Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visiting Mahavatar Babaji's Cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, India

Visiting Mahavatar Babaji Cave Kukuchina

This was my first visit to Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, north of India, not so far away from Dwarahat. What a privilege to sit in meditation inside Babaji's cave. After reading all those stories in Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography this pilgrimage was truly a dream come true.

If you are a Kriyaban (a kriya yoga practitioner) you should definitively visit Babaji's cave.  Perhaps you could also visit Yogananda's ashram in Dwarahat, and maybe you could also do your own meditation retreat in Kukuchina.


Who is Mahavatar Babaji


Mahavatar Babaji
Mahavatar Babaji.
Photo courtesy of Self-Realization Fellowship  

Mahavatar Babaji is an ancient yogi from the Himalayas, who is said to have an eternal body.  His story has been made popular thanks to Yogananda's book "Autobiography of a Yogi".

Babaji is considered an avatar, a 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.

You can read more about this great avatar in Babaji, the Yogi-Christ of Modern India.  This is one of the chapters included in Autobiography of a Yogi.


My journey from Rishikesh to Babaji's Cave in Kukuchina 


After fifteen 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.  I 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. 

From Kathgodam I had to take a shared taxi to Ranikhet (4 hours) and from Ranikhet, another shared taxi to Dwarahat (3 hours) to finally reach the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram (YSS).

The YSS ashram is dedicated specifically to Paramahansa Yogananda disciples.  I was able to stay at the ashram for ten days and I used it as a base to visit Babaji's cave.

So it was about 14 hours ride to reach Dwarahat.  That was a long journey, but it got really difficult for me in the first shared taxi from Kathgodam to Ranikhet.

I don't know why but I got so sick as soon as I got in the taxi.  Perhaps because of the altitude, the smell in the jeep, the package of cookies that I had just eaten and the crazy curvy road.

Maybe also because these shared taxis are old jeeps that go packed with people. It is the most common transportation means in this area.

I felt dizzy and had a big headache.  Actually, I pretty much wanted to vomit during the whole four-hours ride!

The curvy road 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.

I was not the only one sick.

One local lady in the sit in front of me started vomiting out from her window just an hour after we started the ride.  Luckily I noticed it and managed to close 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.  What a journey, eh.

Small piece of advice.  Bring a small plastic bag and some motion sickness pills before you do this trip.  Lol.


Visiting Babaji's 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.

Walking to Babajis Cave


The ride to Kukuchina was about 50 minutes.  To be honest, I felt like killing the driver during the whole ride.  Not literally of course!  Lol

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.  It's a really nice 50 minutes trek with incredible landscapes.

Walking to Babajis Cave

Just before the cave, there is a building, Babaji's shrine, built by Self Realization Fellowship.

The shrine was built right on the same place where, according to the story told by Yogananda in his autobiography, Mahavatar Babaji materialized a golden palace for Lahiri Mahasaya, one of his disciples, to fulfill his last but subconscious material desire.

Babajis Shrine by SRF

Babajis Shrine by SRF

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 Swami 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.

Babajis Cave Dunagiri India

Babajis Cave Dunagiri India

Babajis Cave Dunagiri India

Babajis Cave Dunagiri India

After a beautiful one hour meditation in the cave, we continued 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.

Lunch After Babajis Cave Visit

Lunch After Babajis Cave Visit

Lunch After Babajis Cave Visit


How to reach Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina


Starting from Rishikesh


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 shared taxi to Ranikhet (4 hours) and from Ranikhet, 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 the 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.

Starting from Delhi


According to the YSS Dwarahat Ashram website.

  • From Delhi take a train to Kathgodam (train number 12040, 15035 or 15013)
  • From Kathgodam take a shared taxi to Ranikhet
  • From Ranikhet take a shared taxi to Dwarahat
  • From Dwarahat take a shared taxi to Kukuchina
  • From Kukuchina you need to walk up to Babaji's cave

You can find the location of the cave in Google Maps.

Babaji Cave
Dwarahat Range,
Uttarakhand 263656,
India
Google Maps Link


Where to stay to visit Babaji's cave?


If you are a Self Realization Fellowship member or a Yogoda Satanga Society member you should definitively stay at the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram.

The ashram is just 15 minutes walk from the Dwarahat market.  From the ashram to reach the cave, you just need to take a shared taxi.  It's 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 need to take a shared taxi which will take about 50 minutes.

The best option is probably to stay at Joshi Guest House in Kukuchina.  From Joshi's guesthouse, you can simply walk to the cave whenever you want and as many times as you want.  It's a beautiful one hour hike.

The guesthouse is actually a very decent place.  There are several basic rooms but also two beautiful and comfortable cottages.

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


Popular books about Babaji in Amazon.com


Journey to
Freedom
Babaji and
The 18 Siddha
Kriya Yoga Tradition
Babaji
The Lightning
Standing Still
The Voice of
Babaji


Useful travel tips


Before you pack your bags I suggest you visit my detailed packing list for India. This list includes every single item that you might need to travel around India and to stay at ashrams or yoga retreats.

If you would like to visit other ashrams in Rishikesh or around India make sure you visit my guide to ashrams in India.

This guide includes a list of all the ashrams that I have personally visited throughout my yoga journey. I'm sure you'll find it very helpful.

To avoid spending too much money on credit card transactions or ATM withdrawals I recommend you to check Transferwise.

I normally use it to pay for my accommodation or yoga courses, and also for withdrawing money.  You could probably pay for your stay at Joshi's guesthouse or at the YSS ashram.


My journey after visiting Babaji's cave


After visiting the cave I returned to the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram.  I stayed at the YSS ashram for ten days.  I really enjoyed my stay.

After these ten days, I decided to move closer to Babaji's cave.

First, I stayed for three nights at the Pandavkholi dharamsala and then I did my own meditation retreat down in Kukuchina, at Joshi Guest House.

I stayed for twenty days at Joshi's guesthouse!

By the way, don't forget to visit Following the Steps of Paramhansa Yogananda in Kolkata.

This is a pilgrimage that I did in 2016 to visit all the places Guruji mentions in his autobiography, like the Kali Temple at Dakshinshwar, Serampore, Guruji's house in 4 Garpar Road and more.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my yoga journey and that you've found this information helpful.  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thank you!

Visting Mahavatar Babaji Cave in Kukuchina

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

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    2. It is not that far up from there. Since most of the steep climb is already done by the time you reach the cave, the rest is not that much of an issue. However, I can't claim to have gone to Pandavkholi though I have been to Babaji's cave four times in the past 4 years.

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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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    1. These days, the cave is more or less left open all the time. However, if you reach before 1PM, there is a man from YSS available at the meditation building below the cave and he will definitely have the key. If you are going on your own (without having any link with YSS), I suggest that you seek out this girl called Anita who lives down the mud road that leads to the climbing spot. She can come along as a guide as well as tell you if the cave is open or not.

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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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    1. Me and my family are not part of YSS or any other group, but we went to Babaji's cave first time because I was pulled to the place. Believe me, I haven't even read Autobiography of a Yogi yet! And till now, we have gone there four times. So, there is no need to get initiated or be a practitioner. We have found immense joy in being there.
      You can make your entire trip within 2 weeks if you are flying into Delhi and plan to go only to Babaji.

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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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    Replies
    1. The most reliable person to guide you all the way up is a girl called Anita who lives on the gravel path from where you go up. Recently, they have put up a small kiosk for selling tea etc and her house is just above it.

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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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  20. My sincere thanks for those who has given infn to reach babaji cave. Since I am a heart patient I may not visit cave I got infn thank you sirs

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  21. Thank you Marco for the informative write up. I have been wanting to visit places that are connected with Mahavatar Babaji and His cave is definitely on the top of the priority list. I will be driving down from Delhi. If anyone here wants to go there, please write in to me sasmenon@gmail.com and we can plan a trip together, whenever the time suits us.

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  22. Babaji,
    My self sivanathan from Chennai. Can anyone help me with the travel plan from Chennai to babaji cave. Also please guide me about staying, as I am not a member of any sathsang. Please provide details to my mail id : sivanama_s@yahoo.com
    Seeking babaji's blessing for the tour.

    Regards,
    N. Sivanathan
    09841014595

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  23. HI
    thanks for wonderful write up on the babaj caves, i am planning to go in Jan 2016,
    how far is Jossie's guesthouse to babaji caves?
    thank you brother
    suresh

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  24. Om Nama Shivaya My name is nagaraju i m from Vijayawada. Can anyone help me with the travel plan from Vijayawada to babaji cave. Also please guide me about staying, as I am not a member of any sathsang. Please provide details to my mail id : mamidipalli.nagaraju@gmail.com

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  25. Hi! Marco how are you? I m one of the four devotees with whom you went to babaji's cave.

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow fantastic. Nice to hear from you. I'm well thanks, hope you are also doing well.

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  26. Mr. Nagaraju, take from hyderabad to Delhi. From old Delhi to kathgodam train available. From kathgodam to kukuchina, u will get share taxi. In kukuchina u can stay in joshi guest house. U can call me, in case of any help.
    N. Sivanathan
    9841014595

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  27. We also visited Babaji's cave on 14th march,2016. It was a great experience.

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  28. Today morning me and friends visited maha avatar babaji cave. This is our second visit. For your kind information there is another cave next to it only local guide will assist you to take to that place. In 100s only 5 will have dare to go inside and come back. Thanks to my brother who took us inside. A divine experience

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  29. I am going to visit on 13th Aug 2016, starting on 12th Aug 2016 from Hyderabad, is any one going to join with me? if so please contact me @ 9966980410, Raghu

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  30. I plan to have a darshan of Mahaavtar Babaji's cave on 27th / 28th August..I am from Chennai..I will start from Karnaprayag on 27th towards Dwarahat/Kukuchina..Can any body accompany ?

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  31. Pranam Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya & to all those contributing to this site
    Given the weather that time of year, is the site accessible and able to visit during Nov/Dec? Best wishes

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  32. Really it's a great information that you all shared about babaji cave. Thank you very much.
    Jai guru

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  33. Thanks for this amazing post divine soul and guru brother. It was just what I was looking for. Look forward to visiting dwarhat and Babajis cave real soon. God bless us all. ����om guru

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  34. thanks..nice detailed info! only people travelling to kathgodam can get trains from Delhi or buses from Delhi.

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  35. I've been so fascinated with the beautiful hills that I have shifted permanently to Dwarahat with my family. Now I aim to daily explore new villages with serene beauty. I'm enjoying every bit of my peaceful life over here. Since I am a Human Resources professional, I wish to do the best skills development of the youth living in the villages here to make them life confident and more employable.
    For any guidance and information please feel free to contact me anytime at 9582001007.

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    1. It is definitely a beautiful calm place. You are so lucky to have been able to move there.

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  36. Hi Marco, nice and very informative post. Keep up the good work.

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  37. There is one more ashram at kukuchina can any one tell me is it laxmana kila..

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  38. Hi Marco Pino, Thank you so much for this detailed and informed write up. This will really be helpful the visitors to Babaji's cave.
    Regards
    Sanjib Basu

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    1. Thanks to you Sanjib 🙏, this blog has already helped many pilgrims, I feel really fortunate happy about that 😊

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  39. Dear Marco,
    Your blog was one of the first sources of information when I first set out to go to Bababji's cave. Thank you very much for the same. Since 2015, we (me, wife and daughter who just turned six) have been to the cave four times and we simply love the whole journey up.
    I therefore would like to offer my help to anyone who may wish to go to the cave and shall be glad to accompany as well.

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    1. Thank you Sasi, I am very happy you have found my blog helpful, and thank you for taking the time to share tips with other pilgrims wanting to visit the cave. That's really nice of you 🙏

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