Braja Mandala Parikrama Map
The Tour will encompass each of the dropped pins over 9 days of Parikrama
Lets enter the
Mathura & Mahavan
Raval, Dauji & Bahulavan
Govardhana & Radha Kund
Day 1 – Mathura & Mahavan
MATHURA — THE LAND OF KRISHNA’S BIRTH
Mathura is celebrated as Krishna Janmabhumi, the land of Krishna’s birth. Mathura became the capital city of all the kings of the Yadus, the dynasty in which Krishna appeared. For millenia, it thrived as an important center of learning, trade and culture.Lord Chaitanya arrived in Mathura in 1512. Finding that many places of Krishna’s pastimes were now obscure, He spent two months locating and identifying them. Present day Mathura is thus the gift of Lord Chaitanya.Traditionally Braja Mandala Parikrama starts from Mathura. Pilgrims first bathe in the river Yamuna near Vishram Ghat and take a vow (sankalpa) to complete the full parikrama of Vraja.
Vishrama means ‘to rest’ and ghata refers to the steps that lead down to a sacred river. Krishna rested on the banks of the Yamuna at Vishram Ghat after killing King Kamsa, the evil ruler of Mathura.
SRI KRISHNA JANMASTHAN
The prison where Krishna appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
MAHAVAN – NANDA BHAVAN
Nanda Bhavan (Chaurasi Khamba) – The house of Nanda Maharaja, Krishna’s father. Built by the celestial architect Vishvakarma, it is one of the three palaces of Nanda Maharaja.
PUTANA UDDHARANA STHALA
The place where Putana, the witch who appeared as a beautiful woman to kill baby Krishna, was liberated.
Mother Yashoda tied naughty Krishna to a grinding mortar and the Lord became famous as Damodara. This Damodara-lila happened at Ukhal Bandhan.
The place where Lord Krishna showed the entire universe inside his mouth to mother Yashoda.
Day 2 – Raval, Dauji & Bahulavana
Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the center of all Vrindavana’s activities. Just as Krishna’s appearance was not ordinary, so also Srimati Radharani’s. She appeared in Raval, a small village five miles southeast of Mathura.
Raval is one of the twenty-four upavanas or small forests of the Vraja Mandal region. It is one of Radharani’s special abodes. During His Braja Mandal parikrama, Lord Chaitanya visited Raval. Srila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji, the great Gaudiya Vaishnava acarya, chanted 200,000 names of Krishna every day here.
Dauji means elder brother in Vrajavasi language. About 25 Km from Mathura is the town of Baldeo, famous for the Dauji temple. The Balarama Deity worshiped here is the largest in Vraja Mandal. Maharaja Vajranabha, Krishna’s great-grandson, installed this Deity.
When the child Dhruva set out in search of the Lord, Narada Muni recommended that he go to the bank of the Yamuna in the Madhuvana forest. Dhruva Maharaja meditated and underwent severe penances and austerities there on the hill Dhruva-tila. At Dhruva-ghata, there are many nice fruit and flower bearing trees.
Talavana forest is famous for its sweet and aromatic palm trees. Here Lord Balarama killed Dhenukasura, the donkey demon. Then all the cowherd boys entered the forest and joyfully ate the ripe fruits.
Krishna descended here just to test the truthfulness of Bahula, the cow who had fallen prey to a tiger.
Day 3 – Govardhana & Radha Kunda
Krishna lifted the Govardhana Hill when He was only seven years old and protected His pure devotees at Vrindavana from the wrath of Indra, who was overflooding the place with rain. He instructed the residents of Vrindavana to perform Govardhana worship and circumambulation of the hill.
Govardhana parikrama stretches for 23 Km. The most sacred of pilgrimage places in the universe are found along the Govardhana parikrama.
RADHA-KUNDA / SHYAMA-KUNDA
Kunda means a small lake or pond. Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda are sacred ponds near Govardhana Hill personally created by Radharani and Krishna following the slaying of the bull-demon Aristasura. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bathed in these waters. Following His directions, Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami renovated Radha-kunda.
SAMADHIS (NEAR RADHA-KUNDA)
Radha-kunda is supreme amongst all the sacred places in Vraja and many exalted Vaishnavas performed their bhajana here. After a lifetime of service, many left their bodies here. The Teen Gosvami Samadhi pitha houses the samadhis of Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami and Raghunatha Dasa Goswami. All three of them entered samadhi on the same day but in different years.
Srimati Radharani and the gopis picked flowers from Kusuma-sarovara before going to Radha-kunda to meet Krishna. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bathed in this lake during His Braja Mandal parikrama in 1515. Narada Muni became qualified to witness the confidential pastimes of Radha and Krishna by bathing here.
Krishna killed Vatsasura, a demon who appeared in the form of a calf. He then manifested the Ganga from His mind to bathe in it. Thus, this lake received the name Manasi-ganga. The magnificent Harideva mandir stands at its shore. Maharaja Vajranabha installed the Deity of Harideva nearly 5,000 years ago. Nearby is the bhajana kutir of Sanatana Gosvami.
Srila Prabhupada explains: Being a cowherd girl, Srimati Radharani regularly carries milk in a container and often goes to sell the milk on the other side of the Yamuna. To cross the river, She has to pay the boatman, and the spot where the boatman collects his fares is called the dana-ghati. Lord Sri Krsna stops Her from going, telling Her, “First You have to pay the fee; then You will be allowed to go.” This pastime is called dana-keli-lila. (Cc Madhya 14.173 p)
Govinda-kunda was formed when Indra, defeated by Lord Govinda, offered prayers to Him and bathed Him. Maharaja Vajranabha installed the Gopala Deity nearby. This Deity was lost over time. Later Sri Madhavendra Puri discovered this Deity and personally performed the abhiseka with water from Govinda-kunda.
Uddhava-kunda is situated near Kusuma-sarovara. Uddhava, the learned disciple of Brihaspati and Krishna’s beloved cousin, resides here in the form of grass. Maharaja Vajranabha established Uddhava-kunda.
Day 4 – Kamyavana
Kamyavana means enchanting forest. It is one of the seven forests on the western side of the river Yamuna. Lord Shiva declares that the best of all forests is Kamyaka or Kamyavana. Here Krishna killed Vyomasura, the demon who flies in the sky, who dared kidnap His cowherd friends.
Badrinatha Mandir & Tapasya-kund
Vraja-dhama is the source of all holy places and the original Badrinath is present here. Krishna brought Nanda Maharaja and the Vrajavasis here when they desired to go to the Himalayas for Badrinath pilgrimage. The presiding Deity here is the incarnation of Godhead Nara-Narayana.Nearby is the Tapasya-kunda, whose waters remain ice cold throughout the year. Bathing here is a great austerity or tapasya.
The original Kedarnatha is present in Vraja Mandal area. Here Lord Shiva and Gauri-devi reside inside a cave on the top of a scenic mountain. At the foot of this mountain is the sacred pond Gauri-kunda.
Radha Govinda Mandir (Vrinda Devi)
Vrinda-devi is a gopi who helps in arranging the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. She incarnates as the sacred Tulasi plant. Maharaja Vajranabha installed a ten-armed Vrinda-devi Deity in Vrindavana who was later moved to Kamyavana. This Deity refused to leave Vraja-dhama.
Here Krishna built a floating stone bridge over the lake Setubandha-sarovara proving that He is non-different from Lord Rama.
Phisalini Shila means sliding rock. Krishna and His friends would come to Chandrasena-parvata and enjoy playing on its natural rockslide.
Here Krishna killed the Vyomasura demon who dared kidnap His cowherd friends. Near this cave are Krishna’s handprints and the imprints of His flower garland and Kaustuba necklace.
Krishna, Balarama and Their cowherd friends enjoyed a great feast here. The imprints of the plates (thali) they used can be seen on the floor.
Day 5 – Barsana
The village of Varsana is the place where Radharani spent the early part of Her youth, prior to Her marriage with Abhimanyu. Although Radharani was originally born at Ravel (Raval) near Gokula, Her father Vrishabhanu Maharaja, moved away from Ravela at the same time when Krishna’s father Nanda Maharaja also moved away from Gokula due to the fear of so many demons. In recent times, Varsana has become internationally famous for the annual spring festival known as the Holi-mela that is celebrated with great fervor by the local people, who throw large quantities of colored powder and colored water on each other as part of the celebrations. During Their transcendental pastimes, Radha and Krishna also played holi with Their friends at Varsana and at various other places around Vraja including Seva Kunja, Shyama Kuti, and Ganthuli Grama.
This is the most famous lake where Srimati Radharani washed Her hands after Mother Yashoda applied turmeric and vermillion on Her hands, considering Srimati Radharani her daughter in law.
Sankari Khora is a very narrow gorge between the two hills, Brahmagiri Parvata and Vilasa Parvata, and a place where Shri Krishna would regularly stop the gopis and demand a tax on the milk products that they were carrying to the market.
GEHVARVAN & KRISHNA KUND
There is a famous kunda in the Gahvaravana forest situated just below Mayura Kutira at the base of Brahma-giri Parvata and known as Krishna-kunda. The word ‘gahvaravana’ means an ‘impenetrable forest’ with thick foliage and considered to be a very secretive place.
MOR KUTIR (MAYUR KUTIR)
The word ‘mayura’ as well as ‘mora’ are both names for a peacock and ‘kutira’ or ‘kuti’ means a ‘small cottage’. This place has become famous because it was here that Shri Krishna danced just like a peacock.
This place situated on top of the Brahmagiri Parvata is the spot where Shri Krishna, with great difficulty, was able to placate the ‘mana’ or jealous anger that was consuming Radharani.
LADLI LAL MANDIR (SRIJI MANDIR)
This magnificent hilltop temple at Varsana is one of the most famous sites in the whole of Vraja. This famous temple is also known as the Larilylal Mandira, because it contains the Deities of Larily and Lala, who are the childhood forms of Radha and Krishna.
Day 6 – Nandagaon
After leaving Gokula due to the disturbance created by the demons sent by King Kamsa, Nanda Maharaja first stayed at Shakatikara (Chhatikara) and then at Dig, then at Kamyavana, before finally settling at Nandagrama, where he built a permanent residence. It is said that Krishna was in His sixth year when He arrived at Nandagrama and remained there until He was almost eleven, after which He moved to Mathura to be with His original parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, to whom He was born in the prison cell of Kamsa.
This is one of the most beautiful and also famous lakes in Vraja and it was created from the tear drops of the ‘divine lovers’ Radha and Krishna.
NANDA BABA MANDIR (KRISHNA BALARAM MANDIR)
This was the site of Nanda Maharaja’s residence known as Nanda Bhavan where Krishna and Balarama used to live; the word ‘bhavan’ means a large palatial residence with many well-appointed rooms. The present temple of Krishna-Balarama has been built on the spot where Nanda’s residence once stood.
This is the most celebrated lake in Nandagrama and it is customary to first bathe here before going to have darshana of Krishna and Balarama at Nanda Bhavana.
This famous kunda on the outskirts of Nandagrama is the residence of the gopi Vrinda Devi, who is very expert in arranging meetings between the ‘divine lovers’ Radha and Krishna.
The word ‘ter’ or ‘tera’ means that Krishna was sitting on the ‘end’ of a tree branch after climbing one of the kadamba trees. After the go-charana-lila or cow herding adventures during the day, Krishna would return in the late afternoon with His cows to Ter Kadamba where He would climb one of the kadamba trees in this grove and while sitting on a tree branch, He would call all the cows to assemble there by playing on His flute.
Day 7 – Rama Ghat – Chirghat
This is the famous Deity of Seshashayi Vishnu in His four-armed form of Narayana lying down on the celestial serpent Sesha Naga and being served by Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of fortune, who is massaging the Lord’s lotus feet. In the Vraja-riti-chintamani it says, “At Seshashayi, Lord Krishna manifested the milk ocean and expanded Himself as Ananta Sesha, transformed Himself into Kshirodakashayi Vishnu, and then sat down on the body of Ananta. Srimati Radharani then became the beautiful Lakshmi Devi, who with humbly bowed head began to massage Lord Vishnu’s lotus feet. This sight greatly delighted Radha’s on-looking gopi-friends”.
This is the celebrated place near the banks of the Yamuna where Lord Balarama once dragged the River Yamuna with His celebrated plough weapon known as “hala”.
This is the sacred place known as Akshaya Vata where a very large forest of banyana trees stood during Krishna’s pastimes. Akshaya Vata, lying on the western bank of the Yamuna south of Rama Ghata, is the place where Balarama killed the demon Pralambasura.
This sacred tirtha near the banks of the Yamuna is where the gopis performed tapasya during the month-long katyayani-vrata to achieve Krishna as their husband.
CHIRA GHAT & KATYAYINI MANDIR
This is the celebrated ghata where Krishna stole the clothing of the gopis. The word ‘chira’ means ‘clothing’. There is a temple here dedicated to goddess Katyayani Devi that commemorates the transcendental pastime that took place here.
Day 8 – Bhandirvan – Mana Sarovar
While herding Their cows, Krishna and Balarama used to come to this forest along with Their cowherd boyfriends and enjoyed playing various games, after which they would take their lunch under the cooling shade of the large banyana trees that grew in this forest. It is also said that the cowherd boys used to enjoy wrestling and other sporting pastimes here at Bhandiravana.
This is the sacred spot beneath the shade of this ancient banyana tree (vata-vriksa) which is known as Bhandira Vata and the place where Lord Brahma performed the vivaha-lila, or the wedding ceremony between Radha and Krishna mentioned in the Garga Samhita.
KRISHNA’S MUKUT & VENU KUPA
The word ‘venu’ refers to Krishna’s ‘flute’ and ‘kupa’ means a ‘well’. Some say the well was created by Krishna to quench the thirst of the cowherd boys as Chhanhari was a favorite spot for enjoying picnics. Another version says that Krishna created the well to satisfy the gopis thirst after the night-long rasa-lila at Vamsi Vata. Just next to Venu Kupa, one can see what is said to be the impression of Balarama’s crown (mukut) upon a rock. It is said that Balarama once rested here and took off His mukut when He lay down.
It is said that at this place under the vata tree, Krishna would play His vamsi or flute in order to call all the cows together before returning home in the late afternoon.
BELVAN (LAKSHMI DEVI MANDIR)
The name Bilvavana, or Baelvana as it is also known, is derived from of a large round fruit known as ‘bilva’, commonly called ‘bael fruit’ in most parts of India. This large fruit formerly grew in great abundance in this sacred forest and the cowherd boys would come here just to at the bael fruit. This sacred forest is also known as Shrivana because it is the residence of Shri Devi, the ‘goddess of fortune’. Places of interest here include the famous Lakshmi Devi Mandira, and Lakshmi Bhavana, said to have been the site of Lakshmi Devi’s bhajana-kutira.
MANA SAROVARA & RADHARANI MANDIR
The sacred lake of Mana-sarovara is a most beautiful and tranquil place inhabited by a variety of water-birds like ducks, herons and cranes. Located on the banks of Mana-sarovara is the Mana Mandira where a painting is worshiped that depicts the sacred pastime that took place here where Krishna is seen bowing down and offering His flute at the lotus feet of Radharani.
Day 9 – Vrindavana
Amongst the twelve sacred forests of Vraja Mandala, the forest of Vrindavana is the most famous and also considered to be the most sacred. It is the twelfth forest mentioned in the Adi-Varaha Purana and also the twelfth sacred forest visited by the Chaurasi-kosa Vraja Mandala Parikrama. The Garga Samhita says. “By uttering the name of Vrindavana one attains the merit of chanting Krishna’s holy name. By smelling the fragrance of Vrindavana, one is blessed by the merit of smelling the sweet fragrance of tulasi leaves offered to Lord Govinda.”
This is where Krishna subdued the multi-hooded and venomous serpent known as Kaliya Naga, by ecstatically dancing on the snake’s many hoods until he was completely exhausted and on the verge of death. One can still see the original kadamba-vriksha tree known as Kali-kadamba that Krishna climbed when He jumped into the Yamuna River in order to chastise the serpent Kaliya Naga.
This is the famous tamarind tree where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would sit and chant the holy name on His japa beads. The word ‘imli’ means ‘tamarind’ and ‘tala’ means ‘tree’.
This is the ghata where Krishna bathed after slaying the horse-demon Keshi. The powerful demon arrived in the forest of Vrindavana in the form of a gigantic horse with the intention of killing Krishna. Krishna killed this demon as easily as one splits a blade of grass and then washed the blood from His hands at a place now known as Keshi-tirtha.
VISHRAM VAT (CHAITANYA BAITAK)
This is the place where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would sit and rest while walking at noon-time from Imli-tala to His camp at Akrura Ghata, as it is the half-way point between the two places.
This temple was established in the year 1975, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the illustrious founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
End of Parikrama at Vishram Ghat