I often ruminate how cleverly the sites of all the major shrines in our country had been chosen, particularly the Char Dhams. Where Puri, Dwarka and Rameshwaram are along the exquisite coastal areas in the east, south and the west respectively; Badrinathji is located at one of the picturesque spots in the north. I realized this only when I visited it right after my Kedarnath Yatra. On 13th June 2019 we departed from Sitapur towards Joshimath. Hence, Day 4 of our Kedarnath Yatra became Day 1 of our trip to Badrinath Dham. Click here to read the blog on Kedarnath Yatra.
Short Itinerary –
Day 1 – Sitapur – Joshimath (6 hours)
Day 2 – Rest Day – Visited Auli and Narsingh Temple, Joshimath
Day 3 – Joshimath – Badrinathji (2 hours) – Srinagar (7 hours)
Day 4 – Srinagar – Rishikesh – Haridwar – Delhi (10 hours)
Badrinath Altitude – 10,830 ft
Temperature can go upto 30 degrees during the day in the summer months and a minimum of 10 degrees at night.
Day 1 – 13th June 2019
It was already 5 pm, I guess, when we departed from Sitapur and it was going to get dark soon and I, personally, do not like to travel in the hills after dark. It’s too dangerous, especially if the driver himself seems to be in a hurry, as was in our case. The valleys and the forest that look so serene during the day, look creepy at night. My eyes were glued to the road and at every blind turn, I was on the edge of my seat. Yeah, I am always that scared when someone else is driving and not me. With the blessings of Kedarnath ji, we reached Joshimath safe and sound at about 11 pm. We ate a cold dinner and collapsed in our beds by 12 am.
Day 2 – 14th June 2019
It was unanimously decided that this was going to be a rest day. Almost all of the family members, including some senior members and especially the junior ones, were quite exhausted by not just the exertion from the Kedarnathji yatra but also from the cold on the night of the darshans. Since we had an entire day free, we just didn’t want to idle around in the hotel as Auli was way too tempting to be missed. We (My family and my brother-in-law’s family) had visited Auli once before, in January, 2017 when it was mostly covered in snow and looked beautiful. This would be our second time but in summers. We opted for the Ropeway as it would be fun for all those who were going to experience it for the first time.
It must have been an hour long wait before we could board the ropeway car, locally called as Gondola. Ticket cost is 1000 Rs per person. The Ropeway covers a track distance of 4.15 kms with the slope distance being 3.96 kms and gains the altitude of about 1110 meters (3641 ft). It is the second highest and longest ropeway in Asia after Gulmarg. It takes around 22 mins to reach Auli and during these 22 minutes you can see the beautiful Oak forest below along with patches of apple orchards and of other fruits along with the mountains that appear bigger and closer after every few minutes. The point where the ropeway stops, provides an excellent vantage point for Mt. Nanda Devi, the second highest peak in India. Though, in my opinion, its not as beautiful in summers as it is in winters, however, having tea or coffee while enjoying the lovely breeze with the gorgeous Nanda Devi standing tall behind the mountains with razor sharp edges in front, makes for an amazing backdrop. Perfect location for a photo shoot 😉
Time flies at a location like such and the one hour exploration time doesn’t seem enough. It was time to head back to Joshimath. We first relished our lunch upon reaching and then headed back to the hotel. While our main aim was to visit Badrinathji, we couldn’t just skip a very important shrine connected to it. Narsingh Devta Temple in Joshimath is that very important shrine. Its famous as a part of Sapt Badri and is also known as Narsingh Badri Temple given the fact that it is here that Badrivishal ji rests during the winters. The temple is dedicated to the 4th incarnation of Shri Vishnu, i.e., the Narsingh (Narsimha) Avtar and is a sacred place to visit in Joshimath. Our walk to the temple doubled up as a nice evening stroll where we even met rains on our way. It was dark when we reached and though the temple complex was well lit, I wish we visited it during the day. The view could have been much better.
The temple design is almost the same as Kedarnathji, only that it looks not as old or ancient as Kedarnathji. The temple complex is huge and houses many smaller temples of other deities. It also houses the place where Adi Shankaracharya ji used to meditate (Tapasya). The hall has an idol of Adi Shankaracharya ji and the walls has the entire story around Badrinathji temple written on it. There wasn’t much crowd so we had comfortable Darshans and were quite on time for the Shandhya Aarti (Evening prayer). Since we were to visit Bardrinath ji the next day, our visit to this temple also fell in line with the tradition of worshipping Badrivishalji after worshipping Narsinghji. We soon returned to our hotel, had dinner and went to bed early as it was going to be an early start the next day and a long day too.
Day 3 – 15th June 2019
The only way to make a huge family or a group ready on time is to give the target time of an hour earlier 😀 That is how we managed to leave for Badrinath ji around 6:15 am. Badrinath is approximately 46 kms from Joshimath and this does not include the walking distance to the temple. It was a clear and a beautiful morning with the crisp sun brightening up the valley. The scenery on the way to Badrinath is extremely serene and beautiful. The huge mountains towering on either side of the Alakhnanda river projected a certain tranquility and though the Alakhnanda river flows quite fiercely, it looked like just a peppy brook from up above. No, do not be mistaken, the river is massive in size and the water from the recent rains added to its volume making it even more grand. We realized this when we reached close to it and the temple. As we started closing in to our destination, the biggies started showing up! Mt. Neelkanth was an obvious showstopper. It sits royally tall like a diva who is aware of its beauty and automatically attracts all the attention to itself. If there was a beauty pageant for mountains, it would have given a major competition to all the others. There were two other significant peaks Nar Parbat and Narayan Parbat about which we sadly didn’t know until we came back.
The parking was around 500 m away from the village area where our bus was parked. From here one has to go on foot all the way to the temple. The narrow and crowded lanes of the village had various shops on either side. At some points it became confusing and we had to ask for directions. After walking for some time we reached near the Alakhnanda river from where the temple could be seen. The portion of the river right below the temple is called Garam Kund/Tapt Kund. Its a natural hot water spring and you can spot the steam rising from the water. This hot water spring is a blessing in the otherwise freezing weather and water of the river. Bathing in this kund is not just auspicious but also extremely relaxing. It was around 9 am after we crossed the bridge and joined an already a kilometer long queue. No kidding! It really was that long! We were standing way beyond the shed that would normally provide shade to the people standing in the queue and with more and more people joining, it went far behind us too! The crisp morning sun was now a little too hot for everyone and with this also came the nagging requests from many to let them join the queue in front of us.
After a restless wait for more than one and a half hour, it was around 10:50 am when I was right in front of the main gate of Badrinathji Temple. Cameras weren’t allowed inside, so whatever I saw beyond this point, is all vivid in my memories. The walls, halls and the doorway of the temple were intricately decorated in bright hues of yellow, red, blue and silver. The first door leads to a hall which then leads to the staircase of the main temple. We enter the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) from the staircase on the right and just after a few steps ahead we can see the heavily decorated Shaligram (idol made of black stone) of Badrinathji under a gold canopy. The spirit of the enthusiastic crowd at this time is at its peak. Even when there is hardly any breathing space and everyone is constantly stepping over someone’s foot, some devotees will still advertently or inadvertently push everyone just to get a real good look or a closer look at the deity. Some, like me, well, they are just like a leaf flowing with the water. We go with the flow 😀 And even so, we got a great darshan of Bardivishal ji. Not just this, right when I reached in line of the idol, Pujari ji (priest) threw a couple of Tulsi garlands initially offered to the deity as a Prasad and luckily they both landed in my hands!! I considered myself extremely lucky and blessed. For the next 5 minutes I was consumed with so much ecstasy that I just kept walking towards the exit looking at Badrivishal ji, thanking him constantly not focusing on anything else at that moment. After stepping down from the exit stairs on the left of the temple, I went towards the back of the Garbhgriha to pray, spent some time having a good look and feel of the ancient temple and then walked out of the premises.
By 11:20 am, we had crossed the bridge and were on our way back to the bus. We did stop over a few times to shop some souvenirs. I got a miniature Badrivishalji and a Shivalinga made of mercury. Once we reached back to the bus we quickly ate something to satiate the hunger pangs and then set out for our last destination, i.e., Mana village. Mana is the last village from the Mana Pass and is 26 kms away from the Indo-Tibet border. The village is hard to miss given its proximity to Badrinath. The scenic beauty of the landscape was even more beautiful towards Mana and we could only imagine how stunning it must be closer to the Tibet border. However, I guess we had already spent our share of luck that day because as soon as we reached close to the entrance check post of the village, we saw a traffic jam extending way back. Since we had to reach back to Srinagar that day, we were running short on time. With no luck in movement even after waiting for 10 minutes, we decided to give the village a skip and turned back towards Srinagar. It was perhaps around 10 pm that we reached and after a quick dinner we went to sleep early.
Day 4 – 16th June 2019
We were all tired and so it was a slightly relaxed morning for everyone. It was going to be a long day with almost 10 hours of journey back to Delhi. We left Srinagar around 7 am with memories still fresh and vivid to be cherished forever.
If you like, then please watch the short vlog attached below that I made on this trip. Thank you!