Trip to the Badrinath Shrine, Uttrakhand!!
In continuation of my travel dairy,K For Kanvashram in Uttarakhand – A Mystic Encounter!! like I’ve mentioned, I have spent my childhood in a small town called Kotdwar enveloped by nature in the state of Uttrakhand. Kotdwar city is in Pauri district of Uttarakhand and situated in the foothill of Himalayas .The town was encircled by small mountain range from two sides and the southern side is open towards plain land the entry point for the hilly region and northern boundary touches the Rajaji national park. Our house was in the midst of Mango orchard with a beautiful lush green garden in front of the house. Nowadays a caretaker manages the house as I and my siblings are living in different parts of the country. At present, my family and I reside at Mumbai and visit our hometown once in two years or for any family gathering. I want to share the travel story of our visit to the holy shrine of Badrinath via my parental village through this blog.
It was my niece’s wedding, which was being solemnized at my sister’s place in our hometown. So, after a short visit to our home we stayed at my sister’s place.
After the marriage ceremony, it is customary to take the blessing of Lord Hanuman; we visited the temple of our town SIDDABALI MANDIR – Dedicated to Lord Hanuman – with the newly wedded couple. All the functions & ceremonies were over by that time.
Our plan was to visit our Kul Devi and parental town in Pauri Garhwal to take blessings of Kul Devi as my son was about to leave for the US for higher studies in two months’ time and also because my grown-up children had not visited our parental town so far in Pauri Garhwal. After that, our plan was to proceed onward to visit Badrinath temple at Joshimath. Luckily, my parental town is en-route Badrinath temple, which is one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites of Uttarakhand.
The widely known Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu legend, Vishnu meditated at this place and during his meditation, was unaware of cold weather. Lakshmi, his consort, protected him in the form of the Badri tree. Pleased by the devotion of Lakshmi, Vishnu named the place Badrika Ashram. This is situated in the town of Badrinath in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River considered as a source stream of the Ganges at an elevation of 3,133 meters and the most visited pilgrimage centers of India.
The journey to my parental town started in the morning around 106 kms from Kotdwar, which has hilly tracks. My younger brother’s family and my nephew were also with us in a separate car. It was a very adventurous journey on a hilly road, where people normally feel uncomfortable but it was going very smooth for all of us. Our first brief halt was on the way before reaching a small town called Satpuli, which is situated on the bank of river NAYAR; a perennial non-glacial river and one of the main tributaries of the Ganges, where we all enjoyed chai. The tea stall owner had served us tea with lot of affection and was asked many questions about our origin. Pahadi people are well known for their hospitality and affection and strongly believe in “Athiti Devo Bhav” in letter and spirit.
We reached Satpuli around noon and had lunch and then got down to River Nayar. The astonishing view was breathtaking as the river was surrounded by hills. It is a lifeline for the people of the valley and provides not only fresh fish but also clean water for drinking & irrigation purposes to the nearby villages.The Nayar River finally joins the Ganga River at Vyas Ghat in Rishikesh.
After nearly one hour of journey, we reached Jwalpa Devi Temple is a famous Shaktipeeth dedicated to Goddess Durga and surrounded by splendid green environment.It is more than 350 steps down from the main road on of the bank of river Nayar. The temple priest performed puja for the entire family and then we proceeded to the bank of the River Nayar. We were completely mesmerized by the view of the Nayar River and its surrounding greenery, it was the month of in May and the water was too cold.
After having our lunch in one of the many stalls on the main road, we proceeded for our onward journey to Pauri town and reached the destination in the evening and stayed at a guest house of Uttarakhand tourism. We planned to visit my native village the next morning. My older cousin brother, who resides at Pauri town was supposed to accompany us to the village next day.
My parental village is approximately 5 kms away from Pauri town, and in order to reach there, one has to walk down a km to reach the village from the main road. Most of the people have now migrated to bigger cities for work & better opportunities. As my writer friend Tina Acharya already mentioned in her blog P for Playground of Paradise My goan Danda dt 18th April 2020 on this platform about the main reasons of migration from village lifestyle to city lifestyle. Now, only a few families reside in the village. The old house of my grandfather was in pathetic condition. Which is inevitable as no one is living there currently because of the reason I mentioned above.
Early next morning, we reached our parental village and offered Puja at our Nanda Devi (Kul Devi) temple which was performed by a temple priest. Nanda Devi temple is very old, so much so that the actual date of construction is not known, but it was reconstructed in 2004.
After performing the Puja, we visited the house of our distant aunt (Chachiji). She had been living there in her beautifully maintained home all alone. At the age of 68 years, apart from doing all her household chores, she has maintained a very gorgeous flower & vegetable garden in front of the house where she grows a variety of vegetables in the nearby land. She also said that some of the vegetables she grew, she even sends them to her sons in Dehradun. They were the delicious kind, by virtue of being grown in a pollution free environment & without fertilizers (organic).
The breath-taking view alone of the beautiful flower garden maintained by our chachi single handedly is worth mentioning. When I asked why she did chose to stay here all alone, when she had the option to stay with her sons at Dehradun….Chachiji’s reply was simple. She said “This land is my Karambhumi and I have worked throughout my life in these fields among the greenery & nature. I am very much content, satisfied & free from the hustle bustle of city life.My sons are staying with their families in Dehradun in a limited space without all this. Of course, they have other modern facilities, which today’s generation aspires for ……But I cannot live without working in my fields & nature where everything is fresh. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and happiness and keeps me hale and hearty.” Needless to say, we were very impressed ———-.
There is little that words can do to describe the happiness & feel good factor that we all experienced with her. The children were also very happy to see how the vegetables are grown in the fields. We all enjoyed the delicious food prepared by Chachiji with the items from her kitchen garden. After taking her blessings, we proceeded back to Pauri town.
In the evening we visited Kyunkaleshwar Mahadev temple an ancient 8th century temple dedicated to Lord shiva.The temple enshrines the idols of Lord shiva,Goddess Parvati,Ganapati,Kartikeya, Lord Rama,Goddess Sita & Lakshmana.
The next morning, we left Pauri town for onward journey to Badrinath temple. We were travelling in two cars and followed the route of Pauri-Rudraprayag-Karnavprayag-Nandprayag-Piplkoti-Joshimath-Badrinath making it around an 8-hour journey. We took a short break at Rudraprayag for breakfast, the beautiful town that lies at the confluence of rivers Alaknanda & Madakini. One very important Shiv dham Kedarnath temple route is from Rudraprayag. After 2 hours of journey we reached Karanprayag, a small town that lies at the confluence of rivers Alaknanda & Pindar river. After a journey of an hour we reached Nandprayag, a thinly populated town at the confluence of rivers Alaknanda & Mandakini Rivers. We had lunch at a small restaurant in the lap of Mother Nature. (Photo source: eUttranchal.com)
After 2 more hours of journey we reached to Joshimath where we stayed for the night, our final destination to reach Badrinath which is only 45 kms from there. Joshimath is located at a height of 6150 feet and it is also a gateway to several Himalayan mountain-climbing expeditions, trekking trails and of course pilgrim centers like Badrinath. It was already dark so we stayed in a hotel as per plan. The weather was quite cold being the month of May. We planned to visit the shrine the next morning and co-incidentally, it was the day of opening of the Kapat (Doors) of the temple for six months.
We settled for the day and then I realized that we needed to check on our drivers as one of them was my brother’s personal driver and the other one was hired. So, I called him but he did not respond. I came out from the hotel in search of my driver but he was nowhere to be seen. I started searching the cars parked in the vicinity of the hotel but couldn’t see it anywhere. It took nearly half an hour for me to locate the car at a distance of a mere 300mts from our hotel, and to my utter surprise, both the drivers were sitting inside the hired car and enjoying drinks with snacks. I told him that I was looking for you and wanted to ensure your comfortable stay and here you are without a care and not even picking up the phone. Suddenly, my brother had also come looking for me and after seeing him his driver immediately stood up in attention, my brother was furious and was about to yell at him right there. I intervened before that and convinced him saying its fine as they too are tired driving whole day and we should just allow them to have their own relaxing time. I also ensured their comfortable stay for the night.
Next day we started early in the morning for the holy shrine of Lord Badrinath and reached there after one and a half hour. There were some devotees in the queue along with us. After spending nearly one hour standing in line we noticed that it wasn’t moving ahead at all. After enquiry we came to know that the chief minister of Uttrakhand & his family were offering puja inside the temple so they stopped the line till he completed.
I felt very annoyed. The VIP culture of India was very unreasonable, which is not at all warranted at least in the places of worship …isn’t it? Many people travelled from far-off distances like us, and he was airlifted directly from Dehradun in a helicopter. Still we are made to wait for hours just because he was performing puja. Not fair! I said the same thing to one of the TV channels covering the whole process being it was the first day of opening the shrine. I am sure that they might have not aired the views of pilgrims.
Well, as they say all’s well that ends well. After waiting patiently hours we finally got to visit the deity, perform puja, and offer our devotion in peace and calm environment. It was divine feeling to be in the vicinity of the temple and it’s surrounding. It was a gratifying feeling in itself.
Once somebody asked Swami Vivekananda, “What do you gain by Prayer?”And the answer given by him was “I gained nothing, In fact I lost Anger, Depression, Jealousy, and Irritation & Insecurity.”
Often it is said that travelling to holy places or pilgrimage makes a person earn virtues (punya) and lose sins (papa). Being a student of science and in a profession as Scientist I never adhered to these notions. But, Yes I feel somewhere the aura and divinity of such places have a direct impact on a deeper layer of our psyche and consciousness. We unwind a lot of unnecessary burdens of human emotions like envy, greed and running after material needs, on us and thereby feeling lightness and buoyancy within us.
Then calling it a day, we went back to our accommodations, after time well spent in the beautiful Mountains of Uttarakhand.Trip to the Badrinath Shrine, Uttrakhand was really a rejuvenating and revivifying.
This story has been written by Mr.Rakesh Nautiyal, a Senior Scientist, GM at ONGC. Recently I came across him and become friends. There are many interesting stories he would tell at times…being a globetrotter. Basically from Uttarakhand, This is an interesting Travelogue To the Holy Shrine The Badrinath Temple… Follow him at Rakesh Nautiyal @pari3105
This is My Post for The Alphabet T #AToZChallenge 2020 by @blogchatter in the Month of April 2020