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Tradition Meets

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A Himalayan Journey - Part II
Temples of the Himalayas

Guest writer K. Ram Kumar continues his illustrated journey through the Himalayas, visiting the ancient shrines at Badrinath, Kedarnath and more.  See also A Himalayan Journey - Part I. In this part, Joshimath, Pandukeshwar and Vyas Guh are covered. Part III will cover Kedarnath.


Joshimath, the first mutt established by Shri Adi Sankara, is located at a distance of 14 kms from Helang enroute to Badri. Adi Sankara is believed to have authored the work, Sri Sankara Bhashyam here. This located at a height of 6150 ft above sea level. Here, there are separate temples for  Narasimha and  Vasudev (different forms of  Vishnu). This is one of the 108 Divya Desams (sung by Sacred Vaishnavaite Saints).

In the temple for  Narasimha , separate statues of Badri narayan, Uthavar, Kuber, Chandikadevi, Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Garud can be seen together in the sanctum sanctorum. Outside the temple separate statues of Brahma, Krishana, Lakshmi & Anjaneya can be seen. Vyas Maharishi is believed to have worshipped Goddess Lakshmi here. The presiding deity  Narasimha is believed to have been established by Adi Sankara. It is widely believed that one hand of the presiding deity is getting weakened and the day it disjoints, the way to Badri will get eternally blocked and that a darshan of  Badri Narayan would be possible only from  Bhavishya Badri or Adi Badri (part of Panch Badris).

The temple of   Vasudev houses    Vasudev  in the sanctum sanctorum as well as Sridevi, Bhoodevi, Leela devi, Oorvasi devi & Balram in the outer praharam. Further separate structures are available for Vinayaka, Brahma, Indira, Chandran(Moon), Navadurgas & Gauri Shankar.

(Also see: Tiruppirudi (Joshi Math) and The Abodes of Vishnu)


This place is believed to have been established by King Pandu, father of Pandavas. It is situated at 4kms from Govind Ghat, 219 kms from Kedarnath and 24 kms from Badrinath. There are two temples – one for Lord Yogabadri Narayan and the other for  Vasudev. During winter, Lord Vasudev temple will function as the abode for  Badri Narayan and all the daily rituals connected with worship are performed here. Both the temples are quite old.

Vyas Guh (The cave of the Sage Vyasa)


The village of Mana, located at a distance of 3 kms from Badrinath is the last Indian Village situated in the Indo-China Border and has gained historical importance on account of Vysas Caves.

This village, located on the banks of River Saraswathi (only place where this river can be seen) is very beautiful. Vyas Maharishi (Sage), author of Mahabharata is believed to have lived in the caves named after him. It is said that, Vyasa Maharish,  upon being requested  by his mentor Kalpatru Maharishi in his dream,  composed the Mahabharata, the eternal epic of Hindus – depicting the history of Pandavas, Kauravs including Kurukshetra War and most importantly Bhagawad Geeta (Chapter 18 of Mahabharata) – believed to have been revealed by Krishna (reincarnation of Vishnu).

Ganesha, the elder son of Shiva & Parvathi, is said to have helped Vyas Maharishi in composing this epic in written form – the beginning of education in written form. In addition to Mahabharata, Vyas Maharishi composed 18 puranas (legendary stories), Brahma Sutras and classified the Hindu Vedas into 4 parts – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana. Legend has it  that Adi Sankara   met Vyas Maharishi in this cave, and discussed his Bhashyam (explanatory notes) for Brahma Sutras.

The rock formation inside the Vyas Guh appears to resemble the orderly stacking of palm leave manuscripts – oldest writing material and is worshipped as "Vyas Pusthak". Vyas Maharishi is also considered, by some, as reincarnation of Vishnu.

Another Cave called as Ganesh Guh (cave) is also located in this village.

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The village also boasts of Keshav Prayag– Sangamam (confluence) of Rivers Saraswathi and Alaknanda. Vasudhara Falls & Bhimpul Falls are nearby. Like Badrinath, the village becomes inaccessible during winter (almost 6 months) and the entire village vacates and moves to a safer place down the hills.