I was aiming for this pilgrimage for a long time, but it happened this year when Peak Adventure, Delhi was able to arrange the trip. Mr. Ajay Bhatt from Joshimath prepared the itinerary for this tour.
Sapta Badri constitutes a group of seven sacred Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in the state of Uttarakhand.
- Badri Vishal
- Yoghyadhan Badri
- Aadi Badri
- Bavishya Badri
- Vridha Badri
- Dhyan Badri
- Aadi Badri
The abode of Vishnu in the Alaknanda river valley, starting from Satapanth about 24 kilometers (15 mi) above Badrinath extending up to Nandprayag in the south, is known as BADRI KSHETRAS. Aadi badri is located near Karnaprayag.
The Pancha Kedar refers to five temples of Lord Shiva that include:
All of them are situated in the Kedar valley of Garhwal Himalayan region. It is not a prominent route with very little in the name of facilities for travelers.
According to legends, these five temples were founded at places where the shattered pieces of camouflaged Shiva feel. It happened that after the Kurekshetra war, the Pandavas sought Lord Shiva’s blessings. As they approached close to Shiva’s abode, the Lord changed into a bull. Camouflaging didn’t work and Shiva attempted to go underground. But before he could do that, Bhima spotted him and holding his tail and hind legs tried to drag him out.
The bull shattered into pieces, which pieces sank into the earth, but Bhima managed to retain the hump of the bull. Shiva reappeared, but different parts of the body – arms in Tunganath, navel at Madhmaheshear, face at Rudranath, hair at Kalpeshwar and hump in the Kedarnath.
Coming back to my journey, let sequence events in order of the days I traveled:
On the first day, my journey started from Haridwar and proceeded to Joshimath via Panch Prayag that includes Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag, Karn prayag, Rudra Prayag and Dev Prayag.
Dev Prayag was my first destination.
It lies at the confluence of the rivers Alakananda and Bhagirathy. The confluence got the name from a poor Brahmin called Deva Sharma, who performed rigorous penance here and was blessed by Rama, Vishnu’s incarnation.
There are two Kunds or ponds on the banks of the rivers, the Vasishta Kund on the Bhagirathi and the Brahma Kund on the bank of the Alakananda. Puranas also mention about this site as being Vishnu’s navel and that Brahma meditated here.
From Dev Prayag I proceed to Rudra Prayag, which is at the confluence of rivers Alakananda and Mandakini.
I had darshan of Koteshwar temple.
My third prayag is Karna Prayag, situated on the confluence of rivers Alakananda and Pindari.
Here I sought blessings from Uma Devi temple and Karna temple; the famous Karna of Mahabharatha.
There are so many temples around Karnaprayag and you need time to visit them all.
Further up about 21km from Karna Prayag you come across Nand Prayag, the meeting point of rivers Mandakini and Alakananda.
This spot is also famous for the Gopalji temple.
After the dashing of four prayers, my destination for today’s journey was Josh math. I stayed in a tourism hotel. Here I was introduced to my guide Sandeep Semwal and tour details were given by Mr. Ajay Bhatt.
I rested after finishing my first day’s journey.
My first stop for the day was Badri Vishal and I visited the temple for the fourth time.
Badri was not much crowded as expected during this season. The weather was pleasant and well suited to my body condition.
After my darshan, I went to Mana village and trekked upto Bheem pool.
On the way to Bheem pool, I visited Ganesh mandir, Vashisht mandir, Sheshnag mandir and mata Saraswathy mandir.
Here the river flows in full speed and goes into the earth as antharvahini.
While coming back from Badri, we had darshan of Yoghyadan Badri at Pandukeshwar. The Pandavas came here to repent the killing of their cousins’ Kauravas. The image is called Yoghyadhan (meditative) Badri.
Legend says that Pandu, the father of pandavas died and attained salvation here. Also, Kunti was married to Pandu at Pandukeshwar at the same spot.
It is considered to be the winter abode for the Utsav murthy (festival image) of Badrinath, when the temple is closed.
The pilgrimage will not be complete without offering prayers here and so people take darshan of this murthy (idol) when the temple is closed for worship.
Badri Vishal is the dham of the four sacred dhams and the current structure was built by Adi Sankaracharya.
The sanctum of Badri holds the central image of Badrinarayana, which is made in black stone and 3.3’ in height.
The four armed Vishnu holds the shank and sudhrshana chakra in two arms in a raised posture and other two arms rest on the lap in yogamudra. In the sanctum, to the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Naradha is kneeling in front on the right side and on the left side are Kubera and Garuda.
According to legend Vishnu did penance in an open space at the location of Badrinath and his consort Lakshmi created shelter for him in the form of Badri tree to protect him from adverse climatic conditions. The sage Narada did penance here as well.
In addition, I also saw Maruti mandir, Durga mandir and Shiv mandir constructed by NTPC on the way to my hotel. My day’s experience was very satisfying.
Bavishya Badri was my next Badri stop.
After breakfast, we proceeded towards Tapovan, 17 km form Joshimath.
Close to Tapovan, is a hot spring that is covered by a fence and the sand is red.
Bavishya Badri is 2744 mtrs above sea level and it can be reached through dense forest and trekking will be 5 to 6 km from the place called Saldhar.
It is situated on an ancient pilgrim route to Mount Kailash along the Dhauli Ganga River.
It is believed that in future, Badrinath will appear at the Bavishya Badri temple and Badri will be worshipped here, instead of Badri Vishal.
It has the image of Narasimha; the lion faced incarnation of Vishnu. The trek goes through several villages and the temple is very small.
The area was beautiful and one gets a good view of Dronagiri mountains and many other mountains from here.
While climbing down from Bavishya Badri, we visited Ardh Badri. The size of the deity is very small and this place can be approached by trekking along a steep bridle path.
This is the fourth Badri and I returned back to my hotel after having lunch.
In the evening, I visited all the local temples around Joshimath such as Gauri Shankar temple, Vasudeva temple, Narasing temple, Kalpa Vriksha, Shankaracharya temple and one more temple mentioned as prachin kedar temple, the oldest temple of the area.
With this my stay at Joshimath was over.
On the fourth day, two Canadian trekkers and two cooks from Joshimath joined me for the rest of the journey.
Our next point was Vridha Badri located at Animath village, 7 km from Joshimath, situated at a height of 1380 mtrs from the sea level.
Legend tells that Vishnu appeared in the form of a vridha or old man to sage Narada who performed penance here.
The temple is open throughout the year and it is believed that the image was carved by divine craftsman Vishwakarma. This was the fifth Badri of my tour.
Our next destination was Kalpeshwar Mahadev, and we got transportation only upto lyari village.
We trekked upto Urgam village where we stayed in a guest house.
After lunch, we went to Kalpeshwar Mahadev temple, the first Kedar of our tour. Kalpeshwar (2200mtrs) is in the picturesque Urgam village.
It is a location for meditation and it’s believed that sage Durvasa meditated here under the Kalpakavriksha (Kalpa tree).
It is visible on the rock face inside the cave.
The temple is accessible throughout the year and it is only a 12km trek from the nearest road of Helang on the Rishikesh Badrinath road.
Lord Shiva‘s hair and head is worshipped here. This place is very popular amongst meditating ascetics, where one can experience the charm of a celebrated spot.
Blessed with streams and thick woods one is stunned to come across such a beautiful and blessed spot on the earth.
Dhyan Badri is located in the Urgam village close to Kalpeshwar on the banks of river Alakananda.
The four armed image of Vishnu made out of black stone in a meditative posture rests here.
It can be reached from Helang after a 12 km trek enroute to Joshimath.
It is believed that Urvarishi of the Pandavas lineage meditated in Urgam region and established the temple for Vishnu.
I thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings of Urgam village, a clean, non-polluted and peaceful village. Urgam valley is famous for potato plantation and apple orchards.
The toughest day of the trek started as we left Urgam village to Kalgot for Rudranath temple.
The trail meanders through lush green meadows and dense forests.
We took packed lunch with us for the trek.
Although the trek is going to exhaust you out completely, the serenity and beauty of the region pays for all the efforts made.
I spent some time with the local people of Kalgot. They were anxious to see me and curious because I was trekking in this age with so much grit and enthusiasm.
The next day we started our trek from Kalgot to Panar mountains. From here we get a splendid view of Hathi Parbat, Nanda Devi, Nanda ghunti, Trishuli and other mountain peaks.
Panar is a heavenly place and has playground where we pitched our tents. There is one small tea shop In Panar.
Early morning we left for Rudranath and I came back the same day to Panar.
It is a 4 km trek to Rudranath and the temples are closed in the afternoons. There are numerous sacred water tanks near the temple. These include Surya kund, Chandra kund, Tara kund, Mana kund etc.
The Vaitharni stream flows near the temple.
The temple has a grey stone idol and the deity is a Swayambhuva, shivling shaped like a human face formed by the projection of huge rock. The face has a serene smile and a gaze of pure benevolence.
Measuring about 3’ from the chin to the top of the jata-kesh and a cloth remains bound tightly on the crown of Lord Shiva.
Here again people discussed about my stamina because in I trekked to Rudranath and back in a single day.
This day’s trek to Sagar brought us across a variety of medicinal and green plants. Here the vegetation was very dense and high and walking amidst the plants was really enjoyable.
On the way to Sagar, you come across many, tiny villages.
There’s a small Parchin Shiva Temple, 1 km from the main road. I visited it before returning to Chopta, where I’d be staying in tents for the night.
Chopta has many small shops.
Tunganath our third Kedar is situated at the height of 3680m and is the hightest among the Kedars.
As per schedule, we started for darshan of the Lord at Tunganath temple on day 7. Tunganath our third Kedar is situated at the height of 3680m and is the highest among the Kedars.
The Trek is about 3km upwards.
Enroute you will find lush green meadows and the vista of capped Himalayan ranges. Tunganath temple is the place where Shiva’s hands were supposedly seen.
The region receives heavy snowfall during the winters. The trek route goes through rocky terrains, green meadows and rhododendron bushes showing us splendid vistas of nature.
After darshan, we trekked to Chandrasheela, hardly a Km from Rudranath.
There is a small temple of Ganga Mata. All the mountains of the region are visible from this altitude. Felt like it was heaven on earth.
The day ended with full of satisfaction and one of the travelers who stayed in another tent was overjoyed with my presence, after hearing my experiences and trips and treks.
The cooks, the guide returned to Joshimath and the fellow trekkers now left for Haridwar.
I was left alone to proceed to Ukhimath to join Baldev, the guide from Peak Adventure.
Baldev is a very lovable and affectionate person and I know him from the previous trek.
The transport from Ukhimath was upto Unaina only and from there, we trekkied upto Gaundhar via Ransi village. There were a few, small eating places in Ransi and Gaundhar.
The trek is about 6 km to reach Gaundhar from Unaina and we stayed in a lodge at Gaundhar.
Madhmaheshwar is situated at an attitude of 3265 m above the sea level. I started my trek at early hours of the day (early morning) to Madhmaheshwar as it was a lengthy trek.
On the right side of the trekking path, were lush green alpine meadows and on the left side dense forests.
The temple architecture is classic north Indian style. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of navel shaped lingam. There is a small temple at the top called Buda Madhmaheswar.
After darshan we enjoyed sights of silver lined Chaukumba Mountain, had lunch and headed back to the hotel.
I enjoyed the food prepared at hotel and how well they served it. I was moved by the unbounded affection shown by these people.
Normally, people would camp at the temple overnight, but I came back the same day. This was widely appreciated by the fellow trekkers, who started the trek with me from the base camp. We stayed in the same hotel on that day.
We trekked back to Unaina from Gaundhar next day and took a bus to
I visited a temple at Ukhimath where the idol of Kedarnath and Madmaheswar are worshipped in the winters. We reached Gaurikund in the evening and I took bath in the hot-springs.
I stayed in a hotel near Gaurikund and had darshan of temples near Gaurikund.
Early morning, I started with vigor for the trek to Kedarnath temple.
The holy place is named after king Kedar the ruler of Satya Yuga. The temple is not only famous for its implications, but overlooks marvelous sights of Mother Nature.
The linga is a natural rock that resembles the hump of a bull.
The crowd was less and I had a nice darshan. Fortunately that day the temple was decorated with flowers. The entire temple had a heavenly atmosphere. I felt I am lucky that I had seen the colorful Kedar temple and got the blessings of Bholenath.
My five Kedar darshan ended with a happy note of worshipping the deity in a decorated in so many colors. I also had darshan of Bharivnath temple, 1 km away from the temple ad Aadi Shankaracharya temple near to Kedar main temple. My entire day was spent around Kedar temple.
My final destination was Aadi Badri.
Our trek To Gaurikund started early next morning. From there we took a bus to Rudraprayag.
Aadi Badri is located near Karnaprayag about 16km.
The 7th Badri, Aadi Bdri is the ancient Shrine of the Saptha Badri temples.
Karnaprayag is at the confluence of Pindar River and Alakananda River in Chamouli district.
The sanctum holds black stone images of Vishnu depicting Him holding mace, lotus and chakra. Here the same system is followed as the in the temple of Badri Vishal.
From Aadi Badri we went to Srinagar via Karnaprayag. Our night halt was at Srinagar tourism hotel. This is the last stage of my travel.
My next pilgrimage had started when I left Srinagar for Uttarkashi for Gangotri at about 6 o’ clock in the morning.
Though it is long duration with al lot of climatic changes and strenuous trek, the darshan of 7 Badris, 5 Prayags and 5 Kedars stands fresh in my mind and will stay that way always. I pray Bholenath and Badrinath who had blessed me with enough strength to complete this trek.
With the Blessings of Shiva and Vishnu, I got profound peace of mind as a result of this pilgrimage
Moreover I am really moved by the affection shown by the cooks, Dinesh and Suraj and the two gudies, Sandeep and Baldev. Without their affection and support, I could have not done trek in a satisfying manner.
I am happy that my experience with mountains and local people. I consider this as one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my entire life.
Life is meaningless without the spiritual experience of the Himalayas. My attachment and affection to Himalayan region continues till date and there is no end to our bond.
Haidwar — Rishikesh — Joshimath
Joshimath — Yoghyadhan badri(pandukeshwar) — Badri Vishal
Joshimath —.Bavishya Badri(near Tapovan) — Ardh Badri
Joshimath — Vridha Badri on the Joshimath-Haridwar road
Vridha Badri — Helang — Urgam — Dhyan Badri — Kalpeshwar
Urgam — Kalgot — Panar — Rudranath
Rudranath — .Panar — Sagar — Mandol — Chopta
Chopta — Tunganath — Chandrasheela — Chopta
Chopta — Ukhimath — Jagasu —.Unaina —.Ransi — Gaundhar — Madhmaheshwar
Madhmaheshwar — Gaundhaar — Ransi —- Unaina — Jagasu — Ukhimath —GuptKashi — Gaurikund
Gaurikund — Kedarnath —.Gaurikund — Guptkashi — Rudraparayag — Karnaprayag — Adi Badri
Aadi Badri — Karnaprayag — Rudraprayag — Srinagar — Uttarkashi