Friday, December 21, 2012

Vrindavan Yatra - Part III

Day 4 – Wed 14th Nov.
Govardhan Parikrama – 24 kms
Had breakfast at 6.30am and left for Manasi Ganga Temple. After paying obeisance to the deity, we started the parikrama on foot on the Parikrama Marg. There is a dedicated road for this purpose.  All the devotees started the parikrama at their own pace. We (me and my spouse) were covering about 5kms per hour. We were told to assemble at “Radha Kund”. So when we reached Radha Kund, we had covered 16 kms. It is said that a dip in Radha Kund is the ultimate purification. Legend has it that Krishna brought the waters of all the holy rivers in this “Kund”.

Govardhan Hill Parikrama in progress
My spouse decided to take the plunge assisted by other devotees. There is a certain ritual to be followed. Surprisingly, the water was quite clean. The steps in the “kund” are quite slippery – one has to tread with care with the help of the iron chain which is provided for that purpose. As per the ritual, one has to take three dips (fully submerged). After the first dip, he was literally shivering (the water was apparently very cold). However, the following two dips were quite smooth sailing! He had to follow the same procedure in the “Shyam Kund” and back again to “Radha Kund” – in all we had to dip ourselves nine times.

Then, it was my turn for the dip. Initially, I was a little skeptical but after seeing my hubby emerging unscathed, I took the courage and also encouraged and assisted by other devotees, I took my first dip. Since I knew what to expect, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. I finally completed all the remaining dips too. For changing clothes, a small partition is provided for women only. I hurriedly changed into dry clothes which we had carried with us so that I can assist other devotees with their dips. This was a unique experience and I feel one should do this at least once in their lifetime.

We were then asked to assemble in the ashram for the lunch prasadam. As soon as we had our fill, we proceeded to complete the remaining 8kms of the parikrama.
On the way, we visited the scenic Kusum Sarowar. Legend has it that this is the place where gopis used to pick flowers for Krishna and hence the name Kusum Sarowar.

Kusum Sarowar
On completion of the parikrama, we were told to pay obeisance to the deity of Manasi Ganga Mandir (the same place from where we started the parikrama) and then proceed to our respective buses.

End of Parikrama

 Day 5 – Thu 15th Nov.

We visited the following temples:
Daoji (Balaram ) Temple in Gokul. It is said that this is the place where the naming ceremony of Krishna and Balaram were performed by Garg Muni.
Brahmmand Ghat – place on the banks of river Yamuna. It is believed that toddler Krishna ate mud at this place and when mother Yashoda asked him to open his mouth; she saw the whole universe in his mouth hence the name Brahmand (universe) Ghat.
Rawal – Birthplace of Radharani. There is a small temple here but unfortunately it was closed when we reached there.
Also visited the other important temples - Radha Shyamsunder temple, Bankebihari Temple and Iskcon – Krishna Balaram Temple

Day 6 – Fri 16th Nov.

Mathura – Krishna Janmasthan (birthplace) – This temple is heavily guarded and for security reasons we were asked not to carry our mobiles or cameras and hence I do not have any pictures to show.

After the temple visit, we were taken to Loi Bazar for shopping – where one can shop for clothes, handicrafts, japamalas, idols of gods and goddesses, incense etc.
After the shopping, we came back to the guest house for our lunch. The afternoon was left free for us to rest and pack. The group left that night for Bangalore while we stayed on and left the next morning for Mumbai. Our memorable Vrindavan Yatra thus came to an end.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vrindavan Yatra - Part II

During the yatra, our day always began with the "Mangal Aarti" at 5.00am in the Radha Vrindavan-Chandra Temple at Akshaya Patra. And after a sumptuous breakfast prasadam, we would proceed in three buses for the days' itenarary.

Day 3 – Tue, Nov 13
Our first visit was the Radharani Temple in Barsana. We had to climb slightly steep steps (we were told that there are about 300 steps) to reach the entrance of the temple. “Dolis” (a small palanquin) are available for a price (about Rs.300/- per person – you need to bargain) for those who are unable to make the climb. This is a very popular temple and hence highly crowded. After having “darshan" of the deity, we all sat at the open place in the temple and did “Kirtan” for about thirty minutes or so.

Entrance to the Radharani Temple
Radharani Temple, Barsana

Kirtan in progress at the temple premises
Next was the Nanda Maharaj Temple. This temple too, is situated at a height and the climb too was quite steep through a narrow lane. This is the only temple in Vrindavan that has the deities of Nanda Maharaj’s whole family – Yashoda Maiya, Nanda Maharaj, Krishna and Balaram and their friends. Here, Krishna and  Balaram both are shown black in colour and they look identical.

Nanda Bhavan Mandir, Nandgaon

Beautiful paintings inside the temple
Our next visit was the “Ter” Kadamba –  “Ter” meaning “to call” in Brij language and Kadamba is the name of a particular tree. Legend has it that, Krishna during his childhood days, used to call his friends under this tree and the branches of this tree was used for hanging food “potli” (snack/lunch wrapped in cloth given by their respective mothers) on the tree. It is said that Rupa Goswami sat under this tree to write his books and to meditate and sing bhajans.

"Ter" Kadamba

A typical Kadamba Tree, Nandgaon
Our next temple visit was Vrindadevi (Tulsidevi) Mandir where lunch prasadam was served. Adjacent to this is the Vrinda Kund.  This place is very picturesque and peaceful with lots of greenery around. We spotted a few butterflies, parrots and lapwings.

Vrindadevi Mandir and Vrinda Kund
Next visit was the “Paawan Sarowar”. It is called so because it purifies anybody who takes a dip in it. Legend has it that Lord Krishna used to bathe here daily. Since we reached a little late in the evening, we did not take a dip instead took a few photos of sunset here.

Paawan Sarowar
Thus ended our third day of the yatra.

For more info visit :

The last and the final part to follow.......

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vrindavan Yatra - Part I

It is said that the month of Kartik is the most auspicious month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It is the festival of offering lamps to Lord Krishna. This year Kartik month began on 14th Nov and will end on 13th Dec 2012.
We were delighted when we were informed months in advance by Krishnashreya  (ISKCON) group about the Vrindavan Yatra during the Kartik month. We (me and my spouse) seized this opportunity to enroll ourselves in this tour. The tour was for a week  and our stay was booked in Akshay Patra guest house in Vrindavan. We later found out that 70 devotees enrolled for this “yatra”. Thus began our Vrindavan Yatra.

Most of the group left by train on Friday the 9th of Nov 2012 and some took the flight. We (me and my better half) took the morning flight to Delhi on Sat the 10th Nov 2012. We reached Delhi around 3.30 pm and from the airport, we were picked up by the cab driver arranged through Akshaya Patra Guest House.
Then began our journey by road to the guest house in Vrindavan. This took us almost 31/2 hours due to traffic and reached the guest house at 7.45pm with a short break on the way for tea (actually the driver needed it badly) at “Hari Om” Dhaba.
After the usual check-in formality at the guest house, we were given the key to our room. The room looked very cozy and comfortable – with all the usual necessities.
We had a quick wash as we were told that the aarti starts at 8.00 pm. We rushed to the temple.

Vrindavan trip 2012 5
Entrance to the temple

On the way to the temple, we were awed by the beauty of the huge campus, its’ well kept lawn, lots of greenery, the calm water of the pond with the reflection of the temple in it and the chanting of “Hare Krishna” echoing - we felt we were transferred into the spiritual world. And once, inside the temple we were enchanted by the sheer beauty of the deities elegantly dressed in all their fineries. It was awesome and the aarti that followed was simply breath-taking. The whole place was lit with tiny diyas. The atmosphere during the aarti was simply soul-stirring.

Radha-Vrindavan Chandra - Akshay Patra  - This lovely image of the deity,
I took it from the net. Cameras are not allowed inside
Vrindavan trip 2012 97
Taken from the entrance of the temple during Sunrise

Vrindavan trip 2012 112a
Reflection of the temple in the Temple Kalyani (pond)
Vrindavan trip 2012 124a
The greenery  surrounding the temple
Vrindavan trip 2012 3
The Open Air Theatre

Vrindavan trip 2012 123a
The well maintained lawn and garden

Squirrel -Akshay Patra 121
Just couldn't resist taking a picture of this squirrel in the garden

After the aarti, we had our dinner at the restaurant – lovely ambience, good service and equally good food. 
The next day Sun the 11th Nov. 2012 all the other devotees including the organizers arrived in three buses. They were asked to quickly change and be in the buses for visiting the temples in Vrindavan.

Day 1 - Sun 11th Nov. – visited all the seven Goswami temples.

Day 2 - Mon 12th Nov. – We started for the Vrindavan "Parikrama" (i.e. circumambulating a sacred place on foot) which is about 9km and on the way visited many temples. Some of them are:

Kaliya Ghat
Kaliya Ghat - It is said that at this very place Lord Krishna jumped into the Yamuna river to kill the huge snake Kaliya

Kadamba Tree
It is believed that Lord Krishna jumped from the this Kadamba tree to kill Kaliya, the snake.

Yamuna river

Madan Mohan Temple - The oldest Temple in Vrindavan

While in Vrindavan, please make sure you do not wear spectacles (keep it safely in your handbag) as these will be promptly snatched by the monkeys. We were warned about this beforehand. Two of the devotees from our group lost their spectacles to the monkeys. Luckily, one had a spare one; as for the other, she managed to get it back with the help of a local guy.

More to follow in my next post..........