Having tried to persuade them for quite a few years, one summer, I finally got the opportunity to visit the Badrinath temple alongwith my parents. People who had recently visited the temple advised us that the place was really cold even during the month of June and we should carry enough woolens with us. Unfortunately the first week of June when we made the trip turned out to be the hottest period even in Badrinath. We had booked a Toyota Innova for the journey from Dehradun to Badrinath. The entire stretch was hilly terrain. It is recommended to take trained drivers who are used to driving on the hills instead of driving to Badrinath oneself. Remarkably there are good roads carved out on the otherwise dry and rocky mountains. We could see remnants of glaciers on our way. Thankfully we had booked ourselves at the Sarovar Portico in Badrinath. After an exhaustive drive in the summer heat, the suite in the hotel was a very pleasant respite. The view of the hills from the room was breathtaking. We had reached the hotel around noon and after lunch there was ample time for darshan at the temple.
The temple was a kilometer from the spot where the car dropped us. For those who are old or physically challenged, there are human carriers available who carry people on cane seats on their backs or on a palki. The temple was probably half the size of the Dwarkadheesh temple I had visited earlier and the audience, nearly double. Of course, we were visiting during peak season as well. The first thing that struck me at the temple was the price list for different poojas. One would get the darshan according to the Pooja one paid for. So there was a general queue of people who were not paying for any Pooja. They could only get a glimpse of the deity from outside the main temple for a few seconds after standing for a long time in the queue. If you had paid for a Pooja, you would get the privilege of entering the main temple. The time one was allowed inside was dependant on what Pooja was going on. So one of the ceremonies in the evening was for Rs 250 each for which we got to enter the main temple and view the deity for a few seconds. In the morning there was a ceremony worth Rs.2500 for two people, for which we got to sit inside for 30 minutes. So we eventually ended up paying Rs.6000 for the four of us to make our visit to the temple worthwhile.
As we came out of the temple, the sheer force of the Alaknanda river struck us. It is mesmerizing to watch the wild waters. Other than the temple, the hot water spring and Brahma Kapal also hold great religious importance. After completing certain other rituals we started on our way back post lunch. The Prasad at the temple is not distributed immediately after the Pooja. It normally has to be collected in the afternoon on showing the receipt. But due to certain road constraints, you can depart from the city only before 12 noon, else you would get stranded for hours waiting for the gate to open. So if you really want to collect the Prasad after the elaborate morning Pooja, please plan for one more day of stay in the city. It is preferable to leave your mobile phones in the hotel as most of the networks don’t work there. Else you will have to leave your stuff at one of the shops where you buy the pooja samagri.