Temples and Impotent Places at Barsana


"For the devotee who constantly thinks of Me without deviation of mind, to him I am easily attainable, Oh Partha, because of his constant devotional service to Me." (Bhagavad Gita 8.14)

      Barsana is situated about 50 km to the north-west of Mathura and about 20 km to the north-west of Goverdhan. It is located at 27.65° N latitude and 77.38° E longitude. This place is also known as Varsana.

      Many people think that Radha was born and brought up Barsana. There are others who believe that Radha was born in Raval, but subsequently spent Her childhood at Barsana. So it is quite natural that the most important temple here is the Radha Rani Temple, also known as the Ladliji Temple. Some people believe that Radha's father, Vrishabhanu was an ordinary cowherd while others believe that he was a king and Barsana was his capital. Barsana is surrounded by eight villages, each belonging to one of the Ashta Sakhis (Radha's eight gopi friends)

      Barsana is also famous for the unique way in which it celebrates Holi since the Lathmar Holi is unique to this town. Holi is played differently by the male residents of Nandagaon and the female residents of Barsana. The women of the village beat the men with wooden sticks when the men try to spray them with coloured powders, or coloured water. It is believed by the locals that Lathmar Holi (laat means 'stick' and maar means 'to hit') was prevalent even 5000 years ago during the times of Lord Krishna. They believe that Radha, along with the gopis of Barsana, used to play Holi in this manner with Krishna and the menfolk of Nandagaon.


      This is the biggest and the most beautiful temple in Barsana. The Radha Rani Temple is also known as Ladliji Temple. Ladi is an affectionate way of addressing a young girl and 'Ji' is a respectful way of addressing a person. So this shows the love, affection, and respect the people of Brij Bhoomi have for their beloved daughter Radha.

      The Radha Rani Temple is atop a hill. There are about 180 steps leading to the temple. Climbing up these steps can be quite a tough task for children and old people. There are lots of palki wallas who carry the devotees up on a palki and bring them back after the darshan. They charge Rs. 80 for the entire trip. For a trip to Radha Rani Temple and Maan Kutir, they will charge double the amount.

      As I reached the top of the hill, I saw a huge open courtyard. It reminded me of the huge courtyards that we normally see in ancient palaces. The courtyard offered one of the most spectacular views. I could see the entire town of Barsana and the other peaks from here. There were two temples here in front of this courtyard. The one on the right was the older of the two. It was a white temple built by Raja Bir Singh in 1675. The one on the left was a sandstone-coloured temple which was built later.

      The new temple has a huge door, reminiscent of the huge gates seen at the entrance of cities in ancient Rajput kingdoms. There are about 10 steps that lead to this door. The door opens into another open courtyard. In front of this is the inner courtyard that leads to the main altar. The main altar has idols of Radha and Krishna. The Krishna idol is the customary black and the Radha idol is golden in colour. In front of these idols, a fan has been installed with a rope tied to it. The other end of the rope is kept outside the altar, in the inner courtyard. The devotees sitting in the inner courtyard can pull this rope which will fan the idols of Radha and Krishna. The walls have huge paintings depicting the times Radha and Krishna spent together. The ceiling has one very huge painting that depicts the Rasa Leela of Radha and Krishna.

      As in many other parts of Brij Bhoomi, here also a few self-appointed guides began to harass us. They kept forcing themselves upon us. I tried to argue, but in vain. Finally, I hit upon a great idea. When one of them asked me what I was writing down, I told them that I was a senior government official and I had been sent here by the Chief Minister to study the ambiance and facilities of all the places in Brij Bhoomi. I told them that I planned to write in my report that all the temples are very beautiful, however, the ambience is spoilt because of these guides and touts. I also told them that since they were misbehaving with me, I intended to put all this in my report. Needless to say, within a few seconds, all of them had fled the scene!


      Pila Pokhar Kund is quite close to the foot of the hill that houses the Radha Rani Temple. This kund is well maintained and many devotees bathe in it. In Hindi, pila means yellow'. Radha Rani once washed her turmeric-coated hands here, and the water turned yellow, thus giving the kund its name.


      Jaipur Temple is on a hillock adjacent to the Radha Rani Temple. Like the Jaipur Temple of Vrindavan, this one too looks more like a palace than a temple. The entrance resembles a fort. As I walked past the outer courtyard, I came across another huge gate with exquisite carvings. This led me to the main altar which had idols of Radha and Krishna. The entire outer courtyard was surrounded by beautifully carved arches.

      It is believed that when Radha and Krishna descended on Earth, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva also decided to come down to Earth and watch the pastimes of these two divine souls. Lord Vishnu took the form of Goverdhan Hill. Lord Shiva took the form of Nandishwara Hill at Nandagaon. Lord Brahma stayed at Barsana and each of His four heads took the form of a hillock. The first hillock has the Radha Rani Temple and the second hillock has Jaipur Temple. The other two hillocks have Mor Kutir and Maan Kutir.


      Mor Kutir and Maan Kutir are on adjacent hillocks. As we drove from the foot of the hill that housed the Radha Rani Temple, we arrived at an intersection. The road on the right took us to a hill that had Mor Kutir on its peak. The road on the left leads to another hill that has Maan Kutir at the top.

      Mor Kutir is also known as Mayur Kutir. Both the words, Mor and Mayur, mean the same peacock. Like the Radha Rani Temple, this temple is also on a hillock, adjacent to the hillock that has the famous Radha Rani Temple. The two hillocks are separated by a couple of kilometres by road. The temple Mor Kutir got its name because it is believed that Lord Krishna had disguised as a peacock, to appease an upset Radha.

      Though Mor Kutir Temple has fewer steps to climb than the Radha Rani Temple, my guide Mathuresh and I found this climb tougher since the steps were very steep. When we reached the top, we saw a board which said Mandir Shri More Bihariji More Kuti written in Hindi. This temple looked more like the ancient residence of a hermit. We found the main door bolted. After knocking for a while and calling out Radhe Radhe', (the Brij way of asking Is anyone there?) we waited for a couple of minutes. Since no one responded, Mathuresh pushed at the main door. The door opened and we walked inside. We found ourselves inside a small room. To our astonishment, we found all the walls completely filled with paintings of peacocks and Lord Krishna! There were hundreds of peacocks painted on all the walls. I had never seen so many peacocks in my life!

      To the left was the main altar. I saw a picture of Radha, Krishna and a dancing peacock. In front of the picture, were two brass peacocks. I could hear the continuous chants of Radhe Krishna.

      Mathuresh and I were curious to know the legend associated with this place. We saw an old priest sitting on the floor wearing a small wet dhoti. It appeared as if he had just finished his morning bath and had sat down for his morning prayers. He opened his eyes and looked at us. Mathuresh seized this opportunity and requested him to tell us the legend of this place. The priest shook his head and refused politely. Both of us were quite disappointed. Mathuresh got up to leave. However, I continued to sit. I waved at Mathuresh and asked him to come and sit next to me. In the meanwhile, the priest had finished his holy chanting of the Supreme Lord's Names. He had now got up and gone inside the main altar. He performed the puja of the deities. He did not use a lit lamp. Instead, he used agarbatti to perform the arati. He turned around and noticed that we had continued to sit patiently for him. I really do not know the real reason for his sudden change of heart, but probably it was our patience and perseverance that did the trick. He realised that we were willing to wait for a long time to hear the legend associated with this place. He sat down next to us and began his narration in pure, but simple Hindi.

      The priest narrated the story using simple words. However, the impact it had on both of us was so strong that we felt we had been transferred back in time, to the era of Radha and Krishna. Hearing about Krishna's humility and patience and the Radha's innocence filled our hearts with joy. Both of us bowed to the priest and took our leave. As I walked down the steps of the hillock, I could see Krishna disguised as a peacock and dancing in front of His beloved Radha, who was clapping Her hands gleefully.


      Prem Sarovar is located between Barsana and Nandagaon. While going from Barsana towards Nandagaon, Prem Sarovar is on the left, about 100 metres off the highway.

      Prem Sarovar has pink-coloured steps built around it in the shape of an octagon. Each side of this sacred tank has a narrow pathway that leads towards the centre of Prem Sarovar. The eight pathways look like the eight tentacles of an octopus. I did not find many visitors at this quiet little place. It is a pity that this sacred tank is badly maintained, despite it being the Divine Couple's favorite meeting place.

      Madhu means honey, but it is also one of Krishna's names. So Radha assumes that Krishna has left Her and She starts weeping. Krishna, from His hiding place, sees Radha crying, He feels sorry for Her and He also begins to weep. The tears of Radha and Krishna get mingled and form Prem Sarovar.

      Next to Prem Sarovar is a small temple with the idol of Lord Shiva in it. Next to this temple is another temple, much bigger in size. This is a temple for Lord Rama, with the inscription outside Janaki Vallabho Vijayate'. This white temple is adorned outside by a huge bow pointing upwards, towards the Heavens.


      Khadiravana is a forest located about 10 km from Batsana. It is believed that Krishna used to meet Radha here along with the gopis. Due to its proximity to both, Barsana (the town where Radha stayed) and Nandagaon (the town where Krishna resided), this was an ideal meeting place. This forest is also famous because the bird demon, Bakasura and his younger brother Aghasura, were killed here by Lord Krishna.

      The images of the gory killings of Bakasura and Aghasura flashed in front of my eyes as I stood watching the trees. Only a divine Child like Krishna was capable of killing these mighty demons. It was also ironic that these demons were granted moksha since they had been killed by the Supreme Lord.

      There were not many visitors here since most of the tourists were unaware of the divine incidents that took place here. I began my journey towards Nandagaon, the last place where Krishna resided before departing to Mathura.

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