Badrinath is an ancient pilgrimage site, located at about 10,300 ft in the Himalayas at the headwaters of the Alaknanda River. It was through Badrinath that the Pandava brothers passed, as recounted in the Mahabharata, on their final journey to heaven.
All along the route from Rishikesh are temples, shrines and sacred spots associated with stories from the Indian epics, each with a tale to tell. Above Badrinath is the village of Mana where Saint Vyasa is said to have lived while reciting the Mahabharata to Ganesha. In need of a writing implement, Ganesha broke off one of his tusks to use as a pen, so devoted was he to his task. His cave too is there.
Close to Vyasa’s cave flows the mystical river Saraswati, bursting in full flow from a mountainside crevice. It’s quite amazing to see because no one knows from where the river comes before appearing in full force, only slightly smaller than the Yuba River in Nevada County.
After flowing but a few hundred yards it merges with the Alaknanda. There, it is said to mystically go underground to reappear at the sangham (confluence) of the Yamuna and Ganga in Allahabad, site of the kumbha mela (large religious festival).
Yogis say the Saraswati is a symbol of the sushumna, the mystical channel in the astral spine, the Ganga and Yamuna being the ida and pingala nerve channels on either side.