What happened to Pandavas after the Mahabharata war? It was nothing like Shri Ram ruled Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. But this era was more of Lord Krishna, rather than of Pandavas.
Gandhari’s curse and end of Yadavas
At the end of Mahabharata war, in the Mausala Parva of the epic Mahabharata, Gandhari curses Shri Krishna. This chapter begins with the visit of Lord Krishna to Gandhari. In a fit of grief over the death of her sons and the soldiers of her kingdom, Gandhari curses Krishna with the death of all Yadavas in a manner similar to the death of her sons. She blames Krishna for his inaction and believes that he could have stopped the war if he wanted to. Krishna explains how he had tried many times to mediate peace, how Duryodhana refused even a point of land when all that the Pandavas had expected was five small villages, and how Duryodhana and his uncle had tried many times to destroy the Pandavas. However, the lord also explains that he believes that the Yadavas would be destroyed by internal strife and conflict if left unchecked, so he thanks Gandhari for solving his dilemma and accepts the curse as a blessing.
Hunter Jara and Shri Krishna
In this chapter, death of Shri Krishna is detailed by a hunter Jara. Jara accidentally shoots Krishna in the heel , which he confuses with a deer while Krishna is meditating. Shri Krishna consoles Jara and enters a nearby temple where the deity within him is seen, and so he merges with the image of Lord Vishnu.
Crowning of Parikshit and Pandavas leaving for their journey to heaven
After Shri Krishna (the onset of Kali Yuga), Pandavas lost their interest in worldly matters. They crowned Parikshit (Arjuna’s grandson) and leave for a pilgrimage to various places in India before moving towards heaven.
After the great battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas started ruling the kingdom of Hastinapur. They meanwhile decided to renounce everything and proceed for Pilgrimage. In the Mahabharata, an apt description of the five Pandavas leaving for the Himalayas is found. They went clad only in rags and retired to the Himalaya and climbed towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog also accompanied them during their travels. Unfortunately while on the journey, one by one, each Pandava and Draupadi met their end however leaving Yudhishtira and the stray dog.
Death of Draupadi and other Pandavas
As each one stumbled, Yudhishtira gave the rest the reason for their fall. Draupadi was partial to Arjuna, whereas Nakula and Sahadeva were proud of their looks, whereas Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively. Yudhishtira did not stumble as he was the only virtuous and righteous person.
Dharmaraja and Yudhisthira
Finally the dog who travelled with Yudhishtira revealed himself to be the god Yama or Yama Dharmaraja.
The God took Yudhishtira to the underworld where he found his siblings and wife. Yama explained Yudhishtira about a test which he had succeeded and took him back to heaven. According to Yama it was necessary to expose Yudhishtira to the underworld for the one lie which he had said during his entire life in the battle field of Kurukshetra. The five Pandava brothers thus came face to face with their doom.
Prior to the incident of their retirement to heaven, five brothers and Draupadi once had to face a similar situation where apparently end of Pandavas was revealed. The event demonstrates a situation that killed all the Pandava brothers except Yudhishtira. While drinking water from a lake. The virtuous Pandava was promised by the Yaksha if he would answer each of his questions. Gradually Yudhishtira satisfied the Yaksha and acknowledging his wisdom the Yaksha helped in reviving the dead Pandavas .
Death of Parikshit
After the end of the Pandavas and their final retirement to heaven, Arjuna’s grandson Parikshita came of age after ruling Hastinapur for quite a long time also faced an eventual end as he was bitten by a snake.
Janamejaya, Parikshita’s son was ferocious and decided to perform a snake sacrifice,in order to destroy the snakes. With an end of Pandavas a curtain was drawn to a significant chapter in Mahabharata.