Joshimath: Where spirituality meets adventure

Joshimath in Uttarakhand
Joshimath in Uttarakhand

Fateh Veer Singh Guram, Travel @ The Hush Post: Joshimath in Uttarakhand, also known as Jyotirmath, is home to one of the four cardinal pithas which were established by Adi Shankaracharya.

The town, along with being a prominent place of worship, also serves as a base for treks into the Valley of Flowers.

The town is the winter seat of the Badrinath shrine and is a famous destination amongst seekers of spirituality.

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Places to Visit:

Shankaracharya Math:

Established by Adi Shankaracharya, this math has temples of Badrinarayan and Rajrajeshwari Devi. There is also a sacred cave in the temple premises, where Adi Shankaracharya undertook tapasya.

The math is one of the four which was established by the revered Hindu saint. Set up in the 8th century CE, it teaches the importance of monastic life as written in the Vedas, Upanishads and Brahma Sutra.

Narsinh Temple:

The main temple of Joshimath, the Narsinh Temple is an ancient dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s Narsingh Avtar.

As per a local belief, the right hand of the idol of Narsingh is as thin as a hair. It is believed that the day it will break (also known as the end of the Kal Yug era), the Jay-Vijay mountains (which are on the way to Badrinath) will become one and Lord Badrinath of the Badrinath temple will disappear and re-appear as a black stone (called a Shaligram) at a new location, called Bhavishya Badri.

Narsinh Temple
Narsinh Temple

Tapovan Hot Springs:

Located at a distance of 14 kilometres from Joshimath, the Tapovan hot springs are a popular tourist attraction. The views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular from this site.

It is believed that the waters of the hot springs here can heal many skin diseases. Many locals come to bathe in the hot springs due to this widespread belief.

Nanda Devi National Park:

Regarded as one of the most scenic places in India, the Nanda Devi National Park, with the Nanda Devi Peak (India’s second highest peak) in the background, supports a diverse variety of alpine flora and fauna.

There are a number of glaciers in this park, and the entire valley covers an area of 630 square kilometres. The park became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988.

Nanda Devi National Park
Nanda Devi National Park

In order to protect the fragile ecosystem of the park, the government has restricted the number of tourists who can visit this national park. Visitors are only allowed in groups of five, and only two groups are allowed per day, with only four groups permitted to visit the sanctuary per week.

Visitors above the age of 14 are allowed to visit the park, and all visitors must get themselves medically checked before entering the park, due to extremely tough climbing that is involved in entering and exploring the park.

Vishnuprayag:

The site of the confluence of the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers, this small town attracts pilgrims due to the seamless blend of spirituality that reverberates in the valley. An ancient Vishnu Temple, located in the town, is a popular and important place of worship.

As per Hindu legends, sage Narada indulged in heavy penance at this place. Impressed with his devotion, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of Narada and blessed him.

Bhavishya Kedar:

A small temple located in Joshimath, Bhavishya Kedar, as the name suggests, is the future seat of the Kedarnath Shrine.

It is believed that a massive landslide at the end of Kalyug will block access to Kedarnath, and thus, the shrine will magically appear at the Bhavishya Kedar temple.

The sangam of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers at Vishnuprayag
The Sangam of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers at Vishnuprayag

Niti:

A small village located at a steep height of 3,600 metres, Niti is the last village and outpost before the Indo-Tibet border in Chamoli district. The Niti Pass, situated at a height of 5,800 metres, connects India to Tibet.

During the winters, the inhabitants of Niti village descend to lower altitudes since the village gets completely snowed in. They move back to higher altitudes from April onwards.

It is located at a distance of 85 kilometres from Joshimath.

Kalpavriksha:

An old mulberry tree believed to be nearly 1,200 years old, it is known by the name of Kalpatru in Hindu mythology. Believed to be blessed by the gods, this tree remains evergreen throughout the year and does not shed a single leaf.

As per Hindu scriptures, Adi Shankaracharya sat and meditated under this tree.

Bhavishya Badri:

One of the Panch Badri Temples, it is located at a height of nearly 2,800 metres. Located at a distance of 17 kilometres from Joshimath, it is believed to be the future seat of the Badrinath shrine.

As per Hindu scriptures, a devastating landslide at the end of Kal Yug will block access to the Badrinath shrine, and the shrine will magically appear at Bhavishya Badri.

Niti Village
Niti Village

Auli:

India’s premier skiing destinationAuli is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The town is located at an average elevation of around 2,800 metres, and lies on the way to the pilgrimage site of Badrinath. Its proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valley of Flowers makes Auli an ideal place to base out of.

The Uttarakhand State Tourism Department conducts various skiing competitions in winters, and the town also hosted the first South Asian Winter Games (along with Dehradun) in 2011.

Best Time to Visit:

Since Joshimath is located at a height of 1,875 feet, it experiences a pleasant temperature of around 20 degrees in the summers. However, the temperature can dip to as low as -2 degrees Celsius during the winters.

Thus, the best time to visit this religious town is between April-October.

Auli is India's premier skiing destination
Auli is India’s premier skiing destination

How to Reach:

The nearest airport is in Dehradun, which is located at a distance of 293 kilometres. The nearest railway station is in Rishikesh, which is located at a distance of 251 kilometres.

Chamoli, which is the district headquarters, is located at a distance of 46 kilometres.

The cities of Chandigarh and New Delhi are located at distances of 458 kilometres and 488 kilometres, respectively.

—MORE FROM THE UTTARAKHAND TRAVEL SERIES—

Auli: India’s premier skiing destination

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