Badrinath occupies a unique position in char Dham Yatras. It is part of the “Chota” char Dham yatra in Uttarakhand and the “major” char Dham Yatra comprising of Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram. Badrinath pilgrimage Tirthdham is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The temple is at a height of 3415 metres with the Nilkanth peak in the background and the Alaknanda River flows by its side. The temple is about 50 feet in height with a gold capped spire. There is a Darshan Mandap, a Sabha Mandap and a Garbha Griha that houses idols of Badri Narayan or Lord Vishnu, Kuber, Narad, Udhav and Nar-Narayan. The complex houses 15 idols but the most striking one is that of Badrinath in black stone.
Rthe temple opens for general public around Akshay trij in April-May and Darshan timings are 4.30 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM. With the onset of winter around Diwali the temple closes and the idol is brought down to Joshimath, the winter residence of the Lord.
Most pilgrims choose to travel by road because it is affordable and one gets to interact with people. Haridwar, the main railway junction is the starting point from where one travels onward to Rishikesh and then onwards to Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag, Chamoli, Pipalkoti, Helang, Joshimath, Govindghat and then Hanuman Chatti. From here pilgrims walk upwards to the holy temple of Badrinath. The road travel involves a distance of 298 kilometres. One can just as well travel via Guptkashi to Gopeshwar to Chamoli and Badrinath by road. There is an easier and quicker way for pilgrims in a hurry or for those who cannot undertake the physical rigors of road travel and the trek. That way is to go in for helicopter services to Badrinath.
Helicopter to Badrinath
These days a Yatra to Badrinath is easy and can be completed in a day or so if one goes the aerial route. Just fly down to Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun and get into a helicopter. Sahastradhara is one helipad where charter services are available for Badrinath. Flights usually depart at around 6.30 AM and one must remain present at least half an hour before the take-off time. Weather plays an important role and if conditions do not permit then the flight may be cancelled. If all is well the helicopter with its 4 to 5 passengers lifts off and it is an hour’s flight. Passengers can enjoy a breathtaking view of the scenery and the Himalayas all around. After about 50 minutes one can see the town of Badrinath and the temple. The helicopter lands and passengers disembark and make their way to the waiting car that takes them close to the temple. They alight and walk about 100 metres to the shrine. It is as easy as that. Flying also gets you advantages such as VIP Darshan which means you do not line up with the rest of the pilgrims but are taken straight to the sanctum. Once the Darshan is over passengers return to the waiting helicopter and are whisked off to Dehradun. You are back by 10.30 AM. It takes just 4 hours to complete Badrinath Yatra by helicopter. By night you could be back in Delhi.