Most of the devotees might have undertaken the Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand but do you know the lesser known facts related to these holy shrines which had been buried inside the sanctum sanatorium of these sacred shrines of Uttarakhand. If not then just scroll down and unveil those secrets yourself.
Parikrama also referred to as Pradakshina means the circumambulation of sacred places which is generally taken from left to right. The Char Dham Yatra is actually the circumambulation of the four eminent pilgrimage sites which begins from Yamunotri Temple, the westernmost shrine of Garhwal region, proceeds to Gangotri Temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga then to Kedarnath Temple standing tall as one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva and finally concludes at Badrinath temple devoted to Lord Vishnu.
The sacred Chardham sites of Uttarakhand are not limited to a single sect. These sacred temples represent the three cardinal sectarians i.e the Vaishnavism site at Badrinath, Shaivism site at Kedarnath and the two most noticeable Devi sites at Yamunotri and Gangotri.
As per the history texts, the aboriginal Badrinath idol was discovered by Adi Shankaracharya in the Alaknanda River and the temple of Lord Badrinath was built in the Garud Caves located near the hot springs of Tapt Kund. Centuries later, the shrine was moved by the Garhwal king to its present location.
Nestled in the vicinity of Gangotri shrine, the Jalamagna Shivalinga is a natural rock Shivlinga that can be seen only during winters when the level of water goes down. It is the place where Lord Shiva held Ganga in his luscious dreadlocks.
Located in the vicinity of Yamunotri glacier, Surya Kund is a hot water spring which holds religious significance for the Hindus. As per Hindu mythology the Surya or Sun God is the father of river Yamuna. Therefore, being enveloped by the snow-shrouded Himalayas, the temperature of Surya Kund remains around 88 degrees which garners our faith in God.
According to the Hindu mythology, Kedarnath temple which stands in utmost grandeur in the Garhwal Himalayas was built by the Pandavas. After having victory in the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas were filled with remorse for killing their brothers. They searched for Lord Shiva to seek forgiveness but couldn’t find him. Finally, Bheema was able to find Shiva who was disguised as a bull, Shiva who didn’t wish to meet them immersed in the earth leaving his hind part behind. Since then the hind part of Mahadeva is worshipped in Kedarnath temple. Pic Source
Swargarohini near Badrinath temple is also known as the celestial pathway to heaven. It is believed, the Pandavas commenced their journey towards heaven (Swarga) from here. As per the Hindu legends when Dharamraja also known as Yudhishthira was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth. At the same place, a Shivlinga was installed which is the size of Dharamraja’s thumb.
Perched at an altitude of 6,500 feet above sea level, the Gauri Kund located in the Rudraprayag district serves as a base camp for the pilgrims heading Kedarnath. According to the Hindu texts, this place is believed to be the yogic grounds for Goddess Parvati who meditated about 100 years to have Lord Shiva as her husband. The Gauri kund also narrates the story of how Ganesha was beheaded by his father, Lord Shiva and upon learning his mistake was brought back to life. The story goes, when goddess Parvati was bathing in the kund, she asked her obedient son Ganesha to guard the door and not let anybody enter inside. When Shiva tried to move inside, Ganesha stopped his advancement. It was then the infuriated Shiva incurred his wrath upon Ganesha and beheaded him. Upon learning from his consort Parvati that Ganesha is his son, Shiva revived his body by taking the head of a wandering elephant and placing it on Ganesha’s body. Parvati Nandan Ganesha was brought back to life and Shiva granted him the boon of being worshipped as the God of prosperity and happiness by the earthlings.
According to the Skanda Purana, the idol of Lord Badrinath was recovered by Adiguru Shankaracharya from Narad Kund and was re-enshrined in 8th century A.D. in this temple. As far no historical records have been found about Badrinath temple’s origin but some of the accounts state that a Buddhist shrine was present here before Adi Shankaracharya converted it into a Hindu shrine. Also, the architecture and the brightly painted façade of the Badrinath temple is similar to that of a Buddhist vihara (temple) which draws our attention to the fact.
According to a popular legend when Lord Vishnu went for a serious penance in the mountains his consort Goddess Laxmi took the avatar of a berry tree known as ‘badri’ or ‘bayar’ tree and protected him from the scorching heat of the sun. Laxmi Ji stood by him for years, offering shade to him and years later she turned into a huge bayar tree. The tree was named as Badri Vishal and her consort Lord Vishnu became famous by the name of Badrinath.
As per Hindu mythology, the Badrinath and Kedarnath temple will become inaccessible in future as the arm of Narsingh’s idol present at Joshimath will fall off and the two brother mounts, the Jay, and Vijay near Vishnuprayag will become one. Therefore, the route to the pious Badrinath and Kedarnath temples will become inaccessible. During this phase, Lord Vishnu will proceed towards Bhavishya Badri near Joshimath.
Adorned below the Badrinath temple, the Tapta kund is the group of hot sulphur water springs snuggled below the temple. It is believed that these hot water springs possess medicinal properties and is home to the Agni God, the Hindu Lord of Fire. Before paying obeisance at Badrinath temple, the pilgrims take a holy dip in this kund for purifying themselves. The temperature of Tapta Kund remains as hot as of 55 °C (131 °F) in 17 °C (63 °F) temperature all round the year.
Located in the vicinity of Tapta Kund, the Narad Kund is believed to be the recovery source of the idol of Lord Vishnu. The devotees visiting the Badrinath temple purify themselves by taking a dip in this kund. The Hindus believe that Narad Muni wrote his Narad Bhakti Sutra at this holy site and hence, Narad kund got its name.
Surprisingly, conch one of the favourite instruments of Lord Vishnu is not allowed to blow in Badrinath temple. According to a Hindu legend, when sage Agasthya was slaying the demons of Kedarnath the two demons by the name of Vatapi and Atapi escaped. Atapi took refuge in Mandakini river while Vatapi hid inside the conch to save his life. Since then it is believed if anybody tries to blow the conch, Vatapi will come out. Hence, it is prohibited to blow conch in this area. But according to science since Badrinath temple is covered in snow most of the times so blowing conch might create echo- a unique phenomenon which can create turbulence in the ecological environment, cause ice storms and endanger human life.