Char Dham has special significance in Sanatan culture. Badrinath, Jagannath, Rameswaram and Dwarika are included in these four dhams. The best of these is considered Badrinath Dham. But few people know that in the Himalayas, Lord Narayana resides not only in the Badri Vishal, but in seven temples.
Those are also known as Sapta Badri. In the Puranas, these temples of Sapta Badri group have been described as Badrinath. All these temples are located in Chamoli district of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand and the worship tradition is similar to Badrinath here. The special thing is that their establishment period is also considered the same as that of Badrinath Dham.
Like Badrinath Dham, Lord Narayana dwells in various forms in these pilgrimages. In the ‘Kedarkhand’ of ‘Skanda Purana’ it is said that ‘Idam Vishnurvi Chakme Tredha Niddeh Padam, Samulahmasya Pansure Swaha’ (Omnipresent God Vishnu holds this world and he is the first land, second space and three positions in the third dulok. Embellish that means they are widespread everywhere).
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Some of the temples of these Sapta Badri temples remain open for visitors throughout the year, while the rest have a tradition of opening and closing the doors like Chardham. It is said that in the ancient times, when the road to Badrinath Dham was extremely inaccessible and full of woes, then most of the devotees used to get the blessings of Lord Narayana’s darshan in Adi Badri Dham, but the road to Badrinath Dham became easier with the passage of time.
This is how Sapta Badri …
1. Adi Badri
It is believed that before the Badrinath darshan, one should visit Adibadri. Adibadri means the oldest temple of Lord Vishnu which is also known as his Tapasthali. Adibadri Temple is located just 16 kilometers from Karnprayag in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is a group of 16 temples, out of which 14 temples are still intact even today.
It is said that these temples were built by the Pandavas on their way to heaven. According to some beliefs, Adi Guru Shankaracharya built these temples in the eighth century. While the Archaeological Survey of India believes that the Adibadri temple group was built by kings of the Katyuri dynasty between the eighth to eleventh centuries.
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The 3-foot-high idol of Lord Vishnu is worshiped in the main temple located here. Temples of other gods and goddesses – Lord Satyanarayana, Maa Lakshmi, Lord Shiva, Maa Kali, Maa Annapurna, Ram-Lakshmana-Sita, Maa Gauri, Kubera, Chakbhan, Lord Shankar and Hanuman ji are established in the temple premises.
Adibadri is a part of Panchbadri temple and Panchabadri (Adibadri, Vishal Badri, Yoga-Dhyan Badri, Vriddhi Badri and Bhavishya Badri) are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a belief that Lord Vishnu stayed in the Adibadri temple for the first three yugas (Satyuga, Dwaparyuga, Tretayuga) and in the Kaliyuga he went to the Badrinath temple and when the Kaliyuga is over, he will be transferred to the future Badri.
2. Best Badri Vishal in Kalyug
Badrinath Dham, situated at an altitude of 3133 meters above sea level in the Anchal of Nar-Narayan Mountains, is the best pilgrimage site among the four Dhams in the country. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya built the Badrinath temple in the eighth century. In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple sits the quadrangular statue of Lord Narayana. This idol made of Shaligram rock is in Dhyanamudra.
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According to the legend, the deity was removed from Naradkund and installed in the temple. When Buddhists prevailed, they started worshiping it as an idol of Buddha. During the propaganda of Shankaracharya, the Buddhists fleeing Tibet threw the idol at Alaknanda.
Shankaracharya restored him. However, the idol was again moved, which was removed from Taptakund for the third time and installed by Ramanujacharya. The Nara-Narayana Deity is worshiped in the temple and the unbroken lamp is lit, which is a symbol of immovable wisdom-light. At a distance of 27 km to the west of the temple, there are views of the Badrinath Shikhara, whose height is 7138 meters.
3. Narsingh Temple Joshimath: Narsingh Badri replica of Narayana
Except for Narsingh Badri in Joshimath, devotees visit Lord Narayana in all other temples. Whereas, Narayan sits in his fourth avatar Narsingh form in Narsingh temple. However, on his seat he sits with the Dev Panchayat just like Lord Badri Narayan.
Narsingh Temple located in Jyotirmath (Joshimath) in Chamoli district is one of the 108 divine shrines of Lord Vishnu. Being one of Sapta Badri, this temple is also called Narsingh Badri. It is believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya himself established Narsingh Shaligram here.
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A self-made statue of Lord Narsingh, about ten inches high, is installed from the Shaligram rock. In this, Lord Narsingh sits on the lotus. He is also associated with the Deities of Badri Narayan, Uddhav and Kubera. On the right side of the Lord are Shri Ram, Mother Sita, Hanumanji and Garuda Maharaj, and on the left are Mother Chandika (Kali).
It is only in relation to Lord Narsingh that the wrist of his left hand is constantly weakening. On the day the wrist breaks and falls on the ground, Badrinath’s road will be blocked forever by the meeting of Nara-Narayan (Jai-Vijay) mountain.
4. Yoga-Meditation Badari
At the place called Pandukeshwar, there is an ascetic form of meditation of Lord Narayana. This idol of Ashtadhatu is very attractive and beautiful. It is popular that the idol of Lord Yog-Dhyan Badri was brought from Indralok at the time when Arjuna returned from Indraloka after receiving Gandharva lore. In ancient times, Rawal also used to worship Lord Badri Narayan at this place during winter. So, the name of Lord Narayana established here changed to Yoga and Meditation. Yoga-Dhyan Badri is ranked third in Panch Badri. In winter, when the doors of the Badrinath shrine are closed in the Nara-Narayan ashram, the worship of the Lord’s festival Vigraha is performed at this place. Hence it is also known as ‘Cold Badri’.
5. Older Badri
At Animath (Aranyamath), seven km from Joshimath, lies the very beautiful Deity of Lord Vishnu, which is regularly worshiped and anointed. Here is the ancient temple of Lord Badri Narayan, in which he is enshrined as ‘Old Badri’. It is popular that once Devarshi Narada wandered in the dead land and started going towards Badaridham.
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Seeing the path’s distress, he stopped at the place called Animath to eliminate fatigue. Here he worshiped and meditated on Lord Vishnu for some time and wished to see him. Then Lord Badrinarayan appeared to Narada as an elder. Since then, this place has a statue of Badri-Narayana, which is called Vriddhi Badri.
6. Future changed
In the Kedarkhand of Skanda Purana, it is said that after the completion of Kali Yuga, the two mountains named Jai-Vijay will join together near Joshimath. If the path is blocked then the sight of Lord Badri Vishal will be impossible. In such a situation, devotees will be able to worship Lord’s Deity at Bhavishya Badri, situated at an altitude of 2744 meters above sea level. Bhavishya Badri Dham is situated on the Joshimath-Malari road, near Tapovan, near Subhanai village. To reach here, one has to trek four kilometers from Tapovan through the dense pine forest.
It is said that here Maharishi Agastya did penance. Presently, the Deity of God is manifesting itself in stone here. There is a tradition of opening the temple of Kapit with Badrinath.
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7. Meditation Change
According to mythological legends, Kalpavas was started by Indra at this place. It is said that when Devaraja became insensible by the curse of Indra Durvasa, he went to Kalpavas at this place to please Lord Vishnu. Since then the tradition of Kalpavas started here. As the seeker is absorbed in the meditation of the Lord in Kalpavas, the Deity of God is also in self-state here. That is why this Deity of Narayana was called Dhyan Badri.
The long stay of Narayana devotees gave birth to the Vishnu temple here and this temple was recognized as a part of Sapta Badri. In ancient times, the gods performed penance at this place. Pleased with this, God gave Kalpavriksha to the gods. This place is located in Kalpeshwar region of Urgam Dhati.
Places to see around Badrinath
Tapt-kund on the banks of Alaknanda, Brahma kapal, snake joint, ‘Sheshnatra’ with Sheshnag imprint, Charanapaduka, snow-covered Nilkanth Shikhar, Mata Murti Temple, Mana, the last village of the country, Ved Vyas cave, Ganesh cave, Bhima bridge , The temple of Ashtas Vasapostha Vasudhara, Lakshmi Van, Satopanth (Swargahrini), the origin of the Alaknanda River and Alkapuri, the abode of Kubera, the Saraswati River, the temple of Urvashi originating from the thigh of Lord Vishnu in Bamani village.