Day 9: 5th Aug 2012 : I woke up early in the morning, was feeling quite cold, last night I had decided to go down in the morning,
but still if I could have felt better and gone to Hemkund, but it was not to be. So with the disappointment of VOF, I decided todescent to Govindghat and continue my journey to Badrinath. I hired a mule, which cost me Rs 300 one way, after some bargaining. This mule was more sturdy than the earlier one which I rode, his name was Sheru.I quickly descended in 2-2.30 hours. Was at Govindghat at 10.00am.
There where no traffic on the road, as there was landslide, somewhere ahead of Joshimath. Everything stop when there is a major roadblock in this part of Uttarakhand. I met a couple from Andra Pradesh who were heading towards Badrinath, they got a ride in Trax and left quickly, they had avoided VOF and gone to Hemkund. Also, I met a bank employee from Ranchi, who was not sure which way to go, he finally headed towards Joshimath, in spite of my request to join me towards Badrinath, I suppose he had some time constraint. I continued my wait at the roadside, watching the helicopter fly and cater to Sikh pilgrims. It was raining lightly. I had some fruit juice. After couple of hours there was a Maharashtrian family who were desperate to goto Badrinath, they hired a Trax, who was charging Rs 100 per head, and wanted me to join them, I was not willing to pay more than Rs 50 for the ride, which didn’t workout, so I was still stranded
while they left.
Finally, close to 1.00 pm, I found ride in a kerosene goods carrier. The road towards Badrinath is quite dangerous, there where rockfalls all along the road. In fact I saw a huge rock just pass by from our vehicle at a distance less than 50 feet. If it would have hit our vehicle it would have been curtains. In fact the driver here not only have to look in front, but also on the sides of the mountains for falling debris. All along the road, the Alakanada river flows parallel to it, also there is some dam work going on. The driver was transporting kerosene from Joshimath to Badrinath, he took a halt near a small temple just a km before Badrinath, here he gave me a handful of prasad. It was a temple come cave complex, where some rishi where staying. After our journey started again and quickly we where in the holy town of Badrinath. The driver dropped me at the Badrinath bus-stop and charged me Rs 50. I crossed the road and went to the nearest hotel where I book a room at Rs 200 per night. In Badrinath most pilgrims will stay in there corresponding ashrams, but since I was travelling alone and was not aware of it, I booked a hotel room. This place is full of ashram.
Badrinath is a small valley town situated between Nar and Narayana mountain ranges. The river Alakananda flows right though the middle of the town. It is one of the holiest places for Hindus and more particular to the worshipper of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the char dhams, the other being Puri, Dwarka and Rameshwaram. In fact Nar and Narayana are the duel forms of the Lord himself. According to Hindu mythology if one spends a day (24 hours) in Badrinath, he would attain punya (virtue/sacrosanct) of 10,000 years meditation. The word Badri means berries and Nath means Lord.The badrinath temple opens at 4:00 Am in the morning and closed at 11.00 am in the afternoon, it then reopens at 3.00 pm and closed at 11.00 pm in the night.
I had arrived just in time for 3:00 pm opening. I took some of my clothes, had my lunch en route and went to bathe in the Tapt
Kund. Here the water is very hot, close to 55 degree Celsius, and besides it the Alakandand river flows whose water are glacial fed ice-cold. After I had bath, I brough some puja offerings and visited the Badrinath temple itself. The temple is a combination of Buddhist and Hindu art. The temple was not crowded due to roadblock, so had darshan in peaceful state.
After having darshan I visited the Brahamakapal to conduct pind dan of my ancestors. Once you do your pind dan at this place you do not need to do it anywhere ever. Wikipedia states “It is one of the five Punyakshethras (Holy places) where the Hindus offer Shrarddhakarmas (oblations) to their 42 line of ancestors (Both from mother’s and father’s side) (Other four are Kashi (Varanasi), Gaya, Prayaga (Allahabad) and Rameswaram). It is believed that once the Shraddha Karma is performed here, the descendants need not perform the yearly ritual.”
In the evening, I had chat with hotel owner and another local person, he told me this place is open only for 6 months, rest of the time only army people will be staying here. I also enquired about from where to watch the majestic Nilkanth peak. Not from everywhere is the peak visible. I had my dinner at the nearby stall and went to sleep. It was one of the satisfying day of my life.
The travel cost Rs 50 from Govindghat, the mule cost me Rs 300, the room rent was Rs 200 and the food cost for the day was Rs 220, the various puja I performed cost me Rs 800. The puja are much expensive here than in Kedarnath.