Badrinath ..A piligrims diary


NAMO NARAYANAYA

SRIMAN NARAYANAYA CHARANAU SARANAM PRAPATHYE
SRIMATHEY NARAYANAYAH NAMAH
SRI ARAVINDAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI BADRINARAYANAYA NAMAH
SRI PUNDARIKAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI PURUSHOTHAMAYA NAMAH
SRI PARIMALAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI PARAMPURUSHAYA NAMAH
SRIMATHE RAMANUJAYA NAMAH

Due to the grace of the Divya Dampadhigal and Acharyar, Adiyen
was blessed to visit Thiru Badrinath and other divya desams enroute
during October,2003 along with my family. After returning from
Badrinath, Adiyen also visited Tirumala-Tirupati and participated in
Vimsathi darshanam a scheme which allows a family of 6 members to
have Suprabatham, Nijapada and SahasraDeepalankara seva for any 2
consecutive days in a year . It was only due to the abundant grace of
Thiruvengadamudaiyan adiyen was able to vist all the Divya desams
without any difficulty.

Before proceeding further, Adiyen would like to thank all the internet
bhagavathas especially Sri Rangasri group members and M.S.Ramesh
for providing abundant information about these divya desams. I have
uploaded a Map of the hills again downloaded from UP Tourism site for
ready reference . As Adiyen had not planned the trip in advance, it was
not possible to join “package tour”
organised by number of travel
agencies and could not do as it was Off season. Adiyen wishes to
share my experience with all of you and request the bhagavathas to
correct the shortcomings. Adiyen was blessed to take my father aged
about 70 years a heart patient , to this divya desam and it would not
be an exaggeration to say that only because of my acharyar’s and
elders’ blessings , the trip was very comfortable.

Adiyen boarded Secunderabad Rajdhani Express bound to New Delhi
on 1st October,2003 and spent the whole day in train . Chi
Ranganathan my younger brother ,Chi Narayanan and Chi Srinivasan
my nephews had come to see us off. On 2nd , we reached Delhi at

5.15 in the morning . From Hazrat Nizamuddin station, we went to
Delhi station and boarded Dehradun-Shatabdi Express at 6.45 A.M.
Reached Haridwar at 11.30 A.M. The train stops here for about 3
minutes only. We checked in a nearby Hotel Darshan (Rs.175/-per
day) which is on the banks of Holy Ganges . We stayed here on 2nd
night and 3rd morning and visited Brahma Kund, Hari ki Pauri, Chandi
Devi Temple, Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri Devi temple and went to

Rishikesh by 7 seater auto (fare Rs.20/-per head). There are few
Madrasi hotels like Mysore Hotel where you get South Indian food.

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HARIDWAR :

HARIDWAR is a busy small town with a floating population of
piligrims. The days are hot and the nights are not that cold. This place
is surrounded by SHIVALIK mountains. “HARIDWAR”
is Hari ka Dwar
or Har Ke Dwar “
the Gateway to Heavens”.

This is the starting point to visit the four sacred “dhams”
(sacred places) namely, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. This town is situated at the foot of the Himalayas. Haridwar is the temple town of India. The moment
one reaches Haridwar , THE THOUGHT ABOUT MATERIAL WORLD GETS
DISSOLVED AND WE START LIKING THE PEOPLE AND PLACE .And
after a holy bath in the Ganges, the spirit in us gets charged with
bhakti-ras , all the sins get wiped off. We try to understand Lords
creation and start accepting that in the fast moving world one can find
solace when we visit these Holy places . There are innumerable
ashrams and temples in Haridwar. We can find innumerable saints ,
foreigners and Yogis on the street. If one finds time, one can visit few
temples like Manasi Devi temple, Chandi Devi temple, Hari Ki Pauri,
Brahma Kundam, Bharat Mata temple, Vaishnavo Devi temple,
Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri Devi temple etc. Other temples of interest
are Maya Devi temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, Shravan nath
temple, Bholagiri temple, Gorakasha nath temple, Kangra Mandir, Gita
Bhavan, Bhairon Akhara, Bilkeshwara Mahadeva, Pawandham temple,
Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Parmath Ashram etc .Few of
which were visted by us .

It is at this place that the holy Ganges enters the plains to atone the
sins of millions of sinners. Once in 12 years, “Kumbh Mela”
takes
place at this place and once in 6 years “Ardh Kumbh Mela (half Kumbh
Mela). The other places where Kumbh Mela takes place are at
Allhaabad, Nasik and Ujjain. The astrological date of Kumbh at
Haridwar falls when Venus (Sukran) and Jupiter(Guru) coincide with
Aquarius (Kumbh) and the Sun and Moon are on the Aries and
Sagittarius respectively. It is believed that few drops of nectar are
believed to have fallen here and hence a dip in Ganges during Kumbh
Mela is considered to be sacred as it bestows longevity and spiritual

upliftment. The preparations for the next Kumbh Mela scheduled to

take place in 2004 has already started. There are innumerable
temples and many sacred places in Haridwar.
Out of this , the most important ones are
1. Hari-Ki-Pauri –
This is near Brahma Kundam. This is the place

where Lord Vishnu’s Thiruvadi are found and is the starting point of
Ganges. The story of Ganges coming down to earth may be briefly
recapitulated. Due to the severe penance of Bhagirathan, Ganges
was brought down to earth and as the earth could not withstand the
pressure, ParamaSivan caught hold of her in his matted lock and
allowed it to split into several tributaries, namely, Alakananda,
Bhagirathi, Nandakini, Garuda Ganga, Bhyur Ganga, Mandakini etc.
All these tributaries traverse through the Himalayas in different
routes , merge with Alakananda at different places which are known
as “PRAYAGS”
and finally join at Haridwar. Here she is known as
Ganges and hence Haridwar is the starting point of Ganges. All of
us had holy dip in Ganges . There are many small temples
situated here and Ganga Aarathi is performed daily in the evening
hours.

2. BRAHMA KUNDAM: This is the place where Brahma welcomed
Ganges to earth and had his first holy dip in Ganges. It is believed
that a dip in this Brahmakund brings salvation from all sins and a
freedom from the bondages of the world. Therefore, pious people
from all over the world come here to have bath in this sacred place.
There are many temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Ganga Maatha,
Durga Devi, Sri Ramar, Sri Krishnar etc. on the banks of the river.
It is believed that any “dhaanam”
(sacrifice) done here fetches
multifold benefits, especially, pooja and dhaanam done to cows
(Gomatha). Also, it is believed that if one performs “pithru
kaaryam” at this place it is very beneficial.
All of us had holy bath at Brahma Kundam near Hari Ki Pauri on 3rd
October,2003. We performed “GOPOOJA”
(pooja to cow), offered
some hay laddus specially made for these cows (You get 25 laddus for
Rs.10/-) and left the place.

MANASA DEVI TEMPLE: This Goddess, daughter of Shiva and
form of Shakti fulfills the desires of the true and sacred souls. This
temple which is one km away from Haridwar is situated on top of
Shivalik Hills on the western side. Usually, piligrims pray to this
Goddess for completing their yaatrai successfully. Trekking this hill
would take about half an hour. There is also a rope way to this
temple from Ratan Cinema Hall. The charge for the same is Rs.30/

CHANDI DEVI TEMPLE: This temple is situated on the eastern
summit of Shiwalik Hills on top of Neelkant Parvath. This temple is 6
km off the city on the other side of Ganges. It may take about an hour
or so to climb this hill. There is a ropeway to this temple also and it is
essential to carry water as there is no drinking water on top of the hill.
The charge for the ropeway is Rs.60/-. One has to travel for about 15
minutes by vehicle to reach the foot of this hill and then start trekking.

The ropeway facility organised by Uttaranchal state is called as

UDDANKOTLA” . They operate ropeway service to both Manasi Devi
and Chandi Devi temples. The fare for this package tour is Rs.120/-.
If the height of a child is above 3 feet, then full fare is charged. In this
package tour, a drinking water bottle, a cap, pooja materials etc , a
brochure giving the details about the temples are given. The visitors
are taken by a van to the starting point of this Udaan Kotla service
and from there the ropeway starts. It takes about 15 minutes to reach
Chandi Devi temple by ropeway. Then , one has to climb few steep
steps which may take about 10 minutes to reach Chandi Devi temple.
We were welcomed by many monkeys as in Ayodhya and Brindavan.
We could see devotees tying some piece of cloth as “praarthanai”
After
having darshan of the Goddess, we went to Anjani Devi temple,
mother of Hanuman. There are other temples dedicated to Durga,
Maa Kali etc. Came back to the ropeway junction and returned to the
original starting point. There is another ropeway in another direction
to go to Manasi Devi temple. As we didn’t have time, we didn’t visit
this temple.We visited these temples on 2nd (took package tour for
Rs.120/-) and attended evening Ganga Aarthi at Hari Ki Pauri which is
a feast to the eyes.

On 3rd morning, after having holy dip at Brahma Kundam ,we hired an
auto for Rs.150/-to visit Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri temple, Bharat
Matha temple, Vaishnavo Devi temple.

GAYATRI DEVI TEMPLE:-First, we visited Gayatri Devi temple which
is enroute to Rishikesh. After 20 minutes drive, we reached this
temple. There are 3 entrances to this temple. Near the entrance,
there are life-size idols of 7 rishis. There is a temple dedicated to
Gayatri Matha. In a separate hall, continuous chanting of Gayatri
Mantram goes on right from 5 in the morning to 7 in the evening. We
could see many devotees including ladies doing japam without any
disturbance. The temple committee provides free anna dhanam (food)
to the visiting devotees daily.

SAPTARISHI ASHRAM: (10 minutes drive from Gayatri Devi mandir).
This place was known as “Kamandulu”
. This place is also connected
to the story of Ganges coming down to earth. When Ganges was
following King Bhagirath in his chariot, it passed by an ashram where
the sapta rishis were engrossed in deep penance and stopped its flow.
When questioned by Bhagirath, Ganges replied that she was caught in
the kamandalam (water pot) of the sapta rishis and was unable to
move further. Bhaigrath prayed to the sapta rishis who then allowed
her to flow in 7 streams. This place is very calm and serene. There
are temples dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, Lord Srinivasar, Radha-
Krishna, Sita-Ram along with Lakshmanan and Hanumar, Siva in
the centre which are artistically built.This ashram was inaugurated by
Late Rajendra Prasad during his Presidency. This was built and is
being maintained by Sanatana Dharma Sabha of Punjab.

From Sapta rishi ashram, we went to Bharat Matha temple which is 4
kms away from the city.

VAISHNAVO DEVI TEMPLE: This temple is near Bharath Matha
temple. This is a replica of the famous Vaishnavo Devi Temple at
Jammu. The caves , sannidhis have been artistically built. In the
entrance, you can find huge idols of Vinayaka and Hanumar. Apart
from there, there are beautiful idols of other Gods and Goddesses – a
model of Kailash mountains, Kedarnath, Ganges flowing from matted
locks of Shiva are worth mentioning. There is also a replica of
Amarnath temple in the same premises. You can find replica of
lingams found in Srisailam, Kedarnath, Rameswaram etc. This temple
is worth seeing.After visiting the above temples, we came back to
Haridwar at 1 P.M and packed up to Rishikesh.

RISHIKESH:-We went to Rishikesh by seven-seater auto/tempo
(Rs.20/-per head) from Haridwar. Rishikesh houses innumerable
ashrams . It has a floating population of many piligrims going to
Badrinath and Kedarnath and many foreign tourists who are interested
in mountaineering. The details about the important places to be visited
are mentioned later .

We reached Rishikesh at 3.15 P.M. From Rishikesh, we had to take
another tempo to go to JET .Jeeyar Mutt which is near to Lakshman
Jhoola. We were told by our co-passengers that it was not possible to
go to Badrinath due to transport strike . The Uttaranchal
Government has passed a rule that vehicles which were more than 10
years old would not be allowed to travel in Ghat section. Hence, the
vehicle owners were on strike. We were totally dejected on hearing

this and prayed to Perumal. As we had planned to stay at Jeeyar Mutt,
we asked the driver to stop in front of Jeeyar Mutt. But the driver
stopped on the main road itself and said that we have to walk for 5
minutes in a lane to reach the Jeeyar Mutt. The day was really hot
and we were hesitating to go by walk along with our luggage and
children. On enquiry, we were told that Andhra Bhavan owned by TTD
was on the main road itself. Hence, we decided to go to Andhra
Bhavan directly. The moment we saw the divya mangala vigraham of
Lord Srinivasar, all our hopes were revived and we were fully confident
about our journey because we have ultimately reached
Thiruvengadamudaiyan’s Thiruvadigal. Luckily, accomodation was
available and the room rent per day is Rs.30/-. As we opted for VIP
room, we had to pay Rs.75/- as room rent. The advantage is you get a
furnished room with geyser facility . There is a temple of Lord
Srinivasar just beside the guest house and here all the sevas,
aaradhanais are done exactly as in Tirumala. After refreshing
ourselves, we went to temple to attend the evening pooja at 5 P.M.
Divya Prabhandam was being recited. TTD also maintains a Saivaite
temple which is beside Andhra Bhavan.

Every morning at 5 , the Lord is awakened with the recitation of
Suprabhatham. This seva is followed by Thomala Seva at 6 A.M.
During this seva, the utsava vigraham “Bhoga Srinivasar”
is given
Thirumanjanam (holy bath), flowers are adorned to the Moolavirat
while reciting Thiruppavai; Sahasranaama Archana is performed to
Lord and this seva is followed by Saatrumarai at 7 A.M. As in
Tirumala, the Saivaite priest recites Suprabhatham and Archanai. This
priest is also incharge of the Shiva temple which is maintained by TTD.
Another priest aged about 60 who is exclusively employed for reciting
Naalayira Divya Prabhandham recites Thiruppavai. After
Suprabhatham, the Lord enjoys Annamacharya kirthanas played with
the help of Naadaswaram(. The tickets for all the above sevas is Rs.5/per
head per seva. The second Saatrumarai is at 11 A.M. and after
this, the temple is closed. The rate for bhogam (offering) starts from
Rs.250/-) We were told that even the proportion of ingredients for
cooking prasadams are followed exactly as in Tirumala.The temple
re-opens at 4 P.M. Daily divya prabhandham is recited in the
evenings. Ekantha Seva is the best seva and the last seva in the
evening . Like in Tirumala, during this sevai, all the flower garments
are removed and lullaby annamaya kirtanas are played by the troup. I
request the bhagavathas visiting Badrinath to spend atleast a day in
this temple and attend all the sevas . The phone number is
0135-2430353.

In the evening, we went to Sriman Narayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar
Mutt which is very near to Andhra Ashram. The advantage in staying in
Chinna Jeeyar Mutt is you are provided with both boarding and
Lodging, whereas in Andhra Bhavan, we don’t have this facility. We
went there to enquire about the stay facilities at Badrinath in Jeeyar
Mutt. We were told that as winter was about to begin, the volunteers
in Jeeyar Mutt were preparing to shift from Badrinath to Joshirmutt
and hence no accomodation would be given . Usually soon after
Vijayadasami, the mutt would be closed for winter. As only 3 days
were left for Vijayadasami, accomodation would not be given. It may
be mentioned here that in Haridwar and Rishikesh, there are
innumerable tourist offices which offer you to take to Badrinath,
Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and other hill stations. So, if anyone
is planning to go on own to Badrinath, we can very well go to
Rishikesh and book either bus ticket or arrange a cab to go to
Badrinath. The bus fare is Rs.225/-per head and car hire charges for
3 days and 2 nights costs about Rs.3,000/-.We went to one of the
tourist offices situated right opposite to Andhra Bhavan and booked
bus tickets to go to Badrinath. It takes about 12 hours to go to Jyothi
Mutt locally known as Joshirmutt and after night stay at Jyothi Mutt ,
the bus would proceed to Badrinath the next day. The decision was
taken as Elders advised it was wise to travel in a Bus as in case of any
landslide etc the bus will return with the passengers from the opposite
direction and the passengers proceeding will board the bus which will
go back upwards saving time and ensuring continuity. As we were
interested in covering all the prayags,(namely , Dev Prayag, Karna
Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Nand Prayag and Vishnu Prayag), we enquired
whether the bus would stop at the places already mentioned above for
which the reply was in affirmative. We were told that the bus would
leave at 8 A.M. We once again went to Srinivasar kovil, and prayed
LORD for his grace. (attended Ekantha Seva at 9 P.M., paid for next
day’s dhadhiaaradhanai in the morning and after praying to Perumal
for safe journey , we did a bit of last minute shopping and retired for
the day.)

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT THE HIMALAYAS:

The Himalayan mountains are divided into various mountain ranges,
Garhwal Himalayas, Central Himalayas, Annapurna ranges and so on.
They stretch from Jammu upto Nepal. The Himalayas are the abode of
Gods and innumerable saints contemplate on the Lord at this place.
There are 4 Vaishnava divya desams in the Himalayas itself. “
Kandam ennum Kadinagar”
popularly known as Dev Prayag,

Thirupiridhi popularly known as Joshirmutt and Badrinath are
located in the Garhwal Himalayas.

“Saaligramam”
is located in the Annapurna ranges. Other important
places are Vaishnavo Devi Temple, Kedarnath, Mount Kailash,
Amarnath temple to name a few.

There are many hill stations like Dehradun, Nainital, Mussourie etc.

A brief description of the route is mentioned below:

The routes to the 4 dhams are different. The routes to Kedarnath,
Gangotri, Yamunotri closes by September whereas the route to
Badrinath is accessible upto October.

Gangotri is the place where Ganges descended from Heavens. The
rock on which Bhagirathan did penance is known as Bhagiratha Shila.
Gaumukh from where the Ganges flows is of importance. There is a
temple dedicated to Ganges. There is a motorable road to approach
this place from Rishikesh. There are 2 routes to go to Kedarnath –via
Uttar Khashi and via Rudra Prayag . A dip at Gaumukh absolves one
of all the sins.

Yamunotri is the starting point of Yamuna. There are many hot water
springs here. Can be approached from Gangotri but one has to walk
for atleast 13 kms as there is no motorable road.

Kedarnath : The route to Kedarnath diverges at Rudra Prayag. One
has to trek for 14 kms from Gauri Kund. This is at an higher altitude
than Badrinath. The routes to the above 3 places closes by September.

Badrinath: There is motorable road upto the temple. From mid April
to October, the temple is open for public. The route is given in detail:

The route to Badrinath from Rishikesh is as follows:

Rishikesh-Dev Prayag (45miles )-Srinagar (19 miles from Dev
Prayag)-Rudra Prayag (19 miles from Srinagar)-Karna Prayag (20
miles from Gauchar)-Nand Prayag (13 miles from Karna Prayag)Chamoli-
Pipal Kote-Garuda Ganga-Helang-Joshirmutt-Govind Ghat-
Hanuman Chatti –Deva Darshani-Badrinath

Legends connected with the characters in Ramayanam and
Mahabharatam find place in the Himalayas as Lord Rama, Lakshmana,
Hanumar, Pandavas resorted to Himalayas for their penance.

All the above places are enroute to Badrinath. A brief description of the
above places is given below:

1. DEV PRAYAG: Situated at a height of 1700 feet, this is one of the
Vaishnavite divya desams known as “Kandum Ennum Kadinagar”.
Here, Alakananda (after joining with other tributaries) joins with
Bhagirathi to become Ganges. It takes about 2-3 hours to reach
this place from Rishikesh. Lord Rama is the presiding deity here
(there is no temple for Perumal described by Azhwars )-Banyan
tree in front of the temple is of importance-Anna dhanam fetches
manifold benefits-A detailed description of our visit to this divya
desam is mentioned later)
2. SRI NAGAR: Previously this was the capital of the Garhwali kings-
A small town at a height of 1800 feet -There is a temple for
Kamaleshwar Mahadev who was worshipped by Lord Rama with
1008 flowers. Shiva who wanted to test Sri Rama’s bhakti, removed
one flower. When Lord Rama found that one flower was missing,
unhesitatingly he removed his eyes (as He was Kamalakannan) and
offered the same to the Lord. Shiva was pleased with this and
appeared before Rama and blessed him. Hence, this Lord is known
as Kamaleshwar Mahadev. To visit this temple, one must take
diversion from the bus route. It is better to go by car as there is no
other transport facility.
3. RUDRA PRAYAG: This is 19 miles away from Srinagar at an
altitude of 2000 feet. The confluence of the rivers Mandakini
emergine from Kedarnath and Alakananda takes place. There is a
small temple dedicated to Rudra, one of the forms of Shiva. The
routes to Kedarnath and Badrinath are the same upto this place and
here the routes diverge. Narada Rishi did penance at this place and
was blessed with the knowledge of sangeetham at this place.
4. KARNA PRAYAG: This is 20 miles from Gauchar and appl 40 miles
from Rudra Prayag. This is a small town with boarding and lodging
facilities. There is a Tourist guest house and some wayside hotels
too. As Karna did penance here, this place has been named so. The
confluence of Alakananda and Pindar river from Pindar glacier
takes place. As there is no proper route, it is difficult to go and

sprinkle water from this Prayag. One has to go by foot and the
path is slippery.

5. NAND PRAYAG: 13 miles from Karna Prayag with some wayside
hotels. River Alakananda mingles with Nandakini at this place.
As there is no proper route, it is difficult to go and sprinkle water
from this Prayag. One has to go by foot and the path is slippery.
Mount Trisul can be seen from here.
6. CHAMOLI: This is the district headquarters and hence has all the
facilities like hotels, lodges, phones etc. Here, Birahi Ganga
meets with Alakananda . One can only watch the confluence.
7. PIPAL KOTE:-As piligrims going to Badrinath usually stay at either
Pipal Kote or Joshirmutt , it has many facilities. Garuda Ganga is
near this place. As Garuda did penance here to atone for the sins
committed by killing snakes, this place has come to be known thus.
There are 2 small temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu along with
Mahalakshmi and a separate temple for Garudazhwar. A narrow
steep path way leads to the river which flows very silently . It is
believed that the pebbles collected from this river wards off snakes
and other evil spirits. Usually, these pebbles are carried by
pregnant woman for a safe delivery. Nagadosham gets wiped off if
one consumes the sacred waters of the river.
8. HELANG: A small town with minimum facilities. Vruddha Badri
(one of the Pancha Badris) and Kalpeshwar (one of the Pancha
Kedars) are near this place.
9. JOSHIRMUTT: Situated at a height of 6000 feet, this is a busy
place. This is treated as “
TIRUPIRIDHI”
divya desam by some
whereas others are of the opinion that Thirupiridhi is situated in the
midst of Himalayas on the banks of Manasa sarovaram beyond
Badrinath. It has many stay facilities. There is a temple dedicated
to Lord Narasimhar worshipped by Adi Sankaracharyar who was
bestowed jnanam (knowledge) to write a commentary on the
Vedanta Sutras. A detailed description of this divya desam is given
later. Vishnu Prayag (one of the Pancha Prayags), the confluence
of Dahuli Ganga with Alakananda is below Joshirmutt off the
normal route.
10. GOVIND GHAT: At this place, there is a gate to go to Badrinath .
It is named after Sikh guru Sri Guru Govind, the 10th guru in their guru

parampara ,as he visited this place. As already mentioned the way to
Badrinath is one way. The gates open at specific timings (4 times )
starting from 8 A.M. and closes by 4 P.M. Bhyunder Ganga joins
with Hem ganga. The world famous “VALLEY OF FLOWERS”
is 20
miles away from this place. Here, flowers of the rarest varieties are
grown here There is no motorable road and has to be approached by
foot . Due to insufficient time, we didn’t visit this place. Also, the lake
of ice known as “HEM KUND”
is near Govind Ghat at an altitude of
15000 feet. It is surrounded by seven snowy peaks known as “SAPTA
SHRUNG”
. If one is prepared to spare a day or two, one can visit
these places. (We couldn’t visit this place)

10.
PANDUKESHWAR : This is one of the Pancha Badris known as
“Yoga Badri”
As Pandavas were born here, it has been named so.
This is the winter abode of Lord Badrinarayanan. (But we were told
by the priest at Joshirmutt that Joshirmutt is the winter abode of
the Lord) (Adiyen requests for clarification.
11.
HANUMAN CHATTI: A small temple on the roadside itself
dedicated to Hanumar. Hanumar humbled Bheema who was
filled with pride to shed his ego and Hanumar blessed Bheema that
he would accompany them in the forthcoming Mahabharata war by
sitting on Arjuna’s flag.
12.
DEVADARSHINI: Situated at a height of 10,000 feet, one can
have a view of Badrinath.The wonderful snow capped Neelkant
Parvath can be viewed right from Joshirmutt.
BADRINATH :

Badrinath, more popularly known as “
VISHAL BADRI”, is one of the
four most important dhaams(piligrim centres-mukti tharum
kshetrams), a Vada naadu divya desam which every Srivaishnavite
desires to visit atleast once . It is the final destination for any seeker
aiming for salvation. The temple is surrounded by Nara and Narayana
mountains on either sides and river Alakananda (the most beautiful)
flows chanting the pious rhyms Har-Har after touching Perumal’s
Thiruvadi. The temple which is at an altitude of app. 3583 metres
from sea level is on Narayana parvatham. Guest houses and lodges
are situated in Nara parvatham. The Himalayan range consisting of
Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath was known as
Kedarkhand in Puranic age. The whole area is charged with spiritual
aura and it is advised to continously chant Perumal’s holy names in
this place. Full details about this kshetram has been given later.

Lord Narayana manifested Himself at this place to teach the world
about penance. When He was asked by Narada as to on whom
Perumal was meditating, Perumal replied that He was contemplating
on Himself. Only at this divya desam, Perumal is seen as Acharya
swaroopam. It was here Perumal expounded the Thirumantram to
Naran. Also, Thayar is not seen along with Perumal. She has spread
Herself as Badri vruksham to protect Perumal from nature. Hence,
Perumal is known as BADRI NARAYANAN.

Perumal is residing Here since ages. In Satya yugam, Perumal was
visible to everyone and devas and rishis offered prayers. In Treta
yugam, He was visible through penance. In Dwapara yugam, it was
becoming difficult even for sages to have His darshan. Perumal
answered their request that in Kali yugam, He would not be visible to
the mortal eyes and added that His vigraham was under Narad Shila in
Alakananda and ordered to perform pooja to the idol. If one sees that
idol, one gets the same reward of seeing Perumal in visible form.
Accordingly, the vigraham was taken out and a temple was
constructed by Viswakarma. Over a period of time, Buddhists
captured this temple, threw away the idol in Narad Kund and installed
their own idol. This idol was later recovered by Adi Sankaracharyar,
the details of which has been given later .

There are pancha Badris, namely, Adi Badri(19 kms from Karna Prayag
off the normal route), Yoga Badri(also known as Pandukeshwar at a
distance of 8 miles from Joshirmutt), Vridha Baddri (on Joshirmutt-
Animath route –off the main route),Bhavishya Badri ( entirely different
route from Joshirmutt via Saldhar( 19 kms from Joshirmutt) and from
there to go by walk (6 kms), also can be accessed from Badrinath) and
Vishal Badri which is the main temple.

The temple has been named as “VISHAL BADRI”
because the Lord
answered the prayers of a king named “VISHAL”
The Lord blessed the
king that he would be remembered by everyone as his name would be
attached to the Lord’s name. Hereafter , Badrinath means “VISHAl
BADRI”.

There are many places of interest in and around Badrinath-Vyas Gufa,
Ganesh Gufa, Vasundhara Falls, River Saraswathi, Swarg Dhwar.

Bhavishya Badri (future Badri) is near Badrinath in the thick Tapovan
forests. When the present Badriaksramam becomes inaccessible , the
Lord would be worshipped at Bhavishya Badri. We are told that it
takes a full day to go there and come back as one has to walk the 16
kms (to and fro) path with the help of a guide.

Not only Srivaishnavites, even people belonging to other castes visit
this place to offer “PINDA DHAANAM”
to the departed souls. It is
considered to be more sacred than Kashi and Gaya. Usually, after
offering pinda dhaanam at Kashi and Gaya people visit this place.

At this juncture, I am briefly giving a checklist of luggage to be carried
to Badrinath.

Clothing:-Thick woolen sweaters, woolen caps,gloves (if required),
socks, shawls, an overcoat, 2 sets of clothes (depends on number of
days of stay at Badri), cotton Some supari, mint chocolates, sour
chocolates etc in case you suffer from giddiness while travelling (The
route is full of ‘U’
turns), minimum medicines like Crocin, cough syrup,
tablets for cold and regular medicines if you are a patient.

Food:-In case you are not that particular to have food prepared by
only Srivaishnavar, you get all types of food , including South Indian
food and coffee though it is a bit costly enroute . To digest rice in
that weather is a bit difficult . Hence, one can have chapattis during
the stay.

Though the temple is opened from mid-April to mid-November, the
best time to visit the temple would be between May –June and Sep-
Oct. It rains during July and August and hence one has to face land
slides. It is snow-capped from Nov to April; May , June, Oct, Nov are
cold.

Though we were advised to get incolculated against cholera (3 doses)
before setting in for piligrimage, we didn’t get vaccinated and by His
grace, we didn’t fall sick.

The local people speak Hindi, Garhwali and few speak English.

DETAILS OF OUR TRIP:

On 4/10/3, had holy dip in Triveni Ghat (the confluence of Ganges,
Yamuna, Saraswathi-Triveni Sangamam) which is at Rishikesh and half
a kilometer from Andhra bhavan we attended Suprabhata Seva at 5

A.M. and Thomala Seva at 6 A.M at ANDHRA BHAVAN TTD Temple at
Rishikesh. It was Saraswathi Pooja, one day before Vijayadasami.
After attending morning Saatrumarai seva at 7 A.M., we took leave
and boarded bus (UA 07 C-9234) at 9 A.M along with another 15
piligrims. Badrinath is 324 kms away from Haridwar and 298 kms from
Rishikesh. It is situated at an altitude of 3110 metres or 10350 feet
approximately. The road to Badri is so narrow that only one vehicle
can travel at a time. We could see big mountain ranges on either
sides and Alakananda flowing continously. Greenery was at the best
and the weather was splendid. Alakananda which starts beyond
Badrinath at Alakapuri, the kingdom of Lord Kubera is the companion
all through the way.
After travelling continuously for nearly 3 hours, the bus reached Dev
Prayag. This place is 70 kms away from Rishikesh situated at an
altitude of 472 metres. “PRAYAG”
means confluence of 2 rivers. Here,
Alakananda joins with Bhagirathi . This is the divya desam known as


KANDAM ENNUM KADINAGAR as well as THIRUKADIGAI”

There is a temple dedicated to Lord Sri Ramar known as Raghunathji.
The bus stopped for morning refreshments. We were deceived by the
bus agent as were not taken to the Divya desa temple. We continued
our journey to Jyothi Mutt via Srinagar (579 metres), Rudra Prayag
(610 m) where we had lunch, Karna Prayag, Nand Prayag,
Chamoli(1069 m), Pipalkote. On one side bluish water of Alakananda
flows continously. It looks as if the Lord has sent this river to
accompany us. Like the joy of a person who visits his motherland after
many years, we experienced similar feeling. This river mingles with
Mandakini at Rudra Prayag, with Pindar river at Karna Prayag, with
Nandakini at Nanda Prayag,with Birahi Ganga at Chamoli, with Garuda
Ganga near Pipal kote. The confluence of the rivers (different colours)
is a feast to the eyes.We were struck with wonder as to how the driver
could drive in such a narrow lane. There are no proper roads and a
peep through the window is sure to raise chills in a person. The “U”
turns would make everyone recite Lord’s names. Thirumangai
Azhwar’s pasurams on Lord Badrinarayanan advising us to visit the
divya desam before we become old were on our lips. We were totally
bewildered to see the beautiful nature. The scenic beauty is beyond
the scope of my description. Only Thirumangai Azhwar and great
poets can describe the beauty of the Himalayas. It is wonderful to see

Lord’s creation. While in Himalayas, one gets spiritually elavated and
one can really experience God. The spirit soul in us really dances with
joy. We can feel a sense of happiness, which is indescribable. We get a
feeling that one experiences when one sees his/her relatives after a
very long gap. This hilly area is developing and we could find rich
vegetation of apple trees, pine trees, akroot, potatoes , tea, medicinal
herbs etc. Added to this, road widening is in progress and we were told
that by next year, the ghat road would be broadened and walls would
be built. Though Uttaranchal is a newly formed small state, the
developmental activities are going in a fast pace. We reached Jyothi
Mutt at 8.30 P.M. For the first time, we experienced biting cold. As
expected, the bus driver said that we wouldn’t be visiting the divya
desam temple. We prayed to the Lord to bless with His darshan on
our return journey.As soon as we got down from the bus, we were
thronged by the local people who were ready to let out their room.
The room rent starts from Rs.150/-. All of them have both boarding
and lodging facilities. We checked in one of the nameless hotels.

On 05/10/03 , we left Joshimutt at 6.15 A.M. and reached Badrinath
at 8.30A.M. It was only due to our poorva janma sukrutam and
elders’
blessings that we were in the holiest of all the places, the
abode of the Supreme Lord, the Ashtakshara kshetram (Lord
Narayanan initiated the Thirumanthram to Naran at this place) .This is
one of the four “mukti tharum kshetrams”, the others being
Rameswaram in the South, Dwaraka in the west, Puri in the east. This
is the place where every Srivaishnavite longs to visit. Any punyam
including chanting of holy names will fetch manifold benefit. We were
advised by Sri.Somayajulu of TTD,Hyderabad to chant Vishnu
Sahasranamam as reciting Sahasranamam once at Badrinath is
equivalent to recitation of the same for 1000 times in other place.
This is the place where innumerable sages have done penance and
their presence and vibration could be felt.

The place where the bus stops is known as “Deva Darshan”
as one can
view the Nara,Narayana mountains from here. The sight of ice capped
Neelkant Parvath was a feast to the eyes. We were at an altitude of
10,350 feet from the sea level. It was a sunny day with cold winds
blowing. We were overexcited to see the place serene with only
devotees around. The nights are extremely cold . My kids and
especially my father was too delighted to look around the beautiful
Nara Narayan Mountains and the Alakananda river. As soon as we got
down from the bus, a Nepali coolie with dandie (a basket tied to his
back) was prepared to carry our luggages for Rs.20/-. A young
brahmin youth was prepared to guide us. He offered to take us to all

the temples in and around Badri and make arrangements for poojas
etc. We sincerely thank him for his guidance and the help he extended
to us during our stay without expecting anything in return. The guide
took us first to Andhra Ashram (the mutt maintained by Sri Sri
Narayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar of JET fame). As expected, we
were told that it was not possible for us to stay there as they were
preparing to leave Badrinath within a couple of days. But the
volunteers offered us to have lunch. A good hospitality. Almost all the
residents let out rooms for rent and in one such house, we checked in
Baba Kamali Ashram for Rs.200/-as room rent. This is on the way to
the temple. The owners were very very hospitable. They helped us by
giving milk, chapatis, hot water etc. for which they didn’t expect
anything in return. Though the help they extended cannot be weighed
in monetary terms, yet for our satisfaction we paid them before
leaving.

The anxiety to visit the temple was expected and we quickly marched
towards the temple. We left the room with a set of clothes to have
bath in Tapta Kund. It is customary to have bath in Tupta Kund and
then visit Badrinath temple.

TAPTA KUND is a hot water spring , the temperature of the water
could be easily 55 to 60 degrees . Through out the day it was cold,
(the night temperature was –2 degrees) the water was steaming hot.
It is believed that a dip in this water instigates bhakthi and accept
Lords creation. There are separate places for men and women to have
bath. Nearly 4 bathing places have been built by the temple authorities
to facilitate the crowd to have bath. There is a continuous flow of
steaming hot water. The scientific aspect that the water is sulphur rich
etc needs to be kept aside and accept the fact that we are at Lord
Bhadris abode and Lord has arranged for a bath as we have travelled a
long distance in the cold.

The myth behind it is as follows : Agni was cursed by Bhrigu rishi
that he would consume everything and continuously generate heat.
Agni prayed to Perumal that no one was allowing him to come near as
he was generating heat. At that time, Perumal blessed him saying
that He has decided to manifest Himself at Badrinath and Agni could
reside with him in the form of water. He also conferred a boon saying
that devotees could have darshan of Perumal only after bathing in this
hot water spring. This is one of the reasons for the water being so hot.
We were told about this by one of the pujaris while doing Dampathi
Pooja.

In front of the temple, we could see the bluish Alakananda flowing .
We were told that this river touches the Thiruvadigal of Perumal at this
place. The water is ice cold and is not used for rituals etc.

After having bath in Tapta Kund, all of us went to temple around 11.30

A.M. First, we had darshan of Kedareswar as it was He who vacated
this place for Lord Narayanan to reside as per Puranas As in all the
Saivaite temples, Siva is in lingam form which is very small. We
were told an interesting story by the guide quoting from some
Purana. which is as follows: This was the residence of Shiva and
Parvathi . As Perumal had decided to manifest Himself at this place,
He wanted Shiva to vacate this place and hence He disguised
Himself as a small boy and came to Shiva’s residence. Goddess
Parvathi out of her motherly affection, took the child on her lap and
asked what He wanted. The boy said that He wanted to relax in their
house for some time. Shiva who knew with his divya drushti as to
who the boy was prevented Parvathi from doing so. But as it was ’s
wish to stay here, Parvathi didn’t agree with Shiva and let the child
go inside and relax inside. The moment the child went inside, the
doors got locked automatically . The efforts of Shiva in trying to
open the doors became invain. At that time, Lord proclaimed from
inside that to save the people from the grips of Kali , He has decided
to stay Here and impart upadesam to the mortals to help them get rid
of the cruel Kali. He also instructed Shiva to move to a nearby place
and continue his penance. He also added that a piligrimage to
Badrinath would be deemed to be completed only after one has
darshan of Kedareswar. In case it is not possible for the devotees to
go to Kedarnath, they could worship this lingam and then obtain Lord
Narayanan’s blessings. Hence, we first went to this sannidhi and
offered our prayers.
Lord Narayanan sat in Padamsana posture as a Tapaswi and was in
deep meditation. As Lord is seen as Tapasvi, Aravindavalli Thayar is
not seen in the garbagriham. However, there is a sannidhi in the
temple premises. The devas headed by Narada rishi used to offer
prayers daily. Naradar is the chief priest and hence only in this divya
desam we can find his vigraham.

There are some similarities between Badrinath and Thirukurungudi
Perumals . Thirukurungudi is the Pandya Naadu divya desam situated
near Tirunelveli. In this place, Perumal is seen as 5 Nambis. The
Perumal who incarnated Himself as Nammazwar, gave moksham to
Thirumangai Azhwar, Nampaduvan etc. got Thirumantra upadesam

from our great Acharyar, Sri Ramanujar. And hence this place has
come to be known as DAKSHINA BADRI.

In Badri, Lord Narayanan initiated Naran( a mortal) into
Thirumanthram whereas in Thirukurungudi, Naran (Sri Ramanujar)
gave Thirumantra upadesam to Perumal.

At Badrinath, one has to visit Kedareswar first before taking the
blessings of Lord Badrinarayanan. Only then the yaatrai is deemed to
be complete. At Thirukurungudi , there is a sannidhi for Shiva at
the entrance and one has to first take his blessings before going to
Nambi’s sannidhi.

ADI SANKARACHARYAR’S SANNIDHI : After having darshan of
Shiva, we went to Adi Sankaracharyar’s sannidhi. It is due to the
efforts of Shri Adi Sankaracharyar who was an amsam of Shiva, the
temple of Badrinath is existing today. He has contributed to a great
extent.

In order to revive Vaishnavism , Lord chose Sri Adi Sankaracharyar,
who was an amsam of Shiva, to fulfill His mission. When Sri Adi
Sankaracharyar was residing in Joshirmutt (the place has come to be
known thus because it was here Sankaracharyar was enlightened and
was instructed to write Bhasyam-a commentary based on Sri Veda
Vyasar’s 18 puranas) he had a dream in which Perumal gave him His
whereabouts and instructed him to construct a temple. Accordingly,
Sri Adi Sankaracharyar went to Badrinath and followed Perumal’s
instructions. When he had a dip in Narad Kund, he emerged with a
vigraham. He heard an asareeri say that Lord has decided to manifest
in the same form and people could offer their prayers to this vigraham.
With the help of the native king, Sri Sankaracharyar got a temple built,
appointed priests for daily Thiruvaradhanam and laid out rules and
regulations to be followed in worship. As this place is in the cold
region, he instructed that on Deepavali day (Aippasi maasam), the
temple would be closed and would be re-opened in mid April-May
(Chithirai maasam). He also ordered that the priest who performs
Thiruvaaradhanai should be a strict bachelor. He chose one of his
disciples who was a Kerala Namboodri to continue worship. Hence
even to this day, only Kerala Namboodri bachelor does
Thiruvaaradhanai. He is known as REWAL. He presides over all the
temple activities . We happened to see him during our poojas . He
wears a woolen coat, turban etc . His face shines with Thejas. Other
priests help him in passing on the offerings, reciting Bhagavath

Geetha, Vishnu Sahasranaamam etc. but they are not allowed to go
very near to the Lord.

We then entered the temple premises which is divided into three. The
outer most prakaram is known as Singh Dwar where there is an idol of
Garuda. After crossing the Singh Dwar, we enter Sabha Mandap.
Piligrims do pradakshinam around the Sabha Mandap. We were told
that this was renovated some few years ago. The third section is the
Garba griham which houses Perumal and other dieties.

SRI ARAVINDAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI BADRI NARAYANA
PARABRAHMANE NAMAH

MOOLAVAR : SRI BADRI NARAYANAN IN PADMASANAM
POSTURE (MEDITATING)
THAYAR : ARAVINDAVALLI THAYAR )SEPARATE TEMPLE
VIMANAM : TAPTA KANCHANA VIMANAM
THEERTHAM : TAPTA KUND, NARADA KUND
PRATHYEKSHAM : GARUDA, KUBERA, NARAN, NARAYANAN,
UDDHAVAR AND NARADAR

MANGALASAASANAM: THIRUMANGAI AZWAR (968-987)
PERIAZHWAR 1 PASURAM
STHALA VRUKSHAM : BADRI TREE (ILANDHI MARAM INVISIBLE TO
THE MORTAL EYES)

Being Vijayadasami there was a huge rush in the temple. It took
about 10 minutes for us to have darshanam. Here, the Lord is seen in
Padmasanam (veetruirundha Thirukkolam)-sitting posture in the
middle. To Perumal’s right, Vinayaka, Garuda, Kubera are seen. To
Perumal’s left, Uddhavar, Naradar, Naran and Narayanan are seen.
Kubera who is on the right side in front covered with golden kavacham
attracts everyone as it is he who bestows prosperity. It is the practice
of the devotees to carry some new coins with them, place it in front of
Kubera, take them back and keep in their pooja room or cash box for
their prosperity. The moment one has darshan of the Lord, one
forgets the hardships, if any, he faced during the journey and the
biting cold. The heart is filled with inexplicable joy and one can indeed
feel the atma within us dancing with joy and contentment. One can
have darsanam of Perumal peacefully as many times as one wants to.

A brief note about the presiding deities :

BADRI NARAYANAN: This vigraham engraved on a white
Saligramam is in the middle of the sannidhi. It is swayambhu (not

sculpted by any mortal)-seen in Padmasanam (meditative posture)-
Perumal has chathurbhujam (4 hands) holding the divine conch,
sudarshana chakram in the two upper hands and the two in
meditation. He is adorned with diamond Thiruman kaapu and
Navaratna necklace apart from other jewellery. The divya mangala
swaroopam of Perumal can be seen only during Nirmalaya darshan at
8 P.M. when all the floral decorations and ornaments are removed. He
is an embodiment of peace. A silver replica of the Moolavar is kept in
a separate sannidhi and when the temple is closed for 6 months during
winter, this utsavar is taken to Joshirmutt for performing
nityaaaradhanai by mortals. During day time, we cannot make out
anything as all the vigrahams are fully bedecked with flowers. Plates
containing sweets, dry fruits of varying rates are sold outside the
temple. After offering the same to the Lord, half of it is seen taken by
the temple authorities for distribution and the remaining part is given
to us as prashad.

Lord Narayanan left His celestial abode Sri Vaikuntam and has chosen
the Himalayas as His permanent abode to release all the souls from
affliction,sorrow, ego etc . When Lord Narayanan started doing
penance in Himalayas, Goddess Mahalakshmi who is an embodiment of
compassion wanted to protect Perumal from the harsh weather
conditions and so she spread Herself as a Badri Tree (Ilandhai Maram).
As Perumal is seated under this Badri tree, He is known as “Badri”
Narayanan. In Kali yugam, this Badri tree will not be visible to the
mortal eyes. (This reminds me of Ananda nilaya vimanam in Tirumala
which is also not visible to the mortal eyes. The gold plated vimanam
what we see today is man-made)

PERIATHIRUVADI : When Garuda was encountered by Perumal while
he was taking Amrutham to save his mother from his aunt’s clutches,
he was defeated by Perumal. When Perumal conferred boons, he
prayed to Perumal that he should always be (1) Perumal’s vaahanam
and (2) he should be on the kodi (flag) on Perumal’s chariot. Hence,
Peria Thiruvadi is seen in the Garbagriham itself. The other place
where he is seen in the Garbagriham is at Srivilliputtur(Samaasaanam)
as Andal had promised Garuda that if he brought Perumal to her for
marriage within the stipulated time, she would offer him
Samaaasanam (place on par with Perumal). In all other places, he is
in his usual place ,outside the garbagriham, to carry out Perumal’s
orders.

KUBERA :-As Kubera , the Lord of wealth, does aaradhanai to
Perumal , he is seen here. Also, Kubera’s residence Alakapuri is near
Badrinath. It is from Alakapuri that Alakananda river originates.

NARAN AND NARAYANAN : There are 2 stories connected with this :

1) They were the grandchildren of Brahma and children of Dharma
devathai and his wife, Moorthi. At a very young age, they left their
parents, came to Himalayas and started meditating. To withstand
their parental pressure, they transformed into 2 mountains.
Perumal who was pleased with their devotion asked them to choose
a boon for which they prayed that Perumal should always reside
with them. Perumal conceded their request and said that He would
reside there as a Tapasvi and meditate. He also initiated the
Thirumantram to them. Lord Narayanan also bestowed a boon upon
Naran saying that though Naran was younger to Him, he would be
addressed first. Hence , they are known as Nara-Narayanan.

To the dejected parents of Naran and Narayanan, Lord assured that
every year Puratasi Dwadasi (Balabhadra Dwadashi), Perumal would
come to their temple and spend a day with them. Mela is conducted
here . This festival is known as “Maata Moorthi Ka Mela”
. It is
believed that when the Nara and Narayana mountains collide with each
other probably due to landslide, Badrinath would become inaccessible.

One who visits Badrinath must definitely go to Maata Moorthi temple
which is situated about 4 kms away from the main temple on the way
to Mana village. There is a rock near the temple known as “Dharma
Shila”

2) Perumal manifested Himself as both Naran and Narayanan and
killed an asura named Sahasrakavacha. In tune with the vedic
tradition of “Guru-sishya parampara, Perumal incarnated Himself as
Narayanan, the preceptor and Naran,the perceiver to propate the
most powerful and the ultimate “Ashtakshari Manthram”
which is
the quintessence of the Vedas. In Bhagavad Geeta, Lord Krishna
says to Arjuna, that both of them took several births together and
informs this incident to Arjuna while imparting Geethopodesam in
Kurukshetra.

The Naran and Narayana mountains have an over powering presence
at Badrinath. Nara Parvath is on the eastern bank of the river
Alakananda whereas Narayana Parvath is on the western bank. Nara
Parvat also known as Kubera Bandar bestows prosperity and

Narayana Parvat bestows spiritual upliftment. Behind Narayana
Parvath is the Neelkant Parvat at an altitude of 21,600 feet fully snow
capped. When sunlight falls on it, it glitters like silver.

The temple is on the banks of Alakananda river between Nara and
Narayanan mountains on Urvashi Peetam. Urvashi Peetam is a
small hillock on which Perumal is seated. There is an interesting
incident connected with this. Indra was unaware that Perumal was
meditating here. As usual, he was worried about his kingdom and sent
damsels headed by Ramba, Menaka to distract the penance of the
Lord. At that time, Lord Narayanan who was in deep meditation
opened His eyes, created a beautiful lady from His thigh . As she
emerged from Perumal’s thigh, she came to be known as URVASHI.
Looking at her beauty, they were mesmerised and ashamed of
themselves. Perumal ordered the damsels to present Urvashi to Indra.
The damsels were so captivated with Perumal’s roopam that they
requested Him to marry them. The Lord refused saying that in this
avataar , He is in tapasvi form but promised to fulfill their desire in
Krishna avataram. These damsels were born as Gopikas during
Krishna avataram and how they attained Supreme bliss by enacting
Rasa leela is too well known to bear repetition.

NARADAR: This deva rishi who always meditates on the Lord is the
chief priest. When the temple is closed for 6 months in winter, the
devas headed by Naradar perform worship to Perumal.

UDDHAVAR : This great devotee of Lord Krishna to whom Krishna
preached Gita finds a place in the garbagriham.

It was decided that human beings could perfrom pooja to Perumal for
6 months during summer, rainy seasons starting from May upto
Deepavali (Oct-Nov) and devas for another 6 months during winter
from Deepavali upto Apr-May. The dates of opening and closing the
temple are decided by Rewal and the temple authorities.

An evidence to prove that bhagavath aaradhanam is done to Perumal
by devas is seen even today.
1) The ghee lamp which is lit while closing the temple continues to

glow brightly. Hence on the opening day, there is usually heavy

rush to watch the Akandajyothi burning.
2) Fresh smelling flowers are seen in the garbagriham proving that

devas have worshipped the Lord during these 6 months.

After having a wonderful darshan of Perumal and theertha prasadam,
we went to Thayar sannidhi. The sannidhi is very small. We offered
some bangles, kumkum,a piece of cloth and some sweets a north
Indian tradition . . These were kept near the garbagriham and given
back to us. It is considered to be very auspicious to wear the bangles
which have been kept near Thayar. We had theertha prasadam and
proceeded to Hanumar sannidhi. Here, Siria Thirivadi is seen carrying
Sanjeevani Parvatham. From there, we went to utsavar sannidhi and
there we recited Vishnu Sahasranaamam.

While doing pradakshinam, we came across the sannidhi of
Ghantakarnan, a staunch Siva devotee and an enemy of Vishnu. We
were told that he used to hang bells around his neck to avoid hearing
the name of Vishnu. But when he did propitated Shiva to give him
moksham, Shiva advised him to pray to Perumal as He alone can give
moksham. Shiva advised him to go to Dwaraka and meet Sri Krishna.
But on reaching Dwaraka, he learnt that Krishna has gone to
Badrikasramam and hence he went there and offered prayers. Pleased
with his single minded devotion, Krishna granted the boon that
Ghantakarna could reside there as “Kshetra paalakar.”

As it was an auspicious day, there was some gathering and special
discourse headed by Rewal. We were told that on Vijayadasami, they
decide the date for closure of the temple for the calender year. Very
near to utsavar’s sannidhi, there are five life-size idols of Sri Adi
Sankaracharayar and his four disciples.

There is a separate shrine for Srivaishnavite acharyars. In the
sannidhi, there are vigrahams of Manavala Maamuni (seen in the
center) and Arjunan (left of Manavala Maamuni). To the right of
Manavala Maamuni, Sri Ramanujar is seen.We were later told that His
Holiness Shri Tridandi Jeeyer Swami had brought Udaivar and
Manavalamamunis vigraham with austerities and installed at this holy
place.

We booked tickets for Sahasranaamavali seva (Rs.301/-for 2
persons) and Geet Govind Paat also known as Nirmalaya darshanam
(Rs.501/- for 2 persons)

At 1 P.M., all of us went to Andhra Ashram (Chinna Jeeyar Mutt) to
have prasadam . Though there are several mutts established at
various divya desams by Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami, it has gained
wide reputation at this kshetram. At Badrinath being Ashtakshari

kshetram, nitya anna dhanam (free food) is offered to all the
devotees. Annam (food) is para brahma swaroopam and anna dhanam
done at Badrinath is a rare virtue and privilege. This anna dhanam is
being done by this mutt since late 1950s . We were told by the
volunteers that Jeeyar Swami has ordered to perform Anna dhaanam
till the last day of closure. The services done by the volunteers
cannot be mentioned in words. Hot water is served for drinking and
even for washing hands.

We were told that Pedda Jeeyar Swami when he was in Poorvasram
(before taking sanyasam) came to this holy place in 1940, performed
penance for 3 months and attained manthra siddhi. After taking
sanyasam in 1954, he once again came to this divya desam and
performed Koti Havana Maha Krathu yagam when Ashtakshara
manthram was chanted for 10 crore times. He also installed
vigrahams of Lord Srinivasar and Udayavar for nitya Thiruvaaradhanai
and made arrangements for anna dhanam to devotees which is being
continued even today.

There are also stay facilities here. There are 2 buildings, one
constructed by Pedda Jeeyar Swami and the other by Chinna Jeeyar
Swami which has 36 rooms and was built at a cost of Rs.70 lakhs.

Around 3 P.m. , we arranged a van to visit Mana village for Rs.200/-.
Mana village is the last Indian village on the Indo-China border which
is again at an altitude. This is approximately 4 kms away from
Badrinath. This place has some historical significance because Vyas
Gufa, Ganesh Gufa are found here. Also, this is the starting point of
River Saraswati . Previously, trade between India and China used to
be in full swing. But now there is no trading at this place. We saw
some vegetation of cabbage, apples, akroot etc. We also saw sign
boards showing that Vasundhara falls was just few kilometres away.
As my father didn’t accompany us and was taking rest in the car itself,
we didn’t visit this place. On the way to Mana village, we saw Maatha
Moorthi temple which is very very small.

We first went to Ganesh Gufa. “Gufa”
in Hindi means “cave”. There is
a small shrine of Vinayakar/Ganesh. It was here that Vinayakar
wrote Mahabharatham by using his tusk which was dictated by Veda
Vyasar. We did pradakshinam around the cave, took few photographs
and left the place. Bought a soft drink bottle from the nearby last
Indian Tea shop with the intention of filling the bottle with Saraswathi
river.

After 10 minutes of trekking, we reached Vyas Gufa. There is a life-
size image of Veda Vyasar. Veda Vyasar was an amsam of Lord
Vishnu and it was he who compiled the Vedas and 18 puranas at this
place. A pujari offered us some theetha prasadam. We were
prohibited from using Camcorder . He narrated the following incident
to a group of devotees who had assembled there.

Veda Vyasar wanted a person who could write Mahabharatham to
which Vinayakar agreed. Ganesh laid down the condition that
the sage should uninterruptedly recite the Mahabharatham and Veda
Vyasar laid down the condition that he wouldn’t repeat anything and
Ganesh was supposed to repeat and write. This cave is situated near
the starting point of River Saraswathi. This river was flowing with a
roaring sound which was disturbing the sage. Hence, he cursed
Saraswathi that she has to disappear from that place. River Saraswathi
repented for her folly and begged the sage to revoke the curse. Veda
Vyasar said that she would become invisible in the nearnby
surrounding areas and flow as underground river by mingling with
other rivers. At this place, River Saraswathi mingles with Alakananda
and this place is known as “KESHAV PRAYAG “
.From there, after 5
minutes of trekking, we reached the place from which River
Saraswathi originates. The sight of this river originating from the
mountains is spectacular. The gushing water sound is deafening .The
water flows down ferociously and tremendously with full force. There
is a small shrine for Goddess Saraswathi. We could neither sprinkle
any water nor collect water which is usually sold there as the vendor
was not available.

From there, on our way back, we saw “SWARG DHWAR “
a mountain
which is the way to go to Heavens. We were told by our guide that
when Pancha Pandavas along with Draupadi were going to Heaven,
they had to cross River Saraswathi who was then flowing ferociously
and uninterruptedly. (before she was cursed by Veda Vyasar) As she
didn’t give way for them, (it seems she envied Draupadi) Bhima who
was known for his strength made a bridge by throwing a hillock from a
nearby place on the river and thus helped the Pandavas in crossing the
river. Hence, this place is known as “Bheem Koop”

On the way, we saw local people selling sweaters, caps etc., many
soldiers patrolling.We came back to Badrinath at 5 P.M. and after
giving refreshments to Father who was already tired as he couldn’t
withstand the cold, we left for shopping.

It is worth mentioning here that in Himalayas, you get original
Rudrakshams (as the tree grows only in cold areas), Spatikams etc.
We bought some Navratna maalais, Eka Rudraksham(not found in rest
of India), Srichakram made of spatikam , Vishnu Paadam , photos etc
for all our friends who had made a plea to bring them from the holy
place.

As my father was engrossed in reciting Divya Prabhandham(during his
stay here, my father completed prabhandham paarayanam and was
continously doing japam of Ashtaksharam), and as the temperature
was 2 degrees ,I left with my wife and children to attend
Sahasranaamavali Sevai. When we went to the temple, Vishnu
Sahasranaamam was being recited . We also joined them and were
continously reciting Sahasranamam. There were few more people
standing along with us in the queue to attend this seva. We were the
ones to come first and hence had the opportunity to sit right in front of
the Kulasekhara padi and watch the seva.

SAHASRANAMAVALI :-(Charge Rs.301/- for 2 persons)

The Rewal who was sitting inside the garbagriham was offering
flowers to the Lord while four priests sitting outside the garbagriham
very near to us were reciting the 1000 names of the Lord. It took
some time for us to understand their pronunciation. For nearly 20
minutes, we were in front of the Lord experiencing spiritual ecstasy.

After this, all of us were asked to leave the place as bhogam for the
night was being offered to Perumal. Since we booked for Geet Govind
Paat also, we were waiting outside. For this seva, the tickets are
numbered and as per the numbers the devotees are allowed to enter
inside. Anyway , our guide who is also one of the priests played a vital
role in making us sit in front.

The offering of bhogam was a peaceful affair . After this, we were
allowed to get inside.

GEET GOVIND PAAT/NIRMALYA DARSHAN: This is the most
important seva in this temple. During this seva which takes place
around 8 in the night, Geet Govindham sung by Jayadevar is recited
and some slokas from Bhagavath Geeta are recited by the four priests
who were sitting outside the garbagriham. Amidst the chanting of the
slokas, the Rewal started removing the flower garlands which adorned
the Lord the whole day. Diamond Thiruman kaapu, navaratna
haaram presented by one of the Nepalese kings, and other ornaments
were removed. These were shown to us before putting them in the

box. Chandan was applied to the Lord’s forehead . At this time, the
Lord is seen in His pristine glory which is a feast to the eyes. Only due
to poorvajanma punyam , one can have this darshan. This vigraham
engraved on a white Saligramam is in the middle of the sannidhi. He
is swayambhu (not sculpted by any mortal)-seen in Padmasanam
(meditative posture)-Perumal has chathurbhujam (4 hands) holding
the divine conch, sudarshana chakram in the two upper hands and the
two in meditation. We also saw the idols of Naran,Narayanan, Garuda,
Udhavar, Naradar . Perumal along with others was covered with a
thick woolen blanket. We were indeed blessed to watch this
vaibhavam for 20 minutes without any disatraction. The chandan
which is applied on the Lord’s forehead is distributed as prasadam the
next morning. (Please remember one has to ask for it)

After thanking Perumal , all of us left the temple. It was pitch dark
and the temperature must have fallen further ,all the shops etc were
closed. Apart from the shops which sell pooja items, there is a
medical shop near the temple . There are very few roadside hotels
selling chapatis but these were already closed.

On 06/10/03, being Ekadasi, all of us directly went to Tapta Kund. My
father stayed back to perform pithru kaaryam . The charge for the
same is Rs.350/-. Only at Badrinath, pinda dhaanam to the departed
souls is done by using Perumal’s prasadam. Hence, after neivedyam is
done to Perumal, this kaaryam takes place around 9 A.M. The guide
who had accompanied us made all the arrangements for this
programme. He was made to do for all the departed souls whom he
knew. This lasted for an hour or so. My father was fully contended
and was full of appreciation.

Meantime, myself and my wife did Dampathi pooja near Tapta Kund,
the rate for which is Rs.250/-. First, Vinayakar is invoked followed by
invocations to Himalayas and Tapta Kund. During this pooja, we were
given the reason for the hot waters in the Tapta Kund which has
already been mentioned. This was followed by pooja to Mahalakshmi,
Nara-Narayanan and Badri Narayanan. A dhoti and a small piece of
saree as an offering to the Divya Dampadhigal was given to the
brahmin who did the pooja. This lasted for about half an hour or so.

After finished the pooja, we went to the temple and had a wonderful
darshan. There was no rush and we were allowed to stand in front of
the Perumal. As we were advised by my brother in law to visit
Thirunaamam as many times as possible, we sat in front of utsavar
sannidhi,recited Vishnu Sahasranamam (we could complete only 5

rounds), and recited pasurams sung by Thirumangai Azwar.
Thirumangai Azhwar has composed 20 pasurams on this Lord. IN the
first set of 10 pasurams starting with “Mutru Moothu Kol Thuniya….”,
he advises us to visit Badrikasramam before we become old adding
that young girls would tease by commenting whether it is necessary
for the old man to visit this kshetram at this ripe age when he is
unable to withstand the biting cold. Usually, Azhwar’s pasurams
reflects on people like me who wander aimlessly, running behind
materialistic pleasures, and who finally repent for having forgotten the
Lotus feet of the Lord. These pasurams fill our hearts with repentance.
In the next set of 10 pasurams, Azhwar glorifies the Lord at
Badrikasramam who resides on the banks of Ganges (each pasuram
ends with “Gangaiyin karai mel Badrikasramathullane”)and is
worshipped by all the devas and mortals.

My father who completed his rituals at Brahmakapalam which is at the
northern side of the temple ( few minutes walk from the temple
)joined us and once again went to the temple. As were supposed to
leave this holy place in the afternoon, we prayed to Perumal to bless
by giving us another chance to visit this temple.

Luckily, we could get sandal paste which was applied on Perumal’s
Thirumeni on the previous night and some Thirumanjana Theertham .

We signed off at Andhra bhavan and thanked all the volunteers for
their service and left back. The same coolie who had earlier carried
our luggage was once again ready with his dandie. Went to the bus
stop where we learnt that the next bus would be at 4 P.M. only. As it
was getting dark and we wanted to visit Thiurpiridhi divya desam
we decided to hire a taxi for Rs.800/-to go to Joshirmutt. Left
Badrinath at 2 P.M. after thanking whole heartedly the guide for all the
help he had extended to us.

After visiting Hanuman Chatti, we reached Joshirmutt around 4.30

P.M. Joshirmutt is a small town with a continuous flow of piligrims. As
mentioned already, there are many lodges in Upper Bazar and few
hotels and lodges in lower bazar. When we were proceeding to
Badrinath, we took room in one of the hotels in Upper Bazar (this is
like the main road) but now we decided to go directly to Lower Bazar
where Lord Narasimhar’s temple is located. It takes about 10 minutes
drive to reach this place. Luckily, we checked in Yatri Nivas, a Tourist
Guest House in Lower Bazar which is situated right in front of the
temple. (Room rent Rs.200/- ).

We left for the temple at 5 P.M. We learnt from some book that we
have to walk for 3 quarters a mile to reach the place and hence
hurriedly left the temple. We started getting down the steps which
aren’t that steep. There are only 40 steps to go to the temple. After
passing by various sannidhis, we reached the main sannidhi of Lord
Narasimhar.

TIRUPIRIDHI

DIVYA DESAM : TIRUPIRIDHI (Joshirmutt is considered by some as
Tirupiridhi divya desam)

MOOLAVAR : PARAMAPURUSHA
NARASIMHAR
THAYAR : PARIMALAVALLI
THEERTHAM : GANGES
VIMANAM :

MANGALAASAASANAM : THIRUMANGAI AZHWAR –10 pasurams
The Perumal and the kovil as described in our Prabhandham are not in
existence. Lord Narasimhar is treated as the main deity.

VAIBHAVAM: Adi Sankaracharyar who stayed here for more than 4
months was enlightened by this Perumal and was instructed to write a
commentary based on Vedanta Sutrams. It is believed that Sage Veda
Vyasar Himself taught Sri Sankaracharyar the vedanta Sutras. Also, in
his dream, Lord Badri Narayanan appeared and advised the saint to
retrieve Him from Tapta Kund and build a temple for him. This
incident has already been mentioned earlier. As the saint was
enlightened , this place came to be known as JYOTHIR MUTT which
later got corrupted as Joshirmutt and Joshimutt. Sankaracharyar
established 4 mutts, in the extreme north at Joshirmutt to prevent
infiltration by non-Hindus.

GARBAGRIHAM: The garbagriham houses various deities apart from
Lord Narasimhar. Though the garbagriham is closed, the deities can be
viewed through the iron gates. Lord Narasimhar who is a Swayambhu
is seen in the centre. To the Lord’s right, there are vigrahams of Lord
Badri Narayanan, Udhavar, Kubera, Chandidevi (local goddess). To
the Lor’s left, Garuda, Lakshmanar, Ramar, Sita are seen. The idol of
Lakshmanar is made of white marble whereas Lord Rama’s idol is in
dark blue/black colour (On enquiry, we were told that these vigrahams
were installed at a later date and as Ramar has dark complexion, the
vigraham has been carved so.)

MOOLAVAR: Lord Narasimhar is seen in yogasanam posture . He is a
swayambhu black saalagrama murthi. We approached the priest to
open the sannidhi and do karpoora aarthi for which the priest said that
the sannidhi would be open only in the mornings and all the poojas
would be done in the morning only. However, he asked us to attend
abhishekam (Thirumanjana seva ) at 7 A.M. on the next day to have a
glimpse of the Lord.

When we asked him to tell us more about the Perumal, he told us
about Adi Sankaracharyar’s enlightenment and an interesting feature
about Perumal’s Thirumeni. He said that the Lord’s left wrist is
thinning and when it falls down, the way to Badrinath would be closed.

All of us recited Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamam and the 10 pasurams
sung by Thirumangai Azhwar on “Thirupiridhi” divya desam. In the set
of 10 pasurams each ending with “THIRUPIRIDHI ADAI NENJHE”,
Azhwar describes the location of the divya desam and advises to go to
the divya desam when one is still young. Azhwar’s pasurams
describing the location forms the basis for argument as to where the
divya desam is located. According to the pasurams, this divya desam
is located amidst the Himalayas in thick forests near Manasa
Sarovaram .

Adiyen is not even sure whether any temple is in existence near
Manasa Sarovaram. Due to the difficulty in travelling to such a far
place and based on some Srivaishnavites’
advise that Jothirmutt can
be considered as the Thirupiridhi divya desam, Adiyen satisfied myself
as having visited this divya desam located at Jothirmutt.

After having darshanam of Perumal to heart’s contentment and doing
some pradakshinas, Adiyen with family left the temple after spending
an hour or so. We had a wonderful view of the temple from our room
which we captured in our camcorder.

On 07/10/03, we went to the temple. Ekantha Thirumanjanam was
just over. But the kind priest removed the yellow vastram of Perumal
and showed us the left hand. He also gave us some milk which was
used for Lord’s Thirumanjanam, some sandal paste and theertha
prasadam. Went to Vasudevar’s sannidhi. Here Lord is seen in Nindra
Thirukkolam with chathurbhujam. He is seen with Subhadra and
Balaramar. Thanking Lord for his grace we left the place and hired a
jeep for Rs.2,700/-at 8.30 A.M. to go to Rishikesh.

On the way, we visited Vridha Badri, a small temple which was closed
and reached Helang at 9.20 A.M. From there, we proceeded to Garuda
Ganga as we were very particular to collect the sacred waters and
pebbles. Worshipped Lord Lakshmi Narayanan and Garuda at this
place and from there via Nanda Prayag we reached Karna Prayag at

1.30 P.M. We couldn’t sprinkle waters at both these places because
there of improper route Via Rudra Prayag, Srinagar, we reached Dev
Prayag at 5.30 P.M. We didn’t visit Kamaleshwar Mahadev mandir at
Srinagar as the route was completely different and we were told that
the temple would be closed at that time. From Srinagar, we rang up
to TTD, Rishikesh for confirming our room booking.
DEV PRAYAG :

This divya desam is known as “THIRUKADIGAI”and “KANDUM ENNUM
KADINAGAR”
LOCATION: 1700 feet above sea level on Rishikesh-Badri route
MOOLAVAR:NEELAMEGA PERUMAL/ PURUSHOTHAMAN/ VENU
MADHAVAN BUT POPULAR AS RAGHUNATHJI -CHATHURBHUJAM
THAYAR : PUNDARIKAVALLI THAYAR/VIMALA
VIMANAM : MANGALA
THEERTHAM: MANGALA THEERTHAM, GANGA
PRATHYEKSHAM : BHARADWAJA, BRAHMA

The deities as described in the Prabhandham are not found.

We parked the jeep on the roadside and had to walk down for nearly
15 minutes. The steps were steep . We crossed over a bridge (a
concrete swing similar to Lakshman Jhoola) and had to climb 106
steps to reach the temple.

VAIBHAVAM:

1)
To atone for the Brahma hathi dosham committed by killing
Ravana, Lord Rama came to this place for doing penance. He
selected this place because this was the starting point of Ganges
and hence is sacred. The place where Lord Rama did penance is in
the temple premises and is known as “RAM GADDI”(the place
where Ram sat). We were told by the priests that on important
occasions like Vijayadasami, Basant Panchami, Sriramanavami
etc., the utsavar is brought outside and is placed on this Ram
gaddi for the public to have darshan. As the place is thus
associated with Rama, the deity is also addressed as Raghunathji.

2)
We have read that during Pralayam (when the mass devastation
takes place at Lord’s will), the Lord rests on banyan leaf
(“AALAMAA MARATHINMEL ORU BALAGANAAYE…
sung by
Thiruppanazwar. The banyan tree on which the Lord rests is at
Dev Prayag. It is believed that the Trinities-Brahma, Vishnu and
Shiva reside in this tree and hence it is considered to be very
sacred. (There are 2 banyan trees in front of the temple. When
we enquired about the particular banyan tree, the residents were
unable to guide us as they themselves were not aware about this.)
We offered our obeisance to both the trees.

3) Anna dhanam is of great significance.

4)
The temple is located in a serene surrounding. This temple was
renovated by Adi Sankaracharyar. As a brahmin named Deva
Sarma did penance here and attained Lord’s blessings, this place
has come to be known as Dev Prayag.

5)
This temple is surrounded by hills on three sides. The hill in front
is known as Dasaratanchal, right side is known as Narasimacahl,
the temple itself is located on Giridhachal.

OUR EXPERIENCE: After trekking 106 steps ,we reached the temple.
When we went inside there was no illumination due to power failure .
We requested a priest who was sitting in the garbagriham and reciting
Sahasranaamam to show us Karpoora Aarthi to which he said that only
after evening Thiruvaaradhanai scheduled to take place at 6.30 P.M.,
he would give Aarthi. He said that every evening , the Lord’s
Thiruvadi are washed with Ganga water (there is another priest who is
entrusted with this job), archanai is performed to the Lord and only
then Aarthi is given to the Lord. However, he advised us to lit a small
deepam and have darshan of the Lord. The moment the deepam was
lit, the current was restored and we had darshan to our heart’s
contentment.

The Moolavar is in Nindra Thirukkolam with chathurbhujam . He is the
Perumal described by Periazwar in his pasurams but locally He is
known as “Raghunathji”. He is seen holding Panchayudhams and his
height is more than 6 and a half feet. A bow and arrow which doesn’t
form part of the Moolavar is kept near the Lord. To His right, Thayar
who is addressed as Goddess Sita is seen. There is no vigraham for
Lakshmanan. As per the priest, this is the tallest vigraham of Sri Rama
in India (the vigraham in Ramaswamy’s temple at Kumbakonam is
also gigantic . This vigraham is in veetruirundha Thirukkolam (sitting
posture)) The garbagriham also houses vigrahams of Badri
Narayanan. Perumal’s Thirumukham reminded us of Dwaraka

Krishnar. Everyday Thirumanjanam with sacred Ganges and milk is
performed to the Lord at 6 in the morning. The priest told that this
seva is worth seeing . Unfortunately, we didn’t have the bhaagyam as
we had hired a van to go upto Rishikesh. The priest comforted us
saying that we could have this darshan during our next trip.

The priest informed us that the Lord is adorned with new clothes
everyday. He also gave us the details of the colour of vastrams which
adorn the Lord.

DAYS OF THE WEEK COLOUR OF VASTRAM
SUNDAY RED
MONDAY WHITE
TUESDAY RED
WEDNESDAY GREEN
THURSDAY YELLOW
FRIDAY WHITE
SATURDAY BLACK

The utsava murthi is Sri Rama accompanied by Sita, Lakshmana,
Hanumar. There is also a utsava vigraham of Badri Narayanan. The
utsava murthis are kept in Ram Gaddi during important festive days.

Just outside the garbagriham on the right side there are idols of
Vinayaka and Bhuvaneswari. On the left side, there is an idol of
Hanuman holding Sanjeevani Parvatham. Opposite to Hanumar, there
is a small idol of Vamana. He is seen placing His feet on Bali’s head.
On the outer side of the Prakaaram, there are idols of Lord Narasimhar
and Annapurna. We were told that devotees who are not able to have
darshanam of Raghunathji satisfy themselves by having darshan of
Narasimhar who can be viewed through the iron gates. There are
shrines for Hanumar, Adi Sankaracharyar (near Ram gaddi),
Sivalingam (as Rama was Shiva’s devotee)

After doing pradakshinam and after offering rice and jaggery for next
day’s bhogam, we left the place with a prayer to the Lord that He
should give us another chance to visit Badrikasramam and other divya
desams.

The temple timings are as follows:

Summer – 6 A.M.-12 noon; 5 P.M. to 9 P.M.
Winter -7 A.M.–12 noon; 4 P.M. to 8 P.M.

Resumed our journey at 6.15 P.M. and reached Rishikesh at 8.15 P.M.
Checked in the same room (Room No. 11) where we had stayed earlier
at Andhra Ashram. Attended Ekantha Seva, thanked Perumal for the
comfortable journey which we had without any hurdle anywhere and
retired for the day.

On 08/10/03, we attended Suprabhatam, Thomala, Archana and
Saatrumarai sevas and spent the morning in the temple itself.

RISHIKESH:

Situated at a distance of 24 kms from Haridwar, this is a busy town
with floating population of piligrims and tourists as this is the starting
point to go to Chaar dhams (4 holy places-namely, Badrinath,
Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri) and other nearby hill stations. It is
world famous as the abode of saints and rishis. As Raibhya rishi did
penance here, this place has come to be known as “RISHIKESH”. This
forms part of Dehradun district. Muni Ki Reeti where many ashrams
are found forms part of Rishikesh. This comes under their Garhwal
Administration. Few areas come under Pauri Garhwal Administration.

There are many places of interest in Rishikesh-Triveni ghat , Gita
Bhavan, Kanva rishi Ashram, Neelkant Parvath, Kunja Puri, Vashista
guha, Swarg Ashram, Pushkar temple,Bharat Temple, Lakshman
Jhoola and temple of Lakshman attached to it, Ram Jhoola, Baba
Kambilivaala Ashram, Bhairav temple, Kali temple etc and many
ashrams like Hare Krishna Ashram, Swami Chinmayananda Ashram,
Sivananda Ashram etc.

We visited the following places on the way:

1. MAKAR
VAAHINI GANGA MAIYA TEMPLE: This is a temple
dedicated to Ganga river. At Haridwar and Rishikesh, it is Ganga
who is worshipped by everyone. Makaram (crocodile) is the
vaahanam of Ganges and hence she is known by this name. Other
temples for Lord Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Shiv-Parvathi etc. is
being constructed.
2. RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE: Here, apart from the main idol,there are
idols of Sri Ramakrisha Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Ganesh,

Durga, Vishnu-Lakshmi, Brahma-Saraswathi,Ram,Sita,Hanumar,
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Kabirdas, Shiv-Parvathi, Buddha, Guru
Nanak, Garib Acharya, Adi Sankaracharya, Sant Gneya Acharya,
Ramadas. Outside the temple on either sides there are idols of
Shiv-Ganga, Vishnu-Lakshmi,Meera-Krishna , Hanumar etc. This
temple is situated on the way to Lakshman Jhoola.

3. LAKSHMAN TEMPLE: To atone for the Brahma hathi dosham
by
killing Indrajit during war, Lakshmana , brother of Rama , did
penance at this place. Hence, there is a temple dedicated to him
and the swing is named after him.
4. SACHA
AKILESHWAR MAHADEV TEMPLE: Temple dedicated to
Shiva built by Sage Sacha . Hence, named so. The height of the
gigantic lingam is 11 ft 11 inch tall and its breadth is 6 feet. Around
the lingam, there are idols of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Karthikeyan
(Murugan), Durga, Shiv Parvathi, Vinayaka. Outside there are idols
of Lakshmi Narayana and Shiva Parvathi. Donated some money
and left the temple. The sculptures at all these places are
beautifully carved which needs to be appreciated.
5. RUDRAKSH MUSEUM: This is a state owned museum.
Here, all
types of rudraksham, spatikam, nava ratna gems etc are sold.
Above all, they give us good guidance , guarantee and explain as to
how to identify original ones.
LAKSHMAN JHOOLA: This is at a distance of 3 kms from Rishikesh.
Previously, this way was used by piligrims going by foot to cross the
bridge. This hanging bridge made of jute ropes was built by British in
1889 to help the piligrims cross over Ganges. It was rebuilt later with
iron ropes and concrete. The artisitic construction of this bridge by
engineers needs appreciation. Though there are other bridges like the
ones in Ram Jhoola, and at Prayags, the engineering skill needs to be
appreciated. We can find vendors selling Machali “Pori”
for a rupee
which is thrown in the river for fishes to swallow. Now, pedastrians, 2
wheelers, horses etc use their bridge. Near this there are temples for
Lord Rama and a recently built 13 storey temple which houses various
Gods and Goddesses. It also has a big shopping complex. This is the
main way for people going up the hill and to go to Geeta Ashram and
Swarg Ashram.

Geeta Ashram run by Geeta Press,Gorakhpur the publishers of
spiritual magazines like Kalyana Kalpataaru, is worth seeing. There are
lovely inscriptions from Ramayanam and Mahabharatham. Also, it has
a reliable shop attached to it which sells woollen sweaters, blankets,
shawls etc. Of course, you can’t bargain. But nearby there are other
shops which sell the same material for a bit competitive price.

After crossing Lakshman Jhoola, we hired an auto for Rs.4/-per
person to go to Ram Jhoola. On the way, we visited Swarg Ashram
built by a saint named Baba Kaali Kambiliwaala . Since this place was
serene and rishis did penance here, it has been named as Swarg
Ashram. Photography is strictly prohibited. Outside this temple there
are 2 sculptures which is worth mentioning. One is that of Lord Rama
giving His paduka to Bharath and the other one is of Ganga seated on
a crocodile.

Ram Jhoola is also known as Sivananda Jhoola .It has been named
after Saint Sivananda who was responsible in its construction. This is
bigger than Lakshman Jhoola. There are many shops here. After doing
a bit of shopping , we took 7-seater auto to go back to Andhra
Ashram. It took only 2 hours for us to visit all these places.

We couldn’t visit Neelkant Parvath as it was far away. A small hillock
which houses Shiva’s temple. It has been named so as Shiva after
drinking Halahala poison came to this place. Usually, the car driver
charges about Rs.300/- to go to this place. As the temple would be
closed in the afternoon, we didn’t visit this place.

Another place of interest is Kunja Puri where the sunset is worth
seeing. As this is in the other end, we didn’t visit this place.

In the evening, we went to Rishikesh station to book our tickets to
Haridwar. We had booked the tickets to Delhi from Haridwar whereas
our father booked it from Rishikesh itself.

On 09/10/03, we spent the day peacefully in the temple. Adiyen’s
daughters were blessed to sing His glories (Annamacharya kirtanas)
on the dias in front of the Lord). In the evening we left Haridwar. The
train in which we had booked the tickets to go to Haridwar was
supposed to leave Rishikesh at 6.30 P.M. But the train didn’t arrive
and at 8 P.M. we were advised to board another passenger train to
Rishikesh. At 11 P.M., we boarded Train NO. 4042 Mussourie Express
(luckily our RAC tickets got confirmed in the last minute) and reached
Delhi at 7 A.M. on 10/10/03. (The train was delayed by an hour or so)

On 10/10/03, after reaching Delhi at 7 in the morning, we hired an
auto to go to Hazrat Nizamuddin (usually trains towards South India
leave from this station) . As we were supposed to leave for
Secunderabad from Delhi by Bangalore-Rajdhani Express scheduled to
leave at 8.50 P.M. , we decided to go to the station directly.

Since we had the whole day left, we decided to visit Kurukshetra. It
takes about 3 hours from Delhi to go to Kurukshetra. The auto driver
took us to one of the tourist office . We hired a car (TATA INDICA) for
Rs.2,000/- to go to Kurukshetra and come back to Delhi.

We didn’t know that Kurukshetra is very near from Haridwar . We
were told that it takes about 1 and a half hours from Haridwar.

KURUKSHETRA:-

Kurukshetra is the place where the great Mahabharata war took place.
If one dies at Kurukshetra, he is sure to attain salvation. The area
extends for 18 yojanas over 96 kms. This place was prominent even
before the war. Lord Krishna along with His parents , Nanda Maharaja
and Yasodha Devi visited this place to have holy dip in Suryakund after
an eclipse. In this place Kuru, the founder of Kuru dynasty , the
forefather of Pandavas and Kauravas did penance here. When he was
blessed with a boon, he said that whoever leaves his mortals here
must get rid of the cycle of births and deaths and should directly attain
moksham . Lord conceded this request and hence Lord Krishna
selected this place .Also, Kaal (Time) resides here. Kurukshetra is now
a major centre of learning with many colleges and world famous
Kurukshetra University. The whole yuddha bhoomi is now flooded with
educational institutions.

First, we went to Surya Kund. The significance of this place is
mentioned on a board. The first sunrays fell at this place. A dip in
Surya kund after an eclipse , especially, solar eclipse is considered to
be very sacred . Lord Krishna visited this place before Mahabharata
war. He brought His parents to this holy place to have sacred dip in
the waters. At that time, He met the gopis. This incident is
mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham. Atleast once in a lifetime, one has
to have a dip in this holy waters. This has been proclaimed by the
Lord Himself. All of us sprinkled some waters and filled a bottle with
the sacred waters. We then went to a nearby Shiva temple which was
worshipped by Arjuna. Everyday, before going to the war, Arjuna
used to worship Shiva in this temple. Every evening, after war,
Kauravas and Pandavas used to meet here . The priest said that the
other important places of interest are as follows:

PLACE LOCATION IMPORTANCE
JYOTISHWAR 6 kms from Surya Kund Lord Krishna imparted
Bhagavath Geetha

BAN GANGA Near Jyotishwar Arjuna quenched Bhishma’s
thirst –arrow pierced the
ground and Ganges
emerged
BADRAKALI
TEMPLE, THAAN
THEERTH
Local deity-didn’t visit
NAAB KAMAL VAMANA DWADASI IS IMP.
MUSEUM WORTH SEEING
BRAHMA
SAROVAR
Near Surya Kund Brahma’s penance
GEETA BHAVAN GEETA DEPICTED

The local guides charge around Rs.200/-to visit these places but the
rates are negotiable. As we were interested in covering only important
places, we didn’t take any help and went on our own.

After sprinkling waters from Surya Kund , we visited Suryanarayana
Swamy and Radha Krishna temples situated on the banks of the Kund.
Opposite to this, there is a temple for Sita-Ram. From there, we
directly went to Brahma Sarovar.

This sarovaram is there since many yugas and Brahma did yaagam on
the banks of this lake and acquired special powers to create the world.
He started His creation here. Now, this lake is filled with the waters of
Chandrabhaga river. In Treta yugam, sri Rama visited this places,
Sravan who was very dedicated to his parents performed Pithru
Kaaryam here. Hence, people perform Pithru Kaaryam at this place.
The steps near the sarovar are slippery and one has to get down
carefully. We wanted to visit Geeta Bhawan which was closed. On the
way, we visited a Science Panorama and Museum which is worth
seeing. The ticket for the same is Rs.20/-per head. The ground floor
is full of science exhibition-details about inventions, physics,
chemistry, evolution of man right from old stone age , latest
inventions etc. are there. This is very informative to science students.

In the first floor, one can view sound and light show of the
Mahabharata war. The life size images of the warriors, stalwarts from
both the sides (Kauravas and Pandavas), horses, elephants,soldiers
etc., the vultures eating their prey (the dead warriors) is fantastically
sculpted . The sound effect and the life size images of the warriors
makes one think that he is in the battle field. Abhimanyu being killed
by Kauravas, Arjuna killing Jayadrathan, Krishna attacking Bheeshma

with His chakrayudham, Bheeshma lying on a bed of arrows,
Ghatothkachan destructing the Kauravas even while dying to name a
few are very very interesting. Notes containing important incidents
along with references from Mahabharatham are kept and against it the
incident on the big screen is visible.

One who visits Kurukshetra must definitely visit this place.

We were told that in Geeta Bhawan, images of incidents from Krishna
leelas are kept. Unfortunately, as it was closed, we didn’t visit this
place.From there, we went to Jyotishwar. 10 minutes drive took us to
the temple. We were running short of time and had to hurry.

JYOTISHWAR: This is the place where the Lord gave Geetopadesam
to Arjuna and through him to the whole world. When Arjuna was not
convinced, Lord showed His Viswaroopam to Arjuna and advised
Arjuna to carry out action without expecting result. Hence, this is
considered to be the MOST SACRED PLACE . The banyan tree under
which Lord Krishna gave upadesam to Arjuna is still existing. We were
told by the priest that since that day, the tree has neither grown nor
withered. It is remaining as it is. He said that they don’t even allow
the leaves to fall down and hence the entire tree is covered with net.
He also added that only the most fortunate people get a chance to see
this tree. Thanking Perumal for bestowing His grace on us , we did
pradakshinam around the tree. Luckily, we picked 2 leaves and took
some holy earth which is equally sacred. It was on this part of the
earth the Lord gave Viswaroopa darsanam and as it has come into
contact with Perumal’s Thiruvadi, it is the most sacred soil. Picked up
some soil to keep in our Kovilazhwar. The Geetopadesam is
beautifully depicted and the image of Geetacharyar and Arjuna sitting
in the chariot made of marble is carved fantastically. Took some
photos and video. Near this place, there is a pond which is known as
“BAN GANGA”
These are the sacred waters of Ganges which emerged
from the ground when Arjuna quenched Bheeshma’s thirst.

We considered ourselves lucky and blessed as our dream to visit this
punya kshetram was fulfilled. With heart full of contentment and
reverence, we left the place.

Adiyen who is entangled in this material world is definitely not as pious
as Arjuna but feels that I am priveleged to have Perumal’s grace which
made us visit these places.

With a prayer to Perumal to bestow the gnanam to understand His
Geetopodesam and to implement the same in my life, we left the
place with sweet memories with us.

As it was already 5 P.M., we didn’t have time to visit Birla Mandir and
rushed back to Delhi. Reached Delhi at 8 P.m. and boarded
Bangalore-Rajdhani Express at 8.50 P.M.

Reached Secunderabad on 11/11/03 at 7.40 P.M. and after spending
3 days with our elders , we took their blessings and left for Tirumala to
thank our Thiruvengadamudaiyan for His abundant grace. As we had
paid for Vimsathi Darshanam scheme, we had good darshan of
Perumal. We spent 4 days in His holy abode and returned to our place
on 20/10/03.

IT WAS ONLY DUE TO THE ABUNDANT GRACE OF PERUMAL, WE
COULD VISIT THE HOLY PLACES WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE.

WE FELL AT THE LOTUS FEET OF THE DIVYA DAMPADHIGAL FOR
GRACING US AND GIVE US OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT SAALAGRAMAM
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

SARVAM SRI NARAYANAYETHE SAMARPAYAAMI

DASAN VARADAN

NAVA GARUDA SEVA AT AZHWAR THIRUNAGARI


Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

PILIGRIM EXPERIENCES NAVA GARUDA SEVAI

WHICH WAS HELD AT ALWAR THIRUNAGARI:

From Nagercoil we boarded train and reached Tirunelveli at 9 A.M. We just took a set of clothes with us and kept the luggage in the cloak room and left by bus for Alwar Tirunagari. As it was festive season, there were plenty of buses plying towards Thiruchendur . It may be mentioned that all the buses bound to Thiruchendur goes via Azhwar Thirunagari. “Vaikasi Visagam” is the most auspicious day to both Saivaites and Srivaishnavites On this day the greatest of all Azhwars appeared on this earth. The buses were fully packed and it took 50 mintues for us to reach Thirunagari. We reached Thirunagari around 11 A.M. This otherwise calm village was overcrowded with devotees on this day. Almost all the chathirams, Ramanujar koodams and houses were fully packed with devotees who had come to witness the nava garuda sevai. Mohan mama’s house was packed with close relatives and the Elders shared a good hospitality. We kept our small luggage and left immediately as we were advised by the residents to go and wait near the entrance of the temple.

There is a big mandapam in front of the temple known as ‘PANDAL MANDAPAM” which was built by Sri Pandala Ramaswamy Nayaakar who was a great devotee and well known for initiating this nava garuda Sevai utsavam in the year 1807. Hence, the mandapam is named after him as Pandal Mandapam. There were many shops on either sides of the mandapam. A huge mela (exhibition) was going on and the entire village was in a festive mood. We were fortunate to have Nammazhwar’s darsanam in the urtharadi madam. Azhwar during his entire life time never left the place and hence that practice is followed even today. Hence all the Perumals of the Nava Tirupatis come to Thirunagari to give darshinam to their most beloved devotee.
Thirumanjanam ( ABHISHEKAM ) for Azhwar started amongst recitation of vedic hymns like Taitriya Upanishad and Pancha sooktham . We cherished the sevai and it is still fresh in our minds..We were alerted by the bhagavathas that the Nava Tirupathigal Perumal have already started from their Thirukolams and after crossing the beautiful Tambaraparani River are arriving at Pandal Mandapam.We rejoiced to see Perumals coming from different directions with a troup of Nadaswaram goshti and the recitation of Divya prabhandam pasurams by Elders. Perumal started arriving to Pandal
Mandapam. Each Perumal arrived in a well decorated palanquin with full honours. Here
Azhwar receives the Perumal and does Pradakshinam to Perumal thrice. Azhwar is then blessed with satari, peedambaram and prasadam which were offered to the Perumal. After this, managala aarthi was given to Perumal and Azhwar and Perumal enters the main temple. This procedure was followed for all the Perumals. This function takes place for about 2 to 3 hours.

All the Perumals assemble is a big hall/ mandapam inside the temple. This mandapam was exclusively built for this purpose. Preparations like decorating Garuda vaahanam for the evening function was going on..The bhagavathas of all the surrounding Villages contribute their might in making the function grand.We could see the Archakas kith and kin joyfully devoted in the alankaram of the palaquin and the Garuda vahanam.The devotees are very cooperative . They share a wonderful hospitality enquiring about the details of stay, food etc. Most of the Thirumalagais are eager to serve the devotees with Prasadam.

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

Around 5 P.M., Thirumanjanam would start for all the Perumals. Hence, we relaxed for some time near the Mandapam listening to the devotees experiences. There were several groups well assembled in respective vans etc .The group Elder was addressing the crowd on Topics of Alwar Vaibhavams. We could see around 5 groups doing this kainkaryam and each one was unique. We were immersed in the spiritual rain. At 5 P.M., we gathered in the mandapam. Meantime, we saw some vaadiyars carrying silver kudams filled with water. We were told by the local residents that they bring water for Thirumanjanam from Tambarabarani river . The theertham for Neeratam was brought with full honours (an umbrella, music etc)Every Divya desam Perumal have their temple staff continuously attending to the function requirements. It is interesting to note that Thirumanjanam for all the Perumals are performed at the same time. Separate vaadhiyars for each Perumal from the temple carry out the honours . While Thirumanjanam was being performed for all the Perumals inside the mandapam, Azhwar’s Thirumanjanam was also performed . It was a grand sight and it was only due to our poorva janma sukrutam and our elders’ blessings, we could have Thirumanjana sevai of so many Perumals at a time. It takes about 2 to 3 hours for the alankaranam to get completed. Around 8 P.M., the garuda sevai starts. In the Nava Garuda Sevai, 9 Perumals are seated on Garuda vaahanam. Azhwar is seated on a Hamsa vaahanam and his dearest devotee, Madurakavi Azhwar is seated on Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair)

Azhwar waits just outside the Maha dwaaram of the temple. The temple doors are closed and Alwar along with his favourite devotee Madurakavi Alwar wait for the Garudaseva Utsavam to happen.The Mahadwaram doors are opened amidst the music of Nadaswarams and Azhwar is the first to have darsanam of Perumal. Perumal is given Mangala karpoora aarthi and managalasaasanam done to the particular Perumal by the Azhwar . The recitation of the Mangalaasanams of Elders drives one to spiritual escastsy. Arayar Sevai is performed. For this bhattars come all the way from SriRangam. The sevai is a ttreat to watch. One has to closely watch Alwars Thirumukam when the Mahadwaram doors are opened. The joy in Alwars thirumukam makes one think he is a part of the Thirukurugoor.

The order in which the Perumals appear in Garuda vaahanam along with the paasuram number sung by Azhwar is given below:

PERUMAL PASURAM NOS.
1) 1) Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor 3106,3116
2) Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal of Srivaikuntam 3571,3575
3) Sri Vijayasanar Perumal of Natham (varagunamangai) 3571
4) Sri Kaichinavendan of Thirupulingudi 3473,3568-78
5) Sri Mayakoothan of Perungulam(Thiuukulandhai) 3561
6) Sri Devapiran of Irattai Tirupati }
7) Sri Aravinda Lochanan of Irattai Tirupati } 3271-3281
8) Sri Bhoomipalar of Then Thirupperai 3359-3369
9) Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur along with Madurakavi Azhwar 3293-3303,3473

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

After this, neivedyam is offered to Perumal, Azhwar and Madurakavi Azhwar and Perumal leaves the place . All the Perumals assemble at East Mada street and from here all the nava tirupathi Perumal are taken in procession in the 4 mada streets of Thirunagari with the Nadaswaram troups for each perumal , Veda goshti etc. The village residents burst crackers and lit the roads with dazzling light. We could see the local residents receiving Perumal by sweeping the roads and decorating the roads with kollams etc.The zeal in their offering fruits and karpooram at the time of Perumal’s oorvalam is a treat to watch. Almost the entire village are well versed with the Order of Perumals arrival. This procedure of waiting near the entrance, showing karpoora aarthi and rendering mangalasaasanam on that particular Perumal is followed for all the 9 Perumals. The excitement of the local residents when they see their Perumal cannot be expressed in words. The whole atmosphere was charged with devotional fervour and we were lucky to capture few photos. By the time the ninth Perumal Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur leaves the place, Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor who left first comes back to the temple. After all the nine Perumals assemble, Azhwar pays his respects to all the Perumals and all the Perumals get inside the mandapam. Madurakavi Azhwar who has organized this function, pays his respects to Nammazwar and Nammazwar is pleased with his devotee. The function gets over around 4 A.M. the next day.One cannot imagine how the time passed so quickly

Next day morning, all the Perumals leave to their respective places and Nammazwar sees them
off . The village atmosphere was very calm and serene. It was very easy for my wife to calm down my kids who were very tired.

By 5.30 AM we got up and quickly left to Tamparaparani river to have a holy dip which was 1 km away. The banks of the river was crowded with the piligrims and Adiyen could see that the
surroundings fully packed with SriVaishnavaites. The scenic beauty was simply marvellous. We
had a wonderful time near the river and my kids were overjoyed to look at the innocent village
belles grazing cows and buffaloes. We left to Temple around 6.30 AM We could notice Nammazwar ‘s hamsa vaahanam was placed in such a manner that he could see Perumal till he leaves the street. We had darshan of all the Perumals in the Mandapam and the send off procession was about to start with the blowing of trumpets etc.The Perumals leave the Mandapam around 7.00 –7.30 AM . Only after the sight of Perumal completely disappears, Nammazhwar is taken inside. Alwars tirumukam has a sad look with the departure of the perumals to their respective divyadesams. We sincerely prayed Alwar for gracing us in attending this wonderful Garudasevai. Hail Tirukurugoor I silently walk behind Alwars Palaquin asking for forgiveness and his grace in attending many more Satsangs. Now, I wish to make an attempt in comparing Nava Garuda Sevai held at Alwar Tirunagari (Pandya Naadu) with Eleven Garuda Sevai held at Thirunangoor (Chola Nadu) every year.

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

Details 9 GARUDA SEVAI 11 GARUDA SEVAI
Place Alwar Tirunagari near Tirunelveli Thirunangoor near Sirkazhi Month 5th day preceding Vaigasi Visagam Next day after Thai Amavasai Duration One day 2 days-Thai Amavasai when Azhwar goes to each divya desam and next day when all the Perumals assemble Venue Adinathar Kovil at Thirukurugoor Thirumani mada kovil at Thirunangoor Perumals From 9 Divya desams From 11 Divya desams
Hosted by Nammazhwar In Hanmsavahanam Thirumangai Azhwar also in Hamsa Vahanam 1st sevai held in 3 centuries old 2 centuries old Supervised by Madurakavai Azhwar in Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair) Manavala Maamunigal in Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair) Neeratam for God Simultaneously for all Perumals In Ekaantham

DWARAKA ..A Piligrims diary to Nava Dwarakas


Prostrating at the feet of Dhivya Dampadhigal and acharyars, adiyen wishes to share our travel to Nava Dwarakas.  As usual, adiyen is greatly indebted to Sri Velukudi Swamin for instilling the desire to undertake Sri Krishna Anu Yatirai.  As part of our Sri Krishna Anu Yatirai, we set out to Mathura ,the birth place of Lord Sri Krishna-the poornavataaram of Mahavishnu.

We started our pilgrimage from Sri Krishna Janmasthaan at Mathura -the birth place of Lord Sri Krishna who appeared as the eighth child to Devaki and Vasudevar in a prison.  From Mathura, we went to Vrindavan after having darshan of the places purified by Lord Krishna in Gokulam, Nandagaon-the place where HE killed Putana, Sakatasuran and other demons, the place where the Lord of the Universe was bound by Mother Yasodha, the many houses from where the Lord stole butter, the various places where the Lord killed many demons without using any weapon and reached Vrindavan. Being Life Member of ISKCON we had booked in advance accomodation in the temple guest house.

 

 

The Nava Dwarkas are
1) Mukti Dwarka (Gomti Dwarka) -main temple located in Dwarka in Gujarat
2) Rukmini Dwarka (4 kms from Dwarka)
3) Bhet Dwarka ( in an island 8 kms from Dwarka)
4) Moola Dwaraka (Rajkot-Dwarka route)
5) Sudama Dwarka (Porbandhar)
6) Nathdwara (near Udaipur in Rajasthan)
7) Kankroli Dwarka (near Nathdwara)
8) Prabhasa Theertha (Veravel near Somnath)
9) Dakore Dwarka (near Ahmedabad)

TRAVEL BASE : NATHDWARA / UDAIPUR

NATHDWARA

LOCATION: Located on Mavli-Udaipur route- 30 kms from Mavli
and 65 kms from Udaipur.

PRESIDING DIETY : SHRI SHRINATHJI
Every day there are 6 sevas to the . The darshan timings at Nathdwara are :-
6.00A.M.-6.15 A.M.(kakada aarthi)
9.00 A.M. TO 9.15 A.M.(Shringar aarthi)
11.30 A.M. TO 11.45 A.M.(raj bhog aarthi)
04.15- 04.30 P.M. (Uthappana aarthi)
06.00- 06.15 P.M. (sandhya aarthi)
08.00-08.15 P.M. ( sayana aarthi)

OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
Kankroli Dwaraka (12 kms from Nathdwara)- one of the 9 Dwarakas
Rajsamund Lake : near Kankroli- famous for its dam and architecture
Chathur Bhuj temple: Temple for Vishnu with 4 hands
Ekaling temple: A huge lingam made from a single rock

WHERE TO STAY:- The above places can be visited within a day. We can straight away drive to Nathdwara, checkin in any hotel or ashram for refreshing and finish visiting the above places and go back to Udaipur for boarding train/ flight. Udaipur is well connected to major cities and hence it is advisable to go back to Udaipur.

WHERE TO EAT:- Prashad can be had from Nathdwara and Kankroli temples for a nominal amount of Rs.25/ per thali. Hotel Sankalp Restaurant provides good South Indian food.

ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED

STHALAPURANAM:- Nathdwara is considered to be one of the 9 dwarakas and the presiding diety here is SHRI SHRINATHJI . Here the is seen in blackish form with HIS left hand raised upwards with little finger pointing upwards, HIS right hand closed in a fist rests on HIS hip. HIS eyes glance downward affectionately at HIS devotees. Shrinathji is very special and beautiful diety. There is a diamond on the chin of the Lord. This idol is swayambhu (self manifested and not carved by anyone). As the Lord is the combined form of Radharani and Gopala, HE is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”.( “SHRI” indicates Thayar ). The Lord is also known as “Banke Bhihari”. This vigraham was earlier in Vrindavan near Goverdhana giri and is related to one of Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan lifting Goverdhana hill.

LIFTING OF GOVERDHANA HILL:- To briefly recapitulate, Nanda Maharaja after consulting the other elderly gopas, decided to do pooja and give offerings to Indra, the king of devas , as they thought that Indra was responsible for timely rains and good yield of their crops. When the discussion was thus going on, child Sri Krishna , who was only 7 years old , intervened saying that Indra was not responsible for the cattle prosperity and it was Goverdhana giri which was responsible for the same as it provides the necessary grass to cattle, and crops to the gopas. Krishna suggested that they should therefore give their offerings to Goverdhana giri and all the gopas including Nanda Maharaj accepted to this proposal. An auspicious day was selected and all the gopas assembled in front of Goverdhana giri with heaps of offerings. Krishna advised them to close their eyes and everyone obeyed. Then Krishna assumed a huge form and with wide opened mouth, He consumed the entire offering. When it was finished, Krishna resumed HIS original child form and joined the gopis. The gopis were pleased to see that their offerings were accepted and happily returned home. Indra was naturally upset that no offering was made and decided to punish the gopis by sending torrential rains accompanied by thunder storms. Not knowing what to do, all the vraj vasis( gopis) approached Sri Krishna for help with their cattle and children. The child Krishna assured them and to their astonishment, lifted the Goverdhana giri with HIS left hand little finger and all the residents of Vrindavan along with their cattle took shelter under the hill . (recollected Nammazhwar’s pasuram”KUNDRAM ENDHI KULIR MAZHAI KAATHAVAN”) Krishna thus stood in this form for 7 days. Indra thus humbled realized HIS folly and surrendered at Krishna’s feet for forgiveness. Repenting for not realizing who Krishna was, he prayed to Krishna for forgiveness which is known as Govinda Stuthi. Krishna came to be known as “GOVINDA”- the protector of cows. Indra did Govinda abhishekam to Krishna with Kamadhenu , the divine cow and left the place.

SHRINATHJI (GOPALA ) DIETY DETAILS:- To mark this incident, Vajranabha constructed a temple at the foot of the hill. Due to passage of time, this idol disappeared and the whereabouts remained unknown for many years. After many years, appeared as Gopala in Madhavendra Puri’s dream, informed him about HIS whereabouts and a temple was constructed (pl. refer to the notes on Goverdhan Hill for more info). When Aurangzeb invaded Mathura and Vrindavan, the idol disappeared into the hill and could not be traced out. Even today, in Mathura, Vrindavan, we can find many old temples in ruins and the sculptures disfigured by Aurangzeb.

After many years, appeared to Sri Vallabhacharyar in his dream and informed HIS whereabouts. When Sri Vallabacharyar reached Goverdhanagiri, the idol emerged out by itself and was glorified by Vallabhacharyar. Perumal advised Vallabhacharyar, who was a very great devotee to carry Him to Mewar in Rajasthan. Vallabacharyar arranged a cart for Perumal and left for Mewar. Rana Raja Singh of Mewar helped Vallabhacharyar . After 2 months, the cart reached the present Nathdwara enroute to Mewar in the 17thcentury. But on the way to Mewar, the cart sped suddenly at this place and did not move an inch. Vallabacharyar heard a divine voice say that Perumal wished to stay in this place itself as it was the place where HIS dear devotee, Meera bhai stayed. ( The story of Meera bhai is well known to all of us. To briefly recapitulate, Mira bhai was fondly attached to Krishna’s idol given by her father. As a child, she always used to play with the , dress Him up and sing songs in praise of the and considered Krishna to be her spouse. She exhibited bhakti like the gopis of Vrindavan. The king of Mewar impressed with her bhakti married her despite having many queens. Though she was the queen of Mewar, she was totally disinterested in material comforts and always used to be in service of the Lord. In fact with every passing day, her bhakti enhanced and was totally immersed in Krishna Bhakti. She was unmindful of all the hardships and tortures implicated on her by the annoyed king and her co-sisters. They tried to kill her in many ways by even giving her poisoned milk. Mira offered the milk to her Lord and drank it. Krishna’s Thirumeni turned blue as HE consumed the poison but nothing happened to her. The king realized HIS folly and begged for forgiveness . Mira felt that it was not fit for her to remain there and left the palace and stayed in this place. ) The Vallabhacharyar with the help of Mewar king constructed a beautiful temple for the Lord

SRI VALLABHACHARYAR:- Vallabhacharyar, the founder of Pushti sect was born to poor parents in Rajasthan. He was like a burnt log of wood with deformed body at the time of HIS birth. The parents decided to abandon the child .On their way, they happened to pass by a yagnam where fire sacrifice was going on. Suddenly a jyothi appeared from the yagnam and entered into the child’s body . The child was immediately transformed into a beautiful child. Right from his childhood , he developed great bhakti for the Lord. He had a dream in which appeared and ordered him to go to Goverdhana giri and bring back the hidden idol.. Vallabhacharyar obeyed and to everyone’s bewilderment, when he reached Goverdhana giri, an idol sprang out suddenly.

(This reminds me of an incident connected to Melkote Perumal. Melkote is a small village near Mysore on the banks of Kalyani Pushkarini . When Sri Ramanujar arrived here, there was no temple. Perumal appeared in his dream and informed the whereabouts about the moolavar and utsavar. With the help of the local king, the pathway to the hill which was filled with bushes and throns were cleared and a temple was constructed in which the moolavar Thirunarayanan was placed in the sanctum sanctorum according to vedic rituals. As there was no utsavar, Udayavar prayed to Perumal for disclosing HIS whereabouts. Acharyar learnt from the local residents that the utsavar was with Delhi Sultan . The utsava murthi named Sampathkumaran, appeared in Sri Ramanujar’s dream. Sri Ramanujar went to Delhi and requested the king to return the idol.As there were many such idols which the king brought by looting various temples, he asked our acharyar to locate the idol. Ramanujar was taken to a storeroom where many idols were kept. But as none matched with his divine vision of the Lord, acharyar was disheartened. Then he heard that there was an idol with the princess with whom she played with. With the king’s permission, Ramanujar went to the palace to see the vigraham and LO , the vigraham jumped up from the place and suddenly moved towards Sri Ramanujar and sat on his lap. Hence the Lord is known a “CHELLA PILLAI”. As the princess was obsessed with the idol, she secretely followed our acharyar and finally Lord accepted her at HIS thiruvadi. At melkote, the utsava vigraham of Sri Ramanujar has Chella Pillai on his shoulders with the princess near the Lord’s thiruvadi )

As mentioned earlier, Perumal instructed him to take Him away to Mewar and the later developments have already been mentioned above. Vallabhacharyar used to please the Lord with his kirtans which was later followed by his disciples. In a corner of the temple, the photographs of Sri Vallabhacharyar along with his descendants are displayed. Even today, bhog is offered to Perumal on behalf of Sri Vallabhacharyar. 6 sevas are performed daily.

NATHDWARA TEMPLE DETAILS:- Nathdwara is a small town in Mavli-Udiapur route. Situated in the heart of the town, SHRINATHJI temple is the main attraction with hundreds of visitors thronging to the temple daily. This is the second richest temple in India, first being Tirumala temple. Opposite to the temple is the information centre who guide the pilgrims for prashad, timings etc. Near the entrance of the temple, we can find many vendors selling varieties of vegetables and fruits. .

*** There is a unique practice followed in this temple. Devotees can offer milk, varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Milk is to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place.

It is customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it gets fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag which is a hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .

There is a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” hung on a wall and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathura but his attempts became futile because Lord disappeared from that place. In the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radharani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI. The cart which carried the Lord is preserved in a separate room. Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. Once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars.

OUR EXPERIENCE IN SHRINATHJI TEMPLE AT NATHDWARA:-

Boarded Mewar Express at Mathura to reach Udaipur on 22/05/09. While discussing with my co-passenger, Shri.Sharma and his friends who were Rajasthanis, Adiyen disclosed my intention of visiting Nath Dwara and Kankroli Dwaraka. They suggested me to get down at MAVLI station itself as Nathdwara is only 30 kms from MAVLI and 65 kms from Udaipur. They informed us the temple timings ( in Gujarat and Rajasthan, most of the temples would be open for darshan only for short intervals, say 10 to 15 minutes at the time of aarthi and the curtains would be drawn. In case we miss to have darshan at that time, we have to wait till the next darshan.) and suggested that we could take a cab to Nathdwara, check in one of the hotels for refreshing, visit the temple, proceed to Kankroli Dwaraka, visit the temple, go to the famous Rajasmund lake , visit Charbhuj temple, Ekaling temple and return to Udaipur by evening for sight seeing as our train to Ajmer was at 11 P.M. adding that we could buy prashad for lunch for a nominal amount in the temple itself They also got down at Mavli, arranged a car after negotiating on our behalf for Rs.1,000/- to visit the above places. We profusely thanked God for the timely help and thanked them for their intervention , took photograph with them as remembrance, and got into the car.

A 40 minutes drive took us to Nathdwara. Took a room in Lakshmi Lodge, one of the hotels opposite car parking(a big open ground) on the way to temple. For one hour, we paid nominal amount of Rs.100/- for the same. It was 10 A.M. by the time we finished our chores . A five minute walk along the narrow streets led to the temple. This reminded us of Pandirpur Divya Kshetram . As the next darshan was at 11.30 A.M. , we decided to wait in the temple premises.

Usually we find vendors selling coconuts,tulasi and flowers in front of the temple. But here vendors sell varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Purchased 11 varieties of fruits and 11 varieties of vegetables and 2 pots of milk and handed over the same in the kitchen godown. (I wished I could have brought some rice , cereals, sugar , jaggery, dry fruits for the offering.) Milk has to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place. Cows move about freely outside the temple. It was a typical Gokulam scene –serene atmosphere with vendors doing their business as god’s seva without any competition and cows moving around freely inside and outside the temple.

A panda (authorized pujari) offered to sell some prashad (rice,dal, rotis with varieties of vegetables, sweet preparations) for Rs.25/- per plate. Paid money for 2 palates and were advised by him to wait in front of the garbagriham after darshan. Like in Puri, the pandas have hereditary right for their share in temple prashad daily and they in turn sell it to the devotees . Another similarity is like in Jagannath Puri, here many varieties of food are offered to the Lord . Many devotees were waiting to have darshan. There is a separate queue for ladies and gents.

As we were waiting near the entrance, an elderly person came forward and offered to guide us . He gave us information about the temple which we could not get any where .
He took us to the first floor of the temple where kirtan was going on while the temple flag was being changed. He informed that it was customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it was fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag. This is hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .

He then took us to a room where a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” was hung and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathurabut HIS attempts became futile because disappeared from that place. He said that in the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radha rani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”. While circumbulating the temple, he took us to a small room containing a cart. He informed that it was in this cart that Perumal reached this place. The cart is well preserved . Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. We were told that once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars. We offered our obeisances and reached the entrance of the main sannidhi. In front of the sannidhi, the guide showed us a place where sets of 5 coconuts were tied to a string and hung. He said that there is a strong belief that if devotees desiring their wish to be fulfilled pray to the here and tie the coconuts, their wish would be fulfilled.

Adiyen joined the gents queue and my wife and children joined the ladies queue. It was 11.15 A.M. and many devotees were already in front of the closed door. It is a common practice in North India to have darshan of the Lord when the doors are opened and aarthi is given . Hence the rooms in front of the sannidhi are constructed in such a way so as to accommodate few hundreds of devotees at a time. All the devotees can have darshan of the during aarthi and the devotees themselves can offer prasadam- sweets/ dry fruits to the . The darshan would be given only for 15 minutes after aarthi.

As there was 15 minutes left, we started reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam . When we completed , the doors sprang open and devotees rushed inside to have glimpse of the . Unusual thning noticed was the devotees enter horizontally paying darshan and don’t show their back .You have galleries and all move in horizontal lines . The is dressed like a small cowherd boy of 7 years . The aarthi had just begun and shodasa upacharams (16 types of upacharam) were offered to the Lord while chanting slokas and singing songs. The was dressed in “Parrot green coloured “cloth round HIS waist like a typical cowherd boy and was adorned with varieties of flowers. Adiyen recollected Periazwar’s pasurams describing the Lord’s return to HIS home after gazing the cows. Amidst loudly uttering “KANNAIYA LAL KI JAI” and singing of aarthi songs, we could experience the unalloyed vatsalya bhaavam of the devotees present. Like the gopis of Vrindavan , the devotees were not aware of their surroundings and their whole concentration was on the alone. The enchanting divya mangala swaroopam of the cannot be described in words. The is very very attractive with HIS left hand raised up with HIS little finger lifted up and HIS right hand closed in a fist and placed on HIS waist. A small stick is placed in front of Him which is used while gazing cows. We were being squeezed out in the rush but were unmindful of the pushing . Everyone was eager to take darshan standing in the front. Fortunately, we had darshan to our heart’s content. We just couldn’t take our eyes off from the Thirumeni. Every part is so attractive that we felt that one darshan is not enough. As they say, it is NOT THE DARSHAN WHAT WE SEEK, IT IS THE DARSHAN WHAT HE GIVES”. After darshan, we had to come out through another door in front of which there is a small sannidhi where charanamruth (theertham/ holy water) is distributed. Beside this, there is a counter from which the devotees can purchase sweets, laddus etc by paying money. This counter also would be open only for limited time.

As instructed by the panda who offered us prashad, we were sitting in front of the main door recollecting Perumal’s divya mangala swaroopam. After some time, my wife went in search of the Panda, and brought the prashad which was carried by panda’s attendant.. As having prashad in the temple premises is strictly prohibited, the attendant showed us a dharmashaala where we could have the prashad. After giving him Rs.10/, we went inside the dharmashaala and partook the prashad- 2 palates of little rice, 2 types of curries , dhal, payasam,sweets, rotis all kept in mud pots. Though there are many varieties of food offering to the Lord , the pandas are not given all the items. Hence, it is suggested to take prashad from 2 or 3 different pandas so that varieties of prashad can be tasted. We recollected our Puri Yathirai were the maha Prasad was taken in the temple vicinity.
After having prashad, we proceeded to another Dwaraka called Kankroli Dwarka which is about 12 kms from Nathdwara.

KANKROLI DWARAKA:- One of the 9 Dwarakas.

LOCATION:- Kankroli ,the leading exporter of marbles, is 12 kms away from Nathdwara in Rajasthan.The nearest city isUdaipur.
PRESIDING DIETY:- DWARAKADEESH(standing posture with 4 hands holding Sankhu(conch), chakram(disc), gadam(mace) and padmam(lotus)

OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
RAJ SAGAR LAKE BESIDE TH TEMPLE, RAJSAMUND LAKE

TRAVEL BASE :- NATHDWARA/UDAIPUR – can be accessed from Nathdwara,not required to stay overnight

WHERE TO EAT:- Temple prashad either at Nathdwara or Kankroli/ Or any good hotel in Nathdwara
Light refreshments (tea/coffee/cool drinks/water/biscuits) available
near the temple

ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple

STHALAPURANAM:- Kankroli Dwaraka is considered as one of the nava Dwarakas. Located on the banks of Rajsamund lake, Kankroli is known as “haveli of King of Dwarka”. The haveli (big mansion) and the ghats near the lake are built in Rajashtani style. It attracts pilgrims from all over India and is one of the important temples for Pushti Margi Vallabhacharya Vaishnavas.

A pujari informed that Brahma performed penance and Lord appeared to him at the time of creation of universe at this place in this form. A devotee informed that Krishna visited this place and hence this is considered as one of the Dwarakas. Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Annakoot festivals are celebrated grandly.

OUR EXPERIENCE AT KANKROLI DWARKA:-

DATE OF VISIT: 22/05/09

At the entrance , there is a big arch in Rajasthani style . Few shops selling refreshments, photos are on the way to the temple . On the right side, there is cloak room managed by temple authorities where the devotees are supposed to leave their mobiles, camera, videocam etc. for free of cost. Photography and carrying mobiles inside the temple is strictly prohibited. The temple was closed and the next darshan was only at 4.15 P.M. Hence, we went to the Raj Sagar lake which is beside the temple . Seating arrangements are provided for pilgrims in a nearby waiting hall . Many devotees had already assembled in this hall for having darshan.

AT 04.15 P.M., the temple doors were opened for visitors. A flight of steps led us to the main shrine. Participated in the the afternoon aarthi known as “Uthappana seva” .Perumal’s thirunaamam is Dwarakadeesh. Though the vigraham is small, it is very attractive. Perumal is seen with chathurbhuj(4 hands) holding the divya ayudhangal. (weapons). Two pujaris were offering 16 types of upacharams to the Lord . We had darshan to our heart’s content. Offered the dry fruits which we had brought with us as neivedyam to the Lord. On the left side of the main sannidhi, there is a separate sannidhi where child Krishna is placed on a cradle and the pujaris were performing jhoola seva. In a small vessel filled with water, varieties of scented flowers were kept. Varieties of flowers and fruits were placed in front of the Lord. Purchased some Prasad from a nearby counter and left the place.

As carrying camera was not allowed, we had to satisfy ourselves by taking the photograph of the arch at the entrance .

As per our schedule, we were supposed to proceed to Chathur bhuj temple, Ekaling temple and go to Udaipur. As we did not take any photos at Nathdwara in the morning, we decided to return to Nathdwara instead of visiting the scheduled places . Photography is not allowed inside the temple. So, we had to take the gopuram view from outside. Purchased few Rajasthani dolls for Rs100/- and “2 chains with 6 koormams (tortoise) on each chain as it is considered to be Lakshmi Swaroopam for rs.100/-.

Left for Udaipur at 6.30 P.M. and reached station at 9.00 P.M. Waited patiently for Udaipur-Gwalior express . The schedule departure of the train was at 2220 hours but the train started at 0000 hours. Though it was the starting point, as no clearance was given, the train was delayed which is very common in the northern region .

PUSHKAR

PLACE :- PUSHKAR

LOCATION :- 12 KMS from AJMER in Rajasthan located on a hill.

HOW TO REACH:- Trains from Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur etc are available. (We traveled from Udaipur to Ajmer but were informed that it is nearer from Delhi compared to Udaipur. Hence, if anyone is following our route, it is suggested to go to Ajmerfirst and then go to Udaipur)

TRAVEL BASE:- AJMER

WHERE TO STAY :- Many hotels available-not required to stay overnight as the trip can be completed within a maximum time of 4 hours

WHERE TO EAT:- To check for pure veg hotel for having food.

IMP.TEMPLES:- Pushkar lake, Brahma Temple, Saraswathi temple, Varahaswamy temple

HOW TO REACH:- From Ajmer railway station vans, cars, autos are available .
Charges for Van Rs. 300/- approximately
Frequent buses available from bus stand for a very nominal fare

ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple. Famous for “Gulkhand”
STHALAPURANAM:-
Pushkar is considered as one of the sacred ponds which bestows mukti. It is known as “Teerth Guru” , the foremost of all Theerthams. Every aspiring devotee visits this place to have a holy dip in this theertham. The place is named after this theertham. Jagathpitha (father of all worlds), Brahma was in search of a residence in Bhooloka for performing yaaga. At that time, a petal from the lotus flower which he held fell down at this place and water sprouted out which is the Pushkar lake.

Brahma selected this place to perform sacrifice/yagnam. As the consort is supposed to be present for any pooja, Brahma asked his son, Narada Maharishi to bring his mother, Saraswathi. Saraswathi for some reason was delayed in reaching this place. As the auspicious moment was tripping off, Brahma put some grass in a cow’s mouth (“Ghai” means cow) , uttered some mantras and from the cow’s mouth emerged a lady As she appeared from the mouth of the cow, Brahma named her Gayathri and accepted her as his consort and started the yagnam. She is known as “Vedmatha Gayathri”- , the mother of Vedas. This infuriated Saraswathi who cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped on earth and left the place in a huff . She reached a nearby hillock and started her penance. This is the reason for a separate temple for Saraswathi.

DETAILS:- The most famous temple is that of Brahma and this is the only temple dedicated to Brahma. Other important temples in Pushkar are Varahaswamy temple, Saraswathi temple. The famous tank here is PUSHKAR (as it was formed from the water that dripped from the Lotus flower held by Brahma) and the town is known by this name. There are 52 ghats and a dip in these ghats would absolve us of all sins and bestow moksham. But presently, the water is impure and not fit for bathing. After much persuasion, the government has undertaken renovation work including purification of the holy water and it may take another couple of years for completion. The money collected by the pandas (priests) by performing poojas and rituals is handed over to “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which issues a receipt for the same. The pandas get salary from the Trust.

A 2 minute walk from the Pushkar lake leads us to the world famous Brahma temple. At the entrance on either sides, there are separate sannidhis for Kubera and Indra ,the Dwarapalakas for Brahma. Kubera is on the right side and Indra on the left side. There is a belief to place some coin in front of Kubera and take it back as he is the god of wealth!!!

The four faced Brahma is seen seated on a lotus having 8 hands holding japa maala, Vedas etc. There is no separate sannidhi for his consort, Saraswathi. After completing pradakshinam, devotees are asked to go behind the temple and have a look at Saraswathi’s temple which is situated on a different hillock nearby. Those who are unable to visit that shrine can pay their respects from here itself.

OUR EXPERIENCE AT PUSHKAR:-
DATE OF VISIT :- 23/05/2009
Reached Ajmer at 05.30 A.M. on 23/05/09. As we intended to have holy bath in Pushkar, we decided to visit this place. After refreshing ourselves in the waiting room, we dropped our luggages in the cloak room.

Ajmer in Rajasthan is famous for Pushkar, Muslim dharga (mosque) , Gulkhand and halwa. Got into one of the Maruthi Omnis to take us to Pushkar, Saraswathi for Rs.300. The driver showed us the place where the world famous camel fare would be held every year during jan-feb.

Pushkar is situated on a small hillock and it took nearly 45 minutes for us to go thru the ghat roads. Though the distance to be covered is only 12 kms, because of ghat section, the drivers are supposed not to exceed the prescribed speed.

Adiyen sprinkled some holy water on myself and family and collected in a bottle to give to my relatives .
As usual, we were surrounded by pandas , each offering to guide us. We were advised to be very cautious with the pandas as they take the pilgrims for a ride. After much persuasion, we had to give in to one panda but made it very clear that we were interested in doing only minimal pooja and aware of all the Brahmin rituals. The panda brought a plate consisting of pooja articles, made us do some sankalpam and repeat whatever he said. Bees were buzzing around us for the honey in flowers. This place is famous for Rose petals preparations like Gulkhand. After finishing the rituals, we left the pooja items in the sacred water and as advised by the panda gave dakshinai and donation for temple in a nearby counter and collect official receipt. We were astonished to see this and enquired with the panda about this system which is not prevelant anywhere in North India. The panda replied that they get regular salary from “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which oversees the development of this place.

We then went to Brahma temple which is about 3 minutes walk from the Pushkar pond. As cameras are not allowed, we had to leave the same with our children. Before entering, we were whisked thoroughly by the security and then allowed to climb the steps. The temple is not very big. At the entrance, we find Kubera and Indra’s sannidhi . In the garbagriham, four faced Brahma made of white marble is seen in meditation After we returned, our children went inside for darshan. The car driver informed us that Gulkhand prepared from Rose petals and other flowers , honey which is used as a sweetener in paan/ lassi etc. is famous . Also, Rajashtani “katputli” / bommalattam (dolls which would be made to swing by holding thread ) is cheaper at this place . Purchased 2 bottles of gulkhand for our family and my close friend and bought Rajashthani bride and bridegroom dolls for keeping it in golu during Dassera.

As it was very hot, we decided to skip Saraswathi temple and drove back to Ajmer station by 10.00A.M. The rest of the day was at leisure to chant Lord’ s names thanking for HIS mercy . Presently, there is nothing much to see in Pushkar except the lake and the temple which could be covered within a maximum time of 2 hours.

Our next journey was to Ahmedabad. Though there are 4-5 trains from Ajmer to Ahmedabad including a train at noon, we preferred the night train as we thought it would take the whole day to have holy bath in all the theerthas in Pushkar and visit the various temples. As mentioned earlier, due to the pollution and the scorching heat, we could not do so and returned to station. (It is preferable to take the noon train to Ahmedabad so that we can reach the destination by 10.00P.M. itself. ). Though there are 5 trains, getting accommodation in the train is difficult as Ahmedabad is a trade center and all the trains usually run full. In our case, though we had booked the tickets 2 months in advance, as AC accommodation at that time was not available, we had to compromise traveling in Sleeper Class which was also not confirmed upto 4P.M. on the day of journey. But again due to God’s grace, all our tickets got confirmed by the time we boarded the train. Ala Hazrat express scheduled to arrive at Ajmer at 2030 hours was delayed by 90 minutes. Our patience was really put to test and we can never forget this day for the wastage of time. Luckily there was a Cybercafe in the station itself near the waiting hall and we could spend few hours usefully in corresponding with devotees and well wishers wanting to know about our trip.

DAKORE DWARKA
DATE OF VISIT : 24th May,2009

TEMPLE VISITED: DAKORE DWARKA -one of the Nava Dwarkas

PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH famously known as “RANCHOR RAYA”

LOCATION : Dakore village located in Ahmedabad-Baroda route near
Mehmadabad. Can also be accessed from Nadiad

NEAREST CITY : Ahmedabad (2-3 hours)-84 kms
Baroda ( 1-2 hours from Ahmedabad )
Nadiad (33 kms)- 30 minutes drive

HOW TO REACH : 1) Plenty of trains from Ahmedabad to Nadiad – Intercity express, local trains every 2 hours. .Fare Rs.8/- per head.
To get down at Nadiad and take share- auto for RS.6/-
2) Bus services every half an hour from Ahmedabad bus station to Dakore. The temple is 5 minutes drive from Dakore
bus s. Fare app Rs.51/- per head
3) Cars are also available for rent- charges would be app Rs.2,000/-

WHERE TO STAY : At Ahmedabad or in Baroda in any of the hotels
ISKCON has its guest houses at both the places

WHERE TO EAT:- Hotel Sukh Sagar opp. to Ahmedabad railway station
IRCTC run hotels in station/ any other hotel

WHAT TO SEE : The main temple, River Gomti, small temples near the river bank
Including statue of River Gomti

ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple
Don’t miss to taste “Doklas with curd”
During the month of Karthigai, devotees reach this place by foot from far off places and ensure to be present on Pournami. Some
devotees do this every month.

STHALAPURANAM : A pious devotee from Dakore used to visit Dwaraka every year on his bullock cart carrying pots of tulasi plants with him to offer the same to the Lord . He used to take 6 months to reach Dwaraka . He followed this practice even in his advanced age. Like Thirukacchinambigal, this devotee could converse with the Lord. During one such visit, he prayed to Dwarakadeesh that in future he may not be able to visit Dwarka as he was very old. The Lord replied that henceforth he preferred to stay with this pure devotee rather than being in Dwarka where people had turned materialistic and there was no pure bhakti.. The Lord ordered him to be ready with the cart in the night. The devotee accordingly obeyed and waited with the cart for the Lord. As promised, Lord left the temple, got into the cart and HE HIMSELF drove the cart. The Lord who acted as “PARTHASARATHY- Charioteer to Arjuna in the Mahabharata war once again took the reins and drove the chariot).

The Supreme Lord who by His mere glance, controls the entire Cosmic manifestation, made the devotee relax and Himself drove the cart for the sake of His devotee. Overnight they reached Dakore. ( A place near Ahmedabad ) The Brahmin used to take 6 months to drive the cart but the Lord reached the place within 6 hours. From the following morning the Brahmin along with his wife started worship in their hut itself . Meantime, when the temple doors were opened, the priests were shocked to see the idol missing. They guessed that the old Brahmin who was in the temple for a very long time the previous night must be responsible for this . All the residents of Dwarka set out for Dakore. When they saw the Lord in the brahmin’s house, they started abusing the Brahmin and tried to forcibly take the idol. They did not listen to the Brahmin’s pleas .However hard they tried to grab the idol, the idol did not even move an inch. At that time they heard an asareeri say that Lord would be with whoever gives offering equal to the Lord’s weight . Immediately, a balance was brought and the idol was placed on one side of the balance. The residents of Dwarka offered all their possessions which was kept on the other side of the balance. The balance remained as it is. They rushed back to Dwarka and brought back all they had but this also was of no match to the Lord’s weight. Having accepted defeat, they asked the Brahmin to try his turn. The brahmin’s wife a very great devotee, prayed to Lord and placed her nose ring along with little Tulasi on the other side of the balance and immediately both the balances became EQUAL. Thus demonstrated that He is bound by His devotees pure affection and love. To the dejected residents of Dwaraka, Lord informed that very soon a sculptor would approach them who would sculpt a similar vigraham which could be placed in the altar and would continue to bless the devotees by bestowing His powers on the idol. Hence, the original vigraham of the is present in DAKORE DWARAKA now.

At Dwarka, as advised by the Lord , a sculptor approached the priests and offered to make an idol with the condition that no one should disturb him while he was performing his work. The residents agreed and the sculptor locked himself in a room. This went on for 18 days but when no sound was heard, the curious devotees broke open the door and to their astonishment, the sculptor had vanished and the Lord’s vigraham was near completion but for the eyes. As they went back on their words, they were crying pitifully realizing that the sculptor was none other than the Himself. An aakashvaani declared that henceforth, they could consider this vigraham as the Lord Himself and offer pooja to the and whatever happened was as per HIS divine WILL. To this day, this vigraham is being worshipped at Dwaraka which is situated on the western coast near Arabian Sea.

(Similar incident happened at Jagannath Puri which is located on the eastern coast near Bay of Bengal- the other extreme end ofIndia. Before the appearance of Jagannath, the presiding diety was Nila Madhava and hence Puri is also known as “Nilachala”. The king had a dream instructing him to construct a temple for the Lord. The king sent his ministers to find out the whereabouts of the vigraham whose darshan he had in his dream. One minister was finally able to locate it with a fisherman. The fisherman used to go alone to a place far from his hut and return only in the evening. The minister learnt from the fisherman’s daughter that her father goes to offer prayers to Nilamadhava in a secret place and no outsider was allowed to accompany him. So, the minister married the lady and requesed the fisherman to show him the Lord. The fisherman bound the minister’s eyes with a thick cloth and took him to the place of worship. Meanwhile, the smart minister enroute sowed mustard seeds to enable him to identify the route. He went back and informed the king about the whereabouts of the Lord. When the king arrived with his ministers at this place, the vigraham vanished from the place and an akaashvaani was heard instructing the king to carve 3 idols of Krishna , Balarama and Subhadra out of 2 logs of wood which would float on the sea mentioning the date and time of arrival of the logs of wood. The akashvaani further informed that a carpenter would approach them for carving the idols of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra. As per the predicament, the logs appeared and a carpenter offered his services with the condition that he would work in isolation and no one should disturb him till he finishes the work. Accordingly , the carpenter was locked in a room for more than 15 days. When they did not hear any sound , the perplexed queen , out of anxiety for the carpenter’s welfare, opened the door . The carpenter disappeared leaving the idols incomplete. The royal couple cried piteously repenting for their mistake and asked for forgiveness. An akashvaani informed them that it was GOD’S WILL and the idols were fit for worship. That’s why we find the idols with incomplete limbs. )

OUR EXPERIENCE AT DAKORE DWARKA:-

On 24/05/09, we reached Ahmedabad at 08.30 hours. We were planning to take a room in one of the hotels near station but the TT suggested that we could as well go to the AC waiting room. This was the best waiting room which we saw in the recent past with a big well furnished, airconditioned hall with all modern amenities. Ahmedabad station has got all the facilities like refreshment stalls and hotel run by IRCTC, separate waiting rooms for AC and sleeper class, cloak room facility, ATM, Cybercafe . (Outsourcing finally works .).

After refreshing ourselves, we planned to go to Dakore Dwaraka by engaging a car as we had earlier done in the year 2000. While we were thus discussing, the AC waiting hall attendant intervened and suggested that there are Intercity Superfast trains and local trains to Nadiad every 2 hours and Dakore Dwaraka is only 30 minutes drive from Nadiad. It takes about 90 minutes From Ahmedabad to Nadiad in Intercity express and if we take local train it takes 2 hours. He said that from Nadiad, we could either take a bus to Dakore (frequency of bus -every 10 minutes) or take one of the seven-seater autos (share autos) as we may not get cab for such a short distance. We thanked the attendant by giving him the tip he had asked for. Though he suggested us to take the 10.00 A.M. Intercity express, we didn’t want to rush as we had plenty of time left with us and before vacating the waiting room , we had to put the luggage in the cloak room . Purchased ticket to Nadiad for the local train scheduled to leave at noon. Fare Rs.12/- per head. (We remember paying Rs.2,000/ for cab during our first visit)

Went to Hotel Sukh Sagar which is opposite to station which provides all varieties of Vegetarian delicious food. Boarded a local tarin carrying only a small bag containing offerings to the Lord , camera and our camcorder. Reached Nadiad at 1400 hours. With Mercury touching 45 deg., we had to rejuvenate ourselves often. As the share-auto stand is at half a kilometer distance, we took an auto to the stand and got into one of the autos. He charged Rs.8/- per person. Though the drive was only for 30 minutes, we felt as if it took more time because of the noise from the engine. The share autos ss near the Dakore bus s . The temple is about 5 mintues drive from the bus stand. We requested the auto driver to drop us near the temple for which we paid him additional Rs.20/-. By 1445 hours, we were near the entrance of the temple. There were devotees already waiting to have Uthapana darshan at04.15 P.M. Oflate, security has been tightened in all the temples and we were strictly prohibited from carrying camera. Meantime, took photographs of the temple from outside and Gomti river which flows near the temple. Purchased kartal for our daily bhajans from a nearby instrumental shop and requested the shop keeper to keep our belongings.

The temple doors sprang open at 04.15 P.M. and devotees rushed into the temple . There is a rectangular hall in front of the main shrine from where atleast 100-150 devotees can have darshan at a time. There is a separate queue for ladies from the side. The roof of the temple is a domb like structure with beautiful paintings of Krishna’s pastimes . Painting work was going on. Devotees were singing praises in the name of “RANCHOR RAYA”. Here, Dwarakadeesh Perumal is more commonly known as Ranchor Raya (one who fled from battle).

The Lord was dressed in light clothing and was fully adorned with flowers. Devotees were literally pushing to have darshan. On either sides, pots were hung in which hundi offerings were put and was occasionally emptied. We enjoyed the aarthi seva for 10 minutes . Prayed for His mercy on us . After aarthi darshan, near the exit, there is a small room in which the Thulabhaaram (the balance) on which Lord’s weight was measured . A photograph depicting the incident of the brahmin’s wife putting her nose ring is kept. After narrating the incident to the children, we left the place for doing pradakshina. Meanwhile, a panda made our children do some sankalpam uttering few Sanskrit verses and took dakshinai.

Left the temple around 5 P.M. and took an auto to bus s. As the next train to Ahmedabad was at 1830 hours, we decided to go by bus . Superfast Bus fare is Rs.51/- and takes about 90 minutes to reach Ahmedabad. Reached Ahmedabad at 7 P.M. As Ahmedabad is famous for textiles, we wanted to do some shopping but were told that the main bazaar was about half an hour’s drive from station. As we did not want to take any risk, we returned to the waiting room. Had dinner in the restaurant run by IRCTC in the station itself and boarded Somnath express at 2200 hours.

PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL
TEMPLE VISITED:- PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL- one of the 9 Dwarkas

LOCATION : Veraval- last railway station on the western side of Indian Coast.
Somnath is 7 kms away from Veraval.

HOW TO REACH : There are 2 trains from Ahmedabad daily
Night bus available from Ahmedabad- 8 hours journey from Ahmedabad

Local auto can be arranged for visiting the temples in Somnath.
Buses from Veraval to Porbandhar and Dwarka also available .

If one takes a car from Veraval in the morning, all the temples can be visited on the same day and proceed to Dwaraka visiting
Sudama Dwaraka and Moola Dwaraka on the way.

Please contact Mr.Ramji,a great devotee who was more than a Guide to us and charges reasonably. He has his own travels
and has a variety of vehicles His address is:-

Shri.Ramchand Bhagnani(Ramji Kaka)
C/o Sitaram Travels,
Dabhor Road, Bihari Nagar, Block NO. 7,
VERAVAL
( Mobile: 99240 22813/ 02876-222591
His sons’ mobile nos: 98251 76457/94261 69501/ 98248 75753)

WHERE TO STAY : Many choultries and hotels are available near Somnath temple.
Sarada Peet has its mutt near Triveni Sangamam.
(Ph.No. 02876-231373)

WHERE TO EAT:- Any good hotel for delicious Gujarati meal.
Don’t forget to drink Tender coconuts

IMP. PLACES TO VISIT IN SOMNATH:-
1) TRIVENI SANGAMAM :-There is a confluence of 3 rivers-Harini, Gomti and .
2) SRINGERI SARADA MUTT :-Located near Triveni Sangamam, where room facilities are available. For refreshing, one can take a room for an hour or so by paying Rs.150/-
3)There is a temple nearby housing shrines for Ganapathi, Narsimhadev, Radha- Krishna.
4) GITA MANDIR:- Here, all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls.
5) SRI LAKSHMI NARAYAN MANDIR :- temple for Vishnu and Lakshmi
6) SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- The place where the last rites for Krishna was performed by Arjuna. Also, there is a small room where Krishna embraced Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when the latter visited this place.
7) BALARAM GUFA:- The disappearance place of Balarama
8) SIVA TEMPLE :- The Siva lingams worshipped by Bheema and Nakula.
(3 TO 6 are located in the same premises)
9) GANAPATHI AND SUBRAMANYA SWAMY TEMPLE :- located near the sea shore . Near this temple, there is a temple for Shiva. At this place, we can find new Shiva lingams emerging from the sea. 12 lingams are supposed to emerge out of which 4 are already visible.
10) BALIKA THEERTH – the place from where the hunter let loose the arrow
11) BALIKA MANDIR :- This is “Mukti Dwarka” from where Sri Krishna ascended to Srivaikuntam
12) SOMNATH MANDIR:- One of the 12 Jyotir lingams of Shiva. There are 2 temples( old and new)- old temple is also known as Ahalya Mandir

En route to Dwarka from Veraval, one can visit Madhavpur (where Krishna humbled Rukma(Rukmini’s brother), Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. This place was earlier known as Sudamapuri (Sudama Dwarka), Moola Dwaraka (where Perumal first arrived),and Ambal temple .

STHALAPURANAM FOR SHAIVITES:- Shiva, the foremost Vaishnava devotee of the Lord, resides in this place as a jyotirlingam. This is one of the 12 jyotirlingas which every Shaivite aspires to visit atleast once.

SOMNATH TEMPLE DETAILS:- There are 2 temples for Someshwarnath. –old temple known as Ahalya temple and the new temple. The original emerald lingam was taken away by Mohd.Ghazini in 17th century thru the sea route and is now in Mecca. Thus , even the most staunch Muslim offers prayers to Shiva unknowingly when he visits Mecca. (The local people say that the original lingam was disfigured by Muslim invaders and thrown into sea as 12 pieces which has started appearing as Shiva lingas along the coast. They say that out of 12 pieces, 5 have emerged now and when the reminaing lingas appear, the world would come to an end. ( We could see the 5 shiva lingams in the sea at various places)

Later, Shiva appeared to Ahalya, a local devotee and instructed to construct a temple for him. Later,a local king constructed a huge temple and fortified it and thus protected it from sea and invasions. The statue of the king riding on a horse can be seen on the way to the temple.

Later, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the “Iron Man of India” took initiative and was responsible for the construction of a new huge temple. In both the temples, the linga form of Shiva is worshipped. Archeological revelations and pictures of the old temple ruins are displayed in the temple premises. This temple is located near the sea shore on a vast area.

STHALAPURANAM ABOUT VAISHNAVA TEMPLES IN SOMNATH:- Veraval also known as Somnath and Prabhas Theertham is located on the western coast in Gujarat. This is the last rail head in this route. This place is important both for Vaishnavites and Shaivites. For Vaishnavites, it is important because it was from this place that Sri Krishna disappeared and ascended to Srivaikuntam as per the request of the devas. It is one of the Nava Dwarakas. To the Shaivites, it is a sacred as Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas .

VAISHNAVA STHALAPURANAM:_ Sri Krishna after satisfying Himself that He had annihilated most of the demons in human form after Mahabharata war, decided to ascend to His eternal abode, Sri Vaikuntam. Due to His presence, the Yadus (people belonging to His clan) became proud and arrogant. Sri Krishna who wanted to reduce the burden of Mother Earth decided to put an end to the Yadavas too and masterminded a plan . As it was Lord’s will, he made Gandhari and the sapta rishis utter the curse of annihilation of Yadavas.

It so happened that Krishna’s son was dressed up like a pregnant woman and along with his friends approached some rishis to find out the gender of the child which would be born to the pregnant woman. The infuriated rishis cursed that the disguised lady would give an iron pestel which would destroy the entire Yadava race which came true. The shocked Yadus ran to Balarama for a solution. Balarama ordered them to powder it into pieces and throw them away in the sea at Dwarka . The yadus acted accordingly and returned to their palace. A big iron piece which could not be powdered was thrown away into the sea which was swallowed by a fish. When this fish was caught and cut open by hunter, Jara, he found a big iron piece which he fixed to his arrow with which he hit Krishna later. Over a period of time, the powder got deposited near the shore of the sea at Prabhasa Theertha and sharp blade type grass grew there. When the Yadus who were fully intoxicated came to this place arguing with each other, they totally lost their mental balance and started hitting each other with the grass and got themselves killed. Balarama , noticing that it was Lord ’s will decided to leave this earthly residence, assumed his original form as Adisesha and walked into the sea and disappeared. The place where he disappeared can be seen even today. Over a period of time, this place has turned into mass of land due to reduction in the water level. Sri Krishna was resting under a banyan tree with right leg placed on left lap. A hunter named Jara (who was Vaali in his previous birth when Krishna incarnated as SriRama) , mistook Perumal’s thiruvadi to be a deer and shot an arrow from a distance of 1 kilometre. The hunter who came in search of his prey was shocked to see the Lord and begged for forgiveness. The Lord convinced that it was as per His plan and narrated his past birth as Vaali when Perumal hit him from behind and thus fulfilled Vali’s desire for revenge. He bestowed moksham to the hunter. This shows Lord’s compassion to persons who try to kill him. In this avatar, he first killed Putana who had come to kill him and gave her moksham and at the end of the incarnation, he blessed Jara by giving him moksham.

At the moment when Krishna was preparing to ascend to Srivaikuntam, all the devas headed by Brahma and Shiva arrived and while they were glorifying the by reciting Purusha Suktam, Krishna left the place in the form of jyoti. (When the jyoti reached Suryamandalam, it transformed into a vigraham and descended on Tirumala Hills . The moment Krishna disappeared, Kali yugam started and to save His devotees from Kali,Lord decided to manifest in Tirumala and save the devotees till the end of Kaliyugam. He proclaimed that the devas as well as humans can have HIS darshan at Tirumala and allotted early morning time for the devas. Even to this day, before closing the temple after Ekanta Seva , the priests at Tirumala temple fill the pancha paathirams with water for Brahma’s aaradhanai which is given as theertham after Suprabhatam. –Similar practice is followed in Badrinath at the time of closure of temple for 6 months during winter. When the Badrinath temple is reopened during April, the lamp which was lit 6 months back still burns and the place would be filled with sweet fragrance of scent.)

The place where the last rites for the mortal remains of the Lord was performed by Arjuna is known as Krishna Padam on the banks of River Hiranya. There are many temples associated with Sri Krishna’s pastimes at this place, the details of which are mentioned below. All these places can be visited within a span of 3-4 hours.

Gita Mandir- in this temple, there is an idol of Sri Krishna in standing posture and all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls of the temple.

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:- shrine for Narayanan with His consort,Mahalakshmi Thayar in standing posture

Balaram Gufa (cave):- At the end of Dwapara yugam, Balarama who was an amsam of Adisesha decided to end his incarnation and walked into the sea taking the form of a serpent and disappeared. Due to passage of time, the sea waters reduced and the place where Balrama disappeared is now like a cave.On the wall of the gufa(Cave) 5 headed serpent is sculpted. Kaka who we called our driver affectionately , informed us about the disappearance of Balarama and added that on Naga Panchami every year, thousands of snakes from nowhere appear in this place and the local devotees offer milk. Next day, even a single serpent cannot be spotted.

SIVA LINGAMS:- A 5 minute walk from Balram gufa leads to a small shrine of a small shiva lingam wroshipped by Nakula- one of the Pandavas for one year during their exile. Nearby there is another shrine housing a bigger Shiva lingam worshipped by Bhima . In front of the shrine, there is a tree under which Bhima used to relax after worshipping. WE were informed that at a distance of 12 kms from here , there is a place where Bhima got wedded to Hidambi, whose son was Ghatothgacha. The entire area was once a thick forest.

SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- This is on the banks of River Hiranya. It was here that Arjuna performed the last rituals to Sri Krishna and as per the Lord’s instructions, escorted the elderly yadavas, children and women to Dwarka. Here, there is a Thiruvadi of Perumal with all the auspicious marks on it.

BALIKA THEERTH:- We proceeded to Balika Theerth. It was from this place that Jara, the hunter aimed arrow at Perumal. Presently, there is a small shrine of Radha- Krishna.

BALIKA MANDIR (MUKTI DWARKA):- This is the MUKTI DWARKA mandir as it was from here that Perumal ascended to Sri Vaikuntam after completing HIS incarnation. When Jara, the hunter shot arrow mistaking the Lord’s lotus feet to be deer, the arrow hit the Lord . Jara who came in search of his prey was shocked to see Perumal and repented for his mistake. The convinced him that it was HIS divine plan and informed him about his past birth when he was Vali who was shot by Rama. The Lord added that in this birth, Vaali was born as Jara and Rama as Krishna and fulfilled Vali’s desire.

Amidst recitation of Purusha Suktam by Brahma, Shiva and other devas and rishis and offering rain of flowers, Krishna stepped into an aerial car to ascend to Vaikuntam.Next second, the Lord along with HIS chariot disappeared and took jyoti form. The scriptures mention that when the Lord reached Surya Mandalam, the jyothi turned into an idol and landed at Tirumala to protect the devotees from the evils of kali proclaiming that the would reside at Tirumala (Thiruvengadam) till the end of Kali Yuga . He blessed the devas also to have HIS darshan at Tirumala. “SRIVAIKUNTA VIRAKTHAAYA SWAMI PUSHKARINI THADE….”- has abandoned Srivaikuntam and has chosen to reside on the banks of Swami Pushkarini at Tirumala.

This place is at a distance of 1 km from the place where Jara shot the arrow. Here , Sri Krishna who is very attractive is seen in half reclining,half -sitting posture with His right leg placed on His left leg under a tree. The Lord is clad in 7 yards dhoti (veshti which is bought from Tamilnadu) . In front of the Lord , Jara is seen on his knees seeking forgiveness. On Perumal’s right Thiruvadi ,which we can clearly see facing us,Tulasi leaves are placed. Nearby there is the sacred tree under which Krishna relaxed at the time of completion of HIS incarnation. Daily worship is done to this tree. The temple authorities have placed a net to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. In front of the tree, there is a naagam (Balarama ). In front of the temple, there is a big banyan tree cemented all around. Kaka informed that before departing, Krishna spent time with the gopis who arrived here to have darshan. There is a small temple for Shiva who accompanied by devas offered prayers to the at the time of completion of Lord’s incarnation.

OUR EXPERIENCE:-
DATE OF VISIT:- 25/05/2009
Reached Veraval from Ahmedabad by Somnath Express at 07.00 A.M on 25th May. Veraval is a small station and is the last one in this route. There were few autos available for local trip. Pilgrims who reach this place directly proceed to Somnath as plenty of rooms are available there. When we were thinking what to do, a young man approached us and asked whether we were interested in engaging a car. We told our plan to visit all the important places and to proceed to Dwarka the same day. After negotiations, the man agreed for Rs.2,500/- towards car hire charges for covering all the important places in Somnath, take us to Porbandhar, Mool Dwarka and drop us at Dwarka. We had some apprehension to travel with him because he was not very appealing to us.

Luckily, the Lord residing as Antharyami had made HIS own plans. The guy had to go somewhere else and he rang up to someone for taking us. Lord sent a devotee named Ramji who was in his fifties as our driver. The guy who acted as mediator informed that the charges what he negotiated was for non-AC car . Being very hot, we were specific for AC and the mediator left it to the driver’s discretion for the extra charges. We agreed to pay Rs.500/- towards AC charges which we felt was very reasonable. The rest of the journey was very peaceful. The driver whom we affectionately addressed as “KAKA” (meaning uncle) was a great devotee and was very cooperative . He shared all his spiritual experiences . We felt comfortable in his company and he took personal interest in taking us to all the important places . A well experienced guide he was, he informed all the details about the places which we visited and made everyone present there chant “BOLO DWARAKADEESH KI JAI HO”/ “RANCHOR RAYA KI JAI HO”. We thanked God profusely for sending such a devotee to us. (We had similar experience in Nepal during our Saalagrama yaathirai – we traveled with a driver who was a devotee of Hanuman for 10 days). Kaka shared his experience of driving great saints like Asharamji Bhaba and other great personalities with whose association he refined himself.

First, we went to Sringeri Sarada Mutt and checked into one of the rooms for refreshing and finishing morning duties. Paid Rs.150/- for the same. Nearby there is a temple
in which there are separate shrines for Ganapathi,Hanuman,Narasimhadev,Radha- Krishna., Triveni Sangamam which is very near to the mutt . This is the confluence of 3 rivers- Gomti, Hiranya and Saraswathi before merging with the sea. Offered milk, puffed rice etc. in the holy waters .

We proceeded to Somnath temple which is app. 4 kms from this place. On the way, he showed us many heavy logs of wood used for construction of boats. Somnath is famous for boat construction . We saw big ships under construction. He said that earlier there was sea route to Mumbai and Okha port from this place and it used to take 3 hours by sea to reach Mumbai.

Pilgrims wearing half pants are not allowed and at the entrance for such devotees, the security provides a dhoti (similar practice is followed in Guruvayoor where men in pants are strictly prohibited from entering the temple) . Monday being very auspicious for Shiva, the temple was crowded with devotees. However, we could have good darshan of the . A very big Shiva lingam is placed in the centre of the garbagriham and continuous abhishekam was going on. Kaka asked us to do pradakshina. He told us that circumbulation has to be done is a semi-circle manner. A small obstruction is placed in the path and one has to return back in the same route. We then visited the new temple wherein a similar size lingam is kept for worship. Followed the same procedure. Photography is strictly prohibited. Ambuja Cements has undertaken the project of beautifying the way leading to the new temple.

On the way had tender coconuts and proceeded to Prabhasa Theertha Kshetra. It is a big area housing Gita Mandir, Balarama Gufa, Shiva lingams, Sri Krishna Paadam, River Hiranya, Sri Lakshmi Narayan mandir. Luckily, we were allowed to carry our camcorder and take photographs of this sacred location at all places except Somnath temple.

We visited Balika Theerth- a small temple enshrining Radha Krishna idols from where Jara shot the arrow and then went to Balika Mandir.
This is the place where Krishna was reclining when the arrow was shot. The sitting in a reclining posture with HIS right leg placed on left , with Jara in knees seeking forgiveness is very attractive. The attractive smile on the ’s thirumugam is beyond expression. We just could not take our eyes off from the Thiruvadi –left thirvadi pointing straight and right thiruvadi on an elevated position as it is kept on left knee. There is a small naagam (balarama) near the holy tree . Kaka informed us that the tree which is hundreds of years old is still alive and is considered very sacred ,special pooja is done to the tree. (This practice is followed at Kurukshetra too. The tree under which did Geeadesham to Arjuna (Bhagavad Gita ) is still existing and a net is placed to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. We were lucky to get a dry leaf from one of the nets in Kurukshetra ) While doing pradakshinam , we tried to collect leaves as in Kurukshetra but in vain as they have constructed a roof . The pujari informed that they get the cloth from Tamilnadu for adorning the Lord. We offered to buy few veshtis and offer it to the Lord. Initially, the pujari did not allow us to take photographs. But after requesting and agreeing to pay him some donation, he gave his consent. We just could not take our eyes off from Lord’s Thirumeni. Remembered all our devotees relatives and prayed on their behalf.

Having visited all the important places in Veravel, our next destination was Porbandhar. On the way we traversed thru Choupad, a small village which is the birthplace of the famous industrialist, Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance fame. Kaka showed us the old building and informed that a palatial building has been constructed in the same village . He also shared with us Ambani’s contribution for development of this village.

After having lunch in one of the Gujarati hotels on the Highway, we passed thru Madhavpur, a small village on the shores of Arabian Sea. Some say that Krishna married Rukmini at this place whereas others believe that Rukma, the brother of Rukmini who fought with Krishna was defeated and humbled at this place. . Went to the sea shore and relaxed for some time. An hour’s drive took us to Porbandhar. On the way, Kaka sped at a roadside temple dedicated to local goddess. He informed that whoever passes by this route should take the blessings of the diety and in case they don’t have time, they should atleast halt for a minute in front of temple. Kaka went inside the temple, offered a coconut and returned whilst we stayed in the car itself.

SUDAMA DWARKA

TEMPLE VISITED: SUDAMA DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-
the hut in which Sudama lived turned into a palatial
building overnight due to the grace of Sri Krishna.

PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Sudama with his wife, Susheela are also seen

LOCATION : PORBANDHAR in Gujarat- the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi.
This is on the way from Veraval to Dwarka

HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval

WHERE TO STAY:- There are hotels in Porbandhar but with keeping Dwarka as
base, we can visit this place.

STHALAPURANAM:- The story of Sudama , also known as Kuchelan is well known even to children .Elders narrate this bedtime story to children and inculcate the habit of offering to God right from childhood.

Kuchelan (Sudama) and Sri Krishna were childhood friends and studied under the same guru, Sandipani. Once when Krishna and Sudama went into the forest for collecting wood, it started raining and they had to take shelter under a tree. At that time , both of them were hungry. Sudama , without offering to Krishna munched puffed rice (Avul in tamil) without sharing with Krishna and when Krishna asked him he denied. When Krishna punched his stomach, he spit the avul. This was a childish prank played at that time. After completion of their studies, both of them parted their ways. Since Sudama did not offer to , in due course, he became poor and having married, was overburdened with 27 children. There was no food to eat. Being a Brahmin he did not even know any other profession and did not make any effort to earn his livelihood. Being a matured devotee, he was only seeking salvation and was not interested in material pursuits. He was constantly thinking of the and was nurturing the desire to see Krishna . His wife, Susheela suggested that he should meet his friend, Krishna who was now the king of Dwarka for financial help as she could no longer see their children starving. Sudama was delighted at the proposal because he could meet his friend after many years but was not interested in asking for material benefits. As stated in scriptures that something has to be offered while meeting a king/elderly/sick person, he wanted to take something with him to be offered to the . Susheela borrowed some puffed rice from the neighbours, tied it in a worn out cloth and gave it to Sudama. It took 2 months for Sudama to reach Dwarka from Porbandhar and 4 months to locate Sri Krishna’s palace. Sudama informed the dwarapalakas that he was Krishna’s friend and wanted to meet him. The dwarapalakas did not believe him and asked him to move out of the place. At that time, Sri Krishna came running and affectionately hugged Sudama and took him to His palace.

Sri Krishna along with His eight principal consorts served Sudama with the best of everything. The of the Universe along with Thayar Rukmini did paada puja(pooja to his feet) to Sudama while the other consorts were helping in offering shodasa upacharams to the great bhakta. After sumptuously feeding Sudama with varieties of food, Krishna asked what he brought for HIM.. Sudama was feeling very shy to offer the avul and was trying to hide the bundle but Sri Krishna snatched it from him and put a fistful of it in His mouth with great relish. When the Lord was trying to take it for the second time, Rukmini Devi refrained Him saying that one fistful was more than sufficient. Sudama did not understand this and returned home. All the way, he was constantly thinking about his friend and contemplating on HIM . When he reached his village, he could not locate his thatched hut and in that place, he found a palatial building. While he was worrying about the whereabouts of his family, a lady bedecked with jewellery and dressed like a queen appeared before him and fell prostrate at his feet. Sudama could not recognize his wife. Susheela narrated how overnight the hut turned into a palace and about the wealth bestowed on them due to Sri Krishna’s grace. He could not recognize his own children who were looking like royal princes. Sudama understood that Krishna showered HIS mercy by eating a handful of puffed rice and bestowed all the riches on him. This incident only enhanced Sudama’s bhakti and with detachment and pure devotion , he attained the Lotus feet of the Lord .

OUR EXPERIENCE:- DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
“SUDAMAPURI” written on an arc in the entrance welcomed us . With trees and plants abundantly planted, it was more like a garden. On the way to the temple, Kaka who accompanied us , showed us a small stone layout with narrow paths and many twisting lanes saying that the way to Dwarka was similar to this . He said that when Sudama set out for Dwarka to meet Sri Krishna, he wandered thru the streets and took 4 months to meet Sri Krishna. He was searching for the entrance and asked DWAAR KAHAN .. which now got corrupted as DWARAKA .An old devotee who was sitting there was doing some kirtan and suggested to pass through the layout. It is customary for visitors to go thru the layout and if they successfully come out , they would achieve their goal of meeting the and their bhakti would be enhanced. Only one foot can be placed in the narrow pathway . Holding the prashad (Dry fruits) above our head and amidst chanting of Hare Krishna Maha mantra (kaka was encouraging us ), all four of us successfully completed the task and came out. The devotee was pleased when we gave some dakshinai to him. He blessed and advised us never ever ignore your Parents and Elders . We then went inside the temple. In the sannidhi, there are small vigrahams of Krishna, Rukmini, Sudama and Susheela. There were photographs of Krishna washing Sudama’s feet, Sudama in search of Sri Krishna, Sudama being flanked by Krishna’s consorts.

After taking few photographs, left the temple and visited Kirti Bhavan, Gandhiji’s residence which is about 5 minutes drive from the temple. Kirti Bhavan is a national monument as it is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. There is a big statue of Gandhiji in the entrance . Inside the 3 storeyed house, cameras are not allowed but photographs can be taken from outside. There are 22 rooms The building is an old one .Being a national monument, government has taken all measures to preserve it . Anyone who violates would be punishable. Government undertakes maintenance work by regularly painting the doors and windows and keeping the huz in good condition.
In the ground floor, there is a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi’s parents. The interesting feature is that of his father’s eyes. Look from any angle and you will feel that Gandhiji’s father is directly staring at you. Gandhiji was the last son to his parents. A very very narrow flight of steps led us to the upper portions of the house. Kasturba Gandhi(wife of Mahatma Gandhi’s wife)’s house which is behind Kirti Bhavan can be seen from the balcony . We were shown a hollow hole in the first floor which was used to keep money from where Gandhiji stole few paisas and was beaten by his father. Had the opportunity to see Gandhiji’s study room in second floor. This incident made him resolve that he would never steal in his life. In the second floor, there is a small room which was used as a study room by Gandhiji .

In the ground floor, outside the old house, there is an extension of the building which was constructed by Gandhiji’s descendants later containing Gandhiji’s memoirs- the books, the utensils, his handwritten letters, his photographs, newspaper clippings , his clothes etc are kept safely here.

From here we continued our journey to Mool Dwaraka and reached the temple at 1900 hours (7.00 p.m.) .

MOOL DWARKA

TEMPLE VISITED: MOOL DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-

PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Also separate sannidhis for Gayatri,Savitri, Shiva,Parvathi, Ganapathi, Murugan, Narsimhadev, Hanuman etc

LOCATION : Porbandhar-Dwarka route beyond Rajkot

HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval

STHALAPURANAM:- It is well known that Jarasandha, the father-in-law of the wicked Kamsa wanted to avenge his son-in-law’s death in the hands of Sri Krishna . To pacify his 2 widowed daughters, he marched with his army on Mathura many times where Krishna was residing with his parents.

Every time Jarasandha attacked Mathura, Krishna and Balarama used to defeat his army but let him go without killing as Krishna wanted to reduce the earth’s burden by killing wicked people and Jarasandha was destined to be killed later by Bhima .On one such occasion, Krishna escaped from the battlefield with Balarama and started running away. Jarasandha chased them but could not catch hold of them as they climbed on a mountain and disappeared from his sight. Jarasandha presumed that they had died and returned to his kingdom. In order to protect His citizens from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna arrived at this place and summoned Viswakarma, the deva-loka architect to construct a palace in the sea. The sea –God offered land to Krishna for construction of city. Thus Dwaraka was constructed overnight and all the yadavas were transported safely to this place. With His divine powers, ensured that the sea never crossed its limits and Dwarka was well protected thus ensuring that His people were safe whenever He went for battle. As this was the place where put His foot first, this is known as “MOOLA DWARAKA”. When arrived here, Shiva, Brahma and other devas offered prayers to the here. There is a deep well near the temple where Krishna had His holy bath. Even during severe drought, this well doesn’t get dried up.

OUR EXPERIENCE AT MOOLA DWARKA
DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
We reached the temple at 7.00 P.M.-20 minutes before evening aarthi. Recited Vishnu Sahasranamam and took some photographs. The temple is maintained hereditarily by priests who reside with their families near the temple. It was very calm and serene and best time for meditation. The main diety is Dwarakadeesh and there are small sannidhis for Radha- Krishna, Sita-Rama , Lakshmi-Narayan and demi-gods like Saraswathi,Gayatri, Ganapathi, Subramanya Swami, Dakshinamurthy, Shiva-Parvathi. We participated in the aarthi, offered the prasadam which we took with us . Also bought Prasad for Rs.10/- which was sold by the pujari’s son. Kaka took us to a nearby well saying that Krishna had His holy bath here. A board is displayed describing this incident. A steep flight of steps leads us to the well. As it was dark, we did not get down the steps. There was another sannidhi for Shiva’s family. Cows keep moving about freely.

After praying to the Lord, we left the place. As per our plan, we decided to stay one day in Veraval and reach Dwaraka only on 26thnight. But as finished visiting all the places in and around Veravel and were near Dwarka, we decided to reach Dwaraka on 25th night itself. We tried to contact ISKCON , Dwarka about our preponement but could not do so as there was no response when we called them over phone. We later learnt that their phone was out of order.

Kaka said that it would take 90 mintues for us to reach Dwarka. So, sitting in the car , we started our evening bhajans and kaka also joined us. On the way, he took us to a temple dedicated to Bhavani (Harsiddhi maatha) and narrated the incidents connected with King Krishnadevaraya. As the king’s name is famous for “Vikram-Bhetal stories”(how he used to carry ghost on his back, ghost narrating a story, asking him to reply and used to leave him once he gave the correct answer…… -the stories which we used to read in our childhood days) , out of inquisitiveness, decided to visit this temple. Near the entrance, there are sannidhis for Hanuman and Ganapathi. Few steps led us to the main shrine. Beside the main sannidhi, on the left, there is a jhoola with the diety’ s photo. Kaka said that King Krishnadevaraya meditated at this place on Ambal for 12 years and when Goddess appeared before him and conferred a boon, he asked her to accompany him to Ujjain . Goddess consented to his request and left the place. A replica of the goddess was kept here. Kaka told us that every evening when aarthi is given to the goddess at Ujjain, this jhoola would automatically move to and fro and after this movement ss, aarthi is given to this goddess. Such is the power of this diety. He showed us the place where Krishnadevaraya did penance.

After making some purchases in nearby shop, continued our journey to Dwarka. The roads were dark with no street lights but somehow managed to reach Dwaraka at 10.30 P.M. Locating ISKCON was easy. Luckily, the prabhus were awake and a room was allotted in the first floor. Though the accommodation is free for life members, they said that they would be charging Rs.100/- per day towards building construction. Kaka offered to show the remaining Dwarakas and also other important places in Dwaraka the next day for a nominal amount of R.800/- and we accepted the offer. As the hotels were closed, we had some delicious lassi and retired for the night.

DWARKADEESH KI JAI

DWARKA

TEMPLES VISITED: Gomti Dwaraka (Main temple)- one of the nine Dwarkas
Rukmini Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Bhet Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Gopi Talaab
Nageshwar – one of 12 jyotir lingams
ISKCON, Dwarka

LOCATION : DWARKA

HOW TO REACH:- 1) all Okha Port bound trains from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Puri and other important places s at Dwarka
2) regular bus services from Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Porbandhar, Veraval and other cities in Gujarat
3) car services are also available from Veraval

WHERE TO STAY:- Hotels, choultries, mutts are available
ISKCON has its guest house near the temple

WHERE TO EAT:- Being a famous Vaishnavite pilgrim centre, there are only
Vegetarian hotels offering Gujarati meals

PRESIDING DIETY : DWARAKADEESH (Sri Krishnan)

STHALAPURANAM:-
 In order to protect His people from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna summoned Viswakarma and ordered him to construct Dwarka in the Arabian Sea. The Sea God was instructed to give land in the middle of the sea which was always protected by Krishna’s divine power. This is known as Gomti Dwaraka as it is on the banks of River Gomti. Due to divine will, the city was constructed overnight and all the Yadavas were transported from Mathura to Dwarka and lived happily. The palaces were made of gold. It was the wealthiest city as the Goddess of Fortune Herself resided here.
 As mentioned earlier, the place where first placed His foot is Moola Dwaraka.

 Krishna with His 16,108 consorts lived here like a typical Gruhasta and in many occasions showed how a Gruhasta should behave. Perumal ruled over the Universe from this place. Krishna married Rukmini, Satyabhama, Nappinai, Jambavathi, and so on and these 8 wives are known as Astha Mahishis. By killing Narakasura, Krishna rescued 16,000 captivated girls at whose request HE married them. He took 16000 forms and married all the girls at the same time.
 When Draupadi surrendered to Krishna for protection, she addressed Krishna as “Dwarakanilai achyuta”- one who resides in Dwaraka.
 When Sage Narada was curious to know how Krishna managed with so many consorts, he was astonished to see the Lord with each of His consort performing various activities at the same time. Everyday, all the forms of Krishna used to leave the respective palaces but while entering the court, all the forms used to get merged with Him.
 It was in Dwarka that the exhibited his fondness to Sudama .
 It was here that Lord exhibited that the gopis attachment to the was much superior than even His consorts’ devotion.
Thus there are innumerable incidents connected with Sri Krishna’s life here.

ABOUT THE TEMPLE(JAGAT MANDIR):-
 Dwarka was to be submerged into the sea within 7 days of Krishna’s departure . Before leaving for Prayag, Krishnaordered the sea to leave 12 yojnas of land from drowning.
 The original temple was constructed by Krishna’s great grandson, Vajranabha (son of Aniruddha) with the help of Viswakarma as per Vaastu Shastra . The structure of the temple is like that of Sri Chakram.
 The height of the temple known as “Jagat Mandir” is 150 feet. There are 2 entrances to the temple-Swarg Dwar and Mukti Dwar.
 The flag on the spire of the temple declares that Dwarkadeesh is the ruler.The flag measures 40 feet -52 gaj (a unit of measurement) . The number 52 signifes the 27 stars, 12 rashis, 9 Navagrahas and the 4 main directions-north, south, east, west. The flag is stitched in a specific design.
 As part of their offering , Devotees usually undertake to change the flag when their wish is fulfilled. The flag is changed thrice daily. Morning between 8 A.M. and 11 A.M., second time between 11A.M. AND 12.30 P.M. and in the evening between 5 P.M. and 6.30 P.M. Booking for this has to be done atleast 3 months in advance. The flag would be taken round the temple streets ceremoniously before offering in the temple.
 Only authorized persons can go to the of the temple and change the flag. This is hereditary. Being on the sea shore, heavy winds keep blowing but these persons do not wear any safety belt. Dwarkadeesh saves them.
 From the cloth used as a flag, the priests and other service providers of the temple stitch shirts.

ABOUT THE DIETY:- Dwarkadeesh is seen holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam and Padmam with an enchanting smile. The temple priest informed that Lord wears wresting belt , has a black snake round HIS waist, Bhakti and Mukti are at HIS feet, wears Kaustabham and Vanamaala. The Lord holds a stick and a flute . The Lord is dressed in various forms-like a child, like a ruler etc.During summer, in the nights, the is dressed with jasmine flowers (like Pulangi seva in Tirumala. Usually in South Indian temples, the Lord is adorned with various types of flower maalas(strung with the thread) and placed round Lord’s shoulder. But here, the dress itself is stitched with flowers artistically. It is difficult to make out that it is a floral dress. It resembles like dress made of pearls.

Chappan bhog (56 items of varieties of food) are offered as Raj Bhog to the Lord . Every day 6 aarthis are performed to the Lord . On Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the Lord is given special aarthi at the stroke of 12 in midnight. Thousands of devotees throng to the temple to have HIS darshan. Inside the garbagriham, we find the utsava murthis of Rukmini and Krishna, Radha and Krishna.

The colours of clothes adorned by the Lord are pre-determined as per the days. On Sunday, the Lord wears Red colour, Monday-Pink, Tuesday-Yellow,Wednesday-Green, Thursday-orange, Frinday-white and Saturday-Blue. All the temple kainkaryakaarars(service providers) including the priests wear the same colour dress.

Exactly opposite to the shrine of Dwarkadeesh is Devaki’s shrine. Near the entrance on the right side, we find a small shrine for Balaraman. Balaraman is in the form of Adiseshan. There are separate shrines for the Ashta mahishis (8 wives) of Krishna, Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy, Madhavji

25 years ago, it was in front of Madhavji temple, Prana prathistha for the idols of Radha-Dwarkadeesh and Srila Prabhupada took place for 5 days. The idols were earlier taken around Dwarka temple before this ritual. The idols were later shifted to ISKCON Dwarka.

On the seventh day after the departure of the Lord to His heavenly abode, Dwarka was submerged into the sea. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated that Sri Krishna propounded Udhava Gita and ordered Uddhava to take the elderly, children and women from Dwarka to Hastinapur as the city would be submerged into the sea. The idol form of Narayana which was worshipped by Krishna Himself was carried by Guru and Vayu and placed at present Guruvayur in Kerala.

Archeological Department of India have found out that few thousands of precious metals lie submerged in the sea. Even today the remains of the palaces can be found in the adjoining Gomti river known as “Gomti Chakram”. This is considered as Lakshmi swaroopam and is treated at par with our Saalagrama shilas.We can also find vendors selling different types of stones (nava rathinams) here.
The temple was first constructed by Krishna’s grandson and later by other kings.

OUR EXPERIENCE:-
DATE OF VISIT :26/05/2009
Being a life member of ISKCON, we had already booked our room at ISKCON guest house in Dwarka for 3 days from 26th to 28th May. Fortunately, the prabhus were kind enough to allot room on 25th itself. Woke up hearing the sound of cymbals and bells as mangala aarthi at 4 .A.M. started in ISKCON mandir. Joined in their prayers and when the curtains were drawn for the diety’s abhishekam, myself accompanied by my wife went to Dwarakadeesh mandir which is about 7 minutes walk from ISKCON. :- Devotees were lined up in a queue to have darshan of the Lord. Perumal was beautifully dressed up like a typical cowherd boy holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam,Lotus. A small stick used for grazing cows and a flute are also placed. The idol is beautifully carved as it was done by GOD HIMSELF. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi, is the sannidhi of Devaki, mother of Krishna. The sannidhis for the 8 chief consorts of the Lord , sannidhi for Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy , Balaram sannidhi are in the outer precincts of the garbagriham. Pilgrims were singing some Gujarati songs .The devotees were exhibiting their unalloyed bhakti in many ways – by singing, by raising slogans”Ranchor Raya Ki jai” etc. as for our turn, we were reciting few divya prabhandha pasurams which we knew by heart and singing the bhajans “GOVINDA MADHAVA GOPALA KESAVA,…, GOVINDA HARI HARI GOPALA HARI HARI RADHA RAMANA HARI HARI….., we had seva to our heart’s content. Resolved to visit the temple in the evening along with children and participate in night aarthi too. After doing a pradakshinam, we left the temple and reached ISKCON.

On the way back to our guest house, we passed by Gomti river which was already crowded with devotees for having bath and passed by Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir where 24 hours non-s kirtan of SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM is being sung for the past 40 years. We recollected having seen this ashram at Verval near Gita Mandir.

Shringar Aarthi at ISKCON was going on for Radha- Krishna and participated in the same. When we checked up for prashad, they said that it may not be possible because these 2 young priests have to do temple duties along with their regular sadhana. They don’t even have a servant and how these 2 young devotees – a Keralite, Sri Kamalakannan dasa and a Tamilian from tirunelveli maintain the temple attending to all sorts of work is really appreciable . Meanwhile, our children got ready and kaka was also waiting for us in his car .

We drove to Rukmini Dwarka which is about 7-10 kms from the main temple.

RUKMINI DWARKA
TEMPLE VISITED: RUKMINI DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas

LOCATION : 7 KMS from Dwarka- Share autos, cabs are available

PRESIDING DIETY : KRISHNA-RUKMINI, sannidhi for Sage Durvasa

STHALAPURANAM: This happens to be the place where Krishna wedded Rukmini . Rukmini, the chief of 16,108 consorts of Krishna was very devoted to the Lord. Born as a Vidarbha princess , she used to listen to various pastimes of Krishna and developed an intense love for Krishna and decided to marry HIM or else end her life.Though her parents were interested in getting her married to Krishna, her brother, Rukmi was against it and wanted her to marry Sisupalan, Krishna’s cousin and made all arrangements for the same. She communicated Her desire thru a Brahmin to be conveyed to the Lord and requested to be kidnapped from her palace and also mentioned that she would be visiting ambal’s temple before marriage ceremony and it would be easy for Krishna to kidnap her from that place. Krishna also expressed HIS desire to the Brahmin and left for Vidarbha immediately and reached the next morning. When the Brahmin informed Rukmini about Lord’s arrival, she thanked the Brahmin and prostrated at his feet as SHE , the Lokamatha thought that prostration was the only befitting gift to the Brahmin. When Rukmini was returning from Ambal temple, Krishna appeared like a lightning and effortlessly kidnapped Rukmini Devi like a lion which snatches its food amonst wolves. When the assembled kings including Jarasandhan and Sisupalan fought with Krishna, Krishna and Balarama defeated the entire army. Rukmi was humbled by Krishna but was saved due to Balaraman’s intervention. The celestial wedding of Krishnaand Rukmini took place grandly at Dwarka. She was very dedicated and derived immense pleasure in performing all types of services to the Lord like massaging His Holy feet and personally offering various kainkaryams to the Lord . She demonstrated how a devotee irrespective of his/her position should serve the Lord. Gradually, She nurtured a feeling that She was more dearer to the Lord than other consorts.

Whenever a devotee entertains the thought that he is dearer to the Lord and becomes possessive, Perumal immediately enacts some drama and make them realize their folly. (In Vrindavan during Rasakreedai, when the Gopis including Radha Rani, thought that they were dearer to Krishna as He was dancing with them, the immediately disappeared. The gopikas were crying piteously and their outpour for the union with the is the famous “Gopika Geetham”. They were so captivated with the form of Krishna that even when Krishna appeared as Narayana with 4 arms, they were not content. They only wanted their form of Krishna. Krishna appeared and pacified them that they were very dear to them and He disappeared only to increase their Bhakti ) does this out of pure compassion towards the devotee.

In this case, Lord wanted to correct Rukmini and hence created an opportunity to enact His Leela. Krishna accompanied by Rukmini went to sage Durvasar’s hermitage and invited him for lunch. A chariot was brought forth for the sage to be seated. However the sage said that he could not sit in a chariot driven by horses and if it was driven by them ,he was prepared to visit them. The Lord of the Universe unhesitatingly agreed for the same. The Lord along with Rukmini Thayar drove the chariot. Due to the scorching heat and tiresomeness, Rukmini felt thirsty and expressed the desire to quench Her thirst. Krishna pressed HIS toe on the ground and water sprouted out. As she was desperately thirsty, Rukmini forgot the decorum to take the rishi’s permission for quenching HER thirst and drank the water. This infuriated the rishi who cursed Her to live separately from HER Lord Krishna as the pride that She was more dearer to Krishna made her behave in this way. He also cursed that the entire area would be bereft of drinking water. Rukmini realized HER mistake and fell prostrate at the sage’s feet and asked for forgiveness. The rishi said that She has to live separately for 12 years and then join the Lord. (Mother Sita had to live in Rama’s separation for 12 months and Rukmini Devi had to live alone for 12 years). Thus Rukmini’s pride was subdued . However, Krishna assured her that He would visit her daily. As She stayed here for 12 years, this place came to be known as “Rukmini Dwaraka”. (Some say that Rukmini got married toKrishna at this place.) One gets only half the punyam if he visits only Gomti (Main) Dwaraka. Dwaraka yaatrai is deemed to be complete only after visiting Rukmini Dwaraka . Even today , there is no drinkable water around this area and the residents have to get water from far off places by paying Rs.300/ -per barrel. Hence, in this place “jhala dhaanam” (water dhanam) done gives 1000 times benefit.

OUR EXPERIENCE:- It was a pleasant morning. Located in a serene place , with the sea breeze blowing softly, it was the perfect time to meditate in the presence of Thayar as She acts as a mediator between us and Perumal and represents on our behalf. When we reached the temple, curtains were drawn as bhog(neivedyam) was being offered to the Lordship . The assembled devotees were asked to sit in front of the garbagriham and a panda narrated the above incident. Pointing to a big picture on the right side, the panda started narrating the above incident that it gives 1000 times benefit. Thinking of everyone related to us, donated Rs.100/ for each one of them on their behalf. In return, the panda gave us some sweet packet as prashad and a small yellow cloth to be kept in the altar. Gave some money as charity to the disciplined under privlieged (about 50 of them) who share equally amongst themselves whatever is given to them. A great unity among them

BHET DWARKA

TEMPLE VISITED: BHET DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas

LOCATION : 15-20 KMS from Dwarka situated near Okha Port- the last tip of the west coast

PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH with separate sannidhis for His consorts and mother Devaki. There are separate sannidhis for Perumal,HIS mother Devaki, His 8 chief consorts, Purushotham, Lakshmi Narayan, Dhauji(Balaraman),Radha_ Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy ,Madhava Perumal, Garuda. .

STHALAPURANAM: “Bhet” in Gujarati means island. As this is situated in an island, it is named so. This was the pleasure spot for the Lord with HIS consorts. Legend says that Krishna used to spend time with HIS consorts in this place. There is a temple situated on of a hillock. This is considered as one of the 9 Dwarakas. As per the locas devotees, this place was part of Krishna’s palace and when the original Dwarka was submerged into the sea, this place remained intact. Thus they claim this to be the original Dwarka.

OUR EXPERIENCE:- From Rukmini Dwaraka, we proceeded to Bhet Dwarka which is situated on an island. Reached Okha port and after parking our vehicle in a nearby place, we proceeded to take a boat. We rememberd our previous visit regarding non-availability of drinking water . After having some fresh buttermilk and purchasing water bottles, we bought tickets for boat ride. Cost Rs.5/- per head one way. We can purchase tickets for return journey here itself. Also purchased some pori (Bhel- puffed rice) as food for fish. The boat in which we travelled was over crowded as it was 11 .A.M. and probably the last trip to the temple for morning darshan. It took nearly 15 minutes for us to reach the other shore. Alighted from the boat and took the narrow path towards the temple. Chanting Mahamantra, we had good darshan of Dwarkadeesh. Similar vigraham like in Dwarka but of a smaller size. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi is Mother Devaki’s sannidhi. In Perumal temples, opposite to the garbagriham, we usually find Peria Thiruvadi(Garudan)’s sannidhi but in Dwaraka, we find Devaki’s sannidhi.

After offering neivedyam and circumbulating the temple , we left the temple at 12 noon to take the return boat to the mainland. Offering dakshina in Dwarka is very important. Donated some money for”Go Samrakshana” protection of cows. From this point, we can clearly see Pakistan border across the sea and the Pakistani navy posted there. Kaka was referring to the recent 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks adding that from the Pakistan border, the terrorists took a boat to Porbandhar which is also a sea coast and then shifted to an Indian ship. He also pointed out to some wrecks stating that it was due to the earthquake which occurred in 2001(Khuj earthquake). We recollected having seen the structures before the quake in 2000. Luckily, we got place to sit in the boat in our return journey. From Bhet Dwarka, we went to Gopi Talab, a very sacred place to Krishna’s devotees.
Other PLACES VISITED: GOPI TALAB , a holy tank and an adjacent temple

LOCATION : Bhet Dwarrka- Dwaraka route via Nageshwar

PRESIDING DIETY : Gopi Talab- the sacred well from where Gopi Chandan is collected (used by ISKCON, Gaudiya and madhava Sampradhaya Vaishnavas), and a small temple dedicated to Radha- Krishna temple

STHALAPURANAM: There are 2 incidents which may be recollected in connection with Gopis.

This refers to one of the pastimes of the Lord when He wanted to prove that the gopika bhakti was superior to that of His consorts. The consorts of Lord Krishna developed superiority complex that they were very dear to the Lord and the best bhaktas of the Lord . In order to check their ago, Lord enacted a drama. He pretended as HE was suffering from severe headache. The best of physicians were called and best treatment was given to the but the headache would not subside. AT that time, Sage Narada arrived in Dwarka to have Perumal’s darshan. The perplexed mahishis (wives) of the told the rishi about ’s illness. Narada who understood Perumal’s play suggested that if some dust from devotee’s feet is rubbed on Perumal’s forehead , the headache would subside. The shocked wives backed out because they felt that it was not proper to place their dust on Perumal’s forehead. The news spread about everywhere. When the gopis of Vrindavan heard this, they immediately rushed to see the Lord and filled up carts full of their paadha dhooli (dust from their feet) to be applied on ’s forehead. They did not even think that they would be committing a serious offence by this petty act. They were only concerned about their Krishna’s well being and so were prepared to even go to hell for the sin they were committing. The moment the paadah dhooli of the gopikas were applied on HIS head, the Lord was relieved from the pain.. Thus the Lord showed that the gopis unalloyed prema bhakti was the best among all. After spending few days with Krishna , the gopis had to leave for Vrindavan.

Unable to bear the pangs of separation from Krishna , on the way, they jumped into a well at this place to end up their lives. They were turned into chandan by Krishna’s grace. Krishna pleased with their devotion declared that the place has become very sacred and Himself would smear the chandan from that place. Hence, this place is considered to be very sacred and whoever visits this place would be bestowed with unalloyed bhakti towards the Lord . Even after thousands of years, we are able to get chandan from this inexhaustible well.

Second incident:- While ascending to Vaikuntam, Krishna ordered Arjuna to take care of all the women folk and children and leave them at Hastinapur. On the way, unable to bear the pangs of separation from Sri Krishna, the gopis jumped into this well and ended their lives.

The fact that the gopis out of separation jumped into this well and thinking of the attained the Highest Bliss –moksham in this place is common in both the incidents. Gopi chandan collected from this place is considered to be very sacred. Even today, most of the devotees of Sri Krishna including Gaudiya Vaishnavas, ISKCON devotees, Pusti Vaishnavas etc . apply this on their forehead.

OUR EXPERIENCE: Reached Gopi Talab and offering prayers in the temple, visited the talab(tank). Some people were collecting the chandan from the inexhaustible talaab. Purchased gopi chandan rolls for personal use and for giving to other devotees. Had water melon and left the place at about 2.30 P.M. Photography and video are not restricted here. Purchased water melons and fed the cows with the same.
TEMPLE VISITED :- NAGESHWAR
LOCATION :- near Dwarka
ISKCON, Dwaraka

OUR EXPERIENCE:- Nageshwar, is one of the twelve jyotirlingas and is considered very sacred for devotees of shiva. During our first visit to Dwarka, we did not visit this temple as renovation work was going done. Late Gulshan Kumar, music director, owner of T series had renovated the entire temple by spending few lakhs on the renovation. At the entrance, there is a big statue of Shiva measuring more than 30 feet. There is a big bhajan hall in front of the garbagriham which displays a big photograph of the late musician. Here , abhishkeam for Shiva takes place round the clock. Vendors were selling milk in kalasams and other pooja items in the hall. Devotees can go near the lingam and give their offerings for abhishekam. We joined the queue for darshan. Children were tired and stayed back in the car itself. The temple was flooded with devotees.

Having visited all the important places in Dwarka, we returned to ISKCON guest house after having Gujarati lunch in a nearby hotel. The priest was waiting for us to have prashad. Though they expressed their inability to give us prashad , the priest somehow cooked for us and was waiting without having lunch. We were embarrassed by this kind gesture and apologized for the delay. As we had lunch, we took little prashad and said that we would have the remaining in the night. After settling the dues to the car driver, we bid goodbye to kaka. We relished every moment with him and he too reciprocated with the same feeling. Falling at this elderly person’s feet was that all we could do and was the only way of expressing our gratitude to him. Yes, he was GOD-SENT for us. Relaxed for sometime in the room. We assembled for the evening aarthi. For 2 hours, we were doing kirtans accompanied by the sounds of dol, cymbals and harmonium. Children sang few devotional songs (annamayya , Ramdas keerthanas ). Then listened to Bhagavad Gita and recited important slokas from Bhakti Yoga. After the night aarthi, had prashad, went to a Cybercafe which is about 10 minutes walk from the temple for canceling our Sleeper Class tickets as 2 of our AC berths were confirmed. We were confident that the remaining tickets would also get confirmed. As only 48 hours was left , we decided to cancel the tickets without further delay.

From there, visited “Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir situated opposite to ISKCON where 24 hours non s Rama naama kirtan is performed . This saint is from Bihar and for the past 40 years, non s sankeertan accompanied by musical instruments is going on at Dwarka, Veraval and few other places in Gujarat. After spending about an hour, retired for the night. Thanked Perumal for His abundant grace in making our journey ot Nava Dwarkas the most memorable . We were recollecting a picture of Panduranga carrying His devotees while holding Saint Namdev’s hand. HIS soulabhyam is indescribable.

JAI DWARKADEESH

27/05/2009, 28/05/09:- Having visited all the places, we decided to spend the next 2 days in the holy dham. On 27/05/09, after having holy bath in River Gomati, visited Dwarakadeesh temple along with children through Swarg Dwar. On the way, we came across some devotees who were carrying the flag to be hoisted in the temple singing bhajans and going round the streets around the temple. We decided to make some offering as thanks-giving in ISKCON temple and purchased varieties of fruits, honey, dry fruits (for panchamrutham), and items required for making pongal, bendi vetha kuzhambu and chakkarai pongal . We explained to the pujari about preparation of these dishes . We volunteerd to do some service in the temple like cleaning etc. While thus engaged in temple service, we got news about my daughter’s SSC results and were overwhelmed with Perumal’s grace by making her one of the school pers. Thanked God profusely for His abundant grace . The whole day was full of excitement with relatives calling and congratulating . In the evening we decided to spend some time near seashore and visit Samudraraja temple and other temples nearby. During our first visit to Dwarka, the temple was surrounded by water on all sides but now the place had become dry. This is the place where River Gomti joins the sea . From the sea , we proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple passing by Gomti river. Many vendors were selling eatables for fish and cows which were moving about freely near the ghats. After feeding the cows and fish, we planned to vist the temple through Mukti Dwar. A flight of steps leads us to the temple building. But as we had cameras, we were not allowed to go inside and had to satisfy ourselves by paying our obeisances from here itself. Did some last minute shopping,-buying gifts to my siblings and friends . Had dinner in a hotel run by a family in their house itself. (Forgot one of the gift packs containing dozen of Krishna’s murthis which we wanted to give as gift along with other prasadams and holy waters from various rivers and sea. )

On 28th morning, we decided to have samudra snaanam. We recollected Sowmyanarayanan mama’s words that the sea at Dwarka is known as “Arasethu “ and bath can be had at any time here which is an exception. Usually, samudra snanam has to be done only on specific days but samudra snanam at Sethukarai- Thirupullani(Rameswaram) and Dwarka can be had at any time. So, we had bath in the sea and also at the confluence of the Gomti river with the sea . Took an auto to ISKCON and from there proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple. While returning , we once again went to the bhajan kutir and took few snaps. Finsihed last minute packing etc. Could not locate the Krishna’s idols which we purchased the previous day. After noon aarthi at ISKCON, we decided to have lunch in the same place where we had the previous night. Luckily, the packet was there as it is . On the way back, bought dresses for my brother’s children and IPOD charger. After thanking the ISKCON priests for their wonderful hospitality , we took an auto to Dwarka station to board Okha-Puri Express to reach Ahmedabad. Boarded the train at 1430 hours and reached Ahmedabad at 2300 hours. As retiring room was not available, decided to spend the night in the AC room itself. As mentioned earlier, this is the best AC waiting room with all facilities and hope that all stations have such waiting rooms. The remaining tickets also got confirmed.

ON 29/05/09, after morning rituals, went to Hotel Sukhsagar for having breakfast and packed lunch and dinner for our journey. Thanking Dwarkadeesh profusely, boarded Ahmedabad-Secunderabad Summer Special at 1000 hours . The train was 4 hours late due to some wayside robbery in one of the coaches. Reached Secunderabad on 30/05/09 at 1400 hours.

During our entire trip, we could feel Lord ’s abundant grace flowing on us and with a prayer to the to enhance our bhakti , I end this writeup. I humbly request the devotee-readers to kindly forgive me for my flaws in presentation and enlighten me with more information.

JAI DWARKADEESH

KAZHIYUR VARADA DASAN