written by - Ruby Singh
Foggy mornings are not ideal for road trips but the ideal is not always exciting. So in the quest of some excitement I overcame all the inhibitions and hit the road on a winter morning. For me safety comes before adventure and truth to be told I trust my car and its safety features for a road trip. So clad in thick fleece and high boots I strapped the safety belt and ventured onto my journey to the romantic land of Barsana and Nandgao. I was accompanied by a colleague and we took turns for driving so it wasn’t hectic at all.
We started the trip on time and I was hoping the fog to descend by the time we hit the expressway. But to my surprise that wasn’t the case at all. The fog was thick and we kept the speed slow to combat the low visibility. Our CEAT Tyres ensured perfect grip on the roads and thanks to that we could accelerate on and off during the ride. I had never been to Barsana and Nandgao before but the intriguing love tales of Lord Krishna Goddess Radha were compelling enough to let me take a trip down to the Brajbhoomi.
We first visited the Radha Rani temple in Barsana. Barsana is located about 50 kms to the north-west of Mathura and can be easily navigated by GPS or by the old school method of asking random people. Barsana is the place where Radharani spent her childhood and early adulthood with her friends and family. The Radharani temple is made in reverence of Goddess Radha. The temple is situated at the top of a hill and one has to climb more than 100 stairs to reach the main premises of the temple. For those who cannot climb there are palanquin (palki) services as well. The temple is inundated with disciples during auspicious occasions.
The temple has a fort kind of feeling because of various minarets and domes here and there. The architecture of temple is a balanced blend of North India, South India, and modern and contemporary architecture style. The main temple premise has a big prayer hall where the devotees sit and chant songs praising Radha Rani. The walls of the hall are adorned with pictorial representations of teaching from ancient Hindu scriptures. For the benefit of devotees these teachings are written in both Sanskrit and English. The temple dome is made of white and blue granite and has some gold detailing too. The pillars and ceilings of the temple are beautified with images of peacocks and colourful floral patterns. The hall area of the temple opens in an open area which overlooks the whole Barsana village. Photography is not allowed inside the temple.
After spending ample amount of time in the Radharani temple we then made our way to the land of naughty and jolly Lord Krishna, Nandgao. One can easily spot the Nandgao temple from the open area of Radharani temple, pretty much like spotting each other from the corner of the eyes from the respective balconies. It is amusing how every modern day situation is somehow derived from centuries back in time. Being located just 8.5 km to the north of Barsana I am sure commuting wouldn’t have been any concern for the lovers. By the time we reached Nandgao it was dark and we had to walk uphill for around a kilometer to get to the main temple. This temple is on top of the Nandisvara hill.
Just like Radharani temple Nandgao temple also had great architecture. The similar tombs and minarets could be spotted here as well. I heard a guy explaining that in this temple the statues are kept in couples. The temple has two black marble Deities of Krishna and Balarama. Both these statues are in three-fold bending forms and are holding the quintessential flutes. On their left is a tall statue of Yasoda and on their right a tall statue of Nanda Maharaja. By the side of Yasoda is a deity of Srimati Radharani, a small deity of Rohini (the mother of Lord Balarama) and Revati, Balarama’s wife. Last but not the least next to Nanda Maharaja are two of Krishna’s friends, Sudama and Madhumangala. The ceiling and dome of the temple has many colorful paintings depicting Krishna’s pastimes.
How interesting it is to sit and imagine what the love tryst would have been like between Krishna and Radha. How cleverly Krishna used to visit Barsana with his friends to get a glimpse of Radha and how gracefully Radha would play hide and seek with him. We may have evolved in terms of technology but the basic human nature remains the same. The love tryst and its temptations are still the same.