Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

After purifying ourselves in the sacred waters of the River Yamuna, we head towards the most important temple of Mathura, the Dwarkadheesh Temple dedicated to the king of Dwarka, Lord Krishna.

Market Lane of Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura
The lane leading to the Dwarkadheesh Temple

Situated in the midst of a bustling bazaar, buzzing with tunes of Radhe Radhe Radhe.. Barsane wali Radhe and filled with shops selling a variety of vibrant shringaar (decorative) items and other religious stuff, this temple is a very ancient one. It dates back to the year 1814 and is exceedingly striking in every aspect. The temple was built by the treasurer of the Gwalior Estate and a devotee of Lord Krishna - Seth Gokul Das Parikh and is today looked after by the followers of the Vallabhacharya sect. Designed as a haveli, a grand house fit for a king, one can’t help but admire its opulence with the intricate architectural carvings and minute detailing in its structural pattern.

Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura
Majestic Temple - Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura
The Dwarkadheesh Temple

As mobile phones, cameras and other electronic items are not allowed in the premises; you can either leave them in the hotel room itself or deposit them in the lockers of one of the shops outside. After depositing our belongings in one of the shops, we take a bunch of flowers and some Tulsi leaves for the Lord and enter through one of the two haveli gates. The haveli is a two storey house and there is a wide and a spacious courtyard loaded with pilgrims assembled from various parts of the country on the ground level.

Entrance gate to the Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura
Entrance to the Dwarkadheesh Temple,
also gives a sneak peak to the insides of the temple

Entry to the second level is restricted for the devotees and one can just have a glimpse of it from the ground level. The railings on the second level are adorned with beautiful graphical pictures depicting some of the lovely pastimes from Lord Krishna's birth, gopika leelas and life. On the ground level, stands the main temple on a slightly raised platform with a few fleet of stairs leading to it. The curtains of the sanctum are drawn. The Lord is dressing up and there’s still some time to go before we can meet up with Him, says one of the pilgrims on inquiry.

One can hear and see all the usual hubbub of a temple gathering; pilgrims sitting idle, chatting, singing hymns, praying to the potted Tulsi plant present in the courtyard; all of them waiting for the curtains to open up.

In one corner of the temple room is an elaborately decorated swing with the Divine couple, Lord Krishna and His beloved Radhe. This being the month of August, marks the occasion of Jhulan Yatra or the swing festival, one of the bigger festivals
of Mathura besides Janmashtmi, Holi and Diwali  that lasts for 13 days. The whole setting exudes splendor and grandeur as the gold polished swings are beautifully adorned with jewels, jasmine flowers, long tickers of colorful garlands and sprayed with rose water.

Temple compound of Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura
The main temple hall
(image courtesy virtual tourist.com)

After filling myself with this divine sight, I climb the stairs of the main temple room and take a seat next to a bhajan mandali - a group of people singing glory to the Lord. I can grasp the words of the bhajan (devotional hymn) but their meaning fails me, the bhajan being in the local language – Braj bhasha. Nevertheless, there is a unique rhythm and a strong verve in their singing, and I can feel the harmony in their voices. The earnestness in their tones goes beyond my soul.

Soon, there is a loud ringing of bell and the curtain is opened. Dressed in a bright yellow kurti (frock) and decorated with a variety of scented flowers and other ornaments, The King of Dwarka, Lord Krishna is now visible. In contrast to His ornately decked up house, the immediate sitting area - the sanctum sanctorum - resonates in modesty making Him very much endearing to the common man like me. He is flanked by His queens Rukmini and Satyabhama on both sides.

The priests of the temple show Him His reflection in the mirror as a part of the prayer ritual so as to give Him a glimpse of His looks (the shringar aarti). On the other end, in the temple room, loud chants of 'Jai Shri Krishna' echo in the chambers, hands come together in prayers, eyes close in reverence and heads bend down in veneration, the prayers commence.

After the prayers, people disperse and move for the circumambulation. Along the circumambulation path, a cluster of devotees is busy threading flower garlands for the main deity of the temple. There is also a green Tulsi plant in the temple, the eternal consort of Krishna and the most pure devotee and therefore it is also worshiped by the pilgrims.

After the circumambulation, I sit down again to spend the final few minutes in the temple courtyard... at the very same spot that I was sitting a few moments earlier... The melodious chanting of hymns has now given way to noisy commotion and that is all that I can hear. Still, a strange sense of peace seeps through..


The bhajan-mandali has long dispersed,
but not without leaving their vibrations behind...

Fairs and Festivals

At the beginning of the rainy season (July/August), during the month of Shravan, a splendid festival called the Jhulan Yatra or the swing festival takes place in Mathura. Hundreds and thousands of devotees, from all over the world gather here to partake in the festivities. For the 13 days of this festival, highly decorated gold polished swings adorned with jewels, long tickers of garlands and jasmine flowers are set up in one corner of the temple room and the Divine Couple, Lord Krishna along with His consort Radha, come out from the sanctum to bless Their devotees.

I have been during this festival once; the atmosphere is highly captivating and one that will leave you spellbound. If possible, do plan your trip during festivals like Holi, Diwali, Janamasthmi that is celebrated with great grandiose in this part of the country and it will truly be an experience in itself!


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57 comments:

  1. Jhulan Yatra sounds like a fun festival, thank you for sharing this with us.

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  2. Thanks for the virtual yatra . Lovely pictures .

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  3. Another wonderful and informative visit to your country, Arti! Marvelous captures and so lovely and colorful! Thanks as always for sharing! Hope your week is going well!

    Sylvia

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  4. Well, you were not allowed to take a photo but your description totally makes up for it, I can visualize him so easily, reading your words.

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  5. very interesting..i have been here once but as a breif stopover......im not religious...more spiritual...so avoid religious places.....especially which are frequented by pilgrims......and i guess thats why god made me marry into a family living in haridwar!!

    and now i love haridwar/rishikesh!!


    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  6. Must be so awesome - especially at festival time, as you say. Love the indian festivities like Holi - such joyful occassions!

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  7. This temple looks much different from most of the others, which are off by themselves. This is right in the middle of other buildings and hustle and bustle. Are they able to make it quiet inside?

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  8. Arti, this is the place of my annual pilgrimage! A divine experience each time and so well described by you:)

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  9. @Ginny During the prayer ceremonies performed at various times of the day, the commotion of the crowds outside the temple in no way disturbs the divine mood inside in spite of the fact that the temple stands right in the middle of the street.

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  10. @Petty Witter Yes, it is a festival eagerly awaited by all the people and is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. The whole atmosphere not only inside the temple but also in the entire town is very lively during this part of the year.

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  11. lovely post, Aarti as usual! i have been to mathura, but long long back,, when i was even younger than samhith!!! and this post reminds me that i have to go again!

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  12. It looks too crowded,but inside it must be great and serene, right? Just like the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.

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  13. That is a beautiful description of the temple. As Dhiraj said thanks for the visual tour.

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  14. Arti, you amaze me with every post. And I still wonder why I haven't made it to India yet.

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  15. hi arti,

    visiting ur blog after a long time... actually had a few problems with modem and was forced to use my mobile as modem which restricted the usage and also there are lot of power cuts here... that has kept me out of blogging world for a long time...

    about the post, it is fantastic as usual... the photographs, history and background of the temple gives good insights... looking the lane that leads to the temple, i get a feeling that most historic temples in india have same background...

    looking forward to ur next post...

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  16. Hi Arti

    You have provided a amazing description of the mood of devotion within the temple ... sometimes I feel why I was not born in vrindavan or mathura ... I could have celebrated every festival with joy : ) But my heart fills with joy when I read your posts and experience a feeling I am in the temple.Thank you so much


    Super Yummy Recipes

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  17. Hi Arti ..how r u ...I am doing fine ...just don't find time to blog nowerdays as I am expecting now and so relaxing ...sorry to miss all ur amazing posts....lovely write up and beautifully explained!

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  18. Arti

    New to your blog and really am enjoying your writing style.

    Loved your post on Dwarkadheesh Temple.

    I am looking forward to visiting
    UP this Fall.

    All the best!

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  19. @Arti Thanks a lot for another nice post.Great to read it.Nice pics.

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  20. Such lovely and ornate temples! I like the last photo - great framing.

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  21. glad you captured the solemnity and beauty of everything in words when electronics are not allowed.

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  22. @zephyr Aunty - The scene inside, though crowded, still is better than the commotions outside. The atmosphere in the Dwarkadheesh temple is even peaceful than the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple room is more spacious and we can spend a few minutes in quietude which is a tad difficult in the KV temple of Varanasi.

    @Inside Journeys Thank you~ Hope you can plan a trip to India soon! India is waiting to welcome you with open arms :-)

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  23. @Satya I feel the same too :)

    @Sushma Mallya Congratulations, dear! Happy for you! Best wishes :-)

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  24. I have been following you in your Mathura trip. I have missed this one. The one where we went was said to be the moolsthan adjacent to a Mosque.

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  25. Jhulan Yatra sounds like a very interesting festival, would love to be a part of it whenever possible. Another beautiful experience just to read your posts Arti. As someone said above, thanks for the virtual yatra. :)

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  26. Your vivid descriptions makes me feel as if I am there physically.

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  27. I love festivals! This one sounds like a lot of fun. :)

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  28. It's very educational. In our country, taking photo in some places of temples is prohibited because god is sanctity.

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  29. you are a great writer...."strange sense of peace"- that I would love to experience too...

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  30. beautiful pics
    enjoyed virtual tour

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  31. I like that entrance photo, Arti. It seems to beckon us to enter. Your spirit was refreshed and reading, so was mine.

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  32. Another Arti-style travelogue. :) Beautiful, as always!

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  33. The Dwarkadheesh Temple has delicate,beautiful carvings.
    You had an interesting experience and the festival seems to be fascinating.
    Have a great weekend!

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  34. These temples are really holy.I am very much interested to go there.

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  35. Hi, Arti! The temple’s architectural structure and details are so impressive and I liked to peek into through the blue-colored gateway. In spite of the outside bustling with people, inside must be serene and have a special mysterious quality that makes it seem wonderful and exciting, which is shown by your narrative.

    Yoko

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  36. Speaking of Tulsi plant, I remember your writing about a memory of
    your grandfather growing that tree, if I remember correctly.
    Thank you for sharing another interesting and spiritual experience, Arti.

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  37. Started my day with Shri Dwarakadheesh Darshan.Loved,loved and loved this post Arti.
    Have a wonderful weekend :)

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  38. ♫♫°º
    Olá, amigo!
    Passei para admirar suas fotografias e para ler e aprender mais sobre seu país. Sou encantada pelo seu país.
    Bom fim de semana!
    Beijinhos.
    Brasil.
    °º✿
    º° ✿¸.•°❤

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  39. So beautiful -- the carvings, the story, the colorful festival -- what a lovely post.

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  40. There is no place in the world that could give you peace feeling, except sit and listen people worship The God.


    Have a nice weekend Arti :)

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  41. Thank you for such a detailed journey into this ritual. I feel like I accompanied you on the journey. i drink a lot of Tulsi teas from India, what is the significance of Tulsi leaves as an offering?

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  42. So wonderful. Thanks for fueling my desires consistently to be here. Have a great new week ahead, my friend. :)

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  43. I am so interested!! Thank you for the pictures and information....very fun to learn!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

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  44. I don’t really go to these places. But your blog has great info! Complete travel guide!

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.blogspot.com

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  45. What amazing history here and the festival looks so fun. Great photos.

    leslie

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  46. Arti, I am sorry I was late, but we had Easter in Greece in the last week and I had my children.
    Wonderful place, place of peace and prayer, and the festival will surely be very interesting!
    The pictures you are excellent, full of color!
    Many greetings and kisses

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  47. Great post! I like how you describe!

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  48. Nice presentation with beautiful
    pictures.Thanks for sharing,Arti.

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  49. Thanks for taking us in this yatra!

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  50. what i liked most about this post other than pics is the mention of the bhajan radhe radhe radhe barsaane waale radhe...i just love this bhajan...it plays in my home daily from 3 years now!!!

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  51. Reading your update is like opening Google Street view! Everything in depth and wonderful pics :)

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  52. Thanks for the wonderful description. I am looking forward to visit this holy place next month

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  53. Hi,

    Amazing blog post indeed !

    Had a similar experiences would like to share ---http://blog.travelnina.com/multi-contoured-festival-colors-holi/

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  54. I like post this is the place of my annual pilgrimage! A divine experience each time and so well described by you.

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  55. Dear Arti,

    Radhey Radhey !!

    Thanx for bringing my city in front of other...such a nice post by you....
    I am from Mathura and know all places very well but the words used by you to describe it were amazing...loved it...
    nice presentation and good work...

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