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I, have been witness to many different helicopters pilgrimage tours in Uttarakhand, mainly Chardham yatra but one request from an NRI client for a completely different tour cropped up an eagerness within me to know the very reasons behind such peculiar itinerary since he categorically chose to visit only Devprayag- Joshimath - Badrinath - Mata Murti temple, Mana Village.

It was later learned that he belonged to Iyengar’s, an ethnoreligious group of Tamil speaking Hindu brahmins from south India, who primarily offer their prayers at Divya Desam temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Of the 108 Divya Desam temples, 105 are located in India, one is in Nepal and the last two are believed to be outside the earthly realms. In India, they are spread over states of Tamil Nadu (84), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (2), Gujarat (1), Uttar Pradesh (4), Uttarakhand (3) and Muktinath, Saligramam is the only Divya Desam in Nepal.

03 Divya Desam temples in Uttarakhand are Badrinath Temple, Narsingh Temple (Joshimath) and Raghunathji Temple (Dev Prayag), where Iyengar community offer their sacred prayers. Mata Murti temple-Mana Village also becomes an integral part of their pilgrimage tour in Uttarakhand.

Mata Murti temple is situated just 3 km from the Badrinath temple and lies on the banks of river Alaknanda. The temple is dedicated to the mother of Nara and Narayan, who were twin-brother avatars of Lord Vishnu. It was because of the relentless prayers of Mata Murti that compelled Lord Vishnu to take birth from her womb. The Mata Murti Ka Mela takes place every year in the month of September in this temple.

It is also believed that Mata Murti has the power of granting vairagya (renouncement) and another belief is that through the worship of Mata Murti, preferably on the days of Shukla Tritiya, Ashtami and Chaturdashi, worried parents will have their wayward children returned to the path of righteousness.

Raghunathji temple (also called Tirukantamenum Kadi Nagar) in Devprayag, a pilgrimage town in Tehri Garhwal district in Himalayas in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, is dedicated to Vishnu. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Raghunathji and his consort Lakshmi as Sita.

Raghunathji is believed to have performed penance at this place to relieve himself of the curse committed by killing Ravana. It’s believed that the mythical river Saraswathi flows directly under the deity at the temple. At times there is a small pool of water near the deity.

Narsingh temple is a popular temple in Joshimath and famous as a part of Sapt Badri. Narsingh temple is also called as Narsingh Badri Temple and a sacred place to visit in Joshimath. The deity of the temple is fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu (Narsimha Avatar), in the form of half Lion and half man.

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