Vana Parva is about the forest life of the Pandavas for 12 years, to fulfill the promise made by Pandava king Yudhishthira, that he made when he was defeated in the game of dice by king Duryodhana. The Pandavas stayed in the forest of Kamyaka and Dwaita during this period. They lived in the forest subsisting on fruits, roots and meat of hunted animals. They moved from Kamyaka to Dwaita and vice versa, when the population of hunted animals and other food items decline at one place. Krishna and other cousins like the Kekayas visited them. During this period, Arjuna went to Himalyan countries and met with the tribes of the Kiratas and the Devas in search of advanced weapons. Other Pandavas went for a pilgrimage along the plains of Ganga, the eastern sea shore, the western sea shore and finally back into the forest of Kamyaka and Dwaita on the plains of Saraswati. Many sages like Markandeya also visited them. From the sages they learned the history of king Rama (Ramayana) of Kosala, king Nala of Nishadha and that of king Satyavan of Salwa and his queen Savitri of Madra. Under the guidance of the mountain-going sage Lomasa, the Pandavas also visited the kingdoms north to the Himalays belonging to Asura Vrishaparva and Yaksha Vaisravana Kubera. There Arjuna joined them after acquiring weapons from the Kiratas and the Devas.
The Pandavas enters the Kamyaka forest. From left are Arjuna with his bows and arrows, Bhima with his mace, Nakula and Sahadeve with their swords and the king Yudhishthira searching for directions. Queen Panchali, priest Dhaumya, the Brahmanas and the city-sons who accompanied the Pandavas out of affection, were following behind (not shown in the image).