Brajbhoomi… The Land of Shri Lord Krishna
Braj Bhoomi is known as the land where Lord Krishna was born and spent most of his childhood. The area of Braj starts from Kotban near Hodel which is around 95 km from Delhi and ends at Runakta which is known specially for its association with the great poet Surdas, an ardent Krishna devotee. Covering an area of almost 4,000 sq. km., Brajbhoomi is divided among two distinct units – the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract with places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna and the western part of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.
Birth place of Krishna, Mathura, located 50 Kms from Agra in north India. Mathura being a sacred land of Krishna is the hub of his devotees from all around the world. Mathura temples and ghats are the major attraction for the Indian and international tourists. ISKON followers from round the world come and spend here their rest of their lives in Krishna Bhakti and meditation. Land of Krishna, Mathura, has numerous Krishna temples around the city including the major temple.
Krishna Janambhoomi temple is the temple where the divine took his 8th incarnation from Devaki’s womb. Many archaeological activities took place to find the evidences related to Krishna’s birth and archaeologist found many such evidences. These evidences and artefacts are preserved in museum.
Gita Mandir in the outskirts of Mathura is the place of religious importance where Geeta shlokas is inscribed. A beautiful white colour simulacrum of Shri Krishna giving Geeta knowledge to Arjun, in this Krishna temple premises, seems to be realistic. Temple architecture makes the temple a must visit destination in Mathura.
Yamuna ghats including Vishraam ghat are the most serene place to visit during early morning hours, especially for those who visit Mathura to practice meditation and Yog. Another tourists’ and devotees’ attraction will be ISKON’s world’s most tallest temple, for which construction work is in progress. Temple architecture will be based on both modern as well as ancient architecture.
The best time to visit Mathura are at Janamashtami and Holi to experience the magnetism, the allurement, of Krishna bhakti that pulls you to get colored in his shower of divine sanction and love. Krishna devotees start gathering a week before to Mathura to celebrate his birthday. Events like bhajans, sacred hawans and abhishek , the sacred bath of Krishna with panchamrit and Bhogs as prasad are organised all over Mathura. The major religious event take place at Janambhoomi,Krishna temple. People gather in temple a day before till the midnight of janamashtami when Krishna’s birth is celebrated. Beautiful idol of Radha Krishna in sacred pitambar (yellow) clothes and grabh griha, the jail where Krishna is born is decorated with tonnes of flowers.
Holi , the festival of colors and Krishna is celebrated in Mathura with utter joy. It is believed that Krishna used to play holi with gulal with all gopis a embrace them in color of his divine love. Mathura also experience the most unique way of celebrating. Besides colors, people here play holi with Laddoos (sweets) and Lathis (bamboo sticks).People specially book Mathura Vridavan tour packages from all over India to be a part of festival of colours.
Mathura besides being one of the largest hubs of Hindu devotees is also becoming an economic centre for different trades. Mathura’s oil refinery, textile printing industry, real estate and milk based food industries are majorly local consumption as well as outsource its products to different states of India.
One of the oldest cities in the country and is very closely associated with the life of Shri Krishna is the beautiful place "Vrindavan". This is the place where Lord Krishna spent most of his childhood as a cowherd.
Situated on the banks of river Yamuna, this place is surrounded by beautiful temples and tulsi (also known as Vrinda) gardens. Krishna with his gopis and Radha used to perform Raaslila in the gardens, especially in the renowned Nidhi Van, which is said to be the place where Lord Krishna and Radha still dance and rest at night. Today Vrindavan is a great place for learning the true value of life and people from all across the globe visits the place to worship Lord Krishna and to renounce worldly belongings and tensions.
Vrindavan is also called the "Land of Temples" and the main attractions are Shri Bankey Bihari Temple, Rang Ji Temple, ISKCON Temple, Radha Raman Temple, Shahji Temple, Madanmohan Temple, Newly build Prem Mandir, Vaishno Devi Temple, Radha Ballabh Temple, Gokulnanda Temple & Gopishvar Mahadev Temple.
Approximately 10 kms from Vridavan, the sacred hill called Govardhan is located. The hill got its name, as Vridavan was the place of cowherds and cows.Krishna devotees who visit Vridavan, never miss being in this sacred place. It is believed that Lord Krishna in his teenage saved his kinsmen from the curse of Indra. It was raining heavily upto to the extent of destruction in Vridavan due to Indra’s curse. Krishna made Govardhan hill as shed to all Vridavan beings by lifting the hill on his ant finger, once again showing the divine power of his ‘avtaara’ to all.
From the same time the Govardhan become the sacred hill for all Hindus. Govardhan Parikrama has given a specific importance as it is believed that Govardhan hill itself is the symbol of Krishna. Parikrama means completing the 7 miles diameter round the hill. During the parikrama devotees can feel hallow of almighty in the Govardhan temples on the way.
Radha Kund is one of the prominent places in Govardhan. It is believed that. Kund or lake is named by the name of Radha, beloved of Krishna. Devotees gather here at Govardhan Pooja, pooja performed for cows.Also taking a sacred bath here, on Purnima or full moon night has given a prime importance. Shyam Kund (Krishna’s Kund) is located near to Radha Kund as a lake in duo.
Another sacred Kund which is bellieved to be as pure as Ganga in Hindu mythology is Manasi- Ganga Kund or lake.Lord Krishna took his bath of absolution after slaughter of demon sent in the form of calf from Kans. In later stages, the Raja Man singh a Rajput king, took intiative of renovation of the surroundings and built the steps going towards holy river. One who wants to get fondled in Krishna’s purity and hallow, must take a sacred bath in Manasi Ganga while Govardhan Parikrama.Besides this Dan Ghati mandir, Haridev Mandir and Govind Kund are the important landmarks in Govardhan Parikrama packages.
Approximately 50 Kms from Mathura,Barsana, the village of Shri Radhika ji, dearest companion of Krishna. Radha was the daughter of Vrishbhanu, friend of Nand, the father of Krishna. She is born and brought up here and being with Krishna they shown divine act of love and companionship to the beings on this sacred land.
Holi was one such divine and love filled act which gopis of Barsana. Barsana , earlier known as Brahmasaran, is surrounded by four hills symbolizing lord Brahma. Barsana is the unmissed destination of the holi packages to travel.
Usually holi is played with colors all over India but in Barsana besides using colors, there is unique way to play holi with sticks. It is believed that Gopis including Radha welcomes the cowherds of Nandgaon with the sticks when they come to play impish holi with girls.This cowherd men defend themselves using pad as guard when gopis flag them with stick. The tradition of this barsana holi is still continued in Barsana and Nandgaon in remembrance of the eternal lovers. Barsana holi is famous in entire country by the name of Lathmar-Holi, i.e. the holi with lath or sticks.
Nandgaon is a small town in Mathura district famous for festivals. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that this is the home of Shri Krishna`s foster father, Nand. And this is exactly why Krishna spent his initial years in Nandgaon. Today while visiting Nandgaon, one can see Nand’s temple at the top of Nandisvara Hill. There are also several other temples present near Nand Rai’s temple.
Holi is one festival which is celebrated with full devotion and energy in Nandgaon as almost the whole village participates which runs for almost 10 days. The amorous songs, sweets and music add color to the festival and bring joy in everyone’s face. What’s more this festive occasion earmarks various joy rides from singing to dancing to color mixing which creates the feelings of Radha – Krishna leela.
When we talk about Braj Bhoomi, we also think about Gokul, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood and did Balleelas with his Gopis. Nandigram is also sometimes referred as Gokul. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees, this place has its own history. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to travel from Gokul to Vrindavan to meet Radha.
Today Gokul exhibits the house of Nand Rai and the places there gives the epic description of Lord Krishna’s childhood. With several temples, goshalas, acharyas, and devotees present, this is the place which is full of devotion and love that we wonder in this materialistic world.