Panch Badri refers to the five places where Lord Badri or Vishnu is worshiped in five different forms. In the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, all the holy temples, various images of the Lord, are situated amidst the mighty Himalayas.
Uttarakhand is endowed with many awe-inspiring gifts of nature. And the fact that a large number of important places of worship are inhabited all over the place, gives it the name of ‘Dev Bhoomi’ (or Devbhoomi). The region is also famous for hosting many adventure activities, attracting thousands of people every year. Pilgrims who have lined the holy places for centuries and the current crop of adventure seekers together make Uttarakhand one of the most popular destinations in India.
Pilgrims come here to complete their Char Dham Yatra (pilgrimage to 4 holy places in Hinduism) and to perform their Chhota Char Dham Yatra (visit to four holy sites, which is comparatively minor in comparison to Char Dham Yatra).
Traveling to Panch Badri would lead to a visit to the five holy places of Lord Vishnu and would be another type of pilgrimage.
Badrinath Temple is one of the major Char Dhams of India. It is an essential part of Char Dham Yatra, Chhota Char Dham Yatra and Panch Badri Yatra. The following are all five Vishnu temples collectively known as Panch Badri:
1. Vishal Badri (Badrinath)
Vishal Badri or Badrinath Temple is one of the holiest places in Hinduism, located in the town of Badrinath in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. In Pancha Badri, it is the most important temple and one of the 108 Divya Desams (Temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu), mentioned in the sacred texts of Tamil sages, who lived between 6th and 9th centuries AD.
The city of Badrinath is situated at an altitude of 3133 meters and the best time to visit the holy abode of Lord Vishnu is between April and November.
It is said that this temple was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 9th century as a place of pilgrimage. The holy abode of Lord Vishnu is believed to have been renovated several times, with the present structure being built by the Garhwal kings about two centuries ago.
There are many legends associated with the actual origin of the temple. The most popular is related to the meditation of Lord Vishnu according to which the Lord meditated on the mountains of Garhwal for the good of mankind. To protect them from the harsh climate of the Himalayas, Goddess Lakshmi took the form of a Badri tree and offered a shed to the meditating deity.
When Lord Vishnu regained consciousness and found the tree around him, he announced that whenever the place would be worshipped, the Badri tree, an incarnation of Lakshmi, would be called before his name (i.e. Nath). Though there are many legends associated with this temple, but this content is an attempt to provide complete information about Badrinath temple.
2. Yogdhyan Badri
The meditation posture of Lord Vishnu has given such a name to the temple. Yogdhyan Badrinath is located at Pandukeshwar, which is situated at an altitude of 1,920 meters in Uttarakhand and is 24 kms from Badrinath. The place is named after King Pandu, who is said to have meditated here for many years to be freed from the curses given by a sage. It is also believed to be the place where the Pandavas gave their capital to King Parikshit and went in search of a way to heaven to repent of their sins committed during the war with the Kauravas.
3. Adi Badri
The temple is a part of a group of 16 temples, located near the convergence point of Rudra Prayag and on the road leading to Ranikhet (Uttarakhand). The main temple, also known as the Narayan Mandir, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, with a raised platform in the front which directs one to the enclosed space where a 3-feet idol of the Lord, carved in black stone is placed.
This place is believed to be the home of Lord Vishnu during the period of Satyuga, Treta and Dwapar. When the era of Kalyuga began, he shifted his base to Badrinath. Therefore, being the older abode of the Lord, it is called Adi Badri.
4. Bhavishya Badri
The name of the temple means Badri of the future and is located in the Subain region of Uttarakhand, which is about 17 kms from Joshimath. According to a prophecy, the future Badri situated at an altitude of 2,744 meters will become the site of the Badrinath temple, when the Badrinath temple will be perished.
It is believed that the present temple of Badrinath may be destroyed or inaccessible due to natural calamity and then future Badri will emerge as the main place of worship of Lord Badri. Even before such a calamity struck, Bhavishya Badri has become a popular pilgrimage destination and is reached through a dense forest. The Lord is present in the temple in a lion-headed avatar (avatar) of Narsingh.
5. Vridha Badri
Situated at an altitude of 1380 meters, is located in an area called Animath, about 7 kilometers from Joshimath. According to one belief, this is the place where Lord Badrinath was worshiped for many centuries before the arrival of Shankaracharya and the establishment of the Badrinath temple. Hence the temple is known as Vridha Badri i.e. the first Badri. Vridha Badri is open to devotees throughout the year, unlike Badrinath where the idol of the deity is shifted to Joshimath during winters.
Although it is said that God is omnipresent, the aura of purity coupled with spirituality, which echoes from each of these ancient temples, is something that can only be experienced personally by visiting the respective places, armed with faith. There are many ways to connect with the Almighty. Reaching them through their representations located under the roof of a temple located in inaccessible places is one way by which one can embark on a never-ending journey of spirituality.