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A group of 40 yuvaks, yuvatis and children from the UK embarked on an enlightening trip to India on 14 December 2014 to learn about the work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His spiritual successors.

The pilgrimage began at Sarangpur in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj which energised the delegates for their onward travels. Thereafter, a distance of 4,000 kilometres spanning 20 days covered many sacred places. Among these were 26 shikharbaddha mandirs and 165 sanctified locations, including the birth places of the Guru Parampara.

The purpose of this trip was to strengthen knowledge and understanding of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, in keeping with the ‘Upholding Traditions’ element of the ‘Become Adarsh’ project that began in 2013.

Short assemblies were organised at various mandirs where sadhus shared the background and history of that particular mandir. The participants also had the opportunity to perform the abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni at numerous mandirs.

The distinctive culture and traditions of Hinduism were explored at Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar and Delhi where everyone enjoyed the fabulous ‘Sat-Chit-Anand’ and ‘Sahaj Anand’ water shows.

Other places of pilgrimage and interest included the Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) at Modhera (featured in the Mystic India production), Somnath Mandir (the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva on the western coast of India), and Lothal (an ancient Indus Valley archaeological site dating back to 2400 BCE). These provided participants with a greater insight into and appreciation of India’s heritage and spirituality.

After completing their travels, the youths and children returned to Sarangpur for six memorable days with Swamishri. During this time, senior sadhus offered further guidance and motivation. Indeed, one of the highlights of the trip was ending the year in the presence of Swamishri and starting 2015 with his darshan.

This unforgettable experience left a lasting imprint on the lives of those who had participated. They departed India with renewed energy and a deeper knowledge of Satsang and the Hindu faith. Everyone also developed their ability to work together and strengthened their personal connection with their guru.

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