Badrinath is an important Hindu pilgrimage site located in a glacial area some 10,000 feet high in the central Himalayas, in the Chamoli District of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is sometimes said to be one of the four shrines that a Hindu must visit in his or her lifetime to reach salvation. It is also known as Badarikashrama and has been an important pilgrimage site from ancient times, mentioned in the MAHABHARATA epic. Badrinath lies on the Alaknanda River, understood to be one of the channels that the GANGA or Ganges took when descending from heaven.
   The town has a comparatively modern temple built on a peak, dedicated to a form of VISHNU called Badarinatha. The name—of the site and of the god—is taken from the berry patch, badari vana, that once existed there. The great ninth-century sage SHANKARA established one of his four famous centers at Badrinath.
   Further reading: Anne Felhaus, Connected Places: Region, Pilgrimage, and Geographical Imagination in India (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Dinesh Kumar, The Sacred Complex of Badrinath: A Study of Himalayan Pilgrimage (Varanasi: Kishor Vidya Niketan, 1991); Kanaiyalal M. Munshi, To Badarinath (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1953).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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