It is described as a forest that holds a special significance in the union between a man and a woman. Some texts refer to it as Ilavrittknd.
Bhadravan is located two miles south-east of Nand Ghat, across the Yamuna River. This peaceful forest serves as a grazing ground for Shri Krishna and Shri Balram’s cows. The name “Bhadravan” is derived from Shri Balbhadra, another name for Balram. Notable spots to visit in Bhadravan include Bhadra Sarovar and Gocharan Sthal.
the Bhavishya Purana (Uttarakhand), a verse is dedicated to Bhadra Sarovar: “Bhadrakhya sarase namah Yajna-snana svarupaya rajyakhanda-prade tirthraja namas-tubhyarh.” Meaning: “O Bhadra Sarovar, O Tirthraja, my greetings to you. You are the personification of sacrifices (yajnas), and you bestow that post that is never destroyed (Akhand rajyapad).” It is believed that those who bathe in this sacred lake attain immeasurable wealth, joy, and eventually devotion (prem bhakti) towards Shri Krishna and Shri Baldev.
Bhandirvan is known for its delightful pastimes; among the twelve prominent forests, here, you’ll find numerous captivating spots to explore, such as Bhandirvat, Venu-Kup, Ras-sthali Vanshivat, the wrestling arena, Shridham temple, Shyama-Talaiya, Chhaheri-Gaon, and Agiyara-gaon. Bhandirvan is a place where profound spiritual knowledge intertwines with opulent and sweet divine Leelas.
One of the remarkable sites in Bhandirvan is the famous Bhandirvat, a massive banyan tree that witnessed countless enchanting moments of Shri Radha-Krishna Yugal. In the times of Shri Krishna’s divine Leela, this grand banyan tree stood tall, adorned with long branches extending in every direction. The nearby Yamuna River flowed gracefully, its soothing sound providing a serene backdrop.
Krishna, Balram, and their dear friends, the Sakhas, would skillfully traverse the river by walking on the tree’s branches. The branches were abuzz with the sweet melodies of male and female parrots, peacocks, peahens, cuckoos, and papihas, contentedly feasting on its fruits. Deer, does, and other forest creatures found solace in the cool shade and sweet waters of the Yamuna.
It was beneath the welcoming shade of Bhandirvat that the mothers of the cowherd boys, including Mother Yashoda, sent delicious lunches for their beloved sons. Krishna, Baldev, and the sakhas, while grazing the cows, would let them drink from the Yamuna and then graze on the lush, green grass of the forest. The boys themselves would frolic in the Yamuna’s refreshing waters and then sit together, forming countless rows
Their gatherings were filled with laughter, jokes, and various games, leaving the demigods amazed at the festive picnics. It was also under the gracious canopy of Bhandirvat that Brahma, the creator, performed the divine Gandharv wedding of Shri Radha-Krishna Yugal. Amidst Vedic chants, Radhika and Krishna exchanged flower garlands while the sakhis sang joyous wedding songs.
Another tale took place in Bhandirvan during a summer day when Krishna and the sakhas brought their cows to drink from the Yamuna and graze freely. Lost in their joyful picnic, they didn’t realise that the cows had wandered off to the dry Muñjavan forest. The scorching sun and lack of water distressed the cows, making them cry out for help.
The sakhas, worried for the cows, went to search for them without informing Krishna and Baldev. Eventually, they found themselves in the same dire situation as the cows. As misfortune struck, wicked Kansa’s servants set Muñjavan on fire, enveloping the cows and the boys. The sakhas, with nowhere to turn, called out to Krishna for rescue.
Immediately, Shri Krishna arrived and swallowed the raging forest fire in an instant, saving them all. When the sakhas opened their eyes, they found themselves back under the cool shade of Bhandirvat, happily feasting with Krishna and Baldev, and the cows grazing contentedly nearby. The distress of the fire felt like a distant dream.
Bhandirvan holds these and many more fascinating tales of love, friendship, and divine miracles. The forest echoes with the laughter and joy of Krishna and his companions. Come, immerse yourself in the enchanting realm of Bhandirvan, where the love between Radha and Krishna blossoms like never before. Experience the divine magic of this sacred land and become part of its timeless stories of devotion and bliss.
Madhuvan is situated in the southwest of Mathura, about two-and-a-half miles from Bhuteshwar Mahadev. This illustrious forest holds a special place among Braj’s twelve renowned forests. In the age of Satya Yug, Bhagvan acquired the name Madhusudan after slaying the demon Madhu here. The forest, as endearing and sweet as Shri Madhusudan Himself, came to be known as Madhuvan.
Another name for Madhusudan is Madhav, the beloved of Radhika, the foremost among all Lakshmis. Shri Madhav presides over this captivating forest. To ensure a successful parikrama of Madhuvan, one can chant the mantra – “om hram hrim madhuvana-adhipataye madhavaya namah svaha” – while bathing or performing achamana.
The present name of Madhuvan is Maholi Grama. In this village, lies Dhruva Tila, where the deities of child Dhruva and the four-armed Shri Narayan beautifully reside. It was here that Dhruva performed rigorous austerities to attract the Supreme Lord, who blessed him with absolute monarchy over the Earth for 36,000 years, followed by rulership of Dhruvalok, an imperishable abode within the material universe.
Stories of Madhuvan span across ages, weaving tales of valour, devotion, and divine blessings. In Treta Yug, the residents of Madhuvan were tormented by the demon Madhu, who had obtained an invincible trident from Shankarji. Madhu, despite being from the sun dynasty, had turned cruel due to evil society and was banished from the kingdom by his father. He established his rule in Madhuvan, inflicting terror on its citizens. Greatly distressed, the sages sought protection from Shri Rama in Ayodhya, who crowned his younger brother Shatrughna as the king of Madhuvan. Shatrughna, armed with Lord Varaha’s powerful deity from Lanka, bravely confronted Lavanasur, son of Madhu, and eventually triumphed over him.
In Dvapar Yug, Shri Krishna, with his beloved sakhas, lovingly herded hundreds of thousands of cows through the fields of Madhuvan. The enchanting flute melodies and playful camaraderie filled the forest with the sweet nectar of prema (love), relished by Shri Krishna and Shri Balram. Krishna’s cow herding times in Madhuvan were beyond words, as sweet as honey. Even a moment’s separation from Krishna felt like eons to the gopis, while a millennium in His company seemed like a fleeting moment.
In Kali Yug, the great soul Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu graced Madhuvan with His presence, experiencing a momentary vision of Shri Krishna’s divine plays, leaving Him immersed in ecstasy. Today, pilgrims visit Madhuvan, where Dauji and the sakhas once danced and savoured the sweetness of this forest. Madhuvan holds an eternal secret – the reason behind Dauji’s black complexion. When Baldev, feeling intense separation from Shri Krishna, meditated in Braj, He delved into the bliss of Shyama-rasa, a honey-like ecstasy of Krishna-prema that turned Him Shyama (blackish-blue). As you journey through Madhuvan, immerse yourself in the timeless tales of love, valour, and devotion.
Around Mathura, there are several sacred places of great significance in Hindu mythology, such as Vrindavan, Govardhan, Barsana, Nandgaon, Gokul, Mahavan, and Baldeo. Mahavan, located about six miles east of Mathura, is the largest among all the forests in the area and is also known as Brahdvan. Interestingly, this forest goes by three names: Mahavan, Gokul, and Brahdvan. Gokul, situated here, is believed to be identical to Goloka, the divine abode of Lord Krishna. In the past, Parjanya Gopa, the father of Goparaja Nand Baba, lived in Nandgaon with his family, which included five sons – Upanand, Abhinand, Nand, Sunand, and Nandan – and two daughters named Sanand and Nandini. When Nand, the middle son, had no children, Parjanya Gopa became anxious and prayed to Lord Narayan for a brave and virtuous child. A celestial voice assured him that Nand would soon have a son who would possess extraordinary qualities and defeat demons.
Due to disturbances caused by demons like Kesi, Parjanya Gopa and his entire family relocated to Brahdvan, where the Yamuna River flows nearby. This forest is adorned with diverse trees, vines, and flowers, creating a beautiful landscape with lush green meadows where cows graze peacefully. The gopas (cowherd boys) of Braj were delighted with this scenic beauty and decided to settle here happily. It was in Nand-bhavan, Mahavan, that Yashoda-Maiya gave birth to the divine twins, Krishna Kanhaiya and Yogmaya, at midnight. Various Vedic rituals and ceremonies were performed here, including the naming of Krishna and Baldev. Many cherished childhood stories of Krishna and Baldev occurred in Mahavan, such as Krishna defeating the demons Putana, Trinavart, and Shakatasur, and delivering the Yamala-Arjuna trees. Moreover, Mother Yashoda playfully tied young Krishna to a mortar when He mischievously stole butter, and it was here that Krishna and Baldev began to crawl on their knees. Mahavan holds a special place in the hearts of devotees as it witnessed enchanting moments of Krishna’s early childhood, lasting until the age of two-and-a-half to three years.
In Mahavan there are several sacred places that hold significance in Hindu mythology. According to the Brahmanda Purana, there are twenty-one such places, each filled with auspicious qualities. Some of these places include Yamala-Arjuna-Uddhara-Sthal, Nand-kup, Chintaharan-Ghat, Brahmanda-Ghat, Sarasvat-kund, Sarasvat-Shila, Vishnu-Kund, Karna-kup, Krishna-kund, Gopa-kup, Raman Reti, Trinavart-Vadh-sthal, Putana-Vadh-sthal, Nand’s palace, Nand-bhavan, Raman-ghat, and the birthplace of Mathuranath, Sheshha (Balram), and Yogmaya in Mathura Kshetra. Visiting Mathura Kshetra is believed to purify one from all sins and bring about auspiciousness. Many of these places are still visible today and serve as significant pilgrimage spots for devotees. They are cherished for the divine plays of Lord Krishna and hold immense spiritual importance for followers of the faith.
Lohvan is a picturesque place located just across the Yamuna River from Mathura, approximately two miles northeast of the Mathura-Gokul highway. In Bhakti Ratnakar, Lohvan is described in a beautiful way: “Lohvan is a lovely forest filled with different kinds of trees and fragrant flowers. Krishna, the divine cowherd, grazes His cows here. The name Lohvan comes from an event when Krishna defeated a demon called Lohjanghasur while taking care of the cows.”
At a spot by the Yamuna River, Krishna had a fun time boating with the gopis (cowherd girls). This joyful experience is wonderfully described in Bhakti Ratnakar: “Near the Yamuna River, Shri Krishna began his boat ride with the gopis. It was an exciting adventure as they rowed along. Krishna, pretending to be a boatman, playfully asked the gopis to throw their pots of milk and yoghurt overboard to make the boat lighter. The gopis, captivated by Krishna’s charm, eagerly did as he said. They all had a wonderful time together on the river.”
Today, the place where these things happened still exists as Lohvan, preserving the memory of Krishna’s delightful boat ride with the gopis. People can also visit Krishna-kund, Lohsura’s cave, and Shri Gopinath there.
There is a village near Lohvan, which used to be called Alipur during the time of Muslim rule, and it is still known by the same name today. A remarkable event occurred in this village when Krishna defeated Dantavakra and crossed the Yamuna River to go to Gokul. At Gokul, He was joyfully greeted by the Brajvasis – His mother, father, friends, and all the cowherd boys and girls. They lovingly exclaimed, “Ayore, ayore, Kanhaiya! – Kanhaiya is coming!” Nand Baba and Yashoda’s reunion with Krishna was filled with deep affection, making this village known as Ayore.
Bhakti Ratnakar beautifully describes this touching moment:
When the cowherd boys saw Krishna, they ran towards Him with immense happiness, shouting, ‘Ayore, Ayore!’ Everyone gathered around Krishna, and they all walked together to the banks of the Yamuna. At every home in Braj, there was boundless joy as Krishna spent time with His loved ones. The village where Krishna and the cowherd boys met and the word ‘Ayore’ echoed became known as Ayore village.” This village still exists today, preserving the memories of this heartwarming encounter between Krishna and His beloved Brajvasis. The name Ayore is a reminder of the beautiful bond shared between Krishna and the residents of Braj.
The village of Gorai, which is now known as Guru, is located near Ayore-Gram, about three miles northeast of Gokul. According to Bhakti Ratnakar, during Krishna’s time, there was a wealthy landlord living in a well-known village called Dhana in this area. He had a close and affectionate relationship with Nand Maharaj, Krishna’s father. When Nand Baba and the other cowherd boys and girls returned from Kurukshetra and were on their way to Gokul, they reached this village. The kind and wealthy landlord warmly welcomed them with great honour and happiness. He graciously accommodated Nand Baba and the entire group in his village for several days, treating them with the utmost respect and serving them with love and care. Because of this gesture of giving honour and respect, this place became famous as Gorvai, which comes from the words “Gaurav Dena,” meaning “to give honour.”
Today, the village is known as Guru, but it still holds the memories of that special time when Nand Maharaj and the cowherd community were warmly received and treated with great hospitality by the generous landlord.
Vrindavan is a beautiful town nestled in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India (located at 27.58°N 77.7°E). It holds a special place in the hearts of millions as the special land where Lord Krishna spent his joyous childhood. Picture Vrindavan as a vast forest, where every element, from the land to the gopis (cowherd girls), seems to sing praises to the beautiful Gokulchand Krishna. At the heart of this captivating forest, there is said to be a divine personality known as Vrinda Devi. She is known to be the devoted guardian, nurturer, and forest goddess of Vrindavan, overseeing every aspect of its natural beauty. The trees, creepers, birds, and animals all bow to her authority, making her the presiding deity of this magical place.
It’s essential to understand the roles of other divine entities here, such as Yogmaya, the collective internal energy of the Supreme Lord, and Paurnamasi, the potency behind all of Krishna’s plays. Vrinda Devi, a manifestation of Yogmaya, is responsible for arranging the most intimate and secret Rasleelas of Radha and Krishna in the secluded kunjas (groves) and rasa-vilasa (love-filled plays). Vrinda Devi’s lineage is renowned, with her father being Chandrabhanu, her mother Phullara Gopi, and her husband Mahipal. Together, they form a divine family dedicated to serving Vrindavan eternally. Among the sakhi messengers, Vrinda Devi stands as the most significant, skillfully orchestrating divine encounters between the Divine Couple using various means.
Vrinda Devi’s dedication to Vrindavan knows no bounds. She has devoted her kingdom to the service of Vrishabhanu-nandini Radhika, the embodiment of divine love. Radhika, the true Queen of Vrindavan, graces this land with her presence, making it even more splendid. Vrindavan is not just a sacred place; it is the very home of Shri Krishna himself. The Lord and his abode are inseparable, with Vrindavan being a manifestation of his divine form. Descriptions of this magical land can be found in various ancient texts, praising its unmatched charm and beauty. Even the great sage Sukhadev Goswami, an epitome of devotion, couldn’t resist singing Vrindavan’s praises.
The devotees’ love for Vrindavan is boundless. They express their desire to take birth as humble beings like grass, shrubs, or even rocks in Vrindavan to be touched by the divine dust from the lotus feet of the Brajavasis. Krishna’s divine presence is celebrated throughout the town, as he plays his enchanting flute and engages in joyous plays with his cowherd friends (Gopis). While Vrindavan is praised as the king of all sacred places, its significance goes beyond that. It is the sacred abode of Radha and Krishna’s love, where the divine dance of devotion takes place. Vrindavan is not just a tirtha; it is a place of endless devotion and bliss, where bhakti dances freely.
As you explore this wondrous land, you will feel the divine presence in every corner. From the lush greenery to the sweet sounds of Krishna’s flute, Vrindavan casts an enchanting spell on all who visit. Come and experience the magic of Vrindavan, where the love between Radha and Krishna blossoms, filling the hearts of devotees with eternal joy and devotion.
Imagine a spiritual journey like no other, where you’ll uncover the fascinating ancient tradition of 84 Kos ki Parikrama in Braj. It’s a pilgrimage covering 252 kilometers, leading you through the land where Lord Krishna was born. As you travel this holy path, get ready to explore numerous temples, shrines, and sacred sites that hold incredible spiritual significance. This extraordinary adventure is not just about sightseeing; it’s a chance to absorb yourself in the rich culture and heritage of Braj.
Join us on this transformative quest, and experience the timeless tradition of 84 Kos ki Parikrama. It’s an adventure that will leave you with a lasting impression of Braj’s spiritual essence. Get ready to embark on this soul-stirring journey of a lifetime!
Introduction to the Chaurasi Kos (84 कोस) Parikrama
This journey will take you on a spiritual adventure through various holy sites connected by a 270-kilometer (168 miles) route. The term “Kos” refers to a unit of measurement, and “Chaurasi” means 84. The parikrama derives its name from the belief that Lord Krishna, the deity widely popular in Hinduism, completed this very journey during his youth. It’s incredible to think that you’ll be walking in the footsteps of this divine figure!
Starting and ending in the vibrant city of Mathura, the parikrama typically lasts around 40 days, offering you an opportunity to be in this spiritual experience truly. Throughout the journey, you’ll visit numerous holy places associated with Lord Krishna, like Vrindavan, Govardhan, Barsana, and Nandgaon. These sacred sites hold immense significance for devotees, and being there in person can be an overwhelming and uplifting experience.
But this pilgrimage isn’t just about covering physical distance; it’s a soul-cleansing trip. Many believe participating in the Chaurasi Kos Parikrama can wash away spiritual impurities and bring divine blessings into your life. Devotees from every corner of the world try this journey yearly, especially during auspicious occasions like Kartik, which falls between October and November, with fellow pilgrims chanting hymns and singing devotional songs along the way.
As you walk the path of the Chaurasi Kos Parikrama, you’ll explore physical locations and connect deeply with your faith. This spiritual search allows you to experience the grace of Lord Krishna. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen your beliefs and create lasting memories you’ll remember forever.
The Significance of Braj in Hindu Mythology
Braj, a picturesque region nestled in northern India, carries immense importance in Hindu mythology, deeply associated with the revered deity, Lord Krishna. According to ancient legends, Lord Krishna spent his early years in Braj, performing awe-inspiring miracles, such as lifting mountains and defeating formidable demons. These extraordinary adventures are beautifully narrated in the sacred Hindu scripture, the Bhagavata Purana.
Even today, Braj remains a sacred pilgrimage destination, attracting millions of passionate devotees who long to pay their respects to Lord Krishna. Among the revered sites, the city of Mathura, nestled within Braj, holds exceptional reverence as the birthplace of Lord Krishna himself.
Besides its religious significance, Braj is renowned for its vibrant culture and rich traditions, notably the celebration of the annual Holi festival, which is believed to have originated in this land. In essence, Braj remains a cherished gem in Hindu mythology, continuing to be a pivotal spiritual and cultural hub for Hindus across the globe.
The Sacred Pilgrimage of Braj Bhumi: A Journey of Faith and Devotion
Once upon a time, in the sacred land of Braj Bhumi, the adoptive parents of Lord Krishna, Yashoda Ma and Nand Baba longed to embark on a pilgrimage known as the “char dham yatra.” This pilgrimage involved visiting four holy centers of Hinduism: Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram, and Dwaraka, symbolizing the diverse spiritual traditions across India. Seeking help from their beloved son, Lord Krishna used his divine powers to bring the essence of these holy places to Vrindavan, within a 300-kilometer radius, thus sanctifying the land and creating Braj Bhumi.
From that moment, the journey in Braj Bhumi became famous as the “Braj Chaurasi Kos Yatra,” covering a distance of 84 kilometers. Going on this pilgrimage is believed to free one from the cycle of birth and death, leading to liberation or Nirvana. Legend has it that Brahma once took away Lord Krishna’s cowherd friends and cattle to test Krishna’s spiritual power. To teach Brahma a lesson, Lord Krishna transformed into his friends, people, and animals, displaying his divine “leelas” or tricks. Brahma, realizing his mistake, sought forgiveness and was instructed by Lord Krishna to go on this pilgrimage to atone for his actions.
Since then, Brahma became the first pilgrim to undertake the Chaurasi Kos Yatra, setting an example for countless devotees who followed in his footsteps.
The Scenic Route of the Chaurasi Kos Parikrama
The Chaurasi Kos Parikrama is a sacred pilgrimage spanning 300 kilometers through the enchanting Braj Area. Along the journey, devotees visit 12 serene forests, 24 beautiful gardens, 20 peaceful ponds, and several sacred villages such as Barsana, Nand Gaon, Vrindavan, Mathura, Kosi, Radha Kund, and Govardhan. Completing this pilgrimage usually takes seven days, during which many traditions are observed to honor the holy land of Braj.
Among all the pilgrimages in Braj Bhumi, the Chaurasi Kos Yatra is the most virtuous and spiritually rewarding journey.