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History and Legends about Badrinath

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The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini - literally, the 'Ascent to Heaven'. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Swargarohini. There is also a cave in Mana where Vyas, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.

According to the Skanda Purana: “There are several sacred shrines in heaven, on earth, and in hell; but there is no shrine like Badrinath.”

The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.

According to Vamana Purana, the sages Nara and Narayana (fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu) perform Penances here.

Badrinath has also been eulogised as Bhu Vaikunta or earthly abode of Lord Vishnu. Many religious scholars such as Ramanujacharya, Madhawacharya and Vedanta Desika visited Badrinath and wrote sacred texts, such as commentaries on Brahmasutras and other Upanishads.

References to Sri Badrinath have been made in the Vedas & perhaps it was a popular shrine during the Vedic age also. The Skand Purana gives an account of the Adiguru consecrating the idol of Lord Badri Vishal in the temple after recovering it from Narad Kund, in a pursuance of a divine call from heaven. The idol is made of black stone similar to granite. So holy is the shrine that it forms one of the four prominent places of Hindu worship. The epic Mahabharat, it is believed, was composed in the Vyas & Ganesh caves close by. The Vishnu Ganga which later becomes the Alaknanda flows below the temple.

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