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THE SACRED RIVER YAMUNA
The beautiful Yamuna, India's most sacred river, flows through the transcendental land of Vrndavana. A bath in this river is said to be one hundred times more purifying than a bath in the Ganges. The reason being that the Ganges was once touched by the feet of lord Vishnu, but it was the Yamuna, where Lord Krishna Himself played and swam with His cowherd boyfriends, as well as sported in its watere with the beautiful gopi damsels of Vraja.Starting from high up in the Himalayan mountains at amunotri, the River Yamuna slowly makes its way to the plains of India, and on until it reaches Sri Vrndavana Dhama. Formally, this river used to encircle Vrndavana, but now only touches this holy town on two sides, leaving many of the ancient ghatas high and dry. Pilgrims still flock to these most sacred ghatas and touch their heads to the sand, which is beheved to have the same effect as bathmg in the holy river.Most pilgrims take their holy bath at the Kesi-ghata which is the traditional bathing place. This is where Lord Krishna took His bath after killing the KesT demon. The Yamuna has been flowing here since ancient times. One who takes bath in the River Yamuna is freed from all past sins and contamination of this material world. That person will also gradually become a pure devotee of the Lord, and achieve liberation by returnŽing to the spiritual world to personally associate with the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna.
Vrndavana flourished under the patronage of the Rajaput princes during the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, many beautiful temples and riverside ghatas situated along the Yamuna River were built out of red sandstone. The Urst ghdla was built about 1580 and the last one before 1870. Unfortunately, many of the ghatas have fallen into disrepair, or covered over by sand and mud in the course of time. There is now a major effort going on to restore the ghatas of Vrndavana to their former glory.
"Vrinda refers to Srimati Tulasi-devi. Because tulasi plants grow profusely in this forest, it has been named after her. Tulasi is very dear to Lord Krishna. "The word 'vana' means forest, Vrindavana is the name given to the forest where Srimati Vrindadevi (Tulasi-devi) grows profusely." (Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 17.193 purport) Vrinda devi is the presiding Deity of the forest of Vrindavana. She is an expansion of Srimati Radharani.The forest of Vrindavana is the largest forest. It goes from the present city of Vrindavana to Nandagram and Varsana on one side and to Govardhana on the other side. This is the favorite forest of Krishna. It is the 12th forest of Braja Mandala and is considered the most auspicious. This forest extends 57 km (32 miles). Within this forest is the sacred place known as Radha-Kunda.Within the transcendental forest of Vrindavana, Krishna performed the rasa dance. The rasa-mandala (place where the rasa dance was performed) has a parameter of 16 km (9 miles). It is a semicircle, with the Yamuna flowing on one-side. Even though thousands of gopis were dancing with Krishna, Yogamaya arranges that they all fit in this small mandala (area)."In Braja the land is devided into various vanas (Forests). The forests total twelve, and their extension is estimated to be 84 krosas (168 miles). Of these, the special forest known as Vrindavana is located from the present municipal city of Vrindavana to the village called Nandagram." (Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya 21.29 purport)
Going on Vrindavana Parikrama
It is cutomary for devotees to walk around the town of Vrindavana. There is a parikrama path that goes all the way around the town. This path is one street over from the ISKCON temple. It usually takes two to three hours to around Vrindavana, if you do not stop. The parikrama path is 10 km (6 miles). Some of the places passed on the way are: Mohana Ter, Kaliya Ghata, Madana Mohana Temple, ImIi TaIa, Sringara Vata, and Keshi Ghata.The main day that people do parikrama of Vrindavana is on Ekadasi (the eleventh day of the waxing and wanting moon). It is customary to do this walk with bare feet, which is fairly painless, even for one who never walks with bare feet.Devotees usually start parikarama from where the parikrama path passes nearby the Krishna Balarama Temple. From there you start walking and after about six minutes (440 m) you then reach the Krishna-Balarama tree. Most devotees circle this tree and then continue on the path. You then proceed straight on the path for another minute and a half (120 m), and you then make a left and an immediate right. You then walk another three minutes and on your left is Gautam Rishi's Ashrama, on the right is Varaha Ghata. You walk another 50m and you reach an intersection (the road ends). You make a right here and follow the path. After about five minutes you can see the beautiful garden on the ISKCON Goshala (cow barn) land on the right. After another minute you pass the cows protected by ISKCON on your right. You then walk another 400m (5 minutes) and you can see the large red sandstone temple tower of the Madana Mohana temple. After you see this temple, Kaliya Ghata is another minute and a half (18Om) away, on your right. After another two or three minutes (200m), you are next to the Madana Mohana Temple.
You then walk another km (6/10 of a mile, 15 minutes), and you then go over a small wooden bridge. You then keep following the path for another 80Om (half a mile, 12 minutes) and on your right is ImIi TaIa. There is a yellow wall around ImIi TaIa and you can see the ImIi TaIa tree through the gate of this wall. You then continue on the path for another three minutes (240 m), and Sringara Vata is on your right. To get to Sringara Vata you go up some steps on your right, between a small ghata tower and a small concrete temple.If you reach the place where the path becomes thin, you just passed Sringara Vata. You then continue for another six minutes (400 m) and you come to the built-up red sandstone ghata area. This is the Keshi Ghata area. After about five minutes (330 m) the path makes a right and a quick left. The road then comes to another path in about 100 m and you make a left and a quick right. After about a half km (1/ 3 mile) the path becomes a bit tricky. Some people go to the left and do not go through the town at all. Others go right and then left and pass some interesting temples mcluding the Tekan Ram temple. There is Jagannaatha temple in this area, with beautiful Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra Deities.You then walk along the path, with some temples and ashrams on your right and wilderness on your left. You follow the path for over a km and a half (over a mile). The road then turns to the right and you follow the brick road around. When the road turns, there is also a dirt road that goes straight. About three minutes (220 m) after the road turns, there is a small temple (4 by 4 feet), just off the path on the right, with a Deity of Lord Caitanya in it. This temple is said to mark the place where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sat when He came to Vrindavana.
You then continue on the path for another km (6/10 mile, 15minutes). At this point the path becomes a little tricky. You reach a fork in the path, where one path goes straight towards Mathura and the other turns right. You take the right path. At this place there is a water pump on the left and a lamp post on the right. After another eight minutes (half a km) you come to the main Vrindavana-Mathura road which cross. Here you take a left and then go immediately right, and proceed along the parikrama path. Having crossed the main road you then follow this road for another 2 km (1.2 miles) going over some railway tracks until you reach the end of the parikrama near the KrishnaBalarama Mandir
One of the best places of bathe is by the madana mohana Temple.To get to this area,you can take a rickshaw to the Madan Mohan temple and from there it is about a five minute walk to the Yamuna.It is a fairly secluded peaceful and clean location.You should be a little careful when you bathe in the yamuna.You should not leave any valuables unguarded.I have heard of several people that have been robbed.If you take a boat across the river you should be esoecually careful about being robbed.If possible, it is best to bring nothing of value with you, when you go bathing, then you will not be bothered..
Seven Main Temples
There are seven main temples in Vrindavana. These are the seven oldest and most fanous temples. These temples were established by the six Gosvamis or their contemporaries. The devotees who established these temples were all followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Govindaji temple is at one end of Vrindavana and Madana Mohana temple is at the other. Madana Mohana is the closest temple is the furthest. To visit all seven temples at one time you could go first to Madana Mohana and then in order to: Radha-Damodra, Radha Syamasundara, Radha Gokulananda, Radha-Raman, Radha Gopinatha and ending at the Govindaji temple. You could also go in the reverse order.
Rupa Gosvami Sanatana Gosvami Madhu Pandita Gosvami Gopala Bhatta Gosvami Jiva Goswami Lokanatha Gosvami Syamananda Goswami
2.Sri Madana Mohana
5.Sri Radha Damodra