Badrinath Location & Temple Architecture
Badrinath is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu and one of the four Char Dhams. Located alongside the holy Alaknanda River in Chamoli in Uttarakhand, Badrinath sits at a height of 3133 metres in the vicinity of Neelkantha Peak. Just below the temple you will find the Tapt Kund, a series of hot water springs with medicinal properties and it is obligatory for devotees to bathe in the springs before offering worship.
The temple follows traditional North Indian style of architecture and is constructed of stone with walls and pillars bearing innumerable carvings. One enters through a tall arched gateway at the Sabha Mandap that leads to the Darshan Mandap and finally the Garbhagriha. The Garbha Griha’s roof extends in a conical spire to a height of 15 metres with a gold gilded cupola at the top. You will find a striking 1 metre high black stone idol of Badrinarayan shown with a conch and Chakra in each arm. The other two arms rest in the lap of Vishnu who is meditating in the Padmasana posture. Lakshmi, his consort, is by his side. Giving them company is the sage Narada. You will also find Kubera on one side and Nar Naryan as well as Uddhava completing the ensemble. Garuda and Navdurga are also present.
Inside Badrinath Temple
Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand Chamoli district is an abode of Lord Badrinarayan or Lord Vishnu. It is one of the Chardham in the Chota Chardham circuit and is one among the 108 Vaishnavite Divya Desams. Pilgrims from every corner of the globe make a bee line to the temple each year during the Yatra season that starts from April and continues till November.
Temple Sections Inside
The interiors of the temple consists of the following sections-
Garbha Griha: Garbha griha is the sanctum sanctorium; the innermost chamber of the temple housing the idol of Sri Badrinarayan seated in padmasana posture beneath a gold canopy. There are many other idols within the complex of Garbha Griha, amounting to nearly 15 apart from that of the presiding deity.
Darshan Mandap: Darshan Mandap is the place from where Puja of the lord is done. It is in fact the worship hall.
Sabha Mandap: Sabha mandap is the hall where devotees assemble. Thus, it is the assembly hall and is comparatively spacious.
Significance of Badrinath Yatra
Badrinath is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. Badrinath is significant for being one of the destinations in the Chota Char Dham Yatra and also one of the major Char Dhams of India. Also important is the belief that this statue appeared on its own, known as Swayam Vyakta Kshetras. Though the current temple is not ancient, the site does find mention in Puranas. Also noteworthy is that this temple was originally a Buddhist shrine until Adi Shankara transformed it into a Hindu Temple and installed the idol of Lord Vishnu that he discovered in the Alaknanda river in a cave. This temple was damaged in an earthquake in 1803 and the King of Jaipur rebuilt it in its current form. One may find it strange but the chief priests of this temple belong to the Nambudri community from Kerala. According to history, the king called Nambudiris from Kerala in 1776 to preside over the rituals in this temple and since then the Nambudiris have been in charge. Some believe it was Adi Shankaracharya who instituted this practice. The current practice of selection of the head priest is quite involved. The candidate must be a scholar well versed in religious scriptures and must belong to the Vaishnava sect sent by the government of Kerala and his selection must be approved by the erstwhile ruler of Garhwal.
Pooja Performed in Badrinath Temple
Each day Pooja at Badrinath temple opens with the ceremony of Maha Abhishek followed by other rituals like Abhishek, Geeta path and Bhagwat Pooja during the morning session. In the evening, Puja rituals include Aarti and Geeta Govinda path. During all the Pooja rituals recitals are performed from Sahasranama and Ashtotram. Post Aarti, the idol of Shri Badrinarayan is cleared of all its decorations and then coated with a fragrant paste of sandalwood. On the next day, at the time of Nirmalya Darshan devotees can receive this sandalwood paste as ‘Prasad’.
The temple rituals start as early as 4.30am and close at 9pm. The Darshan hours start somewhere between 7-8am and there’s a short recess in the afternoon starting from 1pm and continuing until 4pm.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Badrinath Temple
The opening and closing ceremonies at Badrinath temple include Maha Abhishek and Geeta Govinda path respectively. Maha Abhishek is done early in the morning while Geeta Govinda path is done in the evening before temple closes for the day.
Management of Badrinath Temple
Badrinath temple is managed by the Badrinath temple committee constructed by the state government of UP under the Badrinath Mandir act. The head priest of the temple or Rawal belongs to the sect of Nambudiri Brahmins from the south Indian state of Kerala. The Rawal shoulders all responsibilities pertaining to daily rituals and ceremonies in the temple and his duties commence from 4 am in the morning.