I see them at a mountain. I meet them along the beach and I enjoy with them at night safaris. Images of these adventurous people, who travel to various corners of India, constantly flit through my mind. But, here I am not discussing any of these. I am not even off to Kerala to witness the backwaters, or breathtaking Sikkim or a zillion other destinations. I am at a place, which is about 130 kilometers from New Delhi.
In a land of over 4,000 temples devoted to Lord Krishna nothing prepared me for this wondrous one that our rickshaw, which is a 3-wheeled transport took us to. This temple is at Vrindavan, the place where the heart of Lord Krishna resides.
Narrow lanes, open drains, unruly traffic was a humble sight. All along the stretch we saw shops adorned with colorful attires to decorate the deity. There were crowns, swings, flutes, and other musical instruments which were synonymous to this God. Here, cows were the kings and monkeys wheeled, reeled, and frolicked. There was a live sense of Radha (Lord Krishna’s friend) in every single grain of the soil. Had I not attended a wedding here, this town would not have appeared in my travel itinerary. The mystic love of Radha-Krishna soaks you when you visit this town. What comes alive when you are dead drowned in love is an indescribable union of two intimate souls; the ardor was palpable in every grain of soil here.
Those in love must visit this temple to feel the sublime tranquility of their love. As our vehicle took us to winding roads, these periodic chants wafted toward me. Seated in it, a smile adorned my lips when from all over and around the same chant Radhe-Radhe knocked my ears. The vehicle drivers steered cleared their vehicle amicably through a dense crowd, all along mouthing the same chant. Through the alleys meandering like the river itself it was like a breathtaking drama that only this place could create. It is on these roads that many a story about this immortal love was woven.
I am at Nidhivan now. It is also known as Madhuvan. If you have in your imagination a temple building with ornate pillars, ostentatious God’s pictures, plush flooring then it is not this temple. It is beautifully different! I would quote it as a forest temple with plants and trees, which makes it unique. It has an amazingly beautiful and peaceful environment where you can feel the love and peace within. It is one with its own uniqueness and the first of its kind I have ever experienced!
As we entered the gate we met this guide. As he took us down the trees I thought there would be a temple somewhere inside, but soon I realized that this forest cover of whooping Sixteen Thousand One Hundred and Eight trees was the temple, and one of the most significant and popular temples of this town! What one felt and what transpired was beyond description. There were many such trees showered with red vermilion interspersed in the pathways. They prohibited touching it or applying it on trees unless you went for a prayer ritual.
This temple is full of divine energy. The trees were all bent towards the ground as if showed reverence and respect to the Lord. The forest cover with beautiful thick shrubs was densely populated with leaves. One sees a main trunk and along with it innumerable strong branches in serpentine fashion with leaves in abundance. The constant growth of secondary shoots and a host of tertiary branches together formed an amalgamated complex branch system that if you wanted to trace the branches you would end up in vain. These trees were two types. The ones with small white flowers were Gopis (the generic name for Radha’s friends) and those without it depicted Krishna.
The devotees who visited this temple have the belief that Krishna still appears there in the night. The legend has it that at night all these flowering trees converted them into living beings and danced around Krishna. It is a spiritually blessed temple where spontaneous overflow of devotion flows every time. This is the only place which makes you imagine how this town looked like Five Hundred years ago as the area is left untouched and kept in the same natural way. They have not cut down the trees. A group of devotees looked after these sacred trees.
Swami Haridasa, said to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna’s friend Lalita was a divine saint who sat in the periphery of this forest garden and spent his life in His devotion composing and singing songs in His praise. He stayed away from worldly pleasures and left his village to a secluded spot in a dense forest years ago.This, which is now known as Nidhivan. As a result of his spiritual aspirations and hard penance, the Lord not only came in his dream, but also appeared here in person.
Traversing the serpentine pathways we went to various spots within the temple. About 20 steps down a narrow staircase, we saw a sacred well created by the Lord Himself, with the help of his flute to relieve the thirst of his friend Vishakha. Hence, it is known as Vishakha-Kund. There was a bed for the divine couple to rest and a room where the Lord decorated his beloved before a dance performance.
This temple lived with a mysterious concept. They believed that after the sacred process of vespers at 8 P.M. no one stayed in its premises. In case anyone did, he/she either died or was too ill to utter a word!
What I heard and saw at this love temple is something which I have never probably felt in any other temple and this alone made me so curious to pen.