Unique temples of Vrindavan, Mathura, U.P

Mathura and the holy town Vrindavan, located just at a distance of 15 km from the former city are dotted with numerous  Hindu temples of great antiquity and beauty and, in a way, the place is just like Kanchipuram and Kumbakonam of Tamil Nadu and Varanasi of U.P. where the temple towers dominate the landscape. The temples here in Uttar Pradesh are mostly dedicated to Lord Krishna (alias Gopala, Murali Radha Krishna and Govinda). Each temple is unique in its own way.
Shree Radha Vallabha Temple in Vrindavan:

 Vallabha temple in Vrindavan.  jairadhekrishna.com

This temple founded by Harivamsa Gosvami, a disciple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, is being visited by lots of devotees. Harivamsa Gosvami was the founder of the Radha-Ballabha Sect, and was born in 1500s  in the village of Bad about 10 km from Mathura, on the Mathura-Agra Road, in Braja Mandala.  Sundara Das from Bengal, a  disciple of Braja Chand,  built the temple in 1626. This temple was unfortunately damaged in 1670 by the army of Aurangazeb, a Mogul ruler of Delhi. The temple was rebuilt in 1871-72 and thus began the regular worship.

Radha Damodara temple:
radha damodar temple vrindavan  krishnatube.com

This temple being a popular one has  no idol  of Radharani and the people worship the crown as Radha. First prayer is done to Radha  and later to Sri Krishna. Likewise garments are offered to Radha first, a tradition that continues for a long time.

Radha Damodara Mandir, Vrindavan,   gaudiyahistory.iskcondesiretree.com

In the month of Chaitra from the 2nd to 12th days of Krishna Chaitra (March-April), this temple wears a festive look and the popular 10 day  festival  Brahmotsava of Sri Ranganatha takes place and is well attended by a huge crowd running into thousands.   The Utsava Murti (festival deity) is taken out on procession twice a day in the morning and evening. On the eighth day of Krishna Chaitra  there will be a chariot procession. The  deity, mounted on a huge chariot (Raatha) 14 meter or 41 feet tall, is  pulled by devotees  from the Ranganath temple to Rangaji Garden about 700meters. The procession takes about 2½ hours and the cart festival is known as "Ratha ka Mela." On the  other festival days,  deities are taken out on a small chariot.  Several Vahanas - mounts such as  Garuda, hanuman, Surya, Chandra, lion, elephant and horse  are used on which the lord sits majestically. There are fire-works on the tenth day of Krishna Chaitra. 

 Govinda Dev ji Temple in Vrindavan:

  Govind Devji temple, Vrindavan, UP.www.mapsofindia.com

Govind Devji Temple   www.indianmirror.com

Sri Raghunatha Bhatta and his disciples headed by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur about 1570 were instrumental in the construction of this old temple. Sri Srila Sanatana Goswami established the first temple here.
Govind Devji temple, Vrindavan

This famous temple was established by Srila Sanatana Goswami and was the first temple to be built  as instructed by  Lord Chaitanya to excavate all the lost holy places of Vrindavan. Five thousand years earlier, Lord Krishna's grandson, Vajranaba, installed a number of important deities in Vrindavan, Govind Dev ji is one of them. Rupa Goswami  was on a visit to visit  Vrindavana to establish the Yogapith - a place for resting  the  original  deity of Govind Dev ji, His search did not yield any good results . One day near the bank of river Yamuna, under the divine guidance of the lord, Rupa Goswami was taken to a small near by hill by a brajvasi boy, who had  a devine grace about him (it was Sri Krishna himself in the guise of a boy). He saw  a strange sight - a cow, daily emptying its milk into the hole.  Soon the divine boy disappeared on reaching the spot and  Rupa Gowwami, after recovering from a divine reverie,  asked the local people to excavate the hole where, to this astonishment,  saw the beautiful resplendent deity of Lord Govinda Dev Ji (Vishnu). 

A new temple was built near the old one as the military forces of Muslim ruler Aurangazeb desecrated the place during their raid centuries ago. There was no worship for some time. Fortunately the Govinda DevJi and other deities were taken to a safer place and  hence they escaped the fury of the Muslim ruler. The original deities of Govinda were brought to Jaipur. The Pratibhu deities are considered to be the same as the originals.  Before its destruction, the temple had a majestic seven story tower. now it has  just two stories only. The Radha Govinda temple is still a wonderful place of veneration that  underscores the ancient heritage of this place of reverence.   

ISKCON Temple ( Krishna Balram Mandir ) in Vrindavan:

ISKCON, Vrindavan. www.indiamike.com
Iskcon temple, Vrindavan. www.indianholiday.com

The deities of the temple are  beautifully made; Sri Krishna and Balarama, at the central altar; on the right altar are Radha Krishna with Gopi, Lalita and Vishakha. and  on the left altar is a Idol of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Nityananda, and of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his spiritual mentor  Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Of all the temples in Vrindavan,  Krishna-Balaram Mandir, maintains the temple very well and the entire temple is spick and span,  cleanliness  ever where. Built in 1975 under the divine graceful guidance of  of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Sri  Krishna-Balaram Mandir is regarded as one of the most popular temples in Vrindavan and its neighborhood. An interesting feature is the location of Samadhi or Mausoleum of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,  made of pure white marble. It is near the entrance  to the temple complex.

Iskcon-Temple-Vrindavan  www.iskcondesiretree.com

Shree Radha Raman Temple in Vrindavan:
 Shri Radharaman Temple, Vrindavan ourincredibleindia.in

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the one who established  this temple.The Deity of Sri Radha-Raman is suyambu  made of shaligram stone found in Nepal. Gopala Bhatta had several Shaligram deities. The deity was manifested  on the full moon day (Purnima), 15th day of the month of Vaishaka (April-May) in 1542. There is a samadhi of Gopala Bhatta on the temple premises. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s other Shaligram-shilas are also worshiped on the altar here. Radha-Ramanji  is, it is believed, one of the few original deities of the Gosvamiji  in Vrindavana. Because the deity of Radharani is suyambu- self manifested, as such, there is no deity of Radharani and there is a golden plate next to Krishna, which has the name of Radharani engraved into it. The main attractions here are Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Kaupina 
(sacred cloth) and Asana (seat), which Gopala Bhatta Gosvami brought from Jagannath Puri, now in Odisha.  The  age old asana - seat  is  made of black wood and is about 31cm (12") by 25cm (10"). They  seat and cloth are  open to the public  view for six days a year. 

Shree Banke Bihariji Temple in Vrindavan:

Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan   uptourism.gov.in

The Bankey Bihari temple, Vrindavan is  believed to be one amongst the holiest and famous temples of Krishna in World. In Braj language Bankey means "Bent at three places" and Bihari means "Supreme enjoyer". Bankey bihari ji is worshiped and looked after as a child. here every festival is unique in its own way. The deity is dressed up and offered  special divine food (bhog, prasad) according to season. A surprising aspect here is there are no bells or conch in the temple because Bankey Bihari does not like the sound of bells or conch. On the festival days this temple is decorated with lights and various types of flowers that attract the attention of the new visitors to this temple. Upon entering the temple, the devotees are supposed to chant  Radha namam and their thoght shold be focused on the almighty, The devotees will enjoy the eternal bliss that will remove the negative thoughts in them, leading to the disappearance of miseries like early morning dew. Devotees become calm, composed and contended - all these essential for success in life. The Idol of Bihariji installed in the Shri Banke Bihari Mandir is believed to have been given to Swami Hari Das by the divine couple Shyama-Shyam themselves. As requested by the swamiji they appeared in one form like like Ghan(cloud) and Damini(lightning)- combine beauty of dark lord and his fair consort-Radhaji. Hence the idol here represents Radha and Krishnan into one. 

The pooja worship consists of 3 parts - every day ie Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. Shringar includes  bath, dressing and adornment with jewelery like crown and necklaces; Rajbhog (feast) is offered in the forenoon; Shayan Sewa (Shayan means sleep) is offered in the evening. There is no Mangala Sewa in the morning as in other temples because Swami hari das wanted the divine idol to be treated like a child. yet another feature is the idol is behind the curtain frequently because the idol is so enchanting and graceful, a long stare is enough to lose one's self consciousness.