Saturday, June 18, 2011

Journey to Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, India

This was my first visit to Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, north India, not so far away from Dwarahat and it has been an amazing experience. What an opportunity to sit in Babaji's cave for meditation after reading all those stories in Paramahansa Yogananda's book "Autobiography of a Yogi". And the surroundings.... breathtaking. If you are a Kriya Yogi practitioner you should definitively come to visit this place and stay for a while.




Who is Mahavatar Babaji

Mahavatar Babaji is an ancient yogi from the Himalayas who it is said to have an eternal body. His story has been made known thanks to Yogananda's book "Autobiography of a Yogi". He is an avatar (divine incarnation) who has revived the science of Kriya Yoga (an advanced pranayama technique that accelerates spiritual evolution) and spread it to the modern world through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya.

The journey

After 15 days at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama ashram in Rishikesh I decided to make another trip and move a bit north. I started the journey at 8.30 pm and took an auto Rickshaw from the ashram premises to the Rishikesh bus station (15 min). From there I was able to catch a public bus to Haridwar (45 min) and in Haridwar I had to wait for a couple of hours to catch the sleepers night train at 00.15 to Kathgodam (7 hours).

I reached Kathgodam at 7 am and from there I had to take a share taxi to Raniket (4 hours) and from Raniket another shared taxi to Dwarahat (3 hours) to finally get to the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram (YSS), an ashram for Paramahansa Yogananda disciples, where I would stay for the next 10 days and use it as a base to visit Babaji's cave. The taxis are actually old jeeps that goes packed with people. It is the most common transportation means in this area.

So it was about 14 hours ride to reach Dwarahat. Pretty easy though, but it got difficult in the first shared taxi from Kathgodam to Raniket. I don't know why but I got so sick as soon as I got in the taxi. Perhaps cause a combination of the altitude, the package of cookies that I just had eaten and the crazy curvy road.

I felt dizzy, had a big headache and just wanted to through up... for the next four hours!. The curves didn't help at all, I had to take a deep breath in every single curve but at least I got to see the astonishing landscape which actually reminded me of the highlands in Ecuador.

But I was not the only one sick, one lady in the sit in front of me started vomiting out from her window. Luckily I notice it and managed to closed my window on time. Half an hour later her son started vomiting as well and another half an hour later another lady started to vomit through the other window.


Visiting the Cave

The next day, with a group of four other Kriya Yogis from India we took another shared taxi from the YSS ashram and headed towards Kukuchina. The people at the ashram arranged the taxi for us and they even gave us a basket with our lunch :-)


The ride to kukuchina was about 50 minutes and I felt like killing the driver. In India people love to hit the horn all the time but this guy was extreme, sometimes the road was clearly empty and he would still hit the horn like crazy!!

We got off the taxi at Kukuchina and started to walk towards the cave. Its a really nice 50 minutes trek with incredible landscapes.

Just before the cave there is a building, Babaji's shrine, built by Self Realization Fellowship in the place where according to the story told by Yogananda in his "Autobiography of a Yogi" Mahabatar Babaji materialized a golden palace for Lahiri Mahasaya, one of his disciples, to fulfill his last but subconscious material desire.


It seems that every day there are pilgrims visiting the cave. Kriya Yogis that follow different gurus, all connected in one way or another to Lahiri Mahasaya, make this journey. During my visit there was a large group of Kriya Yogis disciples of Hariharananda.

As soon as we reached the cave we all removed our shoes outside and found a good spot in the cave to sit down comfortably so we could start our individual meditation. After a beautiful one hour meditation in the cave we continue climbing up the hill to reach the top which is called Pandavkholi and to visit the Pandavkholi Dharamshala and Mandir. But on the way up we made a stop to enjoy the nice lunch prepared by the ashram for us.



How to reach Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, India

This is the route that I followed from Rishikesh:

  • From Rishikesh take a public bus from the main bus stop to Haridwar. (45 min)
  • From Haridwar take the night train to Kathgodam which leaves every day at 00h15. There is only one train per day.
  • From Kathgodam take a share taxi to Raniket (4 hours) and from Raniket another shared taxi to Dwarahat (3 hours). The share taxi from Kathgodam up to Dwarahat should be around 250 or 300 rupees.
  • Once you reached Dwarahat market you'll need to take another share taxi to Kukuchina (50 minutes) for about 25 rupees. This is the last stop by car.
  • From there you will need to walk up the mountain to reach the cave, about 50 minutes. It is not a difficult walk up but you'll need to go slow according to your capacity since the altitude might affect you.

Where to stay.

If you are a Self Realization Fellowship member or a Yogoda Satanga Society member you should definitively stay at the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram which is just 15 minutes walking from the Dwarahat market. From there to reach the cave you just need to take a share taxi, about 50 minutes ride.

You can also stay in Dwarahat itself. I heard from a group of Kriyabans from the Hariharananda tradition that they were staying in a hotel in Dwarahat for about 800 rupees per night. From there to reach the cave you just need to take a share taxi which will take about 50 minutes.

Another option is to stay at Jossie's guesthouse in Kukuchina. It is actually a pretty nice place. There are several rooms but also two beautiful and comfortable cottages.

One more option is to stay on top of the hill, at the Pandavkholi Dharamshala. It is a simple shelter for pilgrims with very basic accommodation but with really friendly people and incredible surroundings.

Books about Babaji




Paramahansa Yogananda books



You can find more books by Paramahansa Yogananda in this link: Path to Yoga - Yoga Store.

Take a look at the video and other related posts


23 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your information. I intend go to these places as soon as possible. Like you I simply cannot wait! Now getting my visa sorted.....and then i'm off whatever the weather! - P

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  2. I would also like to thank you for all the detailed information, it's a great blog!

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  3. OMG i cant believe you went to the cave!!! how incredible awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. there is a shorter way from delhi to dunagiri try reaching ramnagar at around 2:00 a.m (buses ply from anand vihar ISBT at evening and reach exactly at same time)from ramnagar there are buses for almost all part of kumaon and garhwal himalya's.i always take the 4:a.m bus.The road goes through boundary of corbett national park and has some paranomic view's.from ramnagar you get the bus for ranikhet,you may even try the chaukhuttiya route from here. chaukhuttiya is 18 k.m. from dwarahat

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  5. I am in Madurai. My Name is K.Sundararajan. I want to go to babaji's cave. Please tell me the route to babaji cave and also tell me whether i came back within 1 week time(after visiting babaji's cave). I request to tell me the details in my mail ID badsun30@yahoo.co.in

    My Mobile No. is 9942893455

    K.SUNDARARAJAN
    MADURAI

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  6. To minimize or avoid the nausea of motion sickness, take a motion sickness remedy in advance, available at drug stores and on Internet, such as Dromamine or ear patch. I took Dromamine a couple hours in advance and had no motion sickness on way to Babaji's cave on October 20, 2011.

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    1. Thanks, I'll keep that in mind next time I'll visit the cave :-) but for sure a very good advice for those who are planning to visit it and have the chance to read this blog.

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  7. Hi, how long is the hike from Mahavatar Babaji's cave to the top of the hill named Pandavkholi?

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    Replies
    1. Oh, can't remember now... I guess it was about 30 minutes or so

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  8. ciao Marco, vorrei sapere a chi bisogna chiedere le chiavi per entrare nella grotta di Babaji

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  9. The key to babaji's cave? I have no idea but you can ask at the Babaji's shrine, the building just before reaching the cave or at the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, for sure they would now. Or maybe ask to Jossie

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  10. hi,
    thank you for your journey details, which helped me to understand more about my plans to visit Mahavatar Babaji cave. Please explain me, as am not familiyar with Kriya yoga, is there any ashram or Guru will help us to get the teachings at the Cave? Also tell me how many days we can stay up there at the cave or a nearby hotel or ashram.

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  11. Hi, Thanx for all the information. I wish to visit Babaji's cave .want to know whats the best time of the year to go.
    can i stay ina hotel for 4 days? is simple food without spices availble there?
    pl mail me jankitg@rediffmail.com

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  12. @ RT: I'm not aware if there is anybody in that region that could give you the initiation into Kriya Yoga. There is the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha ashram of Paramahansa Yogananda tradition near the cave but to get an initiation in this tradition you first need to subscribe by post to the biweekly lessons and later on apply for the Kriya Yoga initiation. So it takes quite a while.

    You can stay in this region as long as you want. I recommend you to stay at Jossie's guesthouse which faces the mountain where the cave is. You can't stay at the cave itself.

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  13. ...if only i did not mind vomiting...curently studying Iyengar Yoga in Pune and heading north to bodhgaya for meditation next, perhaps Rishikesh after. Special affinity for Paramahanse Yogananda! Wonderful posts!

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    1. Hi Anastasia! Thanks for your comment. Oh yeah, the dizzyness was tough but definitely worth the price to reach to Babaji's cave, and you can always take and anti dizziness pill before the ride. Bodhgaya is a wonderful place, very good vibe and so is Rishikesh but they are completely different. I'm sure you are going to have a great time there. Good luck! And Namaste :-)

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  14. Hi
    I am a Sri Lankan read the Auto biography of yogi book and wish to follow the kiriyayoga technique and also visit the Babaji's cave in my life time.
    Thank you for the guidance.
    Can anyone tell me that practicing kiriya yoga is a condition to go to the babaji's cave. I want to practice it anyway. But I couldnt connect myself with a proper ashram or yoga school. Next question is can i make the entire trip within 2 weeks, because I am working.

    Please help me by anwering these question to my mail address karthikeyini.sabaratnam@yahoo.com

    Thank you everyone for encouraging comments. I wish to be born in India which is the land of wisdom

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  15. Thanks for all the Info Shared ....I will pray Babaji..will go in the way he takes me.

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  16. Please let me know any guide, who could assist people to the cave.Please mention the contact no , if you have.
    Thanks

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  17. Hello,

    I just now visited the holy place of Mahavatar Babji cave. It was the most wonderful journey in my life. The source of Kriya Yoga where one can attain the bliss if attuned with the vibrations of Babaji. Jai Babaji...


    Prakash D

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations Prakash, you are very fortunate, very good karma :-)

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  18. Thank you so much for your valuable information to us for this wonderful ride.

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  19. You are welcomed Joe, I hope you can use it for your visit to the cave, all the best!

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