Thursday, May 15, 2008

Temple at Badrinath

Badrinath is a Hindu holy town and a nagar panchayat in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage. Badrinath is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River, at an elevation of 3133 m. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m). Badrinath is located 301km north of Rishikesh. From Gaurikund (near Kedarnath) to Badrinath by road is 233km. Badrinath was established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. In recent years its popularity has increased significantly, with an estimated 600,000 pilgrims visiting during the 2006 season, compared to 90,676 in 1961. The temple in Badrinath is also a sacred pilgrimage site for Vaishnavites. Badrinath has been mentioned as a holy place in scriptures and legends for thousands of years. 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." Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath refers to Vishnu. Badri is the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jujube tree , which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath. Legend has it that the Goddess Lakshmi took the form of the berries to provide sustenance to Lord Vishnu during his long penance in the harsh Himalayan climate.

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