HELPING/ASSISTING PILGRIMS

BADRINATH

 

The Badrinath temple is in the lap of Narayan Parvat with Nilkanth in the background. Sri Badrinath is the other name of Lord Vishnu. The mythological story as to why Lord Vishnu chose this valley as his abode sounds quite logical and interesting. As Lord Vishnu rested on his Sesha Sayya on the Kshir-Sagar whilst Goddess Lakshmi caressed his feet, Narad, the sage who was the doyen of highest learning, expressed his displeasure at Lord Vishnu’s ways of living in worldly comfort. Lord Vishnu was hurt and he sent Lakshmi away to the Naga Kanyas and he himself disappeared into a Himalayan valley. He assumed a yogadhyani posture and meditated for several years. Lakshmi returned from the Naga Kanyas and on finding the Sesha Sayya empty, went to the Himalayas and found Lord Vishnu in a meditating posture amidst the Badri. On finding abundance of Badri, she addressed the meditating lord as Badrinath and requested him to give up the yogadhyani posture and return to his original form and the lord agreed to do so. Thus, the place became known as Badrinath. This is one of the four Dhams established by Sri Adi Guru Shankaracharya. Badrinath is 44 kms North West of Joshimath and is linked with a metalled road. It is rapidly growing into a big town.

 

The town is vacated during winters and the Shrine is closed for nearly six months and the temple was closed on 17 Nov 2011. Traditionally the local Army formation has been providing assistance during opening and closing ceremonies of the shrine. During the closing ceremony Bhandara was provided by the local Army units.

Badrinath Temple

 

KEDARNATH

 

After the massacre of the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas set out on a yatra to Kashi in order to be blessed by Lord Shiva and be absolved from the sin of killing their kinsmen- the Kauravas. Lord Shiva unwilling to give darshan to the Pandavas, fled from Kashi to Uttarakhand and lived incognito in Guptakashi. On being detected at Guptakashi by the Pandavas, Shiva went to Kedarnath, but the Pandavas followed him. Then he assumed the form of a bull. Shiva being pleased with the determination of Pandavas, exonerated them from their sins, gave them darshan and bestowed upon them the opportunity to worship his hump. It is from that day that the hump of Shiva is worshipped in the temple of Kedarnath- in the conical Shiva pinda form.

 

The Kedarnath Temple remains closed for nearly six months from the month of October and only reopens in the month of May. The temple was closed on 28 October 2011 in which the local Army unit assisted in the closing ceremony by providing pipe band, maintenance of security and Bandhara was also established providing food for pilgrims for two days.

Doli Procession

Bhandara

 

GANGOTRI

 

Mythology has it that Ganga, daughter of heaven, came down to the earth as a result of King Bhagirath’s severe penance. Gangotri is the place where the Ganga landed on earth. Thousands throng this place to pay homage to her. By November, Gangotri is snow bound. It is believed that the Goddess retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode 12 km downstream. Gaumukh, the mouth of the Ganga, is about 18 km away in the Gangotri glacier.

 

The Gangotri Temple remains closed for six months from the month of October and only reopens in the month of May. The temple was closed on 27 October 2011 in which the local Army unit assisted in the closing ceremony by providing pipe band, medical cover, maintenance of security and Bandhara was also established providing food to nearly 500 pilgrims.

Gangotri Temple

 

HEMKUND SAHIB

 

It is situated at an altitude of 15,100 ft. There is a gurudwara and the only temple dedicated to Laxmana, the brother of Rama, near this holy pond. Pilgrims from all walks of life visit this shrine unmindful of the vagaries of the nature. Long before people started frequenting Sri Hemkund Sahib; the local inhabitants of that area held the lake with great awe and reverence and called the area around it Lokpal, i.e. sustainer for people. In spite of the fact that Hemkund was mentioned in the autobiography of Guru Govind Singh, its site remained in oblivion for well over two centuries. The first person to discover the actual location of the Tapasthan was Sant Sohan Singh (of Tehri, Garhwal), a retired Granthi from the Army. The Sant, along with Havaldar Baba Modan Singh of Bengal Sappers engaged a contractor and had a ten-foot square room constructed there and installed the sacred volume of Shri Guru Granth Sahib and established a Gurudwara. Havaldar Baba Modan Singh stayed on to perform service at the Gurudwara and in 1960, established a seven member trust called the Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib Management Trust.

 

Shri Hemkund Sahib receives heavy snowfall every winter and 6 km long route from Ghagaria till Shri Hemkund gets covered by 10-12 ft snow. Every year volunteers of the local Army units open the tough six km glaciated route to the shrine. The Shrine opens to the pilgrims in the first week of June every year.

Hemkund Sahib