Friday 17 May 2024

Badrinath diary


We visited Badrinath earlier this week. We were a party of 6, including my frail 90 year old mother in law. We travelled to the temple town by helicopter from Dehradun and stayed overnight in a hotel in Badrinath.

On the day we landed in Dehradun, we heard rumours of trouble brewing in Badrinath. Concerned family members called, worried for our safety, after having watched news from Badrinath on TV.   After talking to a few locals, we decided to go ahead. And we are glad that we did.

If there indeed had been trouble in the days before our visit, there was no evidence of that when we were there. The yatra was uneventful.

The test of any situation is when it has to encounter something out of the ordinary. The visit of a 90 year old would certainly count as being out of the ordinary. As a fellow pilgrim remarked, my 90 year old mother in law was probably the oldest on the temple premises on the 2 days we were there, the vigraha aside. We were concerned for her safety and seeing the teeming crowds, even more so.

It seemed as if the presence of my mother in law was noticed by the entire administrative machinery who threw a protective ring around her to ensure her safe movement whenever she was on the temple premises. From the ITBP on duty to the temple authorities, they were all hugely supportive and to each of them we owe a deep debt of gratitude. Within the temple, the staff sprang to action, offering her a stool to sit on whenever she wanted and clearing some floor space for her if she chose to squat on the ground. They were attentive to her comfort while going about their routine duties and not for once did we have to worry about her safety and comfort.  It was not one person who took care of her, it is as if everybody was chipping in.  The system worked. 

Our early morning visit to the Tapt Kund was also very uneventful.  A gracious Ravalji even found time to meet my mother in law and seemed to be suitably impressed to learn that she  knew every Ravalji from the time she first visited Badrinath in the 50s. 

We had heard rumours that pilgrims were not being allowed to carry mobile phones or that there was a ban on photography, both of which turned out to be false. All 6 of us carried our phones with us and we even took photographs outside the temple to share with relatives elsewhere who would otherwise have been worried.

While we did not avail of VIP access, we had tickets for every Arati which may well have made it somewhat easier for us than it is for  the pilgrim who has to queue up for hours to get in. But in this respect, the situation that prevails in Badri would not be dissimilar to what obtains in any other temple town in the country.

I do have a suggestion for the local government and the temple authorities. Given the amount of construction and renovation going on, which I am told is part of a master plan, crowd flow needs to be regulated. Because of ongoing construction, the passageways in many places are narrow, causing logjams that could throw up safety issues. The authorities may wish to think of ways to control the crowd flow.

That bit aside, I must say that  the authorities, both government and non government, are just fantastic, doing not just the bit they can but stretching themselves to the hilt to provide pilgrims comfort and a good darshan of the Lord.

Jai Badri Vishal. 

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