Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula Boys Share Joyful 17-Day Yatra
By Prana Natha Das   |  Aug 06, 2023

Earlier this year, the Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula boys and teachers embarked on a 17-day yatra to visit many ancient pastime places of Lord Ram and the temples and farms of ISKCON Mumbai and Nashik. Prana Natha Das and the boys share their joyful journey with us.

After a long train and bus ride, we toured the vast Juhu complex and attended darshan arati and guru puja. While there, we visited Srila Prabhupada’s apartment in the guesthouse, where Braja Hari Prabhu welcomed us. “The devotees of Juhu were so kind, arranging so many good things for us,” said Mahamantra. The boys gave presentations to hone their public speaking skills, and early morning japa walks on the beach were enlivening. Vedanta remarked, “We had a lot of fun collecting shells on the beach. The most amazing thing was knowing that Srila Prabhupada walked on the exact same beaches.”

The next stop was Chowpatty for lunch and a visit to the Mumbai Science Center and Planetarium, with many exhibits and interactive experiments. One of my favorite places was the Govardhan EcoVillage in the middle of nature,” said Haritosh, “There were replicas of the temples of Vraja! We stayed in the quarters reserved for sanyasis and ISKCON leaders.” Gopal remembered, “The GEV deities, Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra and Sri Madana Mohana, captured our minds.”

The group continued to “Natventure,” a rural adventure sports resort. They were guided to a vast lagoon, given ropes, inflated innertubes, and bamboo poles, then divided into two teams. There was a competition to see which team could design and build a raft in less than 45 minutes, and the first to row their team to the far bank of the river and back. It was intense, and the boys had a great time splashing around in the river.

There were more challenges, crossing high rickety rope bridges, rappelling down tall trees, climbing rope ladders, clambering upside down across a river suspended by ropes and pulleys, and finally, ziplining for about fifty meters.

We next visited Nilachal Vedic Village at Talasari. Haritosh said, “We had a great time at Talasari. There were many mango trees; one was so rare and special that the mangoes sold for Rs.150,000 a kilo! We all milked the cows and visit the newly born calves.”

“It was great! We ate cashew fruits, chikus, and star fruits straight from the trees. It was fun playing volleyball with Devakinandana Prabhu, and I had my first bullock cart harinama,” Syam mentioned. Rasikananda added, “I liked the guesthouse with big rooms and a swimming pool. We had so much fun.”

We went to Silvassa Lake for an extended cruise on fancy boats and visited the Ram Jatayu Mandir at Taked, where the boys performed a drama recounting the Ram-Jatayu pastime. After a long drive to Nashik, we spent two nights in a first-class guesthouse in the old city on the banks of the Godavari, visiting many pastime places of Sita, Ram, Laksman, and Hanuman: the ancient Kalaram Mandir and Pancavati Forest, where we descended into a cave where Ram hid Sita after Surpanakha’s nose and ears were cut off. We bathed in the Godavari and visited the temple where Lord Chaitanya had darshan on His South Indian Tour.

On the last day, we returned to Juhu for the Ramanavami festival. Gopal expressed, “I was very afraid to sing in public before I went for the parikrama, but after I sang at Ramanavami in the temple at Juhu with the amazing devotee Radhika Kanaya Prabhu, I became a little more confident.” Devakinandan reflected, “Some of the best things were the amazing kirtans! My first time leading a kirtan was in Juhu in front of a thousand people. There were so many nice classes about Lord Ram.”
Gauranga noted, “Developing deep relationships, associating with senior vaisnavas, and visiting many holy places is all we need for enhancing our devotional service. Traveling together, without any managerial duties, we were able to truly deepen the bonds between us.”

Rasikananda concluded, “I’m very grateful to all the teachers, senior members, devotees, and boys who let me have such a wonderful experience!” After the Ramnavami feast, we had to board the bus one last time for the trip to the railway station to catch our train back to Mayapur.