Vrindavan is where Lord Krishna spent his early childhood and cavorted with the gopis (milkmaids) in the forests. The forests are gone and the river has shifted its course but Krishna, the mythology and the legend live on, fueled with the popular imagination of the people.
Vrindavan has more than 4,000 temples. Perhaps the most important and one of the oldest is the Govind Dev Temple built in 1590 by Mughal Emperor Akbar’s General, Raja Man Singh of Jaipur to a height of seven stories. The upper 4 stories were later destroyed by Emperor Aurangzeb, Emperor’s great grandson. The temple combines Western, Hindu and Islamic architectural features. The idol of Krishna was removed (it is now housed in Jaipur) and thus this temple is not considered a “living” temple.
Many of the other temples have unique features:
The Shahji Temple is famous for its sculpture and twelve single piece 15 feet spiral marble columns.
The “Basanti Kamra” in it’s eastern wing has spectacular Belgian glass chandeliers and rare paintings.
The Rangaji Temple is Vrindavan’s longest temple, with its main gate in the Rajput style and a 500 feet tall gold plated “Dhwaja Stambha” (flag pole). This temple is built in the South Indian style.
The Madan Mohan Temple near the Kali Ghat is the oldest temple in Vrindavan, built in 1580.
The Banke Bihari temple is the most popular. The image of Banke Bihari was found in the Nidhi Van nearby and installed in the temple.
The Radha Vallab Temple has the crown of Radha (Krishna’s friend) placed next to Krishna’s Idol in the sanctum santorum.
The Jaipur Temple has fine carvings in sandstone and is dedicated to Radha-Madhav.
The Sri Krishna-Balram Temple built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a beautiful new and one of the cleanest of temples – a joy to visit.
According to legend Krishna danced the Raas with Radha and the Gopis on the banks of the River Jumna at Vrindavan and the dance came to be known as Raaslila (divine episodes of his life). The Raaslila is danced during the many festivals celebrated in Vrindavan, especially Janamashtmi (Krishna’s birth), Holi and Basant.
Vrindavan is 15km/10miles from Mathura and 150km/100 miles from Delhi.