Every place that you choose to walk in the Himalayas has something unique to offer. Having explored a bit of the Himalayas in both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in India, I can truly say I haven’t been bored or felt — boy, this feels so familiar. I guess I have been lucky.
In my post https://wanderingtalestraveldreams.com/2017/10/21/following-the-river-ganga/ , I spoke about my first spiritual adventure in the Himalayas. While every place we visited during the trip had something unique to offer, two places stood out the most for me: Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Traveling to Badrinath is not easy to say the least. It is well connected by road but takes about 12 hours to travel from Haridwar to Badrinath. As you travel, you will see the dramatic changes in the Himalayan landscape. Badrinath falls in the vicinity of Nanda Devi National Park (remember Valley of Flowers?) and so you can get a glimpse of the beauty that lies within Nanda Devi range of the Himalayas. Just amazing!
So, if you are making an effort to visit Badrinath, and are not doing it as part of the Hindu Pilgrimage – Char Dham Yatra, then do consider combining your Badrinath visit with a visit to the Valley of Flowers National Park, Sri Hemkunt Sahib and/or Auli. You will not be disappointed.
Badrinath is a nice temple town. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains that feel like gentle giants protecting you. Within the town, there are inclines (steep in some places) that might make walking a little challenging if you are not mentally prepared. But, don’t put yourself under too much pressure… you will really enjoy the walks to and from the temple to your accommodations (many options are available).
The temple town vibe of Badrinath is unique in its own right. You have the opportunity to see the River Alaknanda make its way down the Himalayas while the colourful exterior of the temple stands out against the gorgeous gentle giant Himalayan background. In the temple vicinity, there are unique hot springs that also give you an interesting experience. Absolute pleasure — especially during the low season.
Mana is small village near Badrinath that allows civilians to visit. Here, you get an opportunity to see the mysterious River Saraswati and the caves where Sage Vyas and Lord Ganesha wrote the famous Indian Epic – The Mahabharata. There is a parking lot right outside the village where all vehicles pretty much have to park and you have to walk on the narrow village paths to visit these sights. Although there are inclines (steep in some places), it is well worth the effort. Views of River Saraswati, the caves and the surroundings are just too unique to miss. So, if you have an hour or two to spare, do visit Mana… you will definitely not regret it.
IF you are visiting Badrinath as part of the Char Dham Yatra in a group setting, then, setting up your own itinerary is not possible (unless you have some free time available). However, if you are planning to visit the Badrinath area by yourself, then the opportunities to explore are enormous. There are many organised treks that cover this region of the Himalayas (with or without the religious element). Do consider those as well if you enjoy trekking. Even if you are not religious by nature, do consider including Badrinath in your itinerary… it is just an interesting aspect of India to explore and enjoy. So, definitely lace up your shoes and enjoy the walks that the Nanda Devi area has to offer.