The playful, naughty, endearing, valiant and ever merciful Krishna inspires the vibrant culture of Vrindavan, which reflects the joy and happiness of the land where the Krishna was born and brought up and its people – simple, content, happy cow-herders, loved and protected by the omnipresent in the form of a child.
Music and dance are an integral part of the local culture – with the Raas Leela (dance performed by adolescent boys), Charkula (a challenging dance performed by women balancing clay lamps on their heads), Rasiya (folk medley recounting the love of Radha and Krishna) being but a few signature pieces that celebrate the rich heritage. The central themes, however, are always the love/devotion of/ for Lord Krishna. Ram Leela or Ramayan in dance form is also featured at special events.
Festivals and Fairs
The entire city sways to lilting music and captivating dance performances commonly associated with the different annual festivities and fairs. Holi is the most vibrant and enjoyable festival celebrated with all pomp and splendour across all temples in Vrindavan, and so are Krishna Janmashtami and the Radha’s Birth celebrations.
At Rangaji temple devotees can witness and participate in the annual Brahmotsav, Temple Car procession, and other traditional festivities of both South and North India. Music and Dance festival to honour Swami Haridas, a classical musician and ardent Krishna devotee, is also held during the month of September.
What you will like
The magical desi lifestyle of mathura dwellers, majestic temples and divine tales of Lord krishna engulf this city , spirituality resides in the air of Brajbhumi.
What you might not like
Bustling crowd during festivals specially Holi.
Family trips, Devotional trips, weekend gateways for delhiites and locals of other nearby cities.
Cuisines at Vrindavan
Vrindavan, essentially a part of Brij Bhoomi, the home of Lord Krishna, and a settlement of cow-herders is well-known for rich dairy products – milk, lassi, curd, ghee and butter. The local cuisine is primarily pure, sattvic (minus spices) and vegetarian yet delectable. Food served at the different ashrams is just basic essentials.
However, visitors do get to taste lassi topped with curd served in clay pots, deep-fried Samosas or Kachoris, Ghee and Milk sweets, Chapati (Roti or flour flatbread) with vegetarian dishes prepared using ghee, Khichdi and regular meals at the local restaurants and eateries, with some even serving vegetarian pasta and other eats.
Panchamrit Prasad – delectable concoction of milk, curd, butter or ghee, honey and Tulsi (Basil) leaves distributed at the temples make the visits more special. It is customary for food to be first offered to God before being consumed/distributed.
Banke Bihari Temple:- Banke Bihari is worshipped and served as a child here. The sewaks bathe, clothe and adorn the deity’s idol in the morning, offer a sumptuous feast during fore-noon and lull him to sleep at dusk as a part of the 3 routine sewas – Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. The beautifully chiseled, black idol of young Krishna in Tribhanga posture is believed to have sparkling eyes that can render devotees unconscious if viewed for long. Therefore it is customary for curtains to be drawn and open at frequent intervals.
Radha Vallabh Temple:- Considered an epitome of pure devotion and love for Krishna, Radha Rani is worshipped and revered along with the Lord at this temple dating back to 1855, as RadhaVallabji. Radha ji’s crown shares the same pedestal with the Idol of Krishna and darshan here can prove extremely comforting to the soul. Impressive Hindu-Mughal architecture, different sewas throughout the day, and the blessings of the merciful lord reward visitors.
Madan Mohan Mandir:- Originally built in 1580, the spire of the ancient temple was destroyed during Aurangzeb’s attack. A new temple was later established in 1819, however as the original idols were relocated to Karauli, Jaipur to safeguard them, it is the replicas or Prathibu Vigrahas that are worshipped at this temple at present.
Shri Rangnath Ji Mandir:- The majestic temple predominantly based on Dravidian architecture dates back to 1851. A replica of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srivilliputhur, the temple dedicated to Ranganatha or Rangji comprises sprawling courtyards, garden, temple tank, wooden chariot, a tall dazzling “Dwaja Stambha”, and several other shrines apart from the main deity of Lord Vishnu on Sheshnag. Entry to the inner sanctum is restricted to Hindus.
Seva Kunj and Radha Damodhar Temple:- A patch of lush forest amidst which is set the temple of Radha Damodhar believed to be visited by the Lord and his consort every night. Walls of the temple are adorned by beautiful paintings of Krishna dancing with Radha, playing on his flute and other images. A small shila of Govardhan hill with imprints of the Lord’s foot, his flute, herding stick and hoof of a cow is also worshipped here.
Govind Dev Ji Temple:- Yet another grand temple in Vrindavan to bear the brunt of Aurangzeb’s attack. Built using sandstone and an altar embellished with gold, silver and marble the damaged seven-storied structure has been replaced by a new temple adorned by replica idol of the original Govindaji idol which is presently worshipped in Jaipur.
Gopinathji Temple:- This temple built in 1819 too houses Pratibhu vigrahas or replica idols of Gopinath, and his consort Jahnava installed in 1748 after the original temple built in 1632 was destroyed by Aurangzeb. Legend reveals that Vajranabha, the grandson of Krishna first installed Gopinath Ji idol here about 5000 years ago.
Radha Ramana Temple:- Dedicated to Radha Ramana, the presiding deity, this ornately designed temple dates back to 1542 AD. A shaligram idol of the Krishna, along with Radharani beside him adorns the pedestal. It is said that the fire lit in the temple kitchen in its early days is still active.
Gokulanandana Temple:- Located close to Kesi Ghat is the Gokulananda Temple where visitors can worship Radha- Gokulananda, Radha-Vinodha as well as the Govardhana Shila, revered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself.
Jugal Kishore Temple:- The Jughal Kishore mandir in the vicinity, built in the early 1600s is one impressive red sandstone structure that still remains intact, housing the original deities unlike several other temples here.
Krishna Balram Mandir aka ISKCON Temple:- Built-in 1966 by Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, the very first of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temples, this temple is an ornate structure, ornamented with marble flooring, stone balustrades, walls adorned with lovely paintings depicting the life of Lord Krishna, and beautiful deities dressed in expensive clothing and ornaments. Gods Krishna – Balram, as well as Radha and Krishna, are indeed an impressive and soothing sight to behold. The Aarthi in the morning/evening is spiritual and lively, while the halwa Prasad is indeed divine! All facilities are available for pilgrims.
Govardhan Parvat:- Legend has it that the child Krishna lifted Govardhan parvat on his little finger to shield the people and cows of Vrindavan from the wrath of heavy rains unleashed by Indra, the chief of Devas. People and animals gathered beneath the raised hillock which served as a large umbrella! Scenic settings of Govardhan Giri steeped in history, culture and mythology are a pleasure to explore.
Keshi Ghat:- The extraordinarily scenic and serene Ghat is where Krishna is believed to have had his bath in the Yamuna River after slaying the demon Kesi who was sent to kill him. Sparkling waters of the river, exquisitely crafted 1000 carvings of Radha’s name on the Ghat structure, spectacular views of sunrise and sunset, Yamuna aarti at 4.30 PM, and an opportunity for a boat ride to observe the aarthi make this place quite appealing.
A visit to Vrindavan is all about darshan at the different temples, some of them accessible throughout the day. Temple timings, different sewas, darshan and aarti schedules are bound to vary in the summer and winter months and during festivals. Do check the latest details while finalising your itinerary.
Day 1- Start your day with early morning darshan at Rangaji Temple which opens at 5.30 AM. You could catch a glimpse of the Lord at the Banke Bihari Temple during the Morning aarthi between 7.00 and 8.00 AM before heading towards the Shri Radha Vallabh Mandir just about one km away for darshan of Radhavallabji anytime earlier than 12.00 noon. Time permitting; you may also visit the Madan Mohan Mandir close by which is also open till 11 AM in the mornings.
Seva Kunj/Radha Damodhar temple, Shahji Temple, Dwarkadish Mandir, Radha Shyamsundar Temple and several other temples are located in the vicinity. You could break for lunch, tour other places of interest and catch up with the evening darshan /aarthi as most temples open at 4.30 PM or visit them the next day.
Day 2- Make it to the early morning darshan at the Govind Dev Ji temple at 4.30 AM, allowing time to visit the Gopinath Ji Mandir just a few minutes’ walks away. After invoking the blessing of Gopinath Ji, you could head to Radha Ramana Mandir to admire and worship the beautiful shaligrama idol of Radha Ramana in Tribhangananda (3-fold bend) posture. If you still have time at hand, you can visit the Radha Gokulanandana temple near Keshi Ghat before you break for lunch.
Post lunch plan a visit to Govardhana Hill, where you can spend a couple of hours or even more on parikrama of the hillock and be exploring the lake and ornate sandstone structure at Kusum Sagar, Manasi Ganga Lake, the temple at Radha Kund, Giriraj Temple atop the hill and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu temple adorned with beautiful paintings.
Time permitting, visit the Keshi Ghat, and worship Lord Jugalkishore ji before heading back to your hotel.
Day 3- Having covered several temples that are part of a regular pilgrimage, you can attempt a 2-hour parikrama of Vrindavan city starting from the ISKCON temple here, after invoking the blessings of the Radhe-Krishna.
You can also take time to visit Nandgaon (Krishna’s birthplace), Gokul – a tiny village where Krishna grew up under foster care, Radha’s birthplace at Barsana, Deeg Palace, Shani Temple and other areas of interest in the vicinity in a relaxed manner.
There are several other temples such as the Pagal Baba Mandir, Prem Mandir, and others can fit in your list if planned right.
It is important to time your visit allow at least an hour to worship the deities as well as appreciate the architectural nuances and beauty of the paintings at each of these temples, plus of course factor in the travel time, any breaks for lunch and rest while charting your itinerary.
While local accommodations are available, they may tend to be a tad expensive, especially during festive seasons. Staying at Mathura and visiting Vrindavan could prove an alternate option.
Best time to Visit
October to March. Weather is cold and pleasant with the temperature varies between 10°c – 30°c.