Vrindavan is one of the most widely-visited pilgrimage spots for Hindus in the country. It is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the River Yamuna. The holy town of Vrindavan has a very rich and ancient history associated with the Hindu god, Lord Krishna. It is said to be the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood and adolescence in the forests and there are many popular myths and folklore that revolve around Vrindavan and the ancient town itself.
Vrindavan is also one of the most prominent sites for the international Krishna devotees’ association ISKCON. Vrindavan is situated right next to Mathura, its twin holy city, associated with Lord Krishna’s kingdom. Vrindavan is peppered with many a beautiful temple devoted to the religion of Lord Krishna.
Places to See in Vrindavan
Govind Dev temple
The Govind Dev Temple in Vrindavan, built in the 16th century by Raja Man Singh is an excellent example of medieval Indian architecture. The building of this temple is closely associated with the famous Vaishnavite preacher and poet, Rupa Goswami. It is an astonishingly beautiful seven storey temple dedicated to Govind Dev, another name for Lord Krishna. The temple has an imposing facade, looking like a European cathedral because of the pillars and colonnades. It is made of red sandstone and is currently in a state of considerable decay, with the main puja related activities having shifted to a smaller temple behind the main structure.
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Krishna Balaram Temple (ISKCON)
The Krishna Balaram Temple was established in 1975 under the aegis of ISKCON, an international Krishna Consciousness religious group. The Krishna Balaram Temple is one of the most beautiful temple complexes in the city of Vrindavan and is seen as the spiritual and religious center of the worldwide Hare Krishna movement. It has three temples within the complex, one belonging to Sri Gaura Nitai, one to Lord Krishna and Balaram and the third to Sri Radha and her milkmaids, Vishaka and Lalita. The temple is alive through the year with its many celebrations commemorating every aspect and step of Lord Krishna’s life.
Bankey Bihari Temple
The Bankey Bihari Temple of Vrindavan is one of the most auspicious temples in the town, established in the Mughal times by Swami Haridas, the guru of Tansen, the famed court singer of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The temple earns its name from the bent posture of the Krishna idol within the main chamber, an idol with a history. This idol is supposed to have been made according to the image of Lord Krishna that Swami Haridas saw in a dream. The temple is one of the most thronged sites in town and during the Jhulan Utsav, the temple administration brings out many gold and silver swings for the jhulan rituals with a lot of pomp.
Madan Mohan Temple
The Madan Mohan Temple is one of the oldest temples in the town of Vrindavan and it sees many pilgrims visiting all through the year. It is a site that is closely linked to the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one of the most important personalities within the Vaishnavite thought. Situated near the Kali Ghat, the Madan Mohan Temple is said to have been built by one Kapur Ram Das from Multan on the advice of Sanatan Goswami, a saint and follower of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The original idol of Madan Mohan had been shifted to Karoli, Rajasthan, under the rule of the Mughal king, Aurangzeb and now a replica of the original image is worshipped at the temple.
The Shahji Temple, built in the mid-nineteenth century by the two brothers from Oudh, Shah Kundan Lal and Shah Phundan Lal, is another important and prominent temple in the town of Vrindavan. The temple is dedicated to the deity Sri Thakur Radha Raman Ji and receives a steady flow of pilgrims all across the year. One of the main attractions of this temple is one of the richly carved verandahs, which has the portraits of the two founders and their families beautifully carved into the floor – an unusual characteristic of a Hindu temple. The temple also has many rich carvings over the walls and ceilings inside.
Built in 1851, the Rangaji Temple is one of the more unusual temples of Vrindavan because of its South Indian style architecture with an impressive gopuram. The deity in the temple is called Sri Ranganatha and is represented as sleeping on the Shesh Nag. The imposing Dhwajastambha within the temple premises is very famous. The temple sees a great influx of tourists during the Brahmotsav in spring, where devotees pull the ropes of the chariot of the god. The annual Jalvihar festival is also another main attraction of the Rangaji Temple, when devotees from all over the country participate in the ritual bathing of the idol.
The important towns in Brij Bhoomi, all closely associated with Krishna’s life are worth a visit. Most fall on or near the Yamuna River.
Mathura is just 15 kilometers away from Vrindavan. The town is prominent as the birthplace of Krishna. The Keshava Deo temple is built on the Krishna Janamsthan.
Govardhan is 25 Kilometers from Mathura, off the state highway. The Giriraj hill, a narrow sandstone hill, is famously associated with Lord Krishna who is said to have held it on the tip of his finger for seven days.
Nineteen Kilometers north of Govardhan, the town of Barsana, said to be the village of Lord Krishna’s beloved consort Radha is a popular destination.
The town on the foot of a hill has a number of temples dedicated to Radha and Krishna.
Radhakund is a large lake, five kilometers north of Govardhan. A large fair is held here on Ahoi Ashtami.
Across the Yamuna, a few kilometers from Mathura, this town was the place where Lord Krishna was brought by Vasudeva.
The home of Krishna’s foster father Nand, this town is eight kilometers from Barsana. The temple of Nand Rai atop a hill is one of many others here.
The town is famous for the large shrine of Mathuranath. Mahavan is 14 kilometers from Mathura, on the bank of the river Yamuna.