The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.
The temple has undergone several major renovations because of age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur.
The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.
History and legend The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram (बदरिकाश्रम) in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu’s dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Siva, addressing Arjuna, says, “Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years.”
One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda one of them. It later became the abode of Lord Vishnu or Badrinath.
The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini – literally, the ‘Ascent to Heaven’. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.
According to the Skanda Purana: “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.”
Badrinath is mentioned in religious texts as far back as the Vedic period. Some accounts claim that the temple was built on a former Buddhist temple site.
Second legend explains the reason that Vishnu is shown sitting in padmasana, rather than reclining. According to the story, Vishnu was chastised by a sage who saw Vishnu’s consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Vishnu went to Badrinath to perform austerity, meditating for a long time in padmasana. To this day, the area around Badrinath attracts yogis who come for meditation and seclusion.
Third legend says that Shiva and Parvati were doing tapas in Badrinath. Vishnu came in disguise as a small boy, crying loudly and disturbing them. Parvati asked the reason for his crying and he replied that he wanted Badrinath for meditation. Shiva and Parvati found that it was Lord Narayan in disguise. They then left Badrinath and moved to Kedarnath.
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, “There in Badrikashram the Personality of Godhead (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities.” The Skanda Purana states that “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.” The area around Badrinath was also celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
This temple is char dham place. Dhanu, Sinha and Mesh Rashi person should visit once in life here. ( ref: om guru om book)
The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.
Badrinath has also been eulogised as Bhu Vaikunta or earthly abode of Lord Vishnu. Many religious scholars such as Ramanujacharya, Madhawacharya and Vedanta Desika visited Badrinath and wrote sacred texts, such as commentaries on Brahma Sutras and other Upanishads.
BADARINATH – Abode of Lord Vishnu: The route to Badarinath is one of the most fascinating one due to the lofty hilly terrain, curves and cliffs amidst the most scenically beautiful place on the earth.
Throughout the route to Badarinath there are numerous pilgrimage sites at Deo Prayag, Rudraprayag, Karana Prayag, Nanda Prayag, and Vishnuprayag; as well as Pandukeswar where king Pandu observed Tapasya with his queen Madri and where his sons Pandavas stayed during their pilgrimage to heaven, and the site where Bhima and Hanuman (sons of Vayu) met.
The image of Badarinarayan here is fashioned out of Saligramam. Badarinarayan is seen under the Badari tree, flanked by Kuber and Garuda, Narad, Narayan and Nar. Mahalakshmi has a sanctum outside in the parikrama. There is also a shrine to Adi Sankara at Badarinath.