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Badrinath Beckons
07 December 2018 IST
Badrinath Beckons

Back from my maiden visit to Badrinath at the age of 62 with a plastered ankle, I am extremely grateful to my spiritual guru, Maa Shree, who did not deny me the privilege of accompanying her on the trip. Despite the injury, I returned with my spiritual batteries recharged.


It was in 2006 that Maa tiptoed into my life with her first public discourse in Mumbai. Since then, I am part of Uttarann, the spiritual group that she had set up. In 2010, I moved to Jaipur, but continued the association, strengthening it bit by bit.
The trip to Badrinath was planned while I was in Jaipur. On the designated day in September, I took the train to Haridwar, and from there to one of the four dhams. Another disciple of Maa from Kolkata took me to the hotel where our group of 22 was staying for the night. Next morning our group — Maa’s disciples from different parts of the country — boarded the bus to Badrinath, with a night halt at Rudraprayag.
Revered Landscape
Rudraprayag is one of the Panch Prayag, five confluences, which are regarded as major centres of pilgrimage, where one can perform purification ceremonies and offer prayers. The next evening we finally reached Badrinath, where we were welcomed by overcast skies. Though we could barely see the snow-capped mountain peaks, we did satsang and soul searching in the serene atmosphere during our stay. Four days later, we left the abode of silence with a request to the Lord to facilitate another visit. I came back from Badrinath with a new state of awareness and calmness.
The journey was a revelation. The breaks in the journey allowed me to soak in the beauty of the mountain range, rivers and streams that continuously gave company to the road. Each river has an identity of its own. We crossed five confluences on the way from Rishikesh to Badrinath.
Situated between Nara and Narayana peaks, the holy land of Vishnu is also part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Starting with Yamunotri, Gangotri and Kedarnath, Badrinath is the last and most celebrated stop in the pilgrimage tour of the Garhwal Himalayas.
Badrinath is the land of mythology and folklore, each one adding to the glory of the captivating place. Along with these legends, the snowy peaks, gracefully flowing Alaknanda and incredible landscapes, create a perfect background to facilitate that spiritual connection between man and nature. Legend has it that Badrinath was the domain of Shiva and Parvati, but Vishnu was so enamoured by the beauty of the place that he managed to unseat Shiva from here to Kedarnath. This sacred abode of Nara-Narayana sages has been a revered seat since ages, and the scriptures testify its sacredness.
Badrinath was re-established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the eighth century. In olden times, pilgrims used to walk hundreds of miles to visit the shrine.
The dams on the rivers altering their course were as surprising to me as the roadwidening project, even when I did not know the names of rivers. I was struck by my lack of knowledge at each step. I kept wondering which world had I been living in.
The Char Dham highway project, too, was a revelation. I have not seen any comprehensive environmental study done to justify this Rs 1,200-crore project, which was scheduled to be completed by 2018.The project seems to have barely begun, and is obviously nowhere near completion. While, I sincerely appreciate the idea of making roads available for going through the treacherous mountain terrain, I have also come across warnings by environmentalists and geologists about risks that the government should address.
I write about this trip to encourage youngsters to visit the place that is accessible only for six months. More so, as from what I saw happening, the mountains and rivers might be forced to take things into their hands. They are massive and are holding on as though by some invisible force. They prefer stillness, the core of spirituality, which has been symbolically worshipped through the ages.
I could not see any attempt to make spaces for pedestrians on roads that are being widened. Is the Char Dham project a domain of only vehicle- owners?
Swami Vivekananda once walked to these places. There is something of Sister Nivedita in me; she loved Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda and India unconditionally. Maa Shree says, “Just like love binding people, trees bind the earth”. There is a saying about Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, who resides in Badrinath, that if some untoward incident causes her statue to be broken even slightly, it will destroy Badrinath. During my pilgrimage, I got the feeling that human beings in their ignorance, inspite of good intention, are working towards that very destruction. It is my earnest request to all, irrespective of the religion they follow, to take the journey before their body and mind give way, so that they can experience nature in its vastness. Spirituality will follow.
Going on your own may not be the same as going with a spiritual guru, but blessings of nature will help. And the urge to protect nature will take root in human minds.


Spending four days in the vicinity of my beloved guru in the vastness of the snow-covered mountains, two days in rains and one day in the sparkling sun is beyond my capacity to put into words.
I visited Badrinath only because Guru Maa asked me. People who experience love as the ultimate, may connect this with spirituality. They can also connect with her for greater understanding.
Imposing Shrine
Situated in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath is a remote pilgrimage spot in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. It is believed that the Kedarnath shrine was originally built by the Pandavas and Adi Shankaracharya got the present shrine constructed in the eighth century. The grey stone structure is an architectural marvel because of its imposing design, and its ability to survive for so many centuries in such a harsh terrain.
All-weather Highways
The Char Dham Highway Development Project is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The objective of the project — it has evoked several environmental concerns — is to develop around 900 km of all-weather national highways, and will have two tunnels, 15 big flyovers, 101 small bridges, 3,596 culverts and 12 bypass roads.


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I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

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Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST

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