Badrinath is a holy Hindu town famous for being home to Badri Vishal. The ancient temple with a dynamic history sits majestically on the banks of the holy river Alaknanda and amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Garhwal Himalayas. The temple of Badrinath sits against the backdrop of the twin mountain peaks of Nar and Narayan and springs to life when the temple opens its gates for Darshan. Situated within the district of Chamoli which is also known as the jewel of Garhwal, the culture of Badrinath is extremely unique. Surrounded by numerous interesting sightseeing options and dotted with temples and holy sites, a holiday in Badrinath will definitely open your eyes to new avenues in life.
If you are looking to book a package to Badrinath, then here is something you need to know about its culture for a more immersive experience:
History of Chamoli
The written and known history of Chamoli can be traced back to the early 6th century AD when it was under the rule of King Bhanu Pratap of the Panwar dynasty of Garhwal. He is also credited with founding Chandpur – Garhi as the capital. Everything was going fine until the 1803 earthquake hit the region weakened the administrative and economic condition of the existing Garhwal dynasty. The vicious Gorkhas took advantage of the situation and took complete control over more than half of the Garhwal dynasty starting from 1804. The Gurkhas continued to rule the region until 1815 until the British government came and took over the control of the Garhwal part. Finally, after attaining independence, Chamoli city became a separate part and the district of Chamoli was, later on, carved out of Pauri Garhwal.
People of Badrinath
The people of Badrinath are highly religious and simple folks with most of their livelihood dependent on either agricultural activities or pilgrimage tourism related to the Dham Yatra in Badrinath. The locals have kept their age-old customs and traditions alive throughout the year which has made Badrinath not only a part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand but also a part of the All India Char Dham Yatra along with Dwarkadhish Temple, Jagannath Temple, and Rameswaram. During the winter months, local Badrinath residents move to the lower reaches of the Himalayas in order to get away from the snowfall and extremely harsh cold weather season. They make their way back to Badrinath to continue on with their business and life there during the summer season.
Religion and Language of Badrinath
Badrinath without a doubt is a completely Hindu town. It is also a very important religious and spiritual Hindu center mainly due to the presence of the holy temple of Badri Narayan. Initially, before the arrival of Adi Shankaracharya in Badrinath, Buddhism was gaining a lot of momentum, and the region was inhabited by monks and Buddhists. Adi Shankara felt the need for the re-establishment of Hindu culture in the Garhwal region and inspired the king of Garhwal to get rid of the majority of Buddhists. This was best done by creating the temple of Badrinath and attracting Hindu pilgrims from far and wide in order to attain moksha. Other than the Hindu population, Jains also occupy a major part of the population with Hindu and Garhwali being the dominant language of the locals.
Fairs and Festivals of Badrinath
Fairs and festivals in Badrinath are the typical ones that are celebrated throughout India. Many colorful fairs and festivals take place with great zeal and enthusiasm. Other than the mainstream Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi, Maha Shivratri, etc, the locals also celebrate their traditional festivals like Jauljibi, Thal, Basant Panchami, and Ganga Dussehra. The most famous and loudly celebrated festival in Badrinath is the opening and closing procession of the temple of Badrinath. During the opening of the temple, the idol of Lord Vishnu is transferred to the main temple of Badrinath from his winter home in Joshimath. This takes place amongst great local and traditional singing and dancing among loud music played by the locals. The same procession, with equal enthusiasm, takes place when the doors of Badrinath Dham are shut down for the season.
Badrinath Temple History and Legend
The Badrinath Dham temple is the main attraction of the town and according to legends and written text sources, Adi Shankara had discovered a stone image of Lord Badri which was made of Shaligram stone in the Alaknanda River bed. He had kept the image of the lord in a small cave near Tapt Kund initially but later on, during the 16th century, the king of Garhwal had shifted it to its current location in the temple of Badrinath. The temple in itself looks like a work of art and architectural brilliance at its prime. The facade is decorated with intricate designs, carvings, arched windows, and a gold gilt roof.
When it comes to legends related to Badrinath, mostly people rely on the ancient Hindu texts of the Bhagwat Puran. Badrinath was known as Badrika ashram in these scriptures and it is defined as the place where the Nar and Narayan incarnation of Lord Vishnu meditates in complete peace for the overall welfare and to guarantee the wellbeing of all the living entities.
Another interesting legend mentions Badrinath during the Mahabharat era. A cave near Mana village (the last village on the Indo-Tibetan border) known as Pandava Gufa is believed to be the place where the Pandava brothers accompanied by Draupadi had stayed for a while before heading on their way to look for Lord Shiva.
Cultural Activities in Badrinath
Badrinath has many options for a curious soul. Here are some cultural activities in Badrinath to indulge yourself in some great memorable times.
- Hike up to the Charan Paduka location near Badrinath Temple. The footprint housed in a small temple there is believed to be that of Lord Vishnu himself and the simple 3 km hike is deeply rejuvenating. This is also believed to be the first footprint of Lord Vishnu when he had descended down to earth.
- Take a dip and cleanse your soul and wash away your tiredness by taking a dip in the holy natural hot water pond of Tapt Kund which is located very close to the main temple of Badrinath. The Kund is said to hold water containing medicinal properties.
- Walk on the path of the strongest Pandava, Bheem. The Bheem Pul is a natural bridge formation that is said to have been built by Bheem for Draupadi to cross the gushing river underneath easily. Other than the historical richness, the gushing Saraswati River under the bridge makes it’s a sight to behold.
- Vyas Gufa is a must during your trip to Badrinath. This sacred site near Mana Village is said to be the place where Maharishi Ved Vyas had documented Mahabharata with the help of Lord Ganesh. Many other Puranas and sutras were also composed by Maharishi Ved Vyas in this very cave.
The culture of Badrinath is colorful, dynamic, well preserved, and deeply rooted in their rich ancient past. A visit there will be a soul-stirring experience and will open the door to a whole new world of culture in India.