Badrinath is well known for its Badrinarayan Temple that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and also is a very famous site, world renown as one of the Char Dham and Chota Char Dham. Along with the temple, Badrinath is also very famous for Charan Paduka, which is a boulder located at an altitude of 3380 feet above sea level and is at a distance of 3kms from the Badrinath Temple.
Charan Paduka has gained a lot of prominence as it is believed to be a holy rock in Hindu mythology. The rock at Charan Paduka has footprints imprinted on them and it is believed to be the footprints of Lord Vishnu. According to the story, Lord Vishnu stepped on this very boulder when he stepped down from Vaikunta, which is the celestial abode of the Lord, to the earth and his divine feet, created footprints on the rock and thus this auspicious place came to be known as Charan Paduka.
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Another incident which is mentioned in the famous Bhagwat Purana, also gives Charan Paduka high importance. According to this story, Lord Krishna had sent his minister Uddav ,to visit Badrinath and get rid of his wrong deeds with his Charan Paduka or slippers on, and his footprints got etched into this boulder.
Charan Paduka can be accessed by trekking from the left side of Badrinath temple. Once you start walking on the correct side, you will see a swift flight of stairs which will lead you up to the Charan Paduka rock. Though the trek route is only 3 kms, the stairs go upwards, making the climb a bit tough and one can take approximately 1.5 hours to reach Charan Paduka situated in the Narayan Parvat.
Before trekking to Charan Paduka, one needs to travel to Badrinath, which can be done by Air, Rail or Road. The nearest domestic airport is Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport which is at a distance of 311 kms from Badrinath. One needs to take a flight to Delhi from Dehradun and reach Badrinath by taxis, which are easily available from Delhi.
If you plan to reach Badrinath by train, you can catch one of trains which frequently go to Rishikesh and reach the Rishikesh railway station that is situated 294kms from Badrinath. Once at the train station, a bus or taxi can be hired to reach Badrinath.
Travelling by road is also a good option, as Badrinath is a very famous tourist destination and is well connected by buses and taxis from other major destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Pauri, etc.
As Charan Paduka is located in a very high-altitude region, it is not advisable for people to travel to this spiritual place during the extreme winter and monsoon seasons. The whole mountain will be snow clad during half of the winter months and the location is officially shut for tourist visits.
The best time to visit Charan Paduka is in the summer months from April to November. During these months, the government officially allows tourists to visit the holy shrine from sunrise to sunset and also the natural scenery is one of the best perks.
Though Charan Paduka is one of the famous shrines of the Hindus and it offers spectacular views once you reach the hilltop, getting to it in the first place needs some preparation.
A person who wants to trek to Charan Paduka should be physically fit and be ready to walk the strenuous path. So, wearing comfortable shoes can help you in completing the trek with minimal pain. Also, it is better to shower and wear fresh and clean clothes before you start your walk uphill, as you will be visiting a holy temple and you will also feel fresh and tidy. Carrying a small first aid kit with you for emergencies and a good camera to capture the amazing views, is also the right choice to make.
Though you can take a few precautions to make your trek to Charan Paduka a success, you should avoid being extra adventurous and trying to climb the hill in the monsoon or rainy season. The hill becomes quite slippery during the monsoons and there is very little chance of anyone surviving, after slipping from a hill. So please avoid going to the Charan Paduka in the rainy season.
Reaching Charan Paduka can be quite risky and tricky as you need to cross many other rocks and caves on your path. But, the Darshan of Lord Vishnu’s footprints, which is supposed to have the magical powers to cure all the ailments from which you might be suffering and grant your heartfelt wishes, makes it worth the trek. So, maybe at the end of the trek, you might come back as a much happier and healthier person.
Once you reach the hilltop, the breath-taking nature with its beautiful meadows, filled with colourful fresh flowers during summers also invite you to be a part of them. Apart from this, the view of the Neelkanth peak from the Narayan Parvat and the view of splendid Rishi Ganga making its way towards the man made waterfall, is something everyone has to experience at least once in a lifetime.
Along the pathway of the trek, one can also find some lovely orchids which grow on the various boulders and caves, which can be taken with you as an offering to Lord Vishnu. One of the rocks also hold a medical unit of Badrinath Shrine Boards and is well equipped with all medical amenities.
Lastly, remember to take a good camera if you are interested in photography as the location is very scenic and taking a few pictures at this breath-taking venue, makes the trek very memorable. Also, if you are geared up for some more adventure, you can trek to the Neelkanth peak which is 6kms away from Charan Paduka.
Along with the Charan Paduka, one can also visit other sight-seeing locations like the Vasudhara falls, Badrinath temple, Tapt Kund, Brahma Kapal, Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bheem Pul, Narada Kund, Yoga Dhyan Badri, Neelkanth Peak and the Sarawathi river to explore Badrinath much deeply.
Finding a guide to take you to Charan Paduka is a bit difficult, but if you are confused and need help you can ask one of the locals to show you the way to the spiritual place.
Also, if you are hungry and want to enjoy some good food near Charan Paduka, you can visit either the Brahma Kamal or the Saket restaurant.
Thus, Charan Paduka is a true combination of religious spirit and nature’s bounty. It is one of the few ancient pilgrimage sites, which even till date, enchants people from all over the world, to come and seek blessings for good health and good luck. So, if you have missed out on Charan Paduka, plan your trip to the holy Badrinath today.