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Uttarakhand’s Joshimath is now Jyotirmath Again

The mythological city of Joshimath in Uttarakhand has been officially renamed as Jyotirmath. The decision was announced by the state government after getting approval from the Centre. Fulfilling a promise made a year ago, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had announced to change the official name of Joshimath tehsil in Chamoli district to its historical title, Jyotirmath.

The story of Adi Shankaracharya and Jyotirmath

Jyotirmath (also known as Jyotir Peeth) is one of the four cardinal mathas (monasteries) that 8th-century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have established across India to promote the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. The Jyotirmath was established for the preservation and dissemination of spiritual knowledge and practices. It is believed that when Adi Shankaracharya or Adiguru came here, he performed penance under a tree known as the Amar Kalpavriksha. The name “Jyotirmath” comes from the divine light of knowledge he is said to have attained, with ‘jyoti’ meaning divine light.

From Jyotirmath to Joshimath

Jyotirmath was the hill town’s ancient name. Over time, the local population began referring to the area as “Joshimath”. This change was likely gradual and organic, influenced by regional languages, local dialects and the ease of pronunciation. The transition reflects a linguistic and cultural evolution rather than a specific historical event. The name came into use sometime before the advent of British colonial rule. As a result, this name was registered in the government records. Later, when the tehsil and block were formed, they were also named Joshimath. While “Jyotirmath” was used in a more formal or religious context, “Joshimath” became the more commonly used name.

Proposal from Locals

The name change was initially proposed by local residents and several organisations during a ceremony held at Ghat in Chamoli district last year, where the decision to rename the ancient name of Jyotirmath back to it was formally announced. The locals of the mythological city of Joshimath, gateway to Badrinath shrine, which came into the limelight after the natural disaster land submergence in early 2023, had been demanding to name Joshimath as Jyotirmath for a long time.


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