Within the serene embrace of the Vishnu Ganga valley, a mere 23 kilometers downstream from the sacred sanctuary of Badrinath, lies the unassuming city of Pandukeshwar. With the onset of winter, as the coolness within the air intensifies, and the primary snowflakes descend, a novel ritual unfolds on this tranquil hamlet. Following a grand ceremony, the gates of Badrinath Dham are closed, and cellular photographs of Kubera (Lord Badrinath’s treasurer) and Uddhava (His childhood pal), as representatives of Lord Badri, embark on a regal procession to Pandukeshwar, their winter seat.

Pandukeshwar village landscape
Panorama of the village within the Himalayas

Pandukeshwar – Winter Abode of Lord Badrinath

In April, simply earlier than the onset of the Char-Dham yatra season slated for early Might, my expedition introduced me to the enchanting hamlet. Following an in a single day keep in Joshimath, a once-vibrant city now grappling with the problem of land sinking, we launched into the subsequent day for Pandukeshwar. Touring on the freeway to Badrinath, a slim rugged path on the correct led downward with a board saying the sacred temple complicated. After parking the automobile alongside the freeway, we descended a collection of considerable stairs, roughly carved into the mountain, guiding us towards the dense village of Pandukeshwar.

Nestled alongside the Alakananda River, the village resonated with the gushing of the river Alakananda (additionally known as Vishnu Ganga). The temple complicated housing the pictures of Kubera and Uddhava is a small, historical web site with two adjoining temples. Primarily Yog Dhyan Badri temple and the adjoining Vasudev temple.

Temple in the village
Stone temple within the village


The priest of Badrinath Dham belongs to the Dimri clan of Brahmins and oversees its administration. They help the chief Rawal, who hails from Kerala. When the temple gates are closed in winter, he returns to his native place. Whereas the Dimri Brahmins descend to Pandukeshwar and Joshimath. Throughout our go to, Kubera and Uddhava had been on a ritual tour of a close-by village, bestowing their blessings upon the villagers. We provided our worship to Lord Narayana, the presiding deity of the temple complicated. We engaged in a significant dialog with the chief priest, unraveling the mythological significance of the city and its relation to Badrinath.


This small hamlet’s roots intertwining with the Mahabharata narrative holds nice mythological and historic significance. Legend has it that King Pandu, father of the Pandavas, incurred a curse for unintentionally inflicting the demise of a sage and his spouse. Renouncing his kingdom, he embraced the ascetic life and retreated to this very area along with his wives Kunti and Madri. It was on this serene locale that his 5 youngsters, often called the Pandavas, had been born. Tragedy struck when the curse took impact, resulting in the demise of the king.

Following his passing, the Pandavas, accompanied by their mom Kunti, returned to the plains of Hastinapur. A bronze, life-size picture of Narayana in a meditative posture within the sanctum of Yoga Dhyan Badri is alleged to have been commissioned and put in by Pandu.

Katyuri Dynasty

The city’s documented historical past traces again to the period of the Katyuris. The pioneering dynasty that when held sway over these mountains in historical instances. Within the nineteenth century, discovering 4 copper plate inscriptions inside the temple premises, courting again to the ninth CE, supplied invaluable insights into the city’s previous. Famend epigraphist D.C. Sircar deciphered these inscriptions, unveiling the historic significance of Pandukeshwar, known as Garudagram in that interval.

The inscriptions chronicle the endeavors of Katyuri king Lalitasuradeva. Who granted land within the identify of Lord Narayana, enshrined within the temple of the village Garudagram. This temple is probably going the Yog Dhyan Badri temple. Doubtlessly making it one of many oldest temples in Uttarakhand.

Yog Dhyan Badri at Pandukeshwar

Yog Dhyan Badri stands out within the realm of structure with its distinctive options. The dome-shaped shikhara that adorns the construction has lengthy intrigued historians because it deviates from the prevalent architectural kinds within the Central Himalayas. Early interpretations leaned in the direction of a reference to Buddhist Stupa, stating the lore of Adi Shankaracharya’s expedition to this area.

Yog Dhyan Badri Temple, Pandukeshwar
Yog Dhyan Badri Temple

Adi Shankaracharya

Legend has it that Shankaracharya retrieved Vishnu’s murtis from the uncared for Tapta Kund close by, putting in them within the place the place Badrinath temple stands. The native Katyuri rulers, influenced by the revered determine, have assisted Shankaracharya in driving out the Buddhists.

Nonetheless, latest scholarly investigations problem this narrative. In a meticulous examination, artwork historian Nachiket Chanchani uncovered compelling parallels between the architectural design of Yog Dhyan Badri’s dome and the temples of Nartamallai and Kalayadipatti constructed in Tamil Nadu throughout the 800-1000 AD interval. Dismissing the sooner theories, Chanchani posits that Yog Dhyan Badri was crafted within the Dravidian Alpa Vimana fashion. Revealing a hyperlink with the architectural developments prevalent within the southern areas of India throughout the identical interval.

Yog Badri Mandir Arch
Yog Badri Mandir Arch

King Lalitasuradeva

The range of pilgrims and vacationers on this route throughout the early medieval interval is obvious via epigraphic and inventive sources. Within the found inscription, King Lalitasuradeva addressed individuals from numerous areas, together with Khasas, Kiratas, Dravidas, Kalingas, Gaudas, Huns, Udras, Madas, and Āndhras. Showcasing a large illustration from throughout the Indian subcontinent. Adjoining to Yog Dhyan Badri on its left is the Vasudeva temple, generally often called the Narayana temple. This temple, constructed within the late ninth century, follows the Nagara Latina fashion prevalent within the Central Himalayas.

Inside, an historical copper picture of Vishnu, crafted throughout the temple’s development, resides. Positioned in the identical temple, going through the antechamber, is Garuda. The vahana of Lord Vishnu is depicted in a reverential pose with folded arms, gazing intently on the chamber. The Vishnu picture shows stylistic influences from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Garuda picture attracts inspiration from the kinds prevalent within the neighboring Himalayan areas of Chamba and Nepal. Thus, this small web site can also be a silent testimony to the dynamic motion and alternate of individuals and concepts throughout the subcontinent throughout the ninth century.

Stone Temple in the village

Lord Kubera and Uddhava

Right now, Pandukeshwar performs host to Lord Kubera and Uddhava. Representatives of Lord Badrinath throughout the winter months after they descend after the blanket of snow envelops Badrinath city.

To achieve Pandukeshwar, one can embark on a journey from the neighboring city of Joshimath. Accessible through a half-hour drive on a motorable highway, adopted by a short stroll via the village lanes. The best time to discover the place is throughout March-April. That gives a extra snug local weather previous the onset of the Char-Dham season.

This timing ensures the chance for a darshan (sacred viewing) of Kubera and Uddhava. Earlier than they return to Badrinath upon the reopening of its gates. For these planning a go to, it’s important to notice that images inside the inside sanctum of the temples is strictly prohibited, respecting the sanctity of the place. The go to itself doesn’t demand an intensive time dedication. Exploring the temple complicated and the village might be comfortably concluded inside two to a few hours.

After paying homage to the temples, bask in a stroll via the city’s slim lanes. Immerse your self within the native tradition. Merely marvel on the imposing mountains that cradle the hamlet from all sides. Watch the Alaknanda River carving its course via the breathtaking panorama. Pandukeshwar isn’t just a cease on the best way to Badrinath. It’s an invite to discover the mythological and historic significance of this quaint Himalayan village.


[1]Chanchani, Nachiket. Mountain Temples and Temple Mountains: Structure, Faith, and Nature within the Central Himalayas (International South Asia) (p. 195). College of Washington Press

[1]Sircar DC, Three Plates from Pandukesvar

[1]Chanchani, Nachiket. Mountain Temples and Temple Mountains: Structure, Faith, and Nature within the Central Himalayas (International South Asia) (p. 221). College of Washington Press.

This can be a Visitor Submit by Neha Mittal

Neha Mittal is a civil servant of the 2018 batch. She loves to jot down in regards to the Himalayas and the tradition of its individuals. Her debut ebook, Devbhoomi Uttarakhand: The Fascinating Cultures of Central Himalaya, delves deep into the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. And uncovers the tales behind its sacred facilities and celebrates the tradition of its various communities.



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