TEMPLES & PLACES TO VISIT IN VRINDAVAN
Vrindavan, around 15 km from Mathura, is a little town and a major place of pilgrimage on the banks of Yamuna. Attracting about 500 000 pilgrims every year, mainly during major festivals like Janmashtami, Holi and Radhashtami, it is noted for its numerous temples, both old and modern, big and small (allegedly 5000 altogether). Vrindavan is synonymous with the childhood pastimes of Sri Krishna.
The name 'Vrindavan' is derived from 'Vrinda', another name for the sacred tulsi (basil) plant. It is said that the entire place was a tulsi grove at one time. According to another tradition, it was named after Vrinda Devi, one of Krishna's consorts. The earliest known shrine in Vrindavan is said to have been built by the local Gosvamis in a large garden called Nidhiban. According to tradition, Mughal Emperor Akbar was taken blindfolded inside the grove where he had some kind of a spiritual experience. As a result, he acknowledged the spot as being holy ground. The main temples of attraction in Vrindavan are...
Madan Mohan Temple
Located on the riverside is the oldest structure in Vrindavan. This famous temple was established by Srila Sanatana Gosvami and was the first Gosvami temple built in Vrindavan, which at that time was just a forest. The original Deity of Madana Mohana was discovered at the base of an old vat (banyan) tree by Advaita Acarya, when He visited Vrindavan. He entrusted the worship of Madana Mohana to His disciple, Purusottama Chaube, who then gave the Deity to Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana Gosvami spend 43 years in Vrindavan. Worshiped along with Madana Mohana are Radharani and Lalita, who were sent to Vrindavan by Purusottama Jena, the son of Maharaja Prataparudra.
Govinda Dev Temple
Govindaji Mandir is a grand seven-story structure, with an altar of marble, silver and gold. Architecturally this temple is one of the finest in North India. A sculptured lotus flower weighing several tons decorates the main hall ceiling. It was built in 1590 by Raja Man Singh from Jaipur, a general in Akbar's army, who was inspired to do it after meeting Rupa Gosvami. It was said to have cost ten million rupees and several thousand men were working for five full years to complete it. Akbar himself had donated the red sandstone for its construction. In 1670, during the rule of a later Mughal king, Aurangzeb, it was plundered and destroyed leaving only three stories of the original temple. During this attack, when few stories remained, all of a sudden the ground began to shake violently and Aurangzeb's men were terrified and ran for their lives, never to return.
Jugal Kisore Temple (Kesi ghata temple)
Jugal Kishore is one of the oldest temples of Vrindavan, completed in 1627. After Akbar's visit to Vrindavan in the year 1570, he gave permission for four temples to be built by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, which were Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha and Jugal Kisore. It is sometimes called the Kesi ghata temple, as it is located next to this ghata.
Sri Ranganatha (Rangaji) Temple
It is 30 meters high with three gopurams (gateways), a tall shikhara (crown) and gold-plated decorations. This South Indian style temple was built by the wealthy Seth family of Mathura in 1851 and is dedicated to Lord Sri Ranganatha or Rangaji, a form of Lord Vishnu lying down on the Sesa Naga (divine serpent). This temple has a traditional South Indian gopuram (gateway), a Rajput-styled (architectural style prevailing in the present Indian state of Rajasthan) entrance gate and an Italian-influenced colonnade. One of the enclosures within the precincts of this magnificent temple has a 15-meter-high pillar made of gold. It is one of Vrindavan's largest temples and is surrounded by high walls. Once a year there is a grand car festival (Ratha Yatra) known as Brahmotsava during the month of Caitra (March-April). This festival lasts for 10 days. At the entrance, there is an electronic puppet show about stories of Krishna and a small museum.
Banke Bihari Temple
built in 1864. There are curtains in front of the richly decorated murti. After the main prayers the curtains are drawn apart to give darsan (viewing) to a long line of devotees. The curtain before the Deities is not left open like at other temples but every few minutes it is pulled shut and then opened again. The Deities do not get up until 9 AM. The temple has mangala-arati only one day a year and only once a year can the lotus feet of the Deity be seen, on Akhyaya Tritiya. Many devotees come every day, especially in the month of Sravana, during Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival. The murti is said to have been discovered by the musician-saint Svami Hari Das in Nidhi Van, a kadamba grove where Banke Bihari was originally worshiped. A contemporary of the Six Gosvamis, Svami Haridasa, known for his bhajans, was the guru of the famous musician Tansen..
This is the famous temple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Radharamana means "one who gives pleasure to Radha". It is one of the many names of Lord Krishna. The seva puja of Radharamana was established in 1542, after the Deity self-manifested from a salagram-sila on the full moon day of Vaisakha (April/May). This event is celebrated every year by bathing the Deity with 100 liters of milk and other auspicious items. The remnants of this abhiseka (bathing) are like nectar. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami's other shalagram-shilas are worshiped on the altar here. The appearance place of Sri Radharaman Deity is next to the temple. Radharamanji is one of the few original Deities of the Gosvamis still in Vrindavan. The standard of worship is very high. Also kept in this temple is the wooden sitting place (hoki) and shawl (chaddar) or Lord Caitanya that He gave as a gift to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. There is no Deity of Radharani in this temple, but a crown is kept next to Krishna signifying Her presence. Gopal Bhatta's samadhi is located here. The fires for cooking in the temple kitchen have been burning continuously since the Deity was installed over 460 years ago and the cooking still follows cookbooks from that time.
Radha Damodara Temple
This is one of the most important temples in Vrindavan. The original Deity was hand carved by Rupa Gosvami and given as a gift to his beloved disciple, Jiva Gosvami, who later built a temple. Formerly this spot was in the middle of Seva-kunja and it was the bhajan place (where he performed his devotional activities) of Rupa Gosvami. Other Deities here are Vrindavan Candra worshiped by Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Radha-Madhava of Jayadeva Gosvami and Radha-Chalacikana of Bhugarbha Gosvami. When the original Deities are moved, the replacement Deity is called a pratibhu-murti and is considered as good as the original Deity. The samadhis of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami and Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraj Gosvami are here. Srila Prabhupada spent here most of his six years (1959 to 1965) before coming to America. He translated the first three cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam here
Sri Radha Gokulananda Mandir
There are the Radha-Vinoda Deities of Lokanath Gosvami, Radha-Gokulananda Deities of Visvanath Cakravarti, Caitanya Mahaprabhu Deity of Narottama Dasa Thakur, Vijaya Govinda Deities of Baladeva Vidyabhusana, and the Govardhan-shila given to Raghunath Dasa Gosvami by Sri Caitanya. Also, the samadhis of Srila Lokanath Gosvami, Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, and Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura are here. Visvanath Cakravarti arranged to have this temple built.
Radha Vallabha Temple
Radha Vallabha is another very popular temple of Vrindavan which was founded by Harivamsa Gosvami, who started the Radha Vallabha sampradaya emphasizing devotion to Radharani. In this temple, there is no Deity of Radharani, but a crown has been placed next to Krishna to signify her presence. The original temple of Radha Vallabha was destroyed by the Muslims in 1670 and a new temple was built beside the old one.
In the temple are the Deities of Syamananda Prabhu. Darsan is from 8.30 to 11 am and 5 to 8 pm. It is one of the seven major temples in Vrindavan. Syamananda's samadhi is across the street and down from the entrance of the temple
Sri Gopesvara Mahadeva Mandir
This is the oldest temple in Vrindavan. Gopesvara Mahadeva is Lord Siva, who came to Vrindavan to become a gopi of Krishna. Here Vrinda Devi blessed him and allowed him to enter the rasa dance of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna then offered Lord Siva the guardianship of the Rasa mandala and placed him at its entrance. Ever since, all Vaisnavas pray first for his mercy to become a servant of the servant of the gopis.Vajranabha, the great grandson of Krishna, also installed the Siva-linga in this temple. Every morning from 4 am to noon, thousands of people pour Yamuna water over the linga. It is said that the big pipal tree here is a kalpavriksa tree and will fulfill all desires. This temple is in the Vamsivata area.
One of Vrindavan's most opulent temples, was built by the Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Madhav, in 1917 after 30 years of labor. The fine hand-carved sandstone is of unparalleled workmanship, the huge pillars that hold up the roof are each carved from one solid rock, and the intricately fashioned marble on the altar is reminiscent of the Mughal period. The Maharaja financed the railway line that connects Vrindavan with Mathura, just for the purpose of hauling the huge pieces of sandstone used in the temple construction. The Deities worshiped here are Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, Ananda-bihari and Hansa-gopala.
Another popular temple at Vrindavan, was designed and built in 1876 by a wealthy jeweler, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. The Deities at the temple are popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. Noted for its magnificent architecture and beautiful marble sculpture, the temple has twelve spiral columns each 15 feet high. The `Basanti Kamra' - the darbar hall is famed for its Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.
Seva Kunj & Nidhi Van (Nidhuban, Nidhuvan)
where Lord Krishna performed the Rasalila with Radharani decorating her hair with flowers and her lotus feet. Radha and Krishna would sometimes spend the night here, dancing with the gopis and enjoying transcendental pastimes. There is also a small temple dedicated to Radha and Krishna's pastimes called Rang Mahal. Today this place is surrounded by temples. The Seva Kunja road leads to Srila Jiva Gosvami's Radha Damodar Temple, Srila Syamananda Gosvami's Radha Syamasundara Temple, and Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraj Gosvami's Radha-Vrindavan-Candra Temple. Krishna rested with His beloved Sri Radha. The shrine inside has a bed, which is decorated with flowers by the priest every evening. No one is allowed to stay inside after dusk because according to popular belief the Lord visits the spot with Sri Radha. The samadhi (memorial) of Svami Hari Das is also within this complex. All the groves of Vrindavan are notorious for monkeys that have a special fascination for cameras and spectacles.
Imlitala tree (tamarind)
Srila Sanatana Gosvami established the worship of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to sit daily under the Imlitala and chant japa. Deities of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna are installed under this tree.
This Deity worshipped by Madhu Pandita, one of the close associates of Lord Chaitanya. The Gopinatha Deity was originally installed by Vajarnaba, Lord Krishna;s grandson, 5,000 years ago . During the oppression of Aurangzeb, the original deities of Gopinathji, Radhika and Jahnava also proceeded to Jaipur together with other deities. The Pratibhu Vigrahas now preside in the temple built by Nand Kumar Vasu. Jahnava Thakurani is seated on the left side of Gopinath, and Lalita Sakhi and a small deity of Radhika are seated on His right. The deity of Mahaprabhu Shri Gaurasundara is in a separate chamber.
ISKCON Temple ( Krishna Balram Temple )
Sri Krishna-Balaram Mandir is a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple in the holy city of Vrindavan. It is one of the main ISKCON temples in India and internationally. Devotees from all over the world can be seen here year-round, which adds color to this ancient ethnic holy city.
It is one of the most mordern temple built recently in Vrindavan. Southern and Western combination of cultures and dreams of Kripaluji Maharaj has become a reality in Vrindavan.
Garud Govind Temple
Approximate 5000 year old temple of Shri Garud Govind ji ( Krishna mounting on Giant Bird Garud ) is located around 7 km away from Vrindavan near Chatikara . It is one of the oldest and amoung most sacred temple of Krishna in Brij Region. It is among one of the very few places in India , where Kal Sarp Dosh puja is performed.
Vaishno Devi Temple
It is one of the recently built temple in Vrindavan in the honour of Godess Vaishno devi. The highlight of the temple of course remains the 140+ ft tall image of the eight-armed Maa riding a 50ft tall Lion with Hanumanji’s Statute infront of Maa with folded hands seeking Maa’s blessings.. A Mandir having Asthdhatu’s Murti (6 ½ “) tall in Maa’s honour is below the statue, within the precincts of this 11-acre land..