pilgrimage Hemkund Sahib. Infact same route is taken to access Badrinath/Hemkund till Gobind dham, from Gobinddham The route goes to Ghagriya for Hemkund Pilgrims while the Badrinath pilgrims continue straight to Badrinath.
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Tips for Badrinath Yatra
Badrinath- don’t expect five star hotels at Badrinath which is deep in to the Himalayas, the only star rated hotel in Badrinath is the Sarovar Portico rest many budget and other hotels are available, you can make a booking online or can book after reaching Badrinath, There are many Dharamshala available at Badrinath. Do take into consideration the time when you are making a visit as during the summer time the rush is at maximum,
Rudraprayag – Starting from Haridwar the town of Rudra prayag is an ideal midpoint you can split the journey to Badrinath in two days by staying at Rudra Prayag. There are many budget category hotels and 1-2 star category properties at Rudraprayag. The booking for these hotels can be made online and its better to make booking before hand as during the season these properties may be sold out , there are very cost effective Dharamshala and Gurudwara available at Rudraprayag.
Haridwar-This is the start and the end destination of the trip to Badrinath. The city has ample of hotel categories, you can choose a five star category hotel like Radisson Blu or Amantra by the Ganges. There are a dozen odd hotels calling themselves 4 star and around 100 which are three star. Budget properties are also a plenty at Haridwar. There are scores of very good Dharamshalas. Apart from Haridwar you can also start/end your journey at Rishikesh which also has ample of hotels/ Dharamshala/ Gurudwara for the pilgrims to stay.
The road up to Haridwar and Rishikesh falls in the plains hence it is quite good, from Rishikesh the hill track starts which is treacherous considering the elevation and due to the ongoing widening of the road. Though you do not require an off road vehicle as a normal car can certainly go all the way to the Badrinath temple. The hill driving is certainly different from driving in the plains as you have to skillfully negotiate the oncoming traffic and make moves for passing the moving traffic. The widening project of the road to Badrinath is underway, heavy machinery is at work, the hills are being excavated, lots of gravel is being transported so you have to negotiate this ongoing road work and have to drive on narrow road with lots of loose pebbles and gravel. Still it is not a herculean task to drive up to Badrinath, you certainly will become acclimatized to the driving conditions over here.
Eateries in Badrinath Yatra
The big cities like Haridwar and Rishikesh certainly have all the cuisines available but once you alight on the journey to Badrinath you will get small eateries en-route and western cuisines certainly wont to be available except then few hotels in Rudraprayag. Do carry lots of packed food while you travel in hill along with water bottles. The tea certainly will be available along with light snacks such as Maggie and the Paranthas.
Badrinath nearby Places
Hemkund Sahib Yatra
Hemkund a very well known sikh pilgrimage spot was discovered by a Sikh devotee in the last century . No Sikh Guru ever visited Hemkund Sahib in their life time, in a book written by the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind singh “ Bichatar natak” he tells in detail about his earlier incarnation as “ Dushta Daman” he meditated in his earlier incarnation and did Bhakti along with the five pandavas at a place called “Hemkund” this place is described as one with a pond surrounded by seven peaks, An Indian army worker Bhai Mohan Singh deputed at this place in the last century discovered this place as the place as he found compelling similarity between the place mentioned in the book “Bachittar natak” thus he revealed this place to the common Sikh devotees and they started coming to this place in large numbers. A Gurudwara now exists at this sacred place which opens to the devotees normally in May every year and the yatra continues till October, in the winters the shrine is closed for the devotees. The devotees take bath at the pond of Hemkund and later attend the communion at the Gurudwara sahib before commencing their journey back. A Hindu temple dedicated to Lord laxman (Brother of Lord Rama) exists at the Hemkund. The devotees also pay obeisance at this temple.
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How to reach Hemkund Sahib?
The Gurudwara Gobind Ghat falls on the route to the Badrinath temple, The vehicle you are traveling is ought to be parked at Gobind Ghat, the Gurudwara has a large parking and all possible amenities for large congregation of the devotees. The trek to Ghagaria is 10 kms, shared taxis are available for around 3 kms rest of the 7 kms are to be done on foot, if you are desirous you can hire ponies or palanquins right up to Ghagaria. Staring early you sure will reach the Gurudwara at Ghagariya in the afternoon, rest of the day is to regain the lost energy.
Next day is going to be a tough journey as you have to again trek on an uphill terrain for 6 kms to reach Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib. After paying obeisance you have to trek back to the Gurudwara at Ghagariya. During this ardous trek do remember to carry something to drink and some packed eatables though small shanties selling tea and Maggie noodles are to be found a plenty, stretch your muscles well as this journey is tough and quite painstaking.
Valley of flowers Trek
If interested after the trek to the Hemkund Gurudwara you can embark on this trek to the valley of flowers this trek is of 4 kms either way and it unfolds the best of Himalayan beauty to you. The valley is a large stretch of Himalayan track with beautiful blooming lilies, Himalayan blue puppies and several other indigenous Himalayan flowers. Its amazing and certainly will leave you awe struck. Even the trail leading to the valley of flowers is equally amazing with picturesque views and settings, cascades, gushing streams, the backdrop of snow capped high Himalayan mountains at the valley of flowers is also mesmerizing it sure will take a lot of effort on your side to click so many photographs.
The Gurudwaras at Ghagariya and Gobind Ghat do immense service they provide accommodation to the devotees and visitors, piping hot food and beverages to the exhausted pilgrims are served who reach here after an arduous journey.
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Mana Village – The last Hamlet of India
Starting from Badrinath mana is the last Indian village situated around 4 kms from Badrinath you can go on a trek to the Mana Village walking across the rustic lanes of mana Village you can inspect the local village like how the common folks live their lives, ladies knitting the sweaters sitting in front of their small hill homes.
After passing the village you go up to the Vyasa caves, Ganesha cave and Bheem Pool the trek is wonderful providing you amazing scenery across the high Himalayas. There is a small shanty selling piping hot tea with a board declaring it’s the last Indian tea shop. This trek will take you around 6-8 hours depending upon your physical capabilities.