11 October 2008

Hare Rama Hare Krishna

My parents were with us for a few days and we decided to take the opportunity to do a few excursions into neighbouring towns. It has been my experience that one never goes to places close by to do sightseeing till some one gives you a push. So here we were my parents, my husband my son and I all on our way to Mathura. Krishna Janam Bhoomi to be precise.

We met up with our local guide on the highway at Mac Donald's since it was the most prominent landmark we remembered from our drive to Agra from Delhi the year before. Then we proceeded to the room that they had so kindly arranged and freshened up before heading out to the temples.

The first one we went to was the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan. It was reminiscent of my visits to Ayodhya. The narrow lanes that you walk through are infested with monkeys that come and grab anything that you have in your hands, usually resulting in loss of whatever sweet you had brought to offer as prasad. The curtains were closed when we reached as the "Bhog" was on and we whiled away time chit chatting before the actual darshan.

We were let into the little enclosure up close to the gods and my son was picked up from out of my arms by the priest who took him right upto the altar to do his namaskar. WHich my little kutti kannan did without protest amazing all of us given his distrust of strangers. Then we did the mandatory parikrama and hopped out of there with our garlands and prasad.

Then we went to the ISKON temple at Vrindavan which is called the Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir and houses the samadhi of the founder of ISKON. It was very clean as compared to the first one and had a predominance of white colour everywhere. Also in every corner we heard the chants of "Hare Rama Hare Krishna, rama rama, hare hare" the tune made world famous by Dev Anand. We picked up the Gita in English and a little Krishna Statue that now sits on my altar.

By the time we finished it was 12.20 and we were told that temples close down for the afternoon at that time till 4 in the evening and so we retreated to the room again for lunch and siesta. Once again we set forth for Krishna Janam Bhoomi temple. this is the prison where he was born. I found myself wondering how the guys who lived right next to the temple must feel. They could walk over everyday for darshan and must be plagued by the millions who come to pay their respects.

At the temple we got a guide from among the policemen who were guarding the shrine. He took us through the cell which he claims has not been changed since the time of Kansa, but which I seriously doubt. The masjid next door was also shown given its infamous debut some years back in the news. We saw a mechanical doll show giving us a dekho into all those mythological tales we heard as kids. Then a little tunnel walk again depicting scenes from Rama and Krishna's lives. All in all quite nice.

After this my son wanted to know if we were going home...and when told no we had to visit one more temple his direct-dil-se answer was "Kyon?" Anyway not withstanding his reluctance we headed out to the temple of Dwarkadhish. The king of Dwarka's court. We went through the entire length and breath of the old city winding our big car through small alleys and thanking the lord that the car was not ours but a fauji one.

We reached took our darshan and headed back to the car only to be waylaid by a guide who insisted on us going to the ghat of the Yamuna near by and showering us with the so called holy water. He also kept up a steady litany of what Krishana did where in that stretch of land before finally releasing us. We finished and headed back to the room only to stop near Brijwasi and pick up the famous pedas.

Then we were returning to the room to pick up our car and head back to Agra when the staff car decided to stop in the middle of the crowded road. So we shifted to the pilot gypsy and rode back much to the discomfort of the entire retinue assigned to us. They were feeling bad and we were enjoying the unexpected adventure. Eventually the car did catch up with us at the room just as we were leaving. The drive back was uneventful and this post is too long so will continue the Gwalior exploits in the next post.

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