When we think of Vrindavan, images of Shri Krishna and Radha Rani automatically spring up in our minds. Vrindavan is a part of Brij Bhoomi, where He spent His childhood. Shri Krishna in His childhood was an inspiration for children and was considered the naughtiest child in the village! Shri Krishna was known as ‘Makhan Chor’ because He loved butter and wouldn’t hesitate to steal it from anyone’s house! Yashoda Maiyya was always at her wit’s end trying to catch Him! Let’s Explore Vrindavan’s Heritage Is Rooted In Its Splendid Temples
Vrindavan’s Heritage Is Rooted In Its Splendid Temples
Early Days and Re-discovery of Vrindavan
In the Dwapara Yuga, Shri Krishna was born to Devki Mata and Vasudev in Mathura. He appeared as the 8th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. To protect Him from His evil uncle, Shri Krishna was taken to Nandgaon immediately after His birth. There He was brought up by Yashoda Maiyya and Nand Baba. Brij Bhoomi includes other places like Govardhan, Gokul, Barsana, etc. This is where Shri Krishna grew up. His exploits are well known. Brij Bhoomi was the land of the Yadavas, Shri Krishna’s beloved clansmen. Brij Bhoomi is the land of the Gopis and the sacred Yamuna River.
In the later part of His life, Shri Krishna moved to Dwarka and established a new kingdom for the Yadavas because of constant attacks by Jarasandha. Centuries passed and the Dwapara Yuga came to an end. Vrindavan was lost from memory and lay forgotten till the 16th century CE.
Revival of Vrindavan by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
In the late 1400s, another great saint considered to be an Avatar of Lord Vishnu appeared on this earth. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Nabadwip (West Bengal). He was the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism (Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya). Though Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was an Avatar, He always appeared as a devotee lost in the Bhakti of Shri Krishna. He came to Vrindavan in 1515 CE to locate and revive the sites connected with Shri Krishna. He wandered across the entire area lost in a Divine Trance and was able to identify most of these sites including the original sites of the ‘Sapta Devalaya’ (Seven Temples). These seven are – Radha Madan Mohan, Radha Govinda, Radha Gopinath, Radha Damodar, Radha Raman, Radha Gokulananda, and Radha Shyamasundara Temples. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revived worship at all these places in Brij Bhoomi. Vrindavan and the rest of Brij Bhoomi were humming with religious fervor and human activity once again.
Prominent Temples of Vrindavan
Banke Bihari Temple
This temple was originally in Nidhivan. It was first built by Swami Haridas, an ardent devotee of Radha – Krishna. He used to pray to the Lord every day in the place now known as Nidhivan. One day Shri Krishna and Radha Rani appeared before him. Swami Haridas asked them to stay here forever and bless devotees. Shri Krishna agreed. He and Radha Rani instantly turned into stone Murtis. Swami Haridas built a temple over the Murtis. Worship started in the Banke Bihari temple and was continued by Swami Haridas’ descendants. In 1862 a new and grander temple was built adjacent to this temple and the original Murti was shifted to the new temple. Banke Bihari temple is one of Vrindavan’s iconic temples.
Govind Devji Temple
This grand temple was built by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur in 1590. This red stone architectural wonder is a major attraction for Vaishnava devotees. It was damaged by invaders and rebuilt in 1873. The original temple had seven stories before it was damaged. The puja and other activities are done in another temple behind this structure.
Sri Radha Damodar Temple
This is yet another architectural beauty of Vrindavan. The temple was built in 1542 by the Goswami sect. This temple also was damaged and looted by invaders, but restored later. Within the temple is the Samadhi of Sri Rupa Goswami and other saints. The temple has a library with ancient manuscripts and other artifacts. A notable feature of this temple is the Govardhan Shila with Shri Krishna’s footprints.
Prem Mandir in Vrindavan is dedicated to Shri Radha – Krishna and Shri Sita – Ram. This massive temple complex is situated on 54 acres of land and was built by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Prem Mandir in Vrindavan is a temple of Divine Love. The first floor of the temple is dedicated to Shri Radha – Krishna, while the second floor is dedicated to Shri Sita – Ram. Four life-sized depictions of Shri Krishna’s four Leelas – Raas Leela, Jhulan Leela, Govardhan Leela, and Kaliya Naag Leela can be seen in the temple complex. Prem Mandir is one of the most popular temples in Vrindavan.
Sri Krishna – Balaram Temple (ISKCON)
This temple in Vrindavan has been built by ISKCON. It was the dream of Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON which was fulfilled in 1977. The temple is made of white marble. Adjacent to the temple is the Samadhi of Sri Prabhupada. Enshrined in the temple are the Murtis of Sri Krishna – Balaram, Gaur Nitai, Sri Radha Shyamsundar, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The temple complex includes a library, Samadhi museum, bookstalls, and a guest house. This is also a very popular temple in Vrindavan.
Radha Raman Temple
This temple was built in 1542 by Gopal Bhatt, a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It was later renovated in 1826. Enshrined in the sanctum is a Shaligram Murti of Shri Krishna that is self-appeared (Swayambhu). Radha Rani is represented by a crown kept beside the Murti. Also within the temple complex is the Samadhi of Gopal Bhatt.
Rangnath Ji Temple
This temple was built in 1851 in the Dravidian style of architecture and dedicated to Sri Ranganatha, a form of Lord Vishnu. This temple is also known as Rangji Mandir. In the sanctum, Lord Vishnu can be seen reclining on Sheshnag. Also enshrined here are the Murtis of Sri Narasimha, Shri Rama – Sita Mata, Lakshman, Venugopala, and Sri Ramanujacharya. Within the temple, the premise is a sacred tank (Kund) and a large garden
This is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of India. It is believed Sati Mata’s hair fell at this spot. In this temple, Mata Parvati is known as Uma Devi and Lord Shiva as Bhotesh. A sword of the Goddess known as Uchawal Chandrahaas is also worshipped here. Mata Katyayani is also Yog Maya Devi who was born to Yashoda Maiyya and Nand Baba. She was exchanged with Shri Krishna who was born to Devki Mata and Vasudev. Also enshrined in this temple are Lord Ganesh and Surya Dev.
This temple was built in 1876 by Kundanlal Shah and is dedicated to Radha – Raman. It is commonly known as Chhote Radha Raman mandir. A notable feature of this temple is the 12 beautifully carved spiral columns with a height of 15 feet each. Magnificent Belgian chandeliers and mesmerizing paintings add to the magnificence of the temple.
Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda Temple
This ancient temple is located between Kesi Ghat and Radha – Raman temple in Vrindavan. In the sanctum are enshrined Murtis of Radha – Vinod, Radha – Gokulananda, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. A Murti of Radha Rani was added in later years. This temple is home to a sacred Shila which has the thumbprint of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Gopeshwar Mahadev Temple
This is one of the few temples in Vrindavan not dedicated to Shri Krishna. Gopeshwar Mahadev is one of the oldest temples in Vrindavan and is located near the banks of the Yamuna River. It is believed the Shivling in this temple was enshrined by Vajranabh – Shri Krishna’s grandson. Lord Shiva is worshipped as a male in the mornings. In the evenings the Shivling is adorned as a Gopi and worshipped as a female. Mahadev is considered the first Vaishnavite as He was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He learned the secrets of Sakhibhav to be able to attend Rasleelas. The temple and the stories connected to it are fascinating to say the least.
Sri Gopinath Ji Temple
This is yet another ancient temple in the fair city of Vrindavan. It is also known as Radha Gopinath Temple. The origins of this temple go back to the Dwapara Yuga. The Murti of the temple was lost for many centuries. Miraculously it was found after a flood in the Yamuna River deposited the Murti on its banks. It was re-enshrined and worship was revived. In later years the temple was severely damaged by invaders. A new temple was built in 1819 and the puja shifted there. In the sanctum, a black marble Murti of Shri Gopinath and Radha Rani is enshrined.
This temple is inside Nidhivan, the place where Shri Krishna and Radha Rani along with the Gopis still come every night to do Rasleela. This is the original temple built by Swami Haridas who used to pray at this spot and was blessed with Shri Krishna’s darshan. The original Murti of this temple is now enshrined in the Banke Bihari temple. Adjacent to the temple is a pond known as Gopi Talav. Another temple beside Nidhivan Temple is also located here. A bed is made for Radha Rani every night in this temple and amazingly next morning it seems as if someone has slept in that bed!
Madan Mohan Temple
This temple is said to be the oldest of the Goswami temples in Vrindavan. The original temple was one of the many temples built by Sri Vajranabh, Shri Krishna’s grandson. In later centuries it was rebuilt in 1580 under the guidance of the Goswami sect. Enshrined here are the Murtis of Radha – Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lalita Sakhi. Also within the temple complex is the ancient Advaita Vat (Banyan Tree) and a sacred well known as Krishna Koop.
Priyakant Ju Temple
This 125 feet high temple was built in the shape of a lotus and was opened for worship in 2016. It is dedicated to Radha Rani and Shri Krishna. In this temple, Radha Rani is known as Priya, and Shri Krishna is Kant Ju. Beautifully constructed, the temple has ponds on both sides and fountains to add to its charm of the temple. Smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Hanuman Ji are also a part of the temple complex.
This temple is one of the grandest and most imposing temples in Vrindavan. The architectural splendor combined with its intricate carvings and sculptures makes it a temple almost beyond comparison. It took 40 years to complete this masterpiece. As can be deduced from the name, this temple was built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur in 1917. There are three sanctums in this temple. In the first sanctum is enshrined the Murti of Sri Anand Bihari Ji. The second sanctum is dedicated to Radha Madhava and the third is dedicated to Sri Nitya Gopala, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Narad Muni, Sri Girdhariji, Sanak Rishi, and Sanat Kumar.
This is a well-known bathing ghat in Vrindavan. Located near Nidhivan, it is said to be the place where Shri Krishna bathed and rested after killing the demon Keshi. A palace-like structure made of red stone is in the background. In the evenings the ghat transforms into a magical scene when the Aarti is performed. The lamps, Mantras, and the sound of conch shells which are a part of the Aarti are mesmerizing.
This is still in the construction stage, but once it is completed it will be the tallest religious monument in the world. Being built by ISKCON (Bangalore) this temple will cost more than INR 300 Crore. Spread over 62 acres of land, the temple will have a built-up area of 540,000 square feet. The structure of 70 floors will rise to a height of 700 feet. There will be a viewing tower on the top floor. The temple will be surrounded by 30 acres of forest. This temple promises to be an amazing, out-of-this-world experience.
These are but some of the temples in Vrindavan. Besides these, there are scores of temples and sacred sites worth visiting. Vrindavan and the rest of Brij Bhoomi is deeply embedded in the heart of every devotee of Sanatan Dharma. Spending a few days here can be one of the most rewarding experiences with memories to last a lifetime.
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Vrindavan - Agrasen Ashram
3.2 km from the Vrindavan bus stand, Agrasen Ashram offers two and four bedded AC and non AC rooms. The rooms are spacious and well ventilated
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