It was an unique experience to be in a small town where people wake up with the name of ‘Radha-Krishna’, where Rickshaw driver won’t honk if you are in the middle of his way but would instead say ‘Radhe-Radhe’. In fact, all the greeting from Good-Morning to Good Night have been replaced by ‘Radhe-Radhe’. It was difficult for me to practice it in a two day trip but I had to adapt to it as I was on the streets to capture the ambience of Holi in Vrindavan. Instead of asking ‘If I can photograph you’,I would say “Radhe-Radhe” with a broad smile and yeah, It worked except at one or two situations like this.
I was on this trip on my own, to experience the famous Holi of Vrindavan; I was extremely cautious as I had been warned multiple times about how it how the city was going to be during Holi. I visited all the temples where Holi Celebrations take place and indeed, I came back with a very calm mind and a much happier soul. Holi at Barsana and Nandgaon finished almost a week back as these are the places where the festival of Holi kicks off. I was sad that I have missed the famous ‘Lath-maar Holi’ but I was very satisfied with the places I visited and the people I met in a very short span of time. The list in order is as below.
1. Banke-Bihari Temple: I secured a top view to capture the celebrations and after that packed everything to be a part of Holi celebration. There is an interesting story of Swami Haridas who put the foundation of this temple and his avatar as Radha’s friend Lalita.
2. Radhavallabh: The temple was closed; I was in the courtyard doing people photography. And yes this was the temple where my sleepers were stolen!
3. Rangji Temple: The largest temple of Vrindavan with mixed architecture of South and North Indian temple, a must visit place indeed.
4. Nidhivan: This one was my favourites, as it was so amazing to see the jungle of Tulsi as fresh and green which as has been described in the holy books. It has many interesting stories or myths. This ‘van’ is home of monkeys and you may satisfy your desireof capturing wild life.
5. Madanmohan: It is the most peaceful and old temple of Vrindavan, situated on the beside Yamuna. You get a stunning view from here. The original image of Lord Madan Gopal was shifted from the shrine to Rajasthan for safe keeping during Aurangzeb’s rule.
6. Kali-Deh and Cheer Ghat: It is the place where Shri Krishna used to perform his Ras-Lila and these Ghats still reflect those stories.
7. Iskcon Temple and Prem mandir: These are modern temples in Vrindavan which are very grand and beautiful. Both are located half a km away from each other and are worth a visit.
Apart from that I visited Widow-Ashram and it was an anxious and sad feeling to see that even in the 21st century the widows are being discarded from their family.
Next day I had a train at 9:00 and the only thing I could think of is to have a boat ride in Yamuna which was a perfect end tothis spiritual trip. I read Hindi poems in my childhood describing the beauty of Yamuna and now I understand how poets managed to write numerous poems about it .
Please find some more important information below-
1. The simplest way to reach Vrindavan is to take a morning express train from Delhi and reach Mathura, the journey takes around 1:30 hour.
2. You may reach Vrindavan from Mathura by a shared auto or a private one for 120 rupees
3. There is not much info on internet about the guides as I struggled to find one, but thankfully I met this wonderful guy who helped me thoroughly to visit temples and other photogenic places around.
Name- Shyam, Phone number- 09897171040
4. Don’t forget to buy Brijwasi ke pede, the famous sweet shop of Vrindavan.
5. Most of the temples are closed from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, so plan the trip accordingly.