“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare!
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare!”
You must have heard, at some point of life, this divine mantra being chanted by many Lord Krishna believers. But hearing this mantra chanted by foreigners is a lifetime experience. The same happened to us on our recent tour to the Birth city of Lord Krishna – Mathura, Vrindavan. My mother might have been very happy as I was able to see a tear trickle down her smiling face. She had been insisting us to take her to Vrindavan-Mathura since past 1 year but we could not make it. Finally, we were here standing in the center of the open hall of famous ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan just in front of the idol of Radha Krishna. The Idols were so realistic that we felt as if we were actually standing before the Lord itself. On the feet of the Idols there was a group of foreigners sitting with musical instruments like sitar, dholaki, etc. and chanting this divine mantra. Some foreigners were dancing. I had heard that chanting this mantra takes a person on a higher spiritual plane and transport them into another divine world, directly connecting their soul with Lord Krishna. It was then that I realized that it’s actually true.
Hearing this divine mantra, few lines of Krishna Gayatri Mantra came to my mind;
“Aum Devakinandanaye Vidmahe
Tanno Krishna Prachodayat!”
This means that Lord Krishna is constantly governing the thoughts of ascetics in meditation. Krishna is limitless and not even Gods or Demons can limit him. To such supreme deity I offer my salutations. Accept my regard O Lord!
Life of Krishna has always attracted me. Of course not like Meera. 🙂
I have always loved Krishna because of the naughty son in him, true friend in him, honest lover in him and because of his intelligence and helping nature. His Geeta Updesh to Prince Arjun on the battlefield is very much valid in 21st century also.
I thank my Parents for bringing us here. We had reached Vrindavan that afternoon only. I will be giving the complete details of all the famous temples in Mathura Vrindavan in this article.
How to reach Mathura Vrindavan?
Where to Stay?
When in Vrindavan one can choose from a great number of Ashrams, Dharamshalas, Hotels or Resorts. These can be easily booked online. You can even book the accommodation as per your requirement once reaching Vrindavan. I would suggest you to stay in Vrindavan only as Mathura does not have many options.
We made a mistake by not booking our rooms online. This we realized when we were searching for a good accommodation. Although there are many Ashrams but choosing among them becomes difficult if you don’t know where to go. After enquiring from 3 to 4 ashrams we reached an ashram named Shanti Kunj. It was getting dark and we could not find any other decent option so we booked it.
Apart from Ashrams one can book hotels at a reasonable rate. Some of the decent hotels are Kadamb Resort, Goldstone Elite, Anandam Clarks Inn Suites, Hotel Shubham Majesty, Country Inn, Sri Vrindavan Dham, etc.
Things to See in Mathura Vrindavan
Vrindavan is a holy town in Uttar Pradesh. It is actually believed that Lord Krishna has spent his childhood here. Vrindavan is home to temples, many dedicated to Krishna and his lover, the deity Radha. There are actually so many temples and all are having their own unique identities. Covering all of them will become ache in your back.
Maa Vaishno Devi Temple
Upon reaching Vrindavan, before finding any abode to stay, we decided to visit Maa Vaishno Mata Temple that comes just upon entering Vrindavan City.
Yes you are right the actual Vaishno Devi temple is in Katra but since everyone cannot go there, a replica of the same was created in Vrindavan. The temple is situated just at the entry of Vrindavan so you can give a holy start to your trip. It is believed that Maa Vaishno Devi grants all 4 boons to her devotees namely Dharma, Arth, Kaama and Moksha. Upon entering the main gate you need to take free tickets from the counter to deposit your shoes, belts, purse, phones, etc in the lockers. The temple has a magnificent Maa Vaishno Murti standing at a ht. of 141 Ft. from ground level. It also has Devi Mandir, Darshan Gufa where all 9 Devi Maa avtars are replicated. It has a separate Meditation Hall, Yoga Hall, etc. It’s a must visit temple.
We went to the ISKCON temple in the evening after having some rest in Shanti Kunj. Shanti Kunj was situated just at the back of ISKCON temple. I have already told the uniqueness of this ISKCON temple. I will only add that the whole temple is made of white marble/stone and shines beautifully at night.
After ISKCON temple we hired a tuk-tuk auto and headed towards Prem Mandir. It’s just 2 mins away. This is by far the best Temple I have every visited. The best time to visit is in the evening. But remember one thing that the gates close at 8 pm and the authorities are very strict on timings. At night the temple is beautifully lit with different colors. The main temple is in the centre surrounded by beautiful jhankis depicting the childhood of Radha Krishan. On entering the temple we found the idols of Radha Krishan as well as Sita Ram. It is truly as ‘Temple of God’s Love’. It is imbued with elegance and grandeur. We were completely lost in the aura of Prem Mandir.
The next day after breakfast we left for Barsana to visit Radha Rani Temple. It’s approx. 43 kms. away and it takes 1 hr to reach there.
Radha Rani Temple
Cars do not reach to the temple. You need to park it and hire a bike to reach to the temple. Although the way to the temple from the parking is not very long but being very steep it becomes very tiresome. The bikers usually follow a separate more picturesque route. The temple is dedicated to Radha ‘the goddess of Love’. It is believed as Krishna used to play with his friends in Nandi Gaon similarly Radha played with her friends in Barsana, her birth place. The temple is beautifully covered with colorful pictures depicting the loving pastimes of Radha and Krishna. The temple is a masterpiece of executive stonework with beautiful arches and domes.
After Radha Rani temple we then headed towards Govardhan Hill approx. 20 kms away. The story behind this place is that Krishna saved his people, from the wrath of Lord Indra who brought heavy rain and floods in the village, by lifting the Govardhan Hill on his little finger and thus providing shelter to all. The scene is recreated on top of the temple in form of statue. We came to know that the complete parikrama of Govardhan Hill is 21 kms long passing through Govardhan Village. Devotees divide this in two parts i.e. long (12 kms) and short (9 kms) parikrama. Although we avoided both of them as we were short of time.
MATHURA – Krishan Janambhumi (Jail)
We then next headed towards Mathura which is approx. 22 kms away from Govardhan. Mathura is awarded as one of the Heritage City of India. It is believed to be the birthplace of Krishna. Krishna Janamsthan Temple in Mathura very vividly depicts the life of Krishna. According to me the temple is the must visit place. It is beautifully built. It is believed that after facing much destruction in the hand of Mughals, the temple was re-built by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. The proof of this can be seen on the walls of the temple. The temple gives you a feel of Jail and you will witness the time when Krishna was given birth inside the Jail. Inside the temple complex there is a small tunnel showing 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. We bought a ticket of Rs. 10/- and went inside. The whole timeline of Lord Vishnu is shown by beautifully crafted jhankis. There are small shops in the temple complex itself. One can buy showpieces, souvenirs, picturs of God/Godess, etc. We bought 6 picture frames of radha Krishna in different forms.
Finally, before leaving Mathura we thought to buy the famous ‘Mathura ke Pede’. We enquired from the guard of Temple Complex itself that from where we can buy them. He informed that the best place to buy them is from the Brijwasi Sweets that is just around the corner at the exit of the temple. While buying the sweets the salesman was showing some attitude so we thought to buy it from a nearby shop with the same name. But guys believe me we made a huge mistake. Although in the new shop the rates were comparatively less but the quality was also poor. Then I understood the reason for the salesman’s attitude. He knew that they have the best quality. However, after buying the pedas we headed back to Vrindavan.
Vrindavan – Banke Bihari Temple
Upon reaching Vrindavan we took some rest and then went to Banke Bihari Temple, one of the most famous and holiest temples of Vrindavan. We took a tuk-tuk auto as the roads are congested and I would prefer the same for everyone. On the way to Banke Bihari you will see that the city still have some remnants from the past like ghats, etc.
On the gate of Banke Bihari Temple, we met a Pandit who said that the temple is full of devotees and he can take us near the sacred sanctum for paying our tribute to the holy God. He said whatever we feel like we can pay him. We all believed him. Temple has a huge hall with the Idol of Krishna in tribhanga posture standing in front. On stepping inside the temple we felt as if we are under a mob attack. The temple was so miserably congested that there was no place for standing. We did not even lift our feet and were moved by just pushes. The pandit did not take us near to the idol. We could not even see the idol properly and were let outside by the huge rush of people. This was my worst experience of being in a temple. When we came outside someone told that everyday is the same story and still there have been no arrangements. Icing of the cake was the pandit demanding for money. Being in a holy place we could not fight but have to oblige the pandit with some so called dakshna. He did one good thing, and called a guy, who took us to our next stop Nidhivan.
We did not want to trust him so we bargained our price and he agreed. I must admit that the new guy was far better than the pandit. He acted as our guide and explained everything about the Nidhivan. The place is covered with approx. 5000 Tulsi trees with the height of 6 – 7ft. A stony path between the forest (van) leads to the Samadhi of the mystic musician Swami Haridas whose devotion to Lord Krishna inspired the lord to materialize here. In the middle of the enclosure lies Lalita Kund, a pond named after a gopi who asked Lord Krishna for water after dancing.There are many mysteries related to Nidhivan. One of them goes like, every night lord Krishna appears here to perform ras leela with Radha and other gopis and whoever dares to stay at night to witness the scene turns into grave. We could actually see stone graves lying all around the van. I did not believe the story but of course I did not even want to try it. Crossing the Nidhivan was a great experience. There were many monkeys also and time to time our guide used to beware us from them.
On exiting the Nidhivan when we were coming to the main road my younger brother took out his specs and wore them. Suddenly a monkey jumped on him and took his specs and climbed back to the roof of a small temple. Before we could react the monkey reached the dome. Our guide immediately called for help and two guys came and said that they can try to bring the specs but will charge Rs. 200/-. We agreed as we were not sure whether they can bring it. But to our amazement those kids seemed to be professional and climbed the roof and carried a juice tetra pack as bait. The monkey immediately dropped the specs and jumped towards the bait. Finally my brother got his specs back and we paid Rs. 200/- as promised.
This is how our last day in Mathura/Vrindavan was full of ups and downs. I noticed one thing, Prem Mandir, ISCKON Temple & Maa Vaishno Devi Temple are much beautiful and clean rather than Banke Bihari Temple, Radha Rani Temple & others. The reason might be the very old construction of later temples. But for me Prem Mandir & ISCKON Temple was something that took my breath away.
I also realized a harsh reality of our society. Devotion has its fee. One can find any number of pandits in different temples all over India that will first refuse from taking any dakshna and then when you will be leaving they will ask you to pay something in the name of God. I feel that now it’s high time this practice should end.
We came back to our room after dinner. Oh! I forgot to mention that if you get chance do try kesar milk from any local market near ISCKON Temple. It’s awesome.
Finally I sign out. Do not forget to like, share and comment