The war of Kurukshetra was over. The near and dear ones lost; sons, brothers, uncles, cousins had all met the aftermath of the bloodiest mythological episode of the earth, Mahabharata. After the war, it was time of self-assessment for the Pandavas, what they learnt from this war, and was victory really worth it!
It is believed that after the war, the Pandavas along with the queen Draupadi, took a treacherous hike 25 kms. ahead of the Badrinath Temple, to seek salvation and embarked upon a journey to reach ‘Swarg Ka Dwar, (The Door to Heaven)’, also known as the ‘Satopanth Yatra‘ from where they would enter the gates of heaven and free themselves from the material world.
The Story of the Journey
The journey begins 2 km ahead of the heavenly Badrinath Shrine, from where originates the lesser identified river Saraswati, which at the Sangam in Allahabad is considered to be an imaginary river flowing underneath the confluences of Ganga and Yamuna rivers. This is where the imaginary Saraswati unfolds its identity and existence. The river had a massive entity at the time the Pandavas undertook the journey.
The locals say that Bhima, the strongest and mightiest of all the five brothers lifted a massive rock and created a crossing over the river, now called as the Bhima Pul (Bridge). The group could now cross over to the other side. Unfortunately, the journey had taken a heavy toll on all of them and the first one to succumb to it was queen Draupadi, who gave up her life shortly after crossing the Bhima Pul.
The next to give up his life was Nakula. Nakula was considered the most handsome among all five brothers with exceptional skills in art of war, horse-riding, archery and particularly swordsmanship. The only place where you can find trees at this altitutde, is Lakshmivan, a place where the famous Bhojparta trees are found, on which have been written the most Ancient Indian Texts. Nakula is believed to have given up his body near this pristine forest.
The next to die was Sahadeva, a very famous astrologer and the most intelligent of all the five siblings, near a spectacular waterfall, named Sahasradhara. Originating from a flat vertical mountaintop, Sahastradhara waterfall is a splendid break from the tiring hike. The waterfall is a landmark located 8 kms from the start point.By the end of first 10 kms, the Pandava brothers had lost their wife and two siblings. Nevertheless, they had to continue the journey ahead, to reach the ultimate destination, where their final destiny awaited.
The next of the brothers to succumb to the journey was the valiant Arjuna, near a vast plateau up the mountains called the Chakratirtha. Arjuna was the most established identity of the entire Mahabharata Episode. The entire story circles around the personality of Arjuna and his dilemma that he faces at the brink of the battle; the most horrifying dilemma of killing his own brothers, elders and friends in battle; and all of those who ‘acted’ to be his own stood against him in Kurukshetra.
Further ahead is a triangle shaped lake with crystal blue waters near Satopanth. The water is so pure and clean that even the birds here do not allow anyone to pollute the lake. They say, if you try dumping even a grass-hair in the water, the birds from above would take it out of the water and throw it off. The last of the brothers with an incomplete journey was Bhima, who lost his life here.
The only survivor of this journey was Yudhisthira, who made it to the end because, he was considered to be the honest of all…As he approaches the gates of heaven, the Swargarohini he meets a black dog which was Dharmaraja himself posed that way, and it escorts Yudhisthira along the rest of the journey.
As Yudhisthira approaches the Swargarohini, a heavenly escort awaits at the gates, to take him along. However, Yudhisthira poses a condition that all his brothers left him along his journey, and the dog was the one who has escorted him till the end, the dog too, deserves to be taken along. Hearing this, Dharmaraja reveals Himself to Yudhisthira, and is pleased with his ideals of Dharma. Thus, Yudhisthira is allowed to enter heaven with his mortal body.
This 25 km one way trek to Swargarohini is treacherous yet a remarkable experience. For many hikers, it still remains a challenge. Standing at more than 14000 feet, the breathtaking views and stunning landscapes can leave a traveler speechless.