The month of March has always been a busy time. I was so busy that I wished for a ‘ me time’ After the workload got stabilized, I was freaking out to go and have a trip. I was searching and then I came across this pocket-friendly place Vrindavan. It seemed to be the perfect place for me to spend the upcoming weekend. I got tempted to visit this place all the more as it was the Holi time. It was pretty near to my destination Delhi. Once I packed my bag and set off.
The moment I stepped into the city. A cheerful crowd welcomed me with all its hustle-bustle. There was a festive mood across the land. Everything seemed to be bright and colourful. The aroma of the local street food was all over the place and being a foodie my nose became my navigator.
It leads me to a shack where I had a couple of smoking hot samosas, followed by a warm cup of tea. While sipping my tea, I observed a typical Indian lady going crazy shopping and bargaining. Her kid was continuously yelling for some ice cream. Her husband was extremely inquisitive about a bull, who was standing on the road blocking and scaring the traffic.
On the other side, a self-oblivious group of devotees was chanting ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Rama’. The ambience appeared to be a bit funny and a bit surreal. So guys welcome to India’s city of love which is the dwelling place of Radha and Krishna, the universal lovers.
The Brajwasis believe everything in Vrindavan evolved around Radha and Krishna. Their love blossomed with the advent of spring bringing in all the colours of nature. As per them, love is the most colourful part of our life. So they celebrate love with colours in the form of ‘Holi’. This festival something similar to ‘La Tomatina’ but ‘Holi’ came much before it’s existence.
Holi of Vrindavan and Barsana is worldwide famous and played in various ways. This festival starts from the 11th day of a lunar fortnight in March and continues for one week. They started with ‘Ladoo Holi’ in Barsana, as it goes with the tradition to start something good with sweet.
Then the next day, I came to know from the locals that ’Phoolo ki Holi’, flower Holi is played. The flowers are quite cheap making it affordable to every visitor. This part of holi can be the best seen in the main temple attraction ‘Bankebihari’, the main deity temple of Vrindavan. I was mesmerized once I entered the temple. I don’t have enough words to describe it.
People showered rose petals on the devotees from the temple top. The priests were also throwing flowers as well as dry colours on them. Everybody dancing and singing with high spirits. The entire premise was echoing with the vibrant chorus, “Hathi Ghora Palki, Jai Kanhaya Laal ki.” The vibe was so different, trust me, that it can make anyone dance.
Here the deity is known as ‘tribhanga Murari’. The temple is said to be more than 150 years old. The temple displays the blend of Rajasthani and Braj architecture. The structure of the arches and pillars provides a distinctive get up to the three-storey temple.
After the mesmerizing darshan, I went to the bank of the river Yamuna and asked a boatman to show me the famous ghats as well as the evening aarti (evening prayer) offered to river Yamuna. This place has 48 ghats and each ghat has some fascinating stories which are related to Indian mythology.
While residing in the boat, hearing the stories of the ghats from the boatman was interesting. Along with that to observe the sunset on river Yamuna was so beautiful as it added more beauty to the place. The evening prayer to the river Yamuna from Keshi Ghat was again one more amazing thing to experience. On the whole, it created a wonderful evening.
Each day was getting very exciting for me. I was eagerly waiting to participate in the event of ‘Holika Dhan’ at night. It is an event of the bonfire to commemorate the sacrifice of ‘Bhakt Prahlad’ and victory of good over evil. It was nice revisiting the childhood days of Grandma’s storytelling session.
The next morning I thought of exploring more of Vrindavan through ‘Parikrama’. I arrived at the starting point around 6:30 in the morning along with the number of people from all over the world. The total distance is 21km. I took the marked parikrama path.
As soon as I reached Cheer Ghat, I found an amazing alternative part of the less explored Parikrama trail. I walked along the bank of the river from Cheer Ghat to Keshi Ghat meeting some sadhus on the way.
Some of them shared that this place is a devotional place where people come with utmost faith and believes towards their lord. The belief is that god till now exists here. He will protect them from all evils.
One of them reminisced the old days when the place was quieter and less crowded. In the current scenario, they found it difficult to stay in the overcrowded place and perform ‘Yog sadhana’ that’s why many of them had shifted to a different place. I completed my Parikrama by 10:30 am.
After that, I had a sumptuous breakfast at ‘Chappati’.I proceeded toward the famous mysterious place, Nidhi Van. This is the forest of Tulsi(Indian basil)plants. There I was drenched in colour and got to know some secret about this place but let me keep it secret for you to explore.
The entire city was drenched in the colour of joy, happiness. You will find dancing, singing streets here at this time. Here the monkeys are very notorious and they love to drink Frooti. So beware of them.
The evening took me to the Prem Sarovar, which was a soul-soothing place. Here any nature lover person will fall in love with the moment. Nature shows her beauty to the next level which is very captivating. The next day I visited Barsana to witness the world-famous ‘Lathmaar Holi’. This is the main attraction of the Holi festival. Here girls and women should stay cautious and beware of getting mobbed.
Highly awaited dawn finally arrived. It was ‘Rango ki Holi’.The streets, the buildings, the people appeared to be a huge canvas splashed with an innumerable number of colours. As I got dragged inside the crowd I realized that the colour of ‘Gulal’, the colour of emotions, and the colour of devotions gradually enveloped the entire Vrindavan.
Once you come out of this frenzy, don’t forget to taste the famous Mathura’s Chaat, Peda. Barsana’s Thandai, Gokul’s country butter and Vrindaban’s Malai lassi, Rabdi. Vrindavan has touched my heart and soul. The land has a different positive aura in it. It’s time for me to get back to my work. I felt calm, happy, and rejuvenated. The land taught me the essence of ‘self-love’.Now you know why I called it the city of love.