Pilgrimage to Nepal and North India 
 
 June 5, 2009 

 
We live in an era in which our children need to be educated time and again, about our own roots, culture and tradition. Many of us believe that faith in our religion, devotion to God and service to elders / mankind are the basic values that needs to be imbibed in our children. These values would enable them to accept and enjoy life with optimism. It is indeed our luck if our children could learn these from the world outside too. God sent mission is the 'Bala Gurukulam' summer camp conducted by Sumukhi Rajashekaran Memorial Foundation. Here, the children are not only taught verbally about our culture and tradition, but also experience them through planned religious / historic tours and performances.  
  
This year, the Mylapore Trio organised a yatra for children to Nepal and North India for about 12 days in the month of May 2009 as a part of Bala Gurukulam. The journey started from Chennai to Allahabad, where we had a holy dip in the Triveni Sangamam - the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswathi - and also Sakthipeet, one of the 54 abodes of Goddess Parvathi. We visited Ananda Bhavan, the ancestral house of the Nehrus and where Indra Gandhi was born.  
From there, we proceeded to Nepal. The journey was a thrilling experience crossing the Indo Nepal border at Sonali, crisscrossing Himalayan mountain ranges. At Kathmandu, we worshiped Lord Pashupatinath on Pradhosham Day; the children sang songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It was a memorable experience. We then visited Guheeshwari Amman Temple, Kotak Neelakantar (reclining Vishnu on water) and Buddha Vihara etc. The children were excited to see the birth place of Lord Buddha at Lumbini Garden in Nepal. We then proceeded to Gorakpur, worshiped Goraknath and learnt that Bhima took rest here and worshiped Goraknath during his journey.  
  
We continued our trip to the historic place of Ayodhya by rendering Ram bhajans for 6 hours continuously, followed by a holy dip at River Sarayu, and worship of Lord Rama at his birth place. Singing Mahatma Gandhi's favorite song "Raghupathi Ragava Raja Ram" in front of the deity was a thrilling experience.  
  
The next destination was Varanasi Kasi, the ultimate place. We had a bath in the sacred River Ganges in the early morning, worshiped Lord Vishvanatha on Amavashya Day, rendered songs on Lord Shiva, had a darshan of Goddess Annapurani and Goddess Visalakshi. It was a different experience crisscrossing the lanes and by-lanes of Kasi to visit the temple. In the evening, we had an awesome experience of being on the Ganges for 2 hours. We took a boat ride and visited all the ghats including Harichandra, Manikarnika, Prayag etc. We were thrilled to see the Ganga Aarathi during dusk. The air was filled with shouts of "Ganga Matha ki jai." It was indeed a lifetime experience to be in the holiest of the holy places, Kasi. The children were told about the significance of the divinity and sanctity of the place. We also visited Saranath the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, in which place the famous Ashoka Pillar stands as a testimony to it.  
  
The last leg of the tour was Gaya and Budhagaya. We worshiped Vishnu Paadam, Palguni River, Akshyavadam at Gaya. At Budhagaya, we were awestruck to see the Bodhi tree and the exact spot where Prince Siddhartha attained nirvana and became Lord Buddha. We lost ourselves in the chanting of "Buddham Charanam Gatchami." We also visited many other Buddhist monasteries built in various styles by different countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Srilanka, Nepal, Tibet etc. Finally we returned to Chennai via Bhubaneswar.  

On the whole it was an unforgettable and divine experience for us and the children, which would remain evergreen in our memory. The children learnt many historical facts and also sublime values through this spiritual yatra. Apart from this, they learnt to mingle with other people, adjust among themselves in a variety of situations, learnt the give and take policy, public behavior and assisting old people. The sacred journey continues...