In the north, Arjuna went to Gaṅgādvāra, the Agastyavaṭa in the Himalayan region, Vasiṣṭha mountain, Hiraṇyabindu, and other pilgrimage centres; in the east, he went to the Naimisāraṇya, River Kauśikī, Gayā, Gaṅgā, Mahendra mountain, Maṇalūra, and other places; in the south, he went to the Pañca-tīrtha and other places; in the west, he visited several famous pilgrimage centres and finally came to Prabhāsapura.
Vidura said, “Dear king!
Duryodhana’s spies brought news that Draupadī was married off to the Pāṇḍavas; the archer who bent the bow, strung it, and shot the target was none other than Arjuna; the one who lifted and whirled Śalya, uprooted trees, and vanquished everyone in combat without himself losing his composure was Bhīma.
Drupada heard the words of Dharmarāja sent through the purohita and was yet unable to determine the clan and the family lineage of the groom; so he thought of a plan to find that out.
As the celebration of the svayaṃvara started, the crowd at the venue kept growing; actors and dancers entertained them and were rewarded with precious gems. Fifteen days passed this way and on the sixteenth day, Draupadī took her sacred bath, wore a grand sari and decked herself with magnificent ornaments. She held a golden vīra-kalaśa and entered the stage. As she entered, the musical instruments grew silent and Dṛṣṭadyumna entered the stage. With a voice that was as deep as thunder, he announced, “Dear kings! Pay attention!
[The following sub-stories appear in the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata, Adhyāyas 158–74] The brave Pāṇḍavas travelled day and night and arrived at a holy place called Somaśravāyaṇam. Arjuna, the bravest among them all, carried a fire-stick to light their path and also as a means of protection. In an isolated corner of the Gaṅgā, the king of the Gandharvas was engaged in water-sports with several women. He heard the Pāṇḍavas approaching and was enraged.
In the meantime, the other Pāṇḍavas returned home after their daily round of seeking alms. Looking at Bhīma’s face, Yudhiṣṭhira guessed that there must be something amiss and asked his mother, Kuntī, “What is it Mother? What does Bhīma want to do? Has he told you about it and got your approval?” She narrated the day’s events and said, “Bhīma has embarked upon this task only on my advice. He is going to help the brāhmaṇa’s family and also liberate the town from the clutches of the evil rākṣasa. He has undertaken a tremendous task!” Yudhiṣṭhira was not satisfied with her answer.
After their escape from Vāraṇāvata, the Pāṇḍavas went southward, moving quickly in the light of the stars, and reached a dense forest. By this time, all of them were exhausted, tormented by thirst and overcome by sleep; at that point, Dharmarāja told Bhīma, "Trapped in this dense forest, we are groping in the dark; we are unable to tell the directions; we are unable to walk any further; is there a greater difficulty than this? We don't know whether that wretched Purocana succumbed in the fire or not; how do we escape from our fear of him? We shouldn't be seen by anyone.
After Dhṛtarāṣṭra spoke to Yudhiṣṭhira [regarding the trip to Vāraṇāvata], Duryodhana was delighted and summoned Purocana to meet him in private. Duryodhana held Purocana’s right hand and said, “Look Purocana! It is now in your hands to make sure that this land, rich with resources will come under my control. There is nobody else who I can trust on this matter and there is no other person who can ever be as helpful as you are; therefore, please maintain utmost secrecy. I request you to act accordingly and extinguish my relatives who want a share of my kingdom.