I grew up watching Shri Krishna. I participated in the dramas that were organised on the eve of Janmashtami. I was frequently dressed as Kanha & a few times dressed as Radha; I remember that.
Lord Krishna has always been a naughty figure of god – the one that taught us love. The one that taught us that stealing butter does no harm as long as your friends are happy. Friend of the friends, Lord Krishna is known for his miracles, acts & kind heart.
If you happen to visit the land of Lord Krishna, here is a list of eleven things that you must do to come close to the divine powers of Mathura, Vrindavan.
1. Visit the Bankey Bihari Mandir:
About 150 year old, Banke Bihari Temple is devoted to Lord Krishna. Many festivals like Janmashtami, Holi and Radhashtami, are celebrated in the temple complex. The temple idol is black in color with deep, profound eyes of Lord Krishna.
Legend has it that a devotee once looked into the eyes of Lord Krishna for long and lost its senses. Since then, they have curtained the idol & sway it left and right every few minutes so that no other devotee looks into the eyes of Kanha for long.
Along with Bankey Bihari temple, visit Radha Damodar, Mirabai temples. If you book a guide, he will take you around over stories, chants and verses.
2. Experience the magic of Madhuvan (Nidhi Van)
The decorated flute plays tunes of love, the peacock wing sways hither & thither, the surroundings are filled with a milieu of sounds – the sound of anklets, the clanking of bangles, the tunes of Prem Raag, the taps of dancing feet – it’s the dance of love and passion & it’s the famous – Krishna Raas Leela.
Do visit Nidhi Van & experience the place where the Gods come every night.
3. Lose yourself in the name of the God:
At Nidhi Van, they do a live concert of Radhe-Krishna Bhajans with magical tunes & divine words. Let yourself loose & dance to the Godly tunes.
Here is a small video that I was able to make during my last visit. Short yet magical enough.
4. Visit the Ghats by the Yamuna River:
There are many ghats by the river Yamuna. Go, visit any one of these & capture some moments.
5. Visit the colors of the place – the many temples and shrines
There are many temples of religious significance in Vrindavan, Mathura. Do visit some of them & pray to god.
There is no shame in begging from god. You can open your arms and ask for wealth, power, love, family and friends from the god.
Must – Take four rounds (parikrama) of Radha Damodar temple. They will bring you much luck and happiness.
6. Smear your forehead with the holy colors:
Rest your forehead before the god & wear the sacred – haldi, chandan & kum kum. There are many a preist in Bankey Bihari temple who will oblige you.
Chant – Radhe Radhe & wear these colors on your forehead.
7. Listen to the discourse of a priest:
Ask your guide to take you to the oldest temple of the place. Look for the temple where it’s not too crowded. Sit cross legged, unstrap your watch & switch off your mobile. Without thinking about the time, hear the temple priest talk about the miracles of Lord krishna. Listen to the stories of great Krishna devotees & know the sacred tales of the godly land – Vrindavan, Krishna.
8. Speak with locals:
Braj vaasis are known to be soft, noble and warm. Speak with them. Strike a conversation. You are visiting the house of the god. And localites can tell you about things that no blog or no newspaper can share.
9. Watch the Light and Sound Show at Prem Mandir:
Do watch the light and sound show at Prem Mandir coupled with Krishna Aarti, Bhajan Kirtan & spiritual stories.
10. Feed the needy:
You will see queues of people clad in saffron & white. They don’t beg, but wait for you to help them – in the name of the god that cares for you and them, alike.
Help them with one meal of the day. That’s more than enough.
11. Savor Mathura ke Pede over a tumblr of sweet Lassi:
“Food is God”.
After offering the bhog to Krishna, have a mouthful of pedas. After all, they have been now tasted by your god. Gulp it all down with a tumblr of Lassi. And proceed towards the Kunj Gallis of Vrindavan.