Jyotirmath or Joshimath (northern monastery) was originally known as Kartikeyapura, one of the four cardinal pīthas established by Adi Sankara, the others being those at Sringeri, Puri and Dwaraka. Their heads are titled "Shankaracharya". According to the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, this matha is in charge of the Atharva Veda.
As it is close to the pilgrimage town of Badrinath, and the matha has not always been active, it is sometimes said incorrectly that the original northern matha was established at Badrinath.
In its most recent history, the Jyotirmath became inactive in the early 19th century. The formal occupation of the matha was restarted with the aid of the heads of some of the other mathas from about 1940 onward. However, there is an unresolved controversy over the succession to the headship of Jyotirmath. The best known of the claimants to be the current head or Shankaracharya is Svarūpĝnanda Sarasvatī who is also head of the Dwaraka matha. The other two claimants are Vĝsudevĝnanda Sarasvatī and Mĝdhavĝśrama.
As of 2001 India censusGRIndia, Joshimath had a population of 13,202. Males constitute 61% of the population and females 39%. Joshimath has an average literacy rate of 77%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 83%, and female literacy is 67%. In Joshimath, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
From Rishikesh and Srinagar pilgrims start their journey for Joshi Math. This city is 170 k.m. away from Rishikesh. On the way there are many beautiful Prayags. The second important Prayag is known as Rudar Prayag. This Prayag is at the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakani rivers. Here there is also situated a historical temple of Saint Rudar Nath. The travellers, who have to go to Kedar Nath, that place is very important for them. From here a road along Mandakani river goes upto Kedar Nath. Kedar Nath is about 54 miles from this Prayag. From Rudar Prayag the travelers reach Gauchar. Gauchar has been now converted into a very important place. Here the central government has formed four helipads for the journey of the VIP's and ministers. From Rudar Prayag we reach Karan Prayag. This place is confluence of river Alknanda and Pindar Ganga. The water of these rivers is very pure and crystal looking into it through to the river's bed one can clearly see even the smallest particles. The small coloured pebbles which line the bottom glissen like polished gems and jewels.
After enjoying the confluence of Karan Prayag the pilgrims reach village Chamoli. This place is at the junction of two roads coming from Kedar Nath.
Enjoying the natural scenes of the mountains and rivers we reach Joshi Math. The Hemkunt-Trust has built a very beautiful Gurdwara at this spot. This Gurdwara provides all types of facilities to the pilgrims. It is also said that there are many old manuscripts in the possession of this Gurdwara. In this Gurdwara the holy Dasam Granth Sahib is also enshrined for the study of the pilgrims. There is also a large Dharmsala in this city, which can house thousands of travelers. This Dharmsala is known as 'Kali Kambli' Dharmsala.
Joshi Math is one of the four important Maths of Shankracharia. It is a well-known historical city. Badri Nath is considered to be the highest sacred place. When, due to severe cold weather, it becomes difficult to stay there, the residents of Badri Nath climb down to winter at Joshi Math. There are many old temples in this city. The Naths bring with them the idols of the Badri Nath temple and worship those here. There is also an old path which connects Joshi Math with Mansarovar and Kailash Parbat. Tapo-ban is only eight miles away from this city. There is also an old tree near the cave of Shankracharya. It is believed that this tree is more than 25000 years old.
In Joshi Math's main Bazaar, Gurdwara Dusht Daman is situated. This Gurdwara was constructed under the supervision of Sant Thandi Singh. It was completed in 1966. Later on the Hemkunt-Trust built the residential buildings. In Gurdwara Dushat Daman, the travellers are provided all types of facilities. The pilgrims stay there at night and next day early in the morning start their journey towards Gobind Ghat. Along the way, comes Vishnu Prayag where the rivers Akalnanda and Vishnu Ganga converge. This is the fifth and last Prayag. When we go further we see a mountain of great height. On one side of the mountain there is Lakshmi Temple and on the other side there is a pond of very hot water.
There are also temples of Nar Singh, Bhagwati, Durga Dass Dev and te god Jaiteshwar. As we continue our journey we feel fascinated to see the natural beauty all around. Though the tiresome journey overpowers our physical calibre, but the divine message of the celestial power solaces us so much that we forget all types of fatigues.
We remember and praise the supreme Lord for His wonderful creation. We realize that we should not forget him, who has given us the life to see such beautiful spots. There, the holy Baani of Jaap Sahib revolves in our minds and we recite it again and again.
"Salutation to the Immortal
Salutation to the Compassionate
Salutation to the Formless
Salutation to the Unrivalled.
Salutation to God who is beyond portraiture
Salutation to Incorporeal
Salutation to Unborn.
Salutation to Impregnable.
Salutation to Indestructable.
Salutation to God who is beyond Name.
Salutation to God who is beyond place.”
In this way reciting holy hymns of Guru Gobind Singh, we proceed on to have a glimpse of that wonderful place, called Hemkunt Sahib.
|JOURNEY SHRI HEMKUNT SAHIB|
ROUTE 1 - Haridwar ROUTE 2 - Paonta Sahib