Dehra Dun : With the Badrinath shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand at a height of over 3400 metres on the banks of the Alaknanda river, slowly but surely spreading its influence over devotees across the country, the corporate houses are also giving due attention to this shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
None other than well known industrialist and one of the richest persons in the country, Anil Ambani from the house of Reliance has offered to meet the expenses of the sandal wood and saffron that will be applied to the deity. For this he will be giving the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee a sum of Rs 50 lakhs to meet the expenses for the year.
It may be recalled that last year on April 29, when the doors of the Badrinath shrine opened for the pilgrims, Anil Ambani was amongst the first devouts to be present and have darshan. After darshan, he met the chief executive officer of the Committee, B D Singh, and offered the saffron and sandal wood for the current pilgrim season.
Informed sources told Hill Post that about five quintals of sandal wood and five kilograms of saffron are used by the temple every year and this is one of the major expenses that is incurred by the temple committee. The saffron is procured from Karnataka, while the saffron is got from Jammu and Kashmir.
Badrinath, was re-established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. In recent years its popularity has increased significantly, with an estimated lakhs of pilgrims visiting during the last season, compared to 90,676 in 1961. According to the Bhagavata Purana, “There in Badrikashram the supreme being (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities.”
The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the idol to the present temple.
The temple has undergone several major renovations because of age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur.
The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, as the place where the Pandavas are said to have ended their life by ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini – literally, the ‘Ascent to Heaven’. Local legend has it that the Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the village of Mana, about four kms north of Badrinath, on their way to heaven. There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.