Things To Do in VrindavanThe town of Vrindavan is situated on the banks of the river Yamuna. Every step in Vrindavan is a pilgrimage-every stone a deity. The very air is suffused with a divine fragrance. Lord Krishna lived here in his childhood. He went around the town with his brother Balaram, trailed every step of the way by the band of his cowherd friends - the gopes and gopikas carrying their childhood pranks and victories. The gopikas expected him with baited breath. They felt blessed when he barged into their houses to steal butter. He slayed demons here to save the populace. He was the soul of the forest of Brinda-basil, the holy plant that has given the place its name.
The Vrindavan itinerary is simple. The town is famous for temples, rituals and holy places. Some of them are really remarkable.
The Mangla Aarti at sunset at Kesi Ghat is an event to witness. The deity is Yamuna-called Maa (mother) by the Hindus. The slowly moving Yamuna, the flickering images of lamps in its water, the sounds, the incense and the songs sung by all in the know make a unique experience. It is similar to the famous Ganga Aarti at Varanasi. Hundreds of locals and tourists congregate at the Ghat at sunset. The priests come with their multi-pronged brass lamps, drums and cymbals sounding full blast. The same type of Mangla Aarti is held at sunrise in the ISKCON temple. Starting at 4:15 a.m. the Aarti ritual continues through various aspects of it up to 8.30 a.m. ending with Pushpa Aarti of Lord Krishna. Once you come out of the trance of the Aarti, move to visit the famous temples. Morning time is the best period for visiting temples.
There are numerous temples, shrines and holy places to lose one’s self and be with god. The open gardens Nidhivan and Seva Kunj are two such places. It was at Seva Kunj that Krishna decorated his paramour Radha with flowers in her hair and feet. It was their resting place. It is associated with ‘Raslila’, the ritualistic dance and song of Radha, Krishna and Gopikas. The famous Rang Mahal dedicated to Radha and Krishna is there. Blessed are those who retrace the holy treads of the lord at Vrindavan.
The Nidhivan mesmerizes in its ritualistic lore of the lord. This was the very place the lord frequented to meet Radha. It is believed that Krishna visits Nidhivan every night even today to meet her. There is a shrine here with a bed decorated every evening with flowers. No one is allowed to stay in the Nidhivan after dusk. The Samadhi of Swami Haridas is within the complex. This whole area is full of numerous temples.
Begin your Temple circuit with Radha Damodar Temple, the oldest temple of Vrindavan and Radha Syamsunder temple around the Nidhivan. Madan Mohan Temple one of the oldest sites in Vrindavan is right on the banks of the Yamuna. The Banke Bihari Temple has lord Krishna in ‘Tribhanga’ - Tri-bent posture to give it the name Banke Bihari. The tradition of drawing curtains over the deity every few minutes arises from the belief that if a devotee looked at the idol for long he would lose consciousness due to the mesmerizing power of the deity. Sri Vrinda Kund is a beautiful temple place on way to the hilltop temple at Nandgaon. The temple and the ponds are dedicated to Mother Brinda, one of the consorts of Lord Krishna. There are three ponds surrounded by lush green lawns and gardens. The Krishna-Balaram temple or the ISKCON temple managed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is the cleanest, brightest and the most expertly managed temple of Vrindavan. The management aims at disseminating knowledge of the Bhagwat Gita and the Vedas through literature and prayer. The blessed tree Imlitala (tamarind) is a famous place to go. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to sit under it to chant Lord Krishna’s name. It is a revered place of worship for the Goswami sect.
No one should miss the divine feeling that descends on completing the Parikrama. It is undertaken bare feet along the Parikrama Path. It encircles Vrindavan. The 6-km-walk is a special ritual to be completed here by the devotees. It begins a street away from the famous ISKCON temple.
If you happen to visit Vrindavan near the festival of Holi, you must stay for the biggest fair of Vrindavan the Brahmotsava Festival. It is famous for a congregation of hundreds of thousands of devotees visiting the Rath Ka Mela. A huge 50 ft. high chariot is taken around the Rang ji temple and its gardens before getting back in.
Vrindavan is the perfect place to go shopping for religious trinkets and handicraft. Devotional prayer beads-especially tulsi beads, sandalwood statues and idols and musical instruments are sold everywhere in the congested lanes of Vrindavan. Shopping delights are felt more by the religiously inclined.
The ubiquitous monkeys, self appointed guides and the Pandas of Vrindavan need special care to handle. The town does not have many modern hotels or restaurants. It would be better to book in advance to move freely and happily around the holy town of Vrindavan.