"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
~ Edmund Hillary


Uttarakhand ~ Badrinath

Badrinath, located on the right bank of river Alaknanda, is a temple town that evokes the most intense religious feelings. An abode of seers, saints and yogis from time immemorial, Badrinath is one of the four Dhams that a devout Hindu has to visit in his lifetime to attain salvation. Known as 'Tapobhoomi' (land of meditation and penance) and 'Bhubaikunth' (heaven on earth), it is surrounded on either side, by two mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan, with the Neelkanth peak, providing a spectacular backdrop. The site was once carpeted with wild berries, which gave it the name "Badri Van" meaning forest of berries.

The main temple, Badrinathji, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is said to have done penance in the mythical forest that once covered the mountains of Uttarakhand. Legend dates the origins of the temple back to the Vedic age. The present temple dates back to the time of Sri Shankaracharya who also founded a Math here in the 8th century. Facing the Badrinath temple is a hot water spring known as 'Tapta Kund'. Other famous thermal springs are the Narad Kund and the Surya Kund.

Other places to visit include the Mata Murti temple, which is dedicated to the mother of Nar Narayan, Sesh Netra Temple, Urvashi Temple and Charan Paduka.

Mana Village, 4 km away, is inhabited by an Indo-Mongolian tribe It is the last village on the Indo-Tibet border. Many places famous in Hindu mythology lie close to Mana Village such as Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bhimpul and Vasudhara falls.

More on Uttaranchal
Uttarnchal Districts
Char Dham Yatra
Corbett National Park
Valley of Flowers
Festivals of Kumaon

Haridwar to Badrinath

Malari, Dhauli Ganga

Khedatal Trek

Where to stay:
The GMVN lodge offers basic but clean accommodation. There are a number of other lodges. Many charitable trusts and religious foundations maintain lodges and dharamshalas. Only vegetarian food is available, as it is a temple town. Alcoholic drinks are strictly prohibited.

Getting there:
Air: the nearest airport is the small airport of Jolly Grant at Dehra Dun (315 km) which is sometimes serviced by small airlines.
Rail: the nearest railhead is at Rishikesh (297 km). Haridwar is 24 km further down from Rishikesh and is better connected by rail.
Road: the town is connected by road to Rishikesh and other towns in the region. Delhi is 238 km from Rishikesh.


The town shuts down in winter as the temple is closed. The Badrinath temple opens every year in May and closes for winter in November. During the cold season the town gets snow bound with sub- zero temperatures.


Joshimath (44km):
The religious centre, established by Adi Shankaracharya, which he called Jyotirmath, later came to be known as Joshimath. Among the sites of interest are the temples of Nav Durga and Narsingh. Apart from its obvious religious importance, Joshimath is known for its scenic beauty.

Deoprayag (48km) is famous for the Shiv and Raghunath temples.

Govindghat (20 kms):
Situated between Joshimath and Badrinath, Govindghat is the starting point for the trek to the Valley of Flowers and to Hemkund Sahib. Govind Ghat is a small village but offers hotels and guest houses.


Valley of Flowers:
Frank S. Smythe discovered this idyllic valley in 1931. During season the valley is carpeted with vibrant flowers and populated with insects, birds and butterflies. Nearby, flows the river Pushpavati, while the massive Rataban peak forms a splendid backdrop. The altitude of the valley ranges from 3352 to 6500 meters. The area has been declared a National Park to maintain its delicate environment and covers an area of 87 square kms. It holds over 300 species of wild flowers, the largest profusion being in bloom during monsoons from end July to mid August. The valley can only be visited in the daytime and night stay is not permitted. It is host to various fauna such as snow leopard, brown bear, musk deer, bharal and thar.

The valley is a 15-km trek from Gobindghat. En route, one can get accommodation at Ghangaria, where lodging and boarding facilities are available at the GMVN Rest House, the Forest Rest House and the Gurudwara. One road from Ghangaria leads to the Valley of Flowers and the other is a steep climb of 5 kms to Hemkund lake. From Ghangaria, tourists can visit the valley and return the same day.


Hemkund Sahib:
A trek branching off the route to the Valley of Flowers leads to one of the most famous Gurudwaras in India, Hemkund Sahib. The Gurudwara is located at an altitude of 4320 metres above sea level. Nearby, is the Hemkund Lake. Encircled by seven snow-clad peaks and their associated glaciers, the crystal clear serene waters of the lake reflect the surroundings. The glaciers from Hathi Parvat and Sapt Rishi peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out. According to the Holy Granth Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikh faith, meditated on the banks of this lake in one of his earlier reincarnations. This is a pilgrimage centre not only for the Sikh community but also for other faiths. The Gurudwara itself is an imposing star shaped structure at the edge of the lake. There is a small Lakshman temple nearby.


Hemkund is a 15 km trek from Govindghat. The trek takes one through forests of Rhododendron and pine, while the surging waters of the Bhyunder river roar nearby. The last settlement before Hemkund is Ghangharia (3050 metres). There are Tourist Rest Houses of the GMVN and Forest Deptt. here and accommodation is also provided by the Gurudwara at Ghangharia. The last bit of the trek entails a steep climb of 5 km from Ghangharia. Ponies can be hired if the going is found difficult. The Gurudwara at Hemkund provides accommodation for overnight stay. The best season is between July and October.

Information: Courtesy Government of India

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.