Joshi Math is a small town at nearly 2000 meters elevation, in the magnificent and picturesque Himalayan ranges in the state of Uttarakhand- a small town with many facets to its personality. On one side it is a Tehsil and administrative headquarters. It is also the headquarters of Army Brigade and Scouts paramilitary in Garhwal. In addition to these administrative and defense faces, it adorns a spiritual, religious and a touristy face. Each one of them is more fascinating than the other.
Joshi Math or Jotir Math – A Little History
Joshi Math or Jotir Math gets its name from the first Math built by Adi Shankaracharya in 8CE. Shankaracharya hailed from a small village in Southern India. He was an ascetic and erudite scholar of Vedanta. At a very young age, he traversed the length and breadth of the country to revive the Adwait Vedanta teachings. A prolific writer, he wrote many commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagvat Geeta. To offer a choice of the ascetic way of life to the seekers, he established Maths all over India- beginning with Joshimath. Till date, it is operational math and a temple. Devotees visit the temple to pay homage to this great scholar and visionary.
Ideal Stop For Pilgrims oOf Char Dham And Badrinath
This town is the ideal stop for the pilgrims of Char Dham and Badrinath is just 14 km away from here. Joshimath is the winter seat of Lord Badri. Just before Badrinath goes all under heavy snowfall, the idol of Badrinath is shifted to Jyotirmath. The story of this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is interesting. When Lord Vishnu was deep in meditation here, His consort Goddess Laxmi, got concerned about the heavy snow fall on him and took the form of a berry tree to protect Lord Vishnu from the snow. As Lord Vishnu emerged from the meditation, being pleased with His consort named himself Badrinath (Husband of the Berry).
Nearby Pilgrim Centers
There are other ancient temples like Narasimha Temple and Durga Temple. Both these are worth visiting for the powerful energies you feel. The idol of Lord Narasimha is made in Shaligram (fossilized shells which is a symbol of Lord Vishnu. As the Himalayas were an ocean many millennia ago, you find these sacred fossils strewn around even now). One of the arms of Narasimha is made very thin. The belief goes that the day the hand will fall off the idol, there will be a catastrophe on earth.
Valley Of Flowers & Treks
The famous valley of flowers is close by and many treks it from Joshimath. For serious rock climbers and trekkers, this town offers the last place they can shop and stock up and rest before climbing higher in the Himalayas. The markets in Joshi Math are very well stocked for this reason.
From various parts of the town, you get splendid views of various snowy peaks including Nanda Devi, Dronagiri and Hathi Parvat. The clear blue sky is a treat to the eyes. The forest cover is thick and fragrant with pines, deodar and rhododendrons. Joshimath overlooks the Vishnuprayag. Vishnuprayag is the confluence of two mighty rivers Alaknanda and Dhouliganga. Both the rivers come down roaring, white with rapids. Watching them and listening to them is awe-inspiring. These rapids are also great for white water rafting, but not for the faint of heart. The route taken is Vishnuprayag to Rudraprayag down to Haridwar- where the river calms down a great deal. It is a great route for white water rafting with some dangerous rapids to cross. But that is for the young adventurous crowds. Most travelers are happy sitting on the bank of the river and watching and listening to the river or taking a holy dip.
The best thing about Joshimath is the pleasant weather all around the year and chilly nights that make it an ideal Hill Station and it offers the joy of meeting a multi-faceted personality of great beauty.