The major lure to this town is the Badrinath temple. Legend has it that Shankara stumbled upon a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made from Shaligram in the Alakananda River. Initially he preserved it in a cave close to the Tapt Kund hot springs. Later the king of Garhwal shifted the idol to the present temple somewhere in the 16th century.
Being that the temple is pretty ancient and it was damaged in an avalanche the temple has been revamped several times. The kings of Garhwal decided to enlarge the temple during the 17th century. In the year 1803, there was a massive earthquake in the Himalayas, which damaged the temple extensively. It was the King of Jaipur who reconstructed it later.
This 50 foot temple stands proud with a gold gilt roof. The frontage is stone and the windows are arched. To get to the main entrance one has to climb up a broad stairway. The temple has a semblance of Buddhist architecture. This temple too has a bright colored portico which is typical of Buddhist temples. The main entrance opens up to a mandapa, which in turn leads to the main shrine. Elaborate carvings adorn the walls and pillars of the mandapa. The complex holds altogether 15 temples. The main image of Badrinath (Vishnu) has been chiseled in black stone. Some of the other statues found here are of Laxmi, Garud, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh.
The best time to visit the temple is from June to September. It is a pretty arduous journey that takes two days from Kedarnath, one of the other sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage or even from Hemkund Sahib, a significant pilgrimage site for the Sikhs. Since both Kedarnath and Hemkund Sahib precede Badrinath, the road that leads you there can be pretty busy during the pilgrimage season. Badrinath is incredibly close to the Indo-China border.
Previously Badrinath was not accessible by road but now buses and other vehicles can take you directly to the temple. All terrain vehicles are a better choice since the roads are pretty narrow. Buses are available to take you there from New Delhi, Rishikesh and Haridwar. The closest railway stations are at Kotdwar, which is at a distance of 327 kilometers, Rishikesh is at a distance of 297 kilometers, while Haridwar station is 310 kilometers from Badrinath. As far as airports go, the closest one is in Dehradun, which is at a distance of 317 kilometers.
An important point to note is that the Badrinath temple remains closed in the winters.