Lord Vishnu is worshipped at Panch Badri in different forms. THE SEARCH of man for God has led him to various vicissitudes for discovery-the hope remains unquenched and pines for ever eternal. It has done so far for countless centuries and will do so till God's world and his creation last. The quest begins and leads through the shrines put up by man for his creator's glorification. In Badrikeshwar, lord Badrinath is worshipped at five different places and under five different names-
Vishal Badri (Badrinath)
The main attraction of Badrinath is the Badrinath temple also known as the Badrinarayan temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is also one of the 108 Divya Desams or holy shrines of Vaishnavities. The present temple is conical in shape, built two centuries ago by the kings of Garhwal. 15 idols are seated in the temple complex, each built in black stone. Lord Vishnu is represented here in a meditative posture and is flanked by Nar and Narayan. According to legend, the temple was originally established by Adi Shankaracharya and was renovated several times after its establishment. Badrinath is also one of the Panch Badris. The other four badris are Yogadhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Bridha Badri or the 'Old Badri' and Adi Badri.
Pretty often in the Garhwal Himalayas, tales from the Mahabharata, spring to life magically. Yogdhyan Badri, at 1,920 m, is located at Pandukeshwar, named after the Pandva's King. It is said that the Pandavas, the victorious though emotionally scarred after their battle against the Kauravas, , came to the Himalayas. And it was here that they handed over their capital, Hastinapur, to Raja Parikshit and took up penance before seeking out the highway to heaven. The importance of the Yogdhyan Badri is immense and the sanctum has an image of the lord in a meditative posture.
The Bhavishya Badri is located at 2,744 m, amidst the thick forests surrounding Tapovan. According to a divination, it is here that all devotees will throng once Badrinath is no more. While there can be no conceivable reason why this should happen, scientists agree that Joshimath, the entry point into the area before the final, most strenuous climb, is sited on an ancient landslide and has been sinking, and with a barrage coming up close by, may actually see the fulfillment of the divine prophecy. But whatever happens.
Before Badrinath was designated one of the four Char Dhams of Hindu worship by Adi Shankaracharya, the idol of Badrinath carved by the divine Vishwakarma was enshrined and worshipped at Vriddh Badri.
Interestingly, the image was found by Adi Shankaracharya at Naradkund, and restored, though part of it remains damaged. This, the first Badri, is located at a height of 1,380 m at Animath. While Badrinath closes during winter, the idol and priests hibernating at Joshimath, Vridha Badri remains open throughout the year.
17 kilometres from Karnprayag on the Karnprayag - Ranikhet road, are a group of sixteen temples, belonging to the Gupta period. Among them is the Narayan temple, where a black stone idol of Vishnu, three feet high is enshrined. This place is within the Badrikshetra, and Badrinath being the name for Vishnu, the temple is known as the Adi Badri.
It is believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya had initiated the construction of these temples. The main temple of Narayan is distinguished by a raised platform in the pyramidal form, where the black stone idol of lord Vishnu is enshrined.