Badrinath Temple has been renovated several times due to damage by avalanches. The present structure is 15m high and has a gilded cupola. The Rawal or chief priest of the temple is a Namboodri Brahmin from Kerala. The temple is divided into three parts, the Garbha Griha or sanctum sanctorum, the Darshan Mandap where the rituals are conducted and the Sabha Mandap where devotees assemble.
Although Badrinath is located in the far north of India, the head priest, or Rawal, is traditionally a Nambudiri Brahmin from the far south of India in Kerala. This tradition was begun by Adi Shankara, who was a Malayali. The Rawal is assisted by Dimri Pundits belonging to Village Dimmer of Garhwal. Badrinath is one of the few temples in North India that follow the ancient Tantra-Vidhi of Shrauta tradition more common in South India. Devotees of all faiths and all schools of thought of Hinduism visit the place. Many religious heads of various Muths, such as Jeeyar Mutt (Andhra mutt), Sringeri, Kanchi, Udupi Pejavar and Manthralayam Sri Raghavendra Swamy Muths have their branches/guest houses.
Badrinath was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. Shankara discovered the image of Badrinarayan in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the king of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple. The temple has undergone several major renovations, due to age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur. It is one of the five Punyakshethras (Holy places)where the Hindus offer Shradddhakarmas (oblations) to their 42 line of ancestors (Both from mother's and father's side) (Other four are Kashi, Gaya, Prayaga and Rameswaram). It is believed that once the Shraddha Karma is performed here, the descendants need not perform the yearly ritual.
Panch Badri Information
The five Badries are revered by all as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu. Badrinath is devoted to the worship of Vishnu who, according to an amusing tale, usurped this place from Shiva. For Vishnu had come here as the gods once did, to offer penance. He loved the place so much that he plotted to unseat Shiva from his meditation here. He took on the form of a beautiful child and began to wail. Shiva's wife, Parvati picked him up but could not calm the child. Since his wailing continued to disturb Shiva, he shifted to Kedarnath in exasperation, leaving the spot free for Vishnu to occupy. But remainders of Shiva's stay continue to linger, most visibly in the name, badri, a kind of berry that Shiva was most fond of, and the gigantic tree, invisible to the morale eye, that served Shiva. Considered one of the Char Dgam or four principle places of Hindu worship at himalayas, Badrinath's four subsidiary badries include Bhavishya Badri, Yogdhyan Badri, Vridha Badri and Adi Badri.