Lord Vishnu is worshipped at Panch Badri in different forms. These temples namely Vishal Badri(Badrinath), Yogdhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Vridha Badri and Adi Badri are considered the abode of Lord Vishnu and attracts devotees of Lord Vishnu from all parts of the country.
The Panch Badri temples are positioned in the region initial from Satopanth about 24 km on top of Badrinath extending to Nandprayag in the south. This whole region is identified as the Badri-Kshetra and is a significant pilgrimage destination for both Lord Vishnu Devotees as well as other citizens of Hindu Faith.
Panch Badri has also been called the second Baikuntha in the religious texts. Devotees love to visit these holy places. Like Sribdarinath Dham, the rest also has a tradition of opening and closing the septum. However, some of these temples remain open for visitors throughout the year.
1.VISHAL BADRI (Badrinath)
The famed town of Badrinath is among the four dominant Char Dham pilgrimage sites of India as well as the Chota Char Dham. Vishal Badri is the other name for the deity at Badrinath Dham. Vishal Badri is also called Badri Narayan and is a form of Lord Vishnu enshrined within the Badrinath temple.
According to mythical and historical records, this idol of Badrinarayan was discovered from the depths of the Narad Kund by Adi Guru Shankaracharya and enshrined at the Badrinath temple. The Badrinath temple is one of the ‘Panch Badri’ and is also counted among 108 auspicious Divya Desams of the Vaishnavites.
The temple is perched at an altitude of nearly 3133 meters above the sea level and falls within Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. The Badrinath temple complex houses 15 divine idols of Lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose. Each idol is sculpted out of glossy black stones. The present Badrinath temple represents a conical structure and was constructed nearly two centuries back by Garhwal Kings.
2. YOGADHYAN BADRI
The second temple in the list of Panch Badri is Yogadhyan Badri. Yogadhyan Badri is lodged at an altitude of 1920 meters and is situated at Pandukeshwar. The place gets its name from the Pandava ruler, Pandu. According to myths, after emerging victorious against the Kauravas on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Pandavas came to this region.
They had won the battle and the kingdom but were suffering emotionally with the guilt of taking the life of their own cousins and causing such bloodshed. Thus they came here to renounce their kingdom, handover ‘Hastinapur’ to King Parikshit and engage in deep penance. After their deep penance at Yogadhyan Badri, they started out on the pathway leading to heaven. Even King Pandu, the father of Pandavas, had meditated here during his lifetime.
As its name suggests, the inner sanctum of Yogadhyan Badri bears Lord Vishnu’s idol in a meditative pose. The life-size idol of Narayan in meditative pose carved of Shaligram stone is indeed a sight to behold. It is said that the kings in the course of their penance were watched over and blessed by the Lord.
Bhavishya Badri perched at an altitude of about 2744 meters above the sea level falls amid the dense deep forests of Tapovan. There’s an interesting story behind its name as ‘Bhavishya’ (which means future) as well. A divine forecast has it that a day will come when devotees will flock at Bhavishya Badri as they do now in Badrinath because Badrinath will have no existence during that time.
Scientists point out that this could turn true as the entrance of Joshimath from where begins the rigorous trek towards Badrinath is continually sinking and may disappear someday. Bhavishya Badri houses the Lion-headed idol of Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha avatar.
Vridha Badri (or the fourth Panch Badri) is located at an altitude of 1380 metres above sea level. According to legends Vridha Badri had been the house of the deity of Shri Badri Narayan idol prior to its enshrinement at Badrinath Dham. Myths hold that this idol was originally sculpted by Vishwakarma himself.
One wonders why a Vishnu Shrine would be called Vridha, the vernacular for ‘old’. This is perhaps the only temple that worships Lord Vishnu in the form of an old man. This is attributed to the temple myth that says Lord Narayan gave darshan to Narad Muni in the guise of an old man. As is true of many sacred shrines in the Himalayas, Vridha Badri is linked closely with Adi Shankaracharya as well. It is said that the partially damaged idol of the temple was recovered and reinstated by him, prior to his establishment of the Dham at Badri.
5.ADI BADRI (Fifth in the list of Panch Badri)
Adi Badri falls on Karnaprayag-Ranikhet road and comes in a conglomeration of about 16 temples, all dating back to the era of the Gupta dynasty. Among these, one temple is the distinguished Narayan temple of Adi Badri housing a Lord Vishnu idol rising to the height of nearly 3ft. This idol is sculpted out of black stone. According to popular beliefs, Adi Guru Shankaracharya laid the foundation stone of these temples.