Mayapur, in West Bengal, is a place of the highest importance for Sanatan Dharma and particularly for the Vaishnava sect. Mayapur is the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, considered an Avatar of Shri Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s brother who is believed to be an Avatar of Balaram appeared at the same time as Mahaprabhu. Mayapur is the worldwide headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). This area is known as Nabadwip (Nine Islands) and Mayapur is located on the principal island. Mayapur is also known as the Kirtan Capital of the World.
Mayapur and the rest of Nabadwip are located in idyllic and verdant surroundings at the confluence of the Hooghly and Jalangi rivers. It is said there is no difference between Vrindavan and Mayapur. The birthplace of Mahaprabhu was discovered by Bhaktivinod Thakur and subsequently developed by ISKCON into what it is today.
Besides the ISKCON campus, there are a number of sacred sites connected to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and many Gaudiya Vaishnav temples and Maths.
Schedule and Restrictions – ISKCON Mayapur Annual Jagannath Ji Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival)
As per the latest updates, Annual Jagannath Ji Rath Yatra at ISKCON Mayapur is planned with restrictions considering the current COVID 19 situation. This year there will be only one tableau (Rath) on which all three deities will be riding. A limited team of 50 persons will be allowed to interact.
The movement of Rath will be restricted inside the ISKCON Mayapur campus and no travelers will be allowed to participate. Even the Gundicha Temple is being made inside the Chandradaya Temple hall so as to avoid outside route.
During the Gundicha Temple stay for 9 days by Lord Jagannath Ji only a limited (40) number of Darshnarthis will be allowed to do Darshan that too after passing through thermal scanning.
Devotees are encouraged to do online Darshan.
This is the main temple on the ISKCON campus. It is a magnificent structure that testifies to the love and devotion of the builders. Enshrined in this temple are large Murtis of Sri Radha Madhava along with their Ashta Sakhis, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and Giri Govardhan. In the center of the temple is a Murti of Lord Nrisimhadeva. On one side is another shrine dedicated to ‘Panch Tatva’ (Five Elements). A Chaitanya Exhibition is an area in the temple where scenes from Mahaprabhu’s life are painted on the walls. In the Lotus Temple are two rooms used by Srila Prabhupada.
Mayapur Temple Aarti Timings
04:30 AM Mangala Aarti
07:00 AM Darshan Aarti
07:30 AM Guru Puja
08:00 AM Class on Srimad Bhagavatam
12 Noon Bhog Aarti
06:30 PM Sandhya Aarti
Temple closes at 08:30 PM
Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP)
This can be considered the most unique temple in the world. With an area of 700,000 square feet and a height of 350 feet, it is a temple that is not just superbly designed. It is a temple destined to attract millions of devotees and tourists to the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This temple will present to the world – the Universe according to Srimad Bhagawat. Srila Prabhupada had given instructions for the building of this temple in 1969. The Chakra atop the giant dome will be the largest in the world. A giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling known as the Cosmic Chandelier will show the different hierarchical layers of the Universe. This temple promises to be one of the most astonishing and amazing temples the world has ever seen. This architectural splendor will be inaugurated in 2023. A virtual tour of the temple in its construction stages is available on the tovp.org website.
Srila Prabhupada Pushpa Samadhi Mandir
Srila Prabhupada Pushpa Samadhi Mandir in Mayapur is dedicated to Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON. It is a magnificent tribute to the great spiritual leader. The garland that was on Srila Prabhupada when he was laid to Samadhi has been kept here. A large brass statue of Srila Prabhupada has been enshrined here. Srila Prabhupada Pushpa Samadhi in Mayapur is among the top 5 most visited religious spots in the world. The temple is open for darshan from 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM and from 3:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
Pujas and Aartis
4:00 AM Srila Prabhupada Aarti
7:30 AM Srila Prabhupada Guru Puja
12:15 PM Bhoga-Aarti
6:00 PM Sandhya-Aarti
Sri Prabhupada’s Bhajan Kutir
This is the cottage where Srila Prabhupada stayed from 1972 to 1976. Harinam Kirtan for all the 24 hours has been going on in this Kutir nonstop since 1990.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Birthplace (Yogpeeth)
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born under a tree at this place. As a child, He was known as Nimai. Sri Bhaktivinoda built a temple here in 1893 and named it Yogpeeth. Enshrined in the temple are the Murtis of Radha – Madhava, Sri Chaitanya, Gaur Narayana, Sri Jagannath, and Sri Panchtatva. The Neem tree is on the right side of the temple, along with a small mud hut with Murtis of Sri Jagannath and Srimati Sachidevi (Mahaprabhu’s parents). A sacred Kund made by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in 1920, is also within the complex.
Darshan Timings are from 8:30am to 11:00am and 3.30pm to 8:00pm
Chaitanya Gaudiya Math
Chaitanya Gaudiya Math was established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in 1918 and served as his headquarters in India. A life size Murti of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati is enshrined here. On the four sides are murtis of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Nimbarka and Sri Vishnu Swami.
Sri Devananda Gaudiya Math
This was established by Bhakti Prajnana Saraswati, one of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s main disciples. It is located in the main Nabadwip area which was formerly known as Koladwip. Enshrined in the temple are the Murtis of Srila Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati, Sri Radha – Vinodbihari, Sri Gauranga, and Sri Varahadeva. The temple has nine towers – each representing a particular type of bhakti. The Math is divided into nine sections.
This is a temple of Miracles. Nearly 500 years ago an ardent devotee of Shri Jagganath lived here. His name was Jagdish Ganguly and he visited Jagannath Puri every year for the Rath Yatra without fail. One year he prepared to go when he suddenly became blind. He was greatly disappointed and resigned to his fate. That night Lord Jagannath appeared in his dream and told him to bathe in the river the next day. A log of wood would touch his head and his vision would be restored. The Lord also told him to get a Murti made from the log and enshrine it in a temple. That would be his very own Jagannath Puri. His blindness was cured, and Jagdish did as instructed. He built a small temple and worshipped Lord Jagannath as long as he lived. In later years the temple was forgotten but it was miraculously discovered by a villager when digging. The Murtis of Shri Jagannath, Subhadra, and Baladev was intact and free from any damage! The villager built a temple and revived worship. In 1978 that villager gifted the temple to ISKCON and the temple was renovated and enlarged. It has since been managed by ISKCON.
More places to visit
Besides these places there are numerous other Gaudiya Vaishnav temples and Maths in the area known as Gaura Mandala Area. Also worth visiting are the houses of some of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotees. These include the Angan (Courtyard) of Srivasa Thakur, Nandan Acharya’s house, Advaita Bhavan, Galadhara Aangan, Chand Kazi’s tomb, and Bhaktivinoda’s house. Nabadwip is Gaudiya Vaishnava territory and the countless temples scattered all over prove that point.