Sanskrit word Char Dham literally means ‘Four Shrines’. It can also be interpreted as correlated with the four directions. The significance of these holy places is mentioned in all the four Vedas, namely, the Atharva Veda, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Sama Veda. They speak of places related to the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu and his various incarnations. Adi Shankaracharya, a Hindu theologian and philosopher propounded that pilgrimages to these four holiest shrines is essential for the attainment of Moksha, or salvation, of any human soul, particularly that which is entrapped by material and carnal desires, and the actions taken for their fulfillment.
The four Dhams are Badrinath in north, Rameswaram in south, Dwarka in west and Jagannath - Puri in east.
In the Puranas Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva) are referred as eternal friends. It is said wherever Lord Vishnu resides, Lord Shiva resides nearby. The Char Dham follows this rule. So Kedarnath is considered as the pair of Badrinath, Rama Setu is considered the pair of Rameswaram, Somnath is considered as the pair of Dwaraka. However, according to some traditions, the Char Dham are Badrinath, Rangnath-Swami, Dwarka and Jagannath-Puri, all of which are Vaishnava sites, and their associated places are Kedarnath, Rameshwaram, Somnath and Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar (or maybe Gupteshwar) respectively.
PILGRIMAGE DHAM DETAILS
Badrinath is located in the state of Uttarakhand. It is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560 m). There are other interesting sightseeing spots like Mana, Vyas Gufa, Maatamoorti, Charanpaduka, Bhimkund and the Mukh of the Saraswati River, within 3 km of Badrinathjee. Joshimath is situated on the slopes above the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Dhauliganga. Of the four Maths established by Adi Shankaracharya, Joshimath is the winter seat of Chardham.
Badrinath Temple is the only temple among the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites which is situated in the Himalayas and surrounded by snow-clad mountains. It is situated at an 'altitude of 3,300n is 10,826ft where the temperature is extremely cold. Unlike the three Char Dham pilgrimage sites, Badrinath Dham remains closed for 6 months during winters due to extreme weather conditions and snowfall which makes it impossible to reach the site. Badrinath Temple is mentioned in various sacred texts of Hindus such as Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, and Mahabharata. The area around Badrinath Temple has been mentioned in Padma,Purana as a spiritual site. It is one of the 108 Vishnu Divyadesam or holy temples of Vishnu that is mentioned in the works of saints.
It is believed that the sculpture of Badrinath was established by Gods. It was thrown in the Alaknanda River by Buddhists during their era. Adi Shankara discovered the sculpture of Badrinath in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near Tapt Kund hot spring. Later Ramanujacharyo removed the sculpture from the cave and established it in the temple. The 3.3 feet long statue located at the entrance of the temple is one of the main attractions of Badrinath Temple.
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