Exploring Gokul – Sri Krishna’s Janmabhoomi

Indranil Mutsuddi

Prologue

The lady was amazed to find the reflection of her little son on her lap on the blue waters of the Yamuna that flowed with murmuring swiftness across the picturesque Gokul. The lady was none other than Yashoda…It was the first time she had taken her little Krishna to the ghats of the Yamuna…There was hardly any difference in the complexion of his son and the blue waters of the Yamuna. Krishna was gurgling and laughing… his little hands were trying to point towards the beautiful herons and stalks that were hovering over the shallow waters of the river…Yashoda was a proud mother…..she could not even think off for a moment without taking care of her son Krishna…Krishna was her world…Her spell was cut short with Rohini approaching her in quick pace….she remembered that post lunch the two ladies had to finish their assignment of giving a final touch to pack the 300 vessels of sweet meats that Nanda Maharaj was supposed to send to the court of Raja Kamsa along with other items like food grains, spices, butter, milk…she thought it was a cruel on the part of Kamsa to force the poor people of Gokul pay hefty taxes..when they  had so many problems to deal…Yet amidst all these Yashoda was happy that she had Krishna..and somebody in the corner of her mind said..that things would change…and better days are soon to come for the people of Gokul…..

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Lord Krishna in his mother Yashoda’s lap (A Mural from Nanda-Yashoda Bhawan, Gokul)

Our Journey to Gokul…

Krishna’s early childhood was spent in the house of Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda at Gokul after his father Vasudeva on the eventful stormy night transported his son Krishna far away from the wrath of the evil King Kamsa…Devaki his wife was devastated to leave her son…her sweet son just a few minutes after his birth…But it had to be done to destroy Kamsa and save the avatar of Lord Vishnu from mortal danger. The rest of the story, I believe is known to you all…

Mathura, Vrindavana, Gokul, Barsana and Nandagaon are immortalized by the memoirs and adventures of Lord Krishna and his heroics that you must have read from the pages of the epic Mahabharata….We had a long cherished dream to visit Lord Krishna’s birthplace and when the opportunity came to us last year during the Dashera holidays we grabbed it immediately. Millions of people from various corners of our nation and abroad visit Mathura-Vrindavan as a major “Tirtha Yatra” or a tour for seeking religious salvation. The objective of our tour was not only to pay respect and homage to Lord Krishna, but to have a deep insight to the origin of the epic saga that shaped the course of the future of the modern Bharata or India….

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Driving from Mathura Old Bus Stand to Gokul (Courtesy: Googlemaps, 2015)

We started off early in the morning from Hazrat Nizamuddin station boarding the Taj Express that sailed us to the Mathura junction at around 9.15am. We had our bookings at a not-to-be famous lodge located near to the ISKON Temple of Vrindavana…It was festival time and there was hardly any vacancy in and around Vrindavan. Thanks to the Tourist Information Office of the ISKON temple, our day’s tour was well organized in a very comfortable tourist vehicle. We started with Gokul, which still….still has a traditional serene aura around its narrow lanes, old havelis (villas)…that reminds you now and then of the rich heritage and culture of the bygone era. Thanks to Lord Krishna that, the shameless consumerism and Mall culture of the Urban India is yet to have their toll on this important historic and mythological town.

Putra Kund

Our car took a left turn from the Mathura-Agra highway, crossed the beautiful Yamuna (Gokul Barrage)..and led us into Gokul….The narrow lanes inspite of the rush time was hardly busy..the villas around us looked so similar to those of Kashi…There were lots of monkeys hovering around…busy with their playful monkey business….It was hardly another two minutes before our car left us in front of the Putra Kund…beyond which we had to be of our own.

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Putra Kund

We were immediately surrounded by anxious guides, with so many stories which they proudly claimed to share with us. After thankfully obliging their efforts, we proceeded towards the bathing ghat of Putra Kund.

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The ghats of Putra Kund

Putra Kund is more of a pond with bathing ghats all around. The place is claimed to be holy by the devotees as it was perhaps used as a place for cleaning the nappies of baby Krishna and his elder brother Balarama…The pond is surrounded by some old banyan trees that are used for offering pujas…The water looked severely polluted, green with algae…it showed that the civil authorities hardly paid any attention for ensuring its preservation.

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The Banyan Trees of Putra Kund

There was something unique about some of the old sweet meat shops in and around the Putra Kund. Some of them were more than 50 years old. Later in the day we found the Pedas and Kheers of  the nearby Nityananda Mistanya Bhander with amazing taste.

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The beautiful gateway to Gokul

Sri Gopal Goshala

We took the narrow lane from Nityananda Mistanya Bhander leading us to the centre of the holy town “Srimad Gokul”. A beautifully painted arched gate awaited us. The elaborate murals spoke of Krishna’s boyhood days with the cow-herds of Gokul. A little ahead and to our right, we found the “Sri Gopal Goshala”.

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Sri Gopal Goshala

It is said that Nanda Maharaj, popularly known as Nanda Baba, had donated 9 lakh cows to the people of Gokul to celebrate Krishna’s birth.

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The narrow lanes of Srimad Gokul

The narrow lanes of Srimad Gokul

There was something very majestic of an aura in the culturally rich old havelis surrounding the narrow lane leading us to Srimad Gokul. The gigantic wooden gates, the arched entrance, the wooden panel works, multi-coloured walls were too good to digest. Guys this lane is a treat for snap lovers. We made some humble attempts for some shots out here….

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The beautiful wooden gate of a haveli

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The painted walls of the havelis

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Gokul: Aura of the bygone era

Krishna Dwar

The majestic Krishna Dwar soon welcomed us into the Nand Chowk which connects the Krishna Dwar with the core of Srimad Gokul, housing the claimed residence of Nanda Maharaja and Krishna-Balarama.

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The Krishna Dwar

There was an unique message written on the walls of this famous gate which had urged pilgrims and tourists to maintain a clean and hygienic Gokul for a better environment. This was perhaps the true realization of Lord Krishna’s vision of a cleaner and healthy Bharata which he might have preached the people of Gokul and Vrindavana 5000 years ago.

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The beautiful Mansions of Gokul

The Sri Chandrabali Manas Temple

After walking a few yards ahead we came to a courtyard centred by a small and famous temple – the Sri Chandrabali Manas Temple. Devotees flock to this temple to offer prayers to Devi Chandrabali and seek her blessings for fulfilling their wishes (Manokamana).

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Sri Chandrabali Manas Temple

Sri Gokul Chandramaji Dwar

After leaving the Sri Chandrabali Manas Temple behind us, we came across the Sri Gokul Chandramaji Dwar. We knew that we were very near to the fabled place where Lord Krishna and Balarama had spent their early childhood.

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Sri Gokul Chandrama Dwar

Nanda Mahal Goshala

Taking the Ras Chowk we soon came across a beautiful cowshed popularly known as the “Nanda Mahal Goshala”. In ancient times this Goshala was perhaps a part of Nanda Mahal or the residence of Nanda Maharaja.

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Nanda Mahal Goshala

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We were thrilled by the sheer thought that the lord himself was in charge of this Goshala.

Nanda Mahal

At present the large pink-yellow coloured two storied mansion located to the right of Nanda Mahal Goshala is claimed by the local people of Gokul to be the fabled residence of Nanda Maharaja and Lord Krishna.

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The Nanda Mahal

Before entering the mansion to our left, we found a small antechamber room, which is claimed to be the famous “Putna Moksha” – the divine chamber where the lady-rakshasha Putna was slain by baby Krishna.

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The Putna Moksha

The ferocious lady-rakshasha Putna was sent to slain the 8th son of Princess Devaki (Lord Krishna) by the evil king Kamsa. The lady-rakshasha  disguised herself as a beautiful lady, visited house after house in and around Mathura and Gokul and killed hundreds of innocent babies who were born on the auspicious night of Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday). On the penultimate day, when Putna made an attempt to poison baby Krishna by breast feeding him…he sucked the life out of the demon and put an end to her evil deeds….

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Putna Vadh (Lord Krishna slaining the lady-rakshasha Putna)

Sri Nanda Yashoda Bhawan

Close to the Nanda Mahal, we came across the famous Lakshmi Dwar, leading us towards the Sri Nanda Yashoda Bhawan. The present bright yellow coloured double storied haveli (mansion) looks like an elegant palace containing beautiful galleries, paved courtyard and spacious living rooms. Although there is hardly any archaeological evidence to prove that exactly the same mansion was at its place 5000 years ago…but there was a divine aura around us…. “The Lord was here..”

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Sri Nanda Yashoda Bhawan

Near to the entrance of the mansion and to our left, there was a small sandy courtyard known as “Gopal ki Khelan Bhoomi” or the playground of baby Krishna (known as Gopal). The playground houses a very old banyan tree and a humble Indian well beside it. There are innumerable stories of Krishna’s naughty playfulness around this courtyard and tree when mother Yashoda used to be busy in managing her day to day household chores.

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Gopal ki Khelan Bhoomi (Playground of Gopal)

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Gopal ki Khelan Bhoomi (Playground of Gopal)

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The holy banyan tree

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Was this well located at the Gopal ki Khelan Bhoomi used by Yashoda???

The Nanda Yashoda Bhawan is nowadays used as a temple for worshipping Lord Krishna. It would be incomplete of a narration, if we do not describe you the aura of its sheer elegance and aesthetic beauty which even surpasses many of the Rajput palaces you may encounter in and around Rajasthan.

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The beautiful Nanda Yashoda Bhawan

Way back to Putra Kund

On our way back towards the car parking space near to the Putra Kund, we stopped at the Nanda Baba Gali to purchase a few mementos. We observed that that apart from memento shops, the place housed a number of sweet shops and stalls, out of which majority had kheer, home-made butter and creamed lassis as special items which were particularly favourite to Lord Krishna. We could hardly resist ourselves from having a gulp of a plateful of Kheer and creamed lassi.

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The Lassi & Kheer Stall

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Capturing a bull in the Nanda Baba Gali

Leaving Srimad Gokul…

Leaving Srimad Gokul was painful for us. We were madly in love with the Lord and his birthplace. There was something extra ordinary, out of the world in the brick and mortar which we found around us.

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On our way back to Putra Kund

The Lord was gone with his Godliness and the immortal lessons he taught us during the Mahabharata. Yet he was there… so much…universally everywhere around us at Gokul. His playful mischievous acts, joyfulness, dedication and pure love for people and the living world… created the aura that immortalized Gokul and its people for ages gone far back in time and would remain to do the same in the eras to come.

….to be continued….

Written and photographed by..Indranil Mutsuddi


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