Badri,Vrindavan, Mathura Trip – Part II

Day – 3

I woke up around 4:30 AM in the bus. Looked outside the window and could see Ganga flowing along with us. We were in Haridwar and it would take 20 minutes to reach Rishikesh. After reaching Rishikesh, Devanathan maama alloted us the rooms in Andavan Ashram in Rishikesh. The plan for the day was to take bath in Ganga, visit Ram Jula, Lakshman Jula and Bharat Mandir and Venkateswara mandir.

Around 6:30, we went to the banks of Ganga and had a wonderful bath there. Adiyen spent around 45 to 50 minutes bathing in the river. Did Sandhyavandhanam on the banks of Ganga and came back to Andavan Ashramam. We had hot breakfast in the Andavan Ashramam and people started to visit Ram Jhula. As Adiyen was tired, Adiyen didnt visit Ram Jhula.

Once the party was back, there was a Vishnu Sahasranama Parayanamam. Adiyen participated in the paranayanam and after that Thiruvaradhanam was done for the Ashram Perumal. Lunch was served and we got down to take rest. Adiyen was reading Kurai Onrum illai book for the rest of afternoon.

At 4 PM, coffee was served in the room and we started for Lakshman Jhula. Before going to the Lakshman Jhula, we had to get an id from the Uttharakhand Government if undertaking Badri Yatra. We completed those formalities as well. We came back and watched IPL cricket match for the rest of the evening. We had to move to Deva-Prayag early next day. We would be taking bath in the Prayag and visiting Kandam enum Kadinagar.

Day 4

The day started early at 4:30 AM and after finishing morning duties, we vacated the Andavan Ashram and started towards Deva-Prayag. We reached the Prayag around 7:30 AM. We had to walk atleast 0.5 km downhill to see the Sangamam.

Deva-Prayag is the merging of two rivers, Alakananda and Bhagirathi to form Ganga. Only after this sangamam, the name Ganga is given to the river. Wonderful place and we could see Bhagirathi rushing to merge with Alaknanda. Alakananda, on the other hand is soft and silent but Bhagirathi comes down rushing.

We reached the Sangamam and changed into our bathing clothes. Devanathan mama and his team told that we wouldnt be able to go and take bath in Sangamam as it is 100 feet deep. Therefore, they made us sit on the banks of the Sangamam and poured water over our heads. First, myself and Sridevi sat down on the banks and recited Dwayam and Ashtaksharam while the cold water was poured over head. The water was very cold and we couldn’t bear it after 2 rounds. We completed the 3 rounds and then dried ourselves. I remained back in the bank to help others to sit down and take their part. Adiyen then went back and changed myself into Panchakacham and adorned 12 thirumans. We were about to start to one of the beautiful Dhivyadesam, Kandam ennum kadinagar.

Kandam ennum Kadinagar – Thirupurushottamam

This divyadesam on Deva Prayag and one has to climb around 80 to 90 steps to reach this Divyadesam. The perumal in this divya desam is called Neelamegha Perumal. Periyazhwar has sung 10 songs on this divyadesam.

We climbed the steps and reached Kandam ennum Kadinagar. Beautiful and small temple. Entered the sanctum santorum of Neelamegha Perumal. Beautiful perumal in the standing posture. Stood there and recited the Periazhwar’s paasuram on Kandam ennum Kadinagar. Feeling contented, visited other sannidhis of Nrusimha, Garuda, vishwaksena etc. Had a wonderful darshan and came back to the Prayag and from there moved to the bus stop.

Aadhi Badri

After Deva Prayag, we started towards Adhi Badri kshetra. In the middle, we stopped for lunch near one place and was informed that our Acharya and Malolan stopped at this point during Badri Yatra and thiruvaradhanam was done when he was undertaking the Badri yatra. We finished our lunch and started to move towards Adhi Badri. Unfortunately, my wife and my daughter were not feeling well and started vomitting repeatedly. It was long drive from Deva Prayag to Aadhi Badri. We saw Rudra Prayag, Nanda Prayag on the way. Atlast around 2:30, we reached the Aadhi Badri shrine. Aadhi Badri is currently maintained by the ASI (Archaeological Society of India) and the Perumal is small but a powerful Murthy. His divine smile captivated us and we spent sometime in the Kshetra mesmerized in his beauty. My wife and my daughter were still sick and was vomitting repeatedly. At point, I even thought it was a bad decision on my part to plan the journey at this point of time when daughter is just 2 years and not used to this long trip.

We started back from Aadhi Badri, and was proceeding towards Peepalkote. At one point, we stopped near a tea stall for the drivers to have their tea. Sridevi was not feeling well and was weak. I went to her and said let’s pray to Badri Perumal, he will take care of everyone. Don’t worry. We closed our eyes and started to pray and the rest of our journey was pleasant. To our surprise, both Sridevi and little one were back on their feet the next day.

We stayed at Peepalkote. Peepalkote was a small town with minimum facilities. We were given rooms on the top floor and the room was comfortable. We lied down for a while. Myself and Bhargav went for a small walk in the town for some biscuits and medicines. We had our dinner and was done for the day. We had an eventful day and was totally exhausted. We went to sleep as soon as we lied down

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Vrindavan,Mathura and Badri Trip – Part – 1

With the grace of Asmad Acharyan and periyavas, Adiyen had the Bhagyam to visit North India Divyadesams. Following was the itinerary of our programme.

05/01/15

Board Duronto Express to New Delhi

05/02/15

Alight at New Delhi and visit Vrindavan

05/03/15

Visit Mathura and back to New Delhi for Rishikesh

05/04/15

Rishikesh – Local Sight seeing

05/05/15

Deva Prayag, Adi Badri and PeepalKote

05/06/15

Jyoshirmutt, Badrinath

05/07/15

Badrinath, YogDhyan Badri, Ardha Badri, Peepalkote

05/08/15

To Haridwar

05/09/15

Ganga Aarthi at Haridwar, Start to New Delhi

05/10/15

Flight back to Chennai

05/01/15

The excitement of going for the yatra made us to be awake throughout the night. When the clock stuck 3 AM, we got up and finished our morning duties. We brought all the luggages to the Perumal Sannidhi and got the permission from our household perumal. By 5 AM, the NTL cab came in and we started our trip. My daughter Ananya was fully awake and was excited about the long tata that we are about to go. In the cab, the FM channel was playing Venkatesa Suprabhatham and it built up the confidence that Thiruvenkatamudayan is blessing us.

We reached Central Railway station and boarded Duronto express. Raghavan uncle and his family had already boarded in their compartment. We checked into our berths and the train started its journey to New Delhi. In the train, we had variety of debates on Indian military and DRDO research methodologies. Everyone in my family was so tired and we took a small nap. We had our lunch and we played Dumb Charades in the evening. Bhargav and myself were a team and Sridevi and my mom were another. We enjoyed it a lot and our evening passed. We then retired for the night after a light dinner.

05/02/2015

I was woken up by Bhargav around 6 AM with a hindi newspaper with a headlines that there has been a landslide enroute to Badrinath and Badrinath is closed. I could see some tensions in all of us. I just closed my eyes and prayed to Emperuman and acharyan for help. Somehow, I regained myself and told my family that “It is not the darshan that we get. It is the darshan that he gives. If he wishes to give us darshan, he will surely give it and these small obstacles doesnt matter. He is testing us now and we should not lose the confidence”. My father called up Devanathan mama who was organizing this Badrinath yatra from New Delhi. He said “There is no problem. Perumal irukkar avar paathuppar”.

We alighted down at New Delhi and Raghavan uncle’s friend Mr. Ananthamurthy received us in the railway station. We loaded all our luggages in a tempo traveller and we went to R.K.Puram Balaji Mandir. Devanathan mama welcomed us and provided us with a wonderful lunch. Then, we took the same tempo traveller and proceeded to Vrindavan around 2 PM sharp.

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Around 4 PM, we reached Vrindavan, Adiyen requested the driver to directly go to Thiruaayarpadi, but he refused saying that the temples will be closed by the time we reach there. Adiyen didnt want to argue with him and asked to take us into Vrindavan. He did and we wasted time in searching the cottage that we booked. Everyone was disappointed that all the plans for today didn’t work out. We didn’t visit Gokulam. We are roaming in the streets of Vrindavan. Luckily around 6:30 PM,we found the cottage and checked in. Then, we planned to visit ISKCON Vrindavan and Prem Mandir.

Our first stop was ISKCON Vrindavan. Beautiful temple and evening aarthi got over and the devotees were singing Krishna Bhajans. We had the darshan of Krishna, Radha and Balaram with the Krishna Bhajans rendering in our heart and in our lips. My eyes were filled up with tears of joy and was pleading to Krishna for the bhagyam of visiting atleast Mathura. We went to the ISKCON restaurant for night food and my father had a brilliant idea. I realized at the moment that I have a trouble shooter with me all the time. He asked me to go to the ISKCON welcome center to find out if there are any guides available. Myself and Bhargav had our dinner and we went directly to the welcome center. I was greeted by two Prabhus who were eager to help us. One of the Prabhu accepted to accompany us to Mathura and Vrindavan. He asked us to be ready by 7 AM in the morning and we would go directly to Mathura. We will finish up Mathura and will come back to Vrindavan around 10 AM. So everything setup, we went to see the Sayan Aarthi and was very happy that Krishna took care of everything. We returned back to the cottage in an electric rickshaw and all those time, my thought was on the beauty of Vrindavan and one sloka for Swami Vedanta Desika

Vande Brindavana charam vallabhee jana vallabham
Jayanthi Sambhavam Dhaama Vaijayanthi Vibhushanam

We retired for the night with the happiness that I am truly blessed with a wonderful family. Sridevi has been a wonderful person to be along with and Ananya being a blessed child and got adjusted perfectly well in the new surrounding. Appa and Amma, even though they are aged, they still are the perfect people to travel with.

05/03/2015

Since we were all tired, the day started a bit late. We woke up around 5:30 AM and took bath and got prepared to go to ISKCON by 7 AM. By the time, Raghavan uncle and his family got ready, Adiyen and my father set out for a walk to get milk for Ananya. Morning walk in Vrindavan is peaceful, with lot of Prabhus doing Parikrama. Adiyen was reciting Narayana Suktam in my heart and was walking in the street. With a wonderful feeling, we met the Prabhu whom we spoke to. He asked us to be quick and get moving. We boarded the tempo traveller and we went towards Mathura. Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna. There are lot of places to be covered in Mathura, but we covered only the important ones. We alighted from our tempo traveller and the Prabhu arranged us with 4 rickshaws. Our first stop was “Lord Dwarakadeesh Temple”.

Lord Dwarakadeesh temple, Mathura

One of the popular temples in Mathura.The Lord’s name is Dwarakadeesh. Perumal resembles the same like the Nath Dwarka murthy. It was morning 7:30 AM and there was a decent crowd in the temple. On the inner roof of the temple, beautiful raasa leela paintings are drawn. Don’t forget to check it out. We had a good darshan there and the crowd was chanting Sri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare. We joined the chant and it was wonderful. We had a good darshan at the Salagramam sannidhi there. We did pradakshana and came out via the other door.

Visharam Ghat

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This is the place where Lord Krishna rested after killing Kamsa. This is on the banks of Yamuna river. We went to the Yamuna river, did aachamanam and prokshanam. We visited Kalindi temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna who was supposed to be a friend of Krishna. We crossed the Lord Dwarakadeesh temple and moved towards Pracheen temples

Pracheen temples

These are ancient temples dedicated to Lord Narasimha and Lord Varaha. One has to walk through small roads/alleys to reach this temple. Very small temples but ancient. We had darshans in these Pracheen temples and we hired an rickshaw to get to the mainroad.

Krishna Janmasthan

The next stop for us was Krishna Janmasthan. As usual, like Ram Janma Bhoomi, we had crucial police checkups before being allowed in. We visited the Giriraj Mandir where a stone from Goverdan Giri is being worshipped. Then, we went into the Krishna Janma bhoomi. The place where the unborn took birth to free us from the prison of Samsara. Adiyen remembered the verse, “Ajaayamanaha Bahuta vijayathe”. Luckily, there was no much crowd and Adiyen stood there and recollected the Krishna janma verses of Yadavadhbudhayam. We came out and visited the Krishna temple there. We stopped for refreshments as Sridevi wanted to taste Madki Lassi.

Back to Vrindavan

With most of the temples covered in Mathura, we returned back to Vrindavan by 10 AM. As the prabhu had some service in ISKCON, he asked us to wait for 20 minutes. All of us were hungry and we took our breakfast in ISKCON itself. At 10:45, we started for Vrindavan temples. There was a huge traffic jam and we got stuck up in traffic. The jam cleared only by 11:45 and we had to travel for another 15 to 20 minutes. We reached Madan Mohan temple around 12 PM. Ananya, Raghavan uncle,Jayshri aunty and my mom stayed back in the tempo traveller itself as it was very hot and had to climb a lot of steps.

Madan Mohan Temple

This is the oldest temple in Vrindavan and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this temple many times. The history of the temple is as follows.

        Sanatana Gosvami would go daily to Mathura to beg each day one chapati from each house that he went to. Sanatana Gosvami had a dream in which Madana-Mohan told him that He was living in the house of a brahmana in Mathura and that he should come there to beg. The next day Sanatana went to the house of the brahmana and he saw Madana-Mohan playing with the brahmana’s children. The brahmana treated Madana-Mohan like one of his children. When Sanatana saw this, he chastised the brahmana and told him about the rules and regulation of how to serve the Deity.

Madana-Mohan then appeared to Sanatana Gosvami in a dream and told him that He was happy to live in the house of the brahmana as one of his children, but now that he had introduced so many rules and regulations he was not happy. Madana-Mohan also appeared to the brahmana and told him, you have so many sons, why don’t you give me to Sanatana Gosvami. The next day Sanatana went to see the brahmana and begged his forgiveness for chastising him. The brahmana then offered Madana-Mohan to Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana said he could not take Him, because he could not offer Him proper food offerings. Madana-Mohan told him that He would take whatever He was offered.

     One day Sanatana was offering the usual dry chapatis to Madana-Mohan, and Madana-Mohan asked Sanatana for some salt. Sanatana replied, “Now you want salt and tomorrow You will want sweets. I have so much writing to do, please just accept these chapatis.”

Banke Bihari Temple

Further from the Madan mohan temple, is Banke Bihari Temple. Actually, the meaning of this word is Wanderer of Forest (Van – Forest Ke Vihari – Wanderer). Since the temple was closed for Bhog and there was a huge rush in front of the temple. People were crushing us like anything. It was close to stampede. Somehow, we were pushed into the temple and getting near the diety was nearly impossible. I was holding Sridevi’s shoulders, Bhargav was holding my shoulder. We decided that whatever happens, we dont leave each other. We were being pushed and pulled, but we were lucky to have darshan of the lord. We came out as one piece, but we found out that my father and Prabhu were missing. Within few minutes, we were able to spot the Prabhu who told us that he will wait and bring my father.

We went ahead to the main road and stopped for Lemon Soda. Since, we were in short of money, I had to run back to the bus and get the money. Luckily, it seems that my father had paid for the Lemon Soda and they were all returning back. We dropped the plan of going to Nidhivan but Prabhu said that Kaliya ghat and Kadambh Vriksh is on the way.

Kadamba Vriksh and Kaliya Ghat

We got down at Kadamba Vriksh and Kaliya Ghat and visited the place. Wow, the tree where Krishna jumped into the Yamuna is still there. Looking at the tree, we were wonderstuck. Adiyen prostrated before the tree. We took some photos. Decision was taken to move back to Delhi otherwise we may end up in traffic and will be late for Yatra Dhaanam.

Back to New Delhi

We came back to ISKCON and profusely thanked the Prabhu who came with us to all these Divyadesams and patiently explaining the history behind it. Pallandu Pallandu to him for his services. May Radhe Shyam bestow all the goodness to him and his family. We had our lunch and made our way back to New Delhi.

Reached New Delhi around 4 PM. We went straight to R.K.Puram Balaji temple. We rested in the Veda patashala next to it and prepared ourselves for Badri yatra.

Yaatra Dhaanam

This Badri yatra was conducted by Srimaan Devanathan swami from New Delhi. He has been doing this yatra service for the past 30 to 35 years. When we are contemplating on visiting Pancha Badri, Devanathan swami pointed out that only 4 Badris can be visited. It is Acharyal’s niyamanam that Bhavishya Badri is not included since Perumal just now started appearing. Therefore, Bhavishya Badri was not in the plan.

We requested Devanathan mama for a separate tempo traveller for our group since we are willing to visit Pancha Badri and accepted the same. Closer to the trip date, one more family was expressing interest in visiting Pancha Badri and they also accompanied us in the tempo traveller.

At 10:00 PM, Yatra Dhaanam was conducted once the entire yatris assembled. There were totally 3 buses and 1 tempo traveller. The Yatra dhaanam was beautifully conducted with all of us reciting select paasurams and slokams. Devanathan mama allocated the seats for the buses. There were some minor hiccups about the last seats which were sorted out. Sharp, at 11:30 PM, all of us started for Badrinath. Our first stop is Rishikesh. Throughout the bus trip, Adiyen was listening to Sundara Kaandam by Velukkudi Krishnan swamigal. With Ananya asleep in my lap and Sundara Kaandam Pravachanam rendering in my ears and heart, I pushed back my seat and fell asleep.