Sunday, January 6, 2013

Vrindavan, Mathura & Govardhan

Sewa Kunj, Vrindavan

We started our tour with a visit to one of the most important religious places for Hindus - Krishna Janmasthan. Mathura, Vrindavan & Govardhan are places where Krishna spent his childhood and these places find mention in various stories related to his childhood and youth. Mathura is around 150 km from Delhi. It took us around 3 hours by road to reach Vrindavan (which is around 7 kms from Mathura). 

Vrindavan was the site of a forest where lord Krishna is believed to have performed his Ras Lila with Radha and the other gopis. The forest cover not longer exists. Sewa Kunj still has a patch of forest where Krishna and Radha still perform the Ras Lila. A temple room is prepared daily for the divine couple to rest. The Banke Bihari temple is the most popular temple in Vrindavan. The idol in the temple was found by Swami Haridas (who was the guru of the famous 'navratna', Tansen).

During the reign of Akbar, the ban on building new temples or reconstruction of temples destroyed by the Mughals was lifted. The construction of the 7 storey Govind Dev temple was undertaken by Raja Man Singh during this time. Post Akbar, the ban was re-imposed and the Govind Dev temple could not be completed.

From here we continued on to Mathura where we had planned our overnight stay. We stayed at Hotel Brijwasi Royal. You can find the review of the hotel here.

First stop was the Keshav Dev Temple, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a huge complex that is very well maintained and one can sense a spiritual atmosphere within the premises. There is high security for entry to the temple. No bags/phones are allowed. These need to be deposited at a counter near the entrance.

Aurangazeb destroyed the Keshav Dev temple and built a mosque in its place. The place was won over by the rulers of Bharatpur and was later passed on to the Marathas. The Marathas built the shrine which shares its walls with the mosque. It is built under ground in such a way that one gets the sense that he/she is entering a prison cell.

Next stop was the Dwarkadhish Temple. The way to the temple is through small alleyways. One needs to either walk or take a cycle rickshaw to reach the temple. The temple has a very beautiful statue of Krishna. It is a beautiful temple with intricate carvings and beautiful paintings. This temple draws huge crowds during the holi festival. This temple is featured in one of the episodes of the BBC documentary,"The Story of India".

From here we went to the banks of the Yamuna. We took a boat ride along the river. One can visit the Vishram Ghat. This is the place where Krishna is believed to have rested after killing Kansa.
mathura, vishram ghat,

From here we proceeded to Govardhan which is around 32 km from Mathura. This is the location of the story of Krishna in which he saved the people of the village from the wrath of Indra by lifting the Govardhan mountain. In addition to the temple of Krishna, the 21 km 'Parikrama' of Govardhan is considered to be very important.

Some photos below..