Vrindavan — city — Coordinates Coordinates: Country India State Uttar Pradesh District(s) Mathura Population 56,618 (2001[update]) Time zone IST (UTC+05:30) Area
• 170 metres (560 ft)
Vrindavan (Hindi: वृन्दावन)( pronunciation (help·info)) (alternatively spelled Vrindaban, Brindavan, Brindavana, or Brundavan) also known as Vraj (as it lies in the Braj region) is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the site of an ancient forest which is the region where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days.
The town is about 10 km away from Mathura, the city of Lord Krishna's birthplace, near the Agra-Delhi highway. The town hosts hundreds of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna and is considered sacred by a number of religious traditions such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism, and Hinduism in general.
The ancient name of the city, Brindavana, comes from its groves of 'Brinda' Ocimum tenuiflorum (Holy Basil or tulsi) with vana (Sanskrit: वन) meaning a grove or a forest. Two small groves still exist at Nidhivan and Seva Kunj
Vrindavan has an ancient past, associated with Hindu history, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site. One of its oldest surviving temples is the Govinda Deo temple, built in 1590, with the town founded earlier in the same century.
It is believed that the essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna's transcendent pastimes. Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love. By His divine spiritual power, He was able locate all the important places of Krishna's pastimes in and around Vrindavana.
In the last 250 years, the extensive forests of Vrindavan have been subjected to urbanization, first by local Rajas and in recent decades by apartment developers. The forest cover has been whittled away to only a few remaining spots, and the local wildlife, including peacocks, cows, monkeys and a variety of bird species has been eliminated or are close to it. A few peacocks and monkeys can be seen found but cows are now only found in the goshalas of the Major Ashrams of Vrindavan.
Vrindavan is considered to be a holy place by all traditions of Hinduism. The major tradition followed in the area is Vaisnavism, and it is a center of learning with many Vrindavan Ashrams operating. Its a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokul that are associated with Krishna. Many millions of bhaktas or devotees of Radha Krishna visit these places of pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishna's life on Earth.
According to tradition and recorded evidence (please site a source), Krishna was raised in the cowherding village of Gokul by his foster parents Nanda Maharaj and Yasoda. The Bhagavata Purana describes Krishna's early childhood pastimes in the Vrindavan forest where he, his brother Balarama, and his cowherd friends stole butter, engaged in childhood pranks and fought with demons. Along with these activities, Krishna is also described as meeting and dancing with the local girls of Vrindavan village, especially Radharani, who were known as gopis. These pastimes were the source of inspiration for the famous Sanskrit poem, Gita Govinda, by the Sanskrit poet, Jayadeva (c. 1200 AD).
The most popular temples include:
- Madan Mohan Temple located near the Kali Ghat was built by Kapur Ram Das of Multan. This is the oldest temple in Vrindavan. The temple is closely associated with the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu . The original image of Lord Madan Gopal was shifted from the shrine to Karauli in Rajasthan for safe keeping during Aurangzeb's rule. Today, a replica of the image is worshiped at the temple.
- Banke Bihari Temple, built in 1862 is the most popular shrine at Vrindavan. The image of Banke-Bihari was discovered in Nidhi Vana by Swami Haridas, the great Krishna devotee, belonging to the Nimbarka sampradaya.
- Radha Vallabh Temple, set up by the Radha-Vallabh sampradaya, through Sri Hith Harivansh Mahaprabhu, has the crown of Radharani placed next to the Shri Krishna image in the sanctum.
- Jaipur Temple which was built by Sawai Madho Singh II, the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1917, is a richly embellished and opulent temple. The fine hand - carved sandstone is of unparalleled workmanship. The temple is dedicated to Shri Radha Madhava.
- Sri Radha Raman Mandir, constructed at the request of Gopala Bhatta Goswami around 1542 is one most exquisitely crafted and revered temples of Vrindavan, especially by the Goswamis. It still houses the original saligram deity of Krishna, alongside Radharani.
- Shahji Temple, another popular temple at Vrindavan, was designed and built in 1876 by a wealthy jeweller, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. The deities (images) at the temple are popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. Noted for its magnificent architecture and beautiful marble sculpture, the temple has twelve spiral columns each 15 feet high. The `Basanti Kamra' - the darbar hall is famed for its Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.
- Rangaji Temple, built in 1851 is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha or Rangaji depicted as Lord Vishnu in his sheshashayi pose, resting on the coils of the sacred Sesha Naga. The temple built in the Dravidian style (as a replica of Srivilliputhur) has a tall gopuram (gateway), of six storeys and a gold - plated Dhwaja stambha, 50 feet high. A water tank and a picturesque garden lie within the temple enclosure. The annual festival of Jal Vihar of the presiding deity is performed with great pomp and splendour at the tank. The temple is also famous for its `Brahmotsdav' celebration in March–April, more popularly known as the `Rath ka Mela'. The ten day long celebrations are marked by the pulling of the rath (the chariot car) by the devotees from the temple to the adjoining gardens. The prayers within the temple are performed, following in the style of Andal, one of the twelve Vaishnava Saints of South India.
- Govind Deo (Govindaji) Temple was once a magnificent seven storeyed structure built in the form of a Greek cross. It is said that the Emperor Akbar donated some of the red sandstone that had been brought for the Red Fort at Agra, for the construction of this temple. Built at the astronomical cost of one crore rupees in 1590 by his general Raja Man Singh, the temple combines western, Hindu and Muslim architectural elements in its structure. It was destroyed by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
- Sri Krishna-Balarama Temple built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in a location known as 'Raman-Reti', is one of the most beautiful temples in Vrindavan today. The principal deities of this temple are Krishna & Balaram, with Radha-Shyamasundar and Gaura-Nitai alongside. Adjoining the temple is the samadhi of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, built in pure white marble.
- Radha Damodar Mandir Located at Seva Kunj, the Mandir was established in 1542 by Srila Jiva Goswami. The deities Sri Sri Radha Damodar are here. The bhajan kutir of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is also situated at the Mandir.
- Shri Maa Katyayani Mandir, the temple is situated in Radha Bagh, near Rangnath mandir. This is one of suddh Shakti Peetha of Shakti. http://www.katyayanipeeth.org.in/
- Chintaharan Hanuman Mandir, temple of Lord Hanuman is situated near Atalvan.
- Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Temple: In Vrindavan, the “Lila Sthan” (the place of the divine passion play) of Lord Krishna, lies the temple that is a must visit destination for devotees completing the 84 kosh Vraj Parikrama Yatra. The temple is centuries old and is the first Indian temple that is dedicated to the divine couple and their Ashta Sakhi’s - the eight “companions” of Radha who were intimately involved in her love play with the Lord Krishna. The Ashta Sakhis are mentioned in the ancient texts of Puranas and the Bhagavata Purana. The temple is called Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Mandir and it is home to the divine Rasa Lila of Lord Krishna and Radharani. It is located in close proximity to the Shri Banke Behari Mandir. Legend has it that the Shree Radha Rasa Behari Ashta Sakhi Mandir is one of the two places in Mathura, Vrindavan where the Lord Krishna actually indulges in the Rasa Lila with his beloved Radha and her sakhis. On these nights, devotees have reported hearing the sound of the anklets, beating in tune to a divine melody.
Other sacred sites
Other places of interest include Seva Kunj, Kesi Ghat, Sriji Temple, Jugal Kishore Temple, Lal Babu Temple, Raj Ghat, Kusuma Sarovar, Meera-Bai Temple, Imli Tal, Kaliya Ghat, Raman Reti, Varaha Ghat and Chira Ghat, and across the river, a short boat-ride away is the samadhi shrine of Devraha Baba, a revered saint of the last century.
The Seva Kunj is where Lord Krishna once performed the Raaslila with Radha-Rani and the gopis and Nidhi Van where the divine couple rested. The samadhi of Swami Haridas, the guru of Tansen, is situated here. Every year, in his honour, Swami Haridas Sammelan is organized, in which all renowned musicians of India take part. After hundreds of year a historic effort to restore the ancient Seva Kunj is being carried out by The Braj Foundation, a NGO committed for the all-round development of Braj.
Another famous temple of Sri Vrindavan is Sri Kathia Baba Ka Sthan" at Gurukul Road, the mahanta of which is entitled as "brajobidehi mahanta" and the acharya of Swabhuram Dwara of Nimbarka sect, Sri Swami Rash Behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj.
- Sri Sri Radha Govinda Temple - was built by Mahamandaleshwar Mahant Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji from Vrindavan. This newly constructed Radha Govinda Temple, completed in 2004 is based on a famous historic temple built about 500 years ago by Srila Rupa Goswami, a direct Sanyasi disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Vrindavan-Chandra Mandir
Sri Vrindavan-Chandra Mandir (HKM Vrindavan), located some ninety miles southeast of Delhi, is a replica of that supreme Goloka Vrindavana in the spiritual sky. The Sri Vrindavan-chandra Mandir was inaugurated in 2006 on the most auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami day.File:Vrindavan Hare Krishn.jpeg
The temple is housed in an ultra modern geodesic structure with a traditional gopuram based on khajuraho style of architecture, greeting pilgrims at the entrance. The major festivals of the temple are Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Sri Radhashtami, Kartik Fest (7 day festival during Govardhan Puja time) and Gaura Purnima. Grand abhishekas are performed for Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra during festivals such as Radhashtami & Janmashtami. The abhisheka is performed against a special flower backdrop as several hundreds of devotees watch on and tumultuous kirtan goes on in the back ground. It’s a place of pilgrimage and a must visit.
Places of Interest
The Akshaya Patra Foundation
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a Bangalore based Not for Profit Organization which provides meals to 13 Lakh children everyday to Government School children in 8 states across India. In Vrindavan the Foundation started in 2003 and provides meals for 1,71,624 Government School Children every day in 1655 schools. (Study of Best Practices Adopted in Mid-Day-Meal Scheme In Uttar Pradesh Dr. Kausar Wizarat , Department of Higher and Professional Education National University of Educational Planning and Administration , January 2009) There are around 50 vans transporting the meal from the Akshaya Patra kitchen in Vrindavan every day. Uttar Pradesh was the second state in India to which Akshaya Patra expanded its operations. The kitchen in Vrindavan is ISO 22000 certified by DNV for Food Safety Management Stystems. The equipment used include a roti-making machine which can make 40,000 rotis/hour, steam generators for cooking rice and dal, vegetable cutting machines which can cut about 300kg of vegetables per hour, grain cleaning machines which can clean 3 tons of grains per hour etc.The children are fed with rotis (chapatis) and dal [lentil soup] with sabji [vegetable dishes] or with a rice item like palav [rice with vegetables] or fried rice with sabji or dal.
Vrindavan is located at  It has an average elevation of 170 metres (557 feet)..
As of 2001[update] India census, Vrindavan had a population of 56,618. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. Vrindavan has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 73%, and female literacy is 55%. In Vrindavan, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. The number of females is 24,200 including 13% who are under 6 years of age.
Vrindavan is also known as the City of Widows due to the large number of widows who move into the town and surrounding area after losing their husbands. According to some Hindu traditions, upper-caste widows may not remarry, so many of those abandoned by their families on the death of their husband make their way here. There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 widows living on the streets, many of whom have spent over 30 years there. In exchange for singing bhajan hymns for 7–8 hours in bhajanashrams, women are given a cup of rice and a pittance of money (around Rs.10), which they try to supplement by begging on the streets. An organization called Guild of Service was formed to assist these deprived women and children. In 2000 the organization opened Amar Bari (My Home), a refuge for 120 Vrindavan widows, and a second shelter for 500 widows is expected to open.
Hare Krishna Movement, Vrindavan, is a charitable trust started by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON Bangalore). It feeds 140 widow “mothers” in Mahila Ashraya Sadhan and 200 more in the Mira Shivagani Ashram in Vrindavan. Hare Krishna Movement, Vrindavan is providing a wholesome, nutritious, mid day meal to around 400 widows 365 days a year. The meal consists of rotis, rice, dal and sabzi.
Industries in Vrindavan
These days Vrindavan is becoming a major source of earnings for real estate companies. Many people from Delhi are purchasing houses in Vrindavan for its relative peace and quiet, and to live in a Holy place. As a result of this demand, many notable real estate and property development companies have launched many new housing projects in Vrindavan.
- ^ Brindaban The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 9, p. 17.
- ^ Brindaban This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- ^ Discovery of Vrindavan by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- ^ KLOSTERMAIER, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism. State University of New York Press; 3 edition. p. 204. ISBN 0791470814. "The center of Krishna-worship has been for a long time Brajbhumi, the district of Mathura that embraces also Vrindavana, Govardhana, and Gokula, associated with Krishna from the time immemorial. Many millions of Krishna bhaktas visit these places ever year and participate in the numerous festivals that reenact scenes from Krshnas life on Earth"
- ^ Banke-Bihari Temple website
- ^ Radhavallabh Temple website
- ^ The history of Sri Radha Raman Temple
- ^ Red Stone Temple
- ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Vrindavan
- ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20040616075334/http://www.censusindia.net/results/town.php?stad=A&state5=999. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
- ^ a b "CNN: India's widows live out sentence of shame, poverty". Archived from the original on November 29, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20061129032657/http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9711/16/india.women/. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
- ^ "Catalyst Magazine: Moksha: the widows of Vrindavan". http://www.catalystmagazine.org/Default.aspx.LocID-0hgnew0ha.RefLocID-0hg01b001006009.Lang-EN.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
- ^ a b "Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die". CNN. 2007-07-05. http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/07/05/damon.india.widows/index.html. Retrieved 2007-07-05. (This article was criticized by several members of the South Asian Journalists Association for "generalizations and questionable assertions." An article in the SAJA Forum documents several instances where, after such criticisms appeared, CNN quietly made changes in the online version of the article. Arun Venugopal, a reporter for WNYC, wrote, "On the SAJA Discussion list, a number of people across the political spectrum found that the story ascribed too much to 'tradition' rather than to more complex social realities.")
- Keene, Henry George (1899, Sixth ed.). "Bindrabun". A Handbook for Visitors to Agra and Its Neighbourhood. Thacker, Spink & Co.. pp. 98–106. http://www.archive.org/stream/ahandbookforvis00keengoog#page/n113/mode/1up.
- Vrindavan travel guide from Wikitravel
- Vrindavandham.com : Connect with the spirit of Braj
- Sri Vrindavan-dham
- Food for Life Vrindavan
- Friends of Vrindavan
- Mathura & Vrindavan
- Guide tour to Vrindavan and its allied temples
- Vrindavan map Also shows parikrama marg
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