Chamoli- Beauty and Devotion
Chamoli is one of the prominent districts of Garhwal and is the host district to Badrinath, the place of pilgrimage of the Hindus and the Hemkunt Sahib, the holy place of the Sikhs. Apart from these places of religious sanctity, Chamoli is also resplendent with natural beauty with flowers blooming in all the directions and a magnificent landscape.
The origin of Chamoli goes beyond Badrinath and has references in the Rig Veda as Kedar khand. As it has been maintained in the ancient tales, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been penned in Mana that lies in close proximity to Badrinath. It has also been recorded that Kedar khand survived the massive flooding and was in fact was a place of refuge for the people who saved themselves from the horrific waters. The Vyasa Gufa, the place of origin of the Mahabharata actually in the underbelly of the Kedar Khand.
The place has also been referred to as the abode of Lord Shiva. It was therefore only natural that the once playground of the Gods is being seen as the centre of attraction of the pilgrims from across the nation.
The several forts that have been developed along the hills were actually built by the ancient kings who sought protection against the several invaders. The initial invaders who established themselves in Chamoli set Joshimath as their capital. The principal dynasty that ruled Chamoli was the Katyura dynasty and they ruled this land for centuries.
It was during the rule of the Katyura Kings that Adi Shankaracharya set his foot in the hills of Chamoli and set up the temple of Badrinath. Along with Dwaraka in Gujarat, Puri in Orissa and Shringeri in Karnataka, Badrinath was set forth as a peeths or the centre of learning of Brahmin disciples. The Peeth and the temple at the holy city of Badrinath were established against the rising threat of Buddhism that proved to be hazardous even to the effigy of Badrinath.
The last days of princely rule that was carried out by the Panwar dynasty was marred with attacks from the Gorkhas as Nepal. The then ruler Raja Sudarshan Shah sought the assistance of the British who had established their presence under the guise of the East India Company.
The hills and the plains of Chamoli are abundant with natural resources and the soils along the river basins and the elevated areas hold plenty of natural minerals and stones. The River Alaknanda flows with aplomb in Chamoli and the shelters built all along the place function as transit zones for the pilgrims to the holy abode of Badrinath.
For the tourists though, there are several places of interest in and around the district. Prominent among them are Auli and the Valley of Flowers. People also throng to Auli Bugyal, a famous ski resort. Chamoli is at the footsteps of the Nanda Devi peak of the Himalayas and houses the Nanda Devi resort.
In essence, Chamoli stands true as the one place that houses religious sanctimony on the one hand and places of absolute beauty on the other.