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Photo Album: Mahabharata Pilgrimage India, September 2006

This three-week long journey in the Indian Himalayas took place September 2 - 22, 2006. It introduced the participants to the holy sites, events, and wisdom of the world’s longest and oldest religious epic.


The early kingdom
Delhi: Sri Aurobindo Ashram (where our group of pilgrims stayed); Old Fort (the ancient kingdom of the Pandavas); Akshar Dham and Lotus temple (modern Hindu and Baha'i temples); other sights

Kurukshetra: Bhadrakali temple (one of the 51 places of worship of Shakti); Bhishma temple (on the spot where Bhishma was slain by Arjuna); Brahma sarovar (lake where Lord Brahma is believed to have created the universe); Jyotisar (where Sri Krishna revealed the Bhagavad Gita)

The Himalayan gate
Haridwar: Arati in Har-Ki-Pauri (waving of the lights in front of the river Ganga); Bhim Ghoda (where Bhima made a spring come out of a rock) and our center for poor girls and widows; Pawan Dham (famous temple of mirrors); other sights

Kankhal: Daksha Prajapati temple (where Sati Devi was born and sacrificed herself); Bilvakeshwar temple (where Sati Devi was reborn as Parvati Devi and where she performed her penance); Anandamoyee Ma ashram (where we met the current president, the French Swami Vijayananda; Sri Tripura Yogashram (founded by Swami Amlanand, also member of the Sri Hariharananda Education Society); other sights

Jagjeetpur: Shivedale school (founded by Swami Sharad Puri); Shivedale school cultural program (organized by the children on the theme of the Mahabharata); Matri Chhaya (campus for poor children, widows, and senior citizens, being built by Swami Sharad Puri and Yogi Sarveshwarananda)

Rishikesh: Divine Life Society ashram (founded by Swami Sivananda); Ram jhula (Rama's bridge); Madhuban Ashram (where our group of pilgrims stayed); other sights

Journey to the source of the holy Ganga
Magnificent vistas: between Haridwar and Uttarkashi; between Uttarkashi and Gangotri

Tapkeshwar: Drona's cave (where the Pandavas' military guru trained his pupils) and its unique self-created shiva lingam

Uttarkashi: Vishwanath temple (containing one of India's twelve jyoti lingams, a self-created Shiva stone)

Ganeshpur: Sivananda Ashram (founded by Swami Premananda, direct disciple of Swami Sivananda); Himalayan Paradise (founded by Swami Ramswarupananda, direct disciple of Swami Chidananda); Swami Vivekananda Foundation (our new school for poor children being built by Swami Chetan and Yogi Sarveshwarananda); kabbadi game (children playing this Mahabharata-era game on the site of our new school)

Didsari: Hariharananda Tapovanam (where Yogi Sarveshwarananda spent two years in silent reclusion); Jill Ma's tapovanam (place of austerities and meditation)

Gangnani: hot sulfur springs and temple (on the way to Gangotri)

Gangotri: town (and surroundings); ghats and Sri Ganga temple

Gaumukh: the journey (by horseback); arrival the source of the holy Ganga

Journey to the source of the Mahabharata epic
The Prayags (holy confluences): Rudraprayag and Deoprayag; Karnaprayag (where Karna performed his worship)

Joshimath: Shankaracharya Math (one of the four head monasteries established by Adi Shankaracharya)

Badrinath: town and surroundings; Badrinath temple (dedicated to Lord Vishnu)

Malla: various sights of this village (the last before the Tibetan border), inhabited by people of Mongolian origin; Sage Vyasa’s cave (where the Mahabharata epic was written); Sri Ganesha’s cave (where the Mahabharata's divine scribe resided); Bhim pul (Bhima's bridge)

Lord Krishna's playground
Vrindavan: parikrama (circumbulation of the holy city); Ras Lila ground (where Sri Krishna and the gopis sported)

Mathura: Sri Krishna's birthplace

Barsana: this small village perched high above the Yamuna river is the birthplace of Sri Radha, Sri Krishna's beloved playmate

Other sights: Neem Karoli Baba ashram (where the great saint is buried); Sri Anand Bihariji Temple and Garden (where our group of pilgrims stayed)

Varanasi, the City of Light
The ghats (sacred embankments): floating past the ghats (focal point of all Varanasi life); Manikarnika ghat (India's holiest cremation ground); arati (waving of the lights) on the ghats at sunset

In the footsteps of the Kriya Yoga masters: Lahiri Mahasaya's house; the famous Dashaswamedh ghat where Babaji, his sister Mataji and Lahiri Mahasaya appeared to Ram Gopal (as related in the Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 33)

Places of learning: Benares Hindu University (and home to the city's second Vishwanath temple, open to non-Hindus); a traditional Sanskrit school

Other sights: Durga temple (Durga Devi is said to protect Varanasi from the south, as one of the fierce goddess guardians of the holy city); miscellaneous

Means of transportation; sadhus and swamis; faces of India; our group of pilgrims

Side trips
Agra (Haryana): the Taj Mahal (the world's most beautiful mausoleum, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal)

Amritsar (Punjab): the Golden Temple (holiest place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs)

Satellite views and road maps
Please note that all satelite maps are Google Maps India (ancient and modern); Delhi (and distances from Delhi); Kurukshetra, Mussorie and Dehradun; Rishikesh and Haridwar; Uttarkashi, Gangorti and Yamunotri; Holy Confluence (Rudraprayag and Deoprayag); Joshimath to Badrinath; Vrindavan, Mathura, Gokul and Goverdhan, Varanasi; Agra and the Taj Mahal; Amritsar and the Golden Temple

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