Barsana is the eternal home of Srimati Radharani. Barsana was led by mukhiya (leader) Vrishabhanu (Radharani’s father). Radharani’s mother’s name is Kirtida.
Vrishabhanu Kaka and Kirtida Kaki were very happy on getting Radha as a child but she didn’t open her eyes. It was on touch on little Krishna that Sri Radha opened Her eyes for the first time.
Barsana is actually four hills (parvat) which are none other than four heads of Brahma Ji. The four parvat (hills) are Vrishbhanu Garh, Dan Garh, Vilas Garh and Man Garh.
Nandgaon is a village located around 9 km from Barsana and is the place which was constructed by Nand Baba on the hilltop to protect the baby Krishna from the attacks of demons sent by Kansa on a daily basis.
Krishna spent his growing years here at Nandgaon. There is a big beautiful temple atop the Nandishwara Hill (Parvat) here.
Nandgaon was given by the chief of Barsana, Vrishbhana Kaka to the chief of Gokul, Nand Baba after Gokul was burnt by Kansa in a hope to burn the baby Krishna.
Nand Baba constructed his home atop Nandhisvara Parvat (Hill) in a hope to protect Krishna from the attack of demons of Kansa. There would be residents of Nandgaon who would be up at all time patrolling from the hill-top to protect baby Krishna in case of any attack.
Nandishvara Parvat is actually Lord Shiva who had performed penance to take the form of a hill in Nandagaon so that he can take the dust of feet of gopis there. Gopis are the personification of love and demigods wish to take the form of a humble blade of grass in Vraj Bhumi to be brushed by the feet of gopis.
Krishna used to sneak from here to Barsana to meet Sri Radha.
Vrindavan is the twin city of Mathura. It is one of the main locations in Braj Bhoomi region. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. The major temples are Rangaji temple, Govind Dev Temple, Bankey Bihari temple, Madan Mohan temple, Radha Ballabh temple, Nidhi Van temple and the Pagal Baba temple.
It is also popular for the vrindavan forest. This forest is believed to be one of the largest forests in the country. It extends from the present city of Vrindavan to Varsana and Nandagram on one side while the other side has Govardhana on its fringes. Within this forest, you can see the Radha Kunda. This forest is believed to be the favorite forest of Lord Krishna. According to legends, Lord Krishna performed the rasa dance in this forest along with the beautiful damsels of Vraja.
History of Vrindavan located in Uttar Pradesh, India is an interesting one. The name of this place evokes the lovable characteristics and playfulness of Lord Shri Krishna. Vrindavan is the place where Krishna tenderly wooed Radha and frolicked with the gopis.
When we talk about the Vrindavan History, the mention of Krishna is inevitable. Although Vrindavan is not Krishna’s birth place, it is at this place where he is said to have passed a lot of time in playful activities and teasing the cow herding girls, gopis in common parlance. In fact, Krishna was quite notorious in the act of hiding the clothes of these gopis as they took a bath in the river.
That river has now meandered away. Even the erstwhile woods that once flourished at this place have long since vanished. However, Vrindavan still maintains some wooded parklands.
Mahavan is the forest of Vraja situated 6 miles east of Mathura. It is also called Brihadvan as it is largest amongst all the forests of Vraja. Mahavan is also known as Gokul or sometimes Gokul Mahavan because this is the land of the Go (cows), the Gopas and the Gopis. The original house of Nanda Maharaj, Nanda Bhawan is still there in Mahavan. One can take the darshan of Krishna and Yogamaya in the temple in Nanda Bhawan. There were 84 pillars in this house and some of the original pillars it is said are still there. It is in this house that Krishna-Balaram performed so many childhood pastimes: Their name giving ceremony in the cowshed nearby, killing of Putana, Shakatasura, Trinavarta and deliverance of Nalakuvera and Manigriva. It is at this house that Krishna-Balaram started to crawl on their knees and that Krishna was bound up with ropes by Yashoda Mayi. One mile east of Nanda Bhawan is the Brahmanda Ghat i.e. the place where Bal Gopal gave darshan of the entire universe to Yashoda Mayi within His little mouth. Krishna stayed here in Gokula Mahavan for three years and four months before going to Vrindavan forest.
There was a great Yadu king, Devamidha. He had a son Surasena from his Kshatriya wife and another son, Parjanya from his Vaishya wife. Parjanya was given the charge of Mahavan while Surasena became the king of Mathura. Surasena gave birth to Vasudeva while Parjanya had five sons: Upanand, Abhinand, Nanda, Sunand, and Nandan. Nanda Maharaj was chosen the king of the land of Vraja by all his brothers and thus he is known as Vrajendra.
It is widely known that Kamsa was tormenting Devaki and Vasudeva in Mathura and killing their children one after the other out of fear of death at the hands of the eighth son of Devaki. Vasudeva sent his other wife, Rohini to stay with Yashoda and Nanda in Mahavan. On Lord Vishnu’s order, Yogamaya transferred the seventh child of Devaki from her womb to the womb of Rohini. This child was none other than the first expansion of Shri Krishna i.e. Lord Balaram. Thus Balaramji appeared in this world in this holy land of Mahavan. Meanwhile Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda Mayi were performing a Dvadashi Vrata to get a son and Lord Narayan appeared to them and revealed that He would personally appear as their son. Soon Yashoda became pregnant. What happened is this? Krishna entered into Yashoda’s heart while Yogmaya entered into her womb. And at midnight at the time that we celebrate “Janmashtami”, Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places, in Mathura as Vasudeva Krishna in His Narayan form and in Mahavan in His original Shyamsundar form. Krishna appeared from the womb of Devaki as her eighth child at the prison cell of Kamsa in Mathura in a majestic form with a crown and Kaustubha Mani and holding a conch shell, lotus flower, disc and club. While right here in Mahavan, Yashodamayi gave birth to a son and a daughter. The son was the Original Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna appearing in His sweet Gopal form and the daughter was Yogamaya. Vasudeva Krishna born of Vasudeva was brought by Vasudeva across the Yamuna to Mahavan and then He merged into the body of Gopal Krishna born of Yashoda. Vasudeva brought Yogamaya back to Mathura.
Gokul is located around 10 km from Mathura and is the place where Krishna spent the early part of His childhood in the care of his foster parents Nanda Baba and Yasoda Maiya.
Gokul is untouched with modern developments and feels very nature-friendly and quiet place to be. It retains that traditional vibe till date.
It is at Gokul where Krishna had killed the demon Putana and Trinavrata.
Nanda Baba was the chief of Gokul and a dear friend of Krishna’s father Vasudev.
After Krishna appeared in the jail in which Vasudev and Devaki were imprisoned by Kansa, all the prison doors opened naturally, and Vasudev started walking towards the Yamuna, who granted way after the feet of baby Krishna touched her waters.
Vasudev Ji came to Gokul and exchanged the baby Krishna with the just-born daughter of Yasoda (who was none other than Yoga Maya).
This way Krishna was raised up in Gokul. It is at Gokul that the Damodar Lila, passtime of Krishna showing the entire universe in his mouth to Yashoda Maiya, stealing butter from gopis home and other childhood passtimes of Krishna took place. All these passtimes are well described in the Krishna Book.
Places to visit in Gokul
- Nand Bhavan: This was the home of the chief of Gokul, Nanda Baba and he lived here with little Krishna, Balarama and Yasoda Maiya.
- Chaurasi Khambha Mandir (84 Pillar Temple): It is at this place where Krishna was playing with His gopas (friends) and ate dirt (sand). There are places nearby 84 Khambha Mandir where Krishna had killed female demon Putana as well as Trinavrata demon.
- Brahmand Ghat: After being informed by gopas about Krishna eating dirt, Yasoda Mayi confronted the little Kanha and asked Him to show His mouth. Krishna denied eating any dirt as such but was scolded by Yasoda Mayi to show her His mouth. When Krishna opened His mouth, Yasoda Maiya saw the entire universe in the little Krishna’s mouth. This passtime took place at Brahmand Ghat in Gokul.
- Raman Reti: This is the place where Krishna, Balarama and their sakhas (friends) used to play in the soft sands of Gokul. The place is really beautiful and is taken care of by the Pusti Margi devotees.
- Uthkal (Damodar Lila Place): Yasoda Maiya had tied Krishna in a grinding mortar (uthkal) as Krishna was stealing the butter from the storeroom while Yasoda Maiya had gone to the kitchen to cook the meals. Upon being confronted, Krishna denied it and it was enough for Yasoda Maiya to be angry and tie Him in the wooden mortar so that she can complete her household chores. It’s a beautiful passtime where Krishna agreed to be tied by the love of Yasoda Maiya.
Vrindavan It was about 5,000 years ago that Krishna loved and played in Vrindavan, with a host of divine beings that manifested as the cows to which He tended; his cowherd friends; the lovely milkmaids with whom he enjoyed long and lovely evenings in the forest, and all of the many other plants and creatures such as peacocks, parrots, monkeys, trees, creepers, and even blades of grass. The river goddess Yamuna features prominently in Krishna’s divine retinue; she serves an important role helping those seeking Krishna to attain the moods and modes of being necessary to do so.
Many years after Lord Krishna’s passing, His great-grandson, Vajranabh, was asked by the devotees to go to Vrindavan and restore the lila sthals (places of Lord Krishna’s lilas). These sites, where Krishna’s life events – full of miraculous feats, playful joy, childhood mischief, and divine romance – had been long forgotten. After praying to Sri Radha and Sri Krishna, Vajranabh was filled with their divine presence and Vrindavan’s long-forgotten lila sthals – forests, water tanks, hills, trees and more- were revealed to him. Vajranabh established temples and installed deities at a number of these lila sthals.
When Sri Krishna lived in Vrindavan, it was just a small village of cow herding people. Vrindavan, along with the other places where Krishna performed his lilas, make up the greater area of Braj, which is spread over 3,800 square kilometers. Pilgrims regularly come to the area to perform the 84 kos Braj yatra, a walking circuit of about 300 kilometers encompassing some of Krishna’s most well-known lila sthals.
Govardhan Hill: There is an interesting story in the Bhagwata and other Puranas about Shri Krishna lifting the ‘Govardhan Parvat’ or Govardhan Hill when he was only a small child. The story goes like this:
Once, when the elder people of Braj including Nanda Maharaj were planning for the Puja of Lord Indra, Shri Krishna, a child then, questioned them as to why they were doing so. Nanda Maharaj explained to Krishna that this was done every year to please Lord Indra so that he continued to grace the people of Braj by providing rain as and when required. But little Krishna debated that they were farmers and they should only do their duty or ‘Karma’ to the best of their abilities, by concentrating on farming and protecting their cattle, rather than performing pujas or conduct sacrifices like this for any natural phenomenon. Finally convinced by Krishna, the villagers did not perform with the puja.
Furious with the inhabitants of Braj for listening to the little child Krishna and worshipping the Govardhan Hill instead of him, lndra, the King of Heaven, decided to punish them by sending terrible rain clouds to flood the land of Vrindavan. Calling the Samavartaka clouds of devastation, lndra ordered them to lash upon Vrindavan with torrents of rain and thunderstorms and cause extensive floods that would destroy the livelihood of the inhabitants.
As terrible rains and thunderstorms ravaged the land and submerged it under water, the frightened and helpless inhabitants of Vrindavan approached Lord Krishna for help. Krishna, who understood the situation perfectly well, lifted up the entire Govardhan Hill at once with His left hand, and held it up like an umbrella. One by one all the inhabitants of Vrindavan, along with their cows and other household possessions, took shelter under Govardhan Hill. For seven days they stayed under the hill, safe from the terrible rains and surprisingly undisturbed by hunger or thirst. They were also astounded to see the huge Govardhan Hill resting perfectly balanced on Krishna’s little finger.
Stunned and mystified with the order of events, King Indra called back the clouds of devastation, thus stopping the thunderstorms and the rains. The sky became clear again and the sun shone brightly over Vrindavan. Little Krishna asked the inhabitants to return home without any fear, and gently placed the Govardhan Hill back to exactly where it was. All the inhabitants of Braj including Nanda Maharaj, Yasoda and Balarama hailed Krishna and embraced Him with happiness.
This was how the false pride of King Indra was shattered to pieces. He came to Lord Krishna with folded hands and prayed to Him for forgiveness. Shri Krishna, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, bestowed his grace on Indra and also enlightened him about his ‘Dharma’ and duties.
- Govardhan Parikrama