Badrinath Temple, also called Badrinarayan Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu which is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, India. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Badrinath—holy shrines for Vaishnavites. It is open for six months every year, between the end of April and the beginning of November, because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River at an elevation of 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres of India, having recorded 1,060,000 visits.
The Badrinath temple is one of five related shrines called Panch Badri, which are dedicated to the worship of Vishnu.The five temples are Vishal Badri - Badrinath Temple in Badrinath, Yogadhyan Badri located at Pandukeshwar, Bhavishya Badri located 17 km (10.6 mi) from Jyotirmath at Subain, Vridh Badri located 7 km (4.3 mi) from Jyotirmath in Animath and Adi Badri located 17 km (10.6 mi) from Karnaprayag. The temple is considered one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine) sites, comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. Although the temple's origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Adi Shankara attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer. The four monasteries are located across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East,Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Sri Sharada Peetam Sringeri at Sringeri,Karnataka in the South.
The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus, who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetimes. Traditionally, the pilgrimage starts at the eastern end from Puri, proceeding clockwise in a manner typically followed for circumambulation in Hindu temples.
Festivals and religious practices
The most prominent festival held at Badrinath Temple is Mata Murti Ka Mela, which commemorates the descent of the river Ganges on mother earth. The mother of Badrinath, who is believed to have divided the river into twelve channels for the welfare of earthly beings, is worshiped during the festival. The place where the river flowed became the holy land of Badrinath.
The Badri Kedar festival is celebrated during the month of June in both the temple and the Kedarnath temple. The festival lasts for eight days; artists from all over the country perform during the function.
The major religious activities (or pujas) performed every morning are mahabhishek (ablution), abhishek, gitapath and bhagavat puja, while in the evening the pujas include geet govinda and aarti. Recital in vedic scripts like Ashtotram and Sahasranama is practiced during all the rituals. After aarti, the decorations are removed from the image of Badrinath and sandalwood paste is applied to it. The paste from the image is given to the devotees the next day as prasad during the nirmalaya darshan. All the rituals are performed in front of the devotees, unlike those in some Hindu temples, where some practices are hidden from them.Sugar balls and dry leaves are the common prasad provided to the devotees. From May 2006, the practise of offering Panchamrit Prasad, prepared locally and packed in local bamboo baskets, was started.
The temple is closed for winter on the auspicious day of Vijayadasami during October–November. On the day of closure, Akhanda Jyothi, a lamp is lit filled with ghee to last for six months.Special pujas are performed on the day by the chief priest in the presence of pilgrims and officials of the temple. The image of Badrinath is notionally transferred during the period to the Narasimha temple at Jyotirmath, located 40 mi (64 km) away from the temple.The temple is reopened around April on Vasant Panchami, another auspicious day on the Hindu calendar. Pilgrims gather on the first day of opening of the temple after the winter to witness the Akhanda Jyothi.
The temple is one of the holy places where the Hindus offer oblations to ancestors with the help of the priests. Devotees visit the temple to worship in front of the image of Badrinath in the sanctum and have a hold dip in Alaknanda River. The general belief is that a dip in the tank purifies the soul.