Vrindavan, around 15 km from Mathura, is a major place of pilgrimage, on the banks of Yamuna. Attracting about 5 lakhs pilgrims every year, it is noted for its numerous temples- both old and modern. Vrindavan is synonymous with the innocent mirth and child like playfulness of Shri Krishna. Vrindavan, the dusty little town known for the temples, big and small, famous and remote strewn all over the place. Lord Krishna was born in a prison cell in Mathura. His father Vasudev aided by several celestial forces stole him out of Mathura, across the raging river Yamuna and into the house of Nand in Gokul. Krishna spent his early childhood here and revealed the first signs of his divinity. His uncle Kansa's muderous attempts forced Krishna to leave Gokul and move to Nandgaon, a more secure home high up on a hill. From here, the adolescent Krishna, the cowherd, would wander into the Vrindavan forests to play with his friends and dally with Radha, his lady love. Vrindavan, is still a transcendental world, a place of Krishna's leela, (play), of deep eroticism and an archetypal connection to nature. Each tree in the area speaks, as it were, of the love of the divine couple. Vrindavan today, is noted for its numerous temples. The most important are:
The Madan Mohan Temple located near the Kali Ghat which was built by Kapur Ram Das of Multan. This is the oldest existent temple in Vrindavan today. The temple is closely associated with the saint Chaitanya. The original idol 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 worshipped at the temple.
The Banke-Bihari Temple built in 1864 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 sect.
The famous Radha Vallabh Temple set up by the Radha - Vallabh sect, has the crown of Radha-Rani placed next to the Shri Krishna idol in the sanctum.
The Jaipur Temple which was built by Sawai Madhav Singh, 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 Madhav.
The Shahji Temple, another popular temple at Vrindavan, was designed and built in 1876 by a wealthy jeweller, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. The deities 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.