Govardhan Parikrama around Govardhan Parbat: Comprehensive Guide

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022 by asoulwindow

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Govardhan Parikrama

Govardhan Parikrama is done by lakhs of devout Hindus every single day of the year. Not a single day goes when Bhakts or devotees do not perform circumambulation or Badi parikrama of the sacred Govardhan Parbat.

When my travel blogger friend Divyakshi Gupta invited me to Braj Bhumi, I had an idea to celebrate my landmark 40th birthday by performing the ambitious 21 kilometers long Badi Parikrama around the holy Govardhan Parvat. Some of the best places to see on the parikrama marg include ancient temples, ponds, shops, goshalas and groves.

Devotees walk with a sankalp or wish while performing parikrama. It is at Govardhan where teachings of Bhagavad Gita come alive! The best part is that Govardhan is an easy weekend destination from Delhi NCR.

What should we know about Govardhana Hill Parikrama? Here is the most comprehensive guide to Govardhan Parikrama.

I have answered all the questions such as “What is Govardhan Parikrama and why is it done” in this information packed blog based on my personal experience of parikrama.

Govardhan Parvat Story

When did Krishna lifted Govardhan? Thousands of years ago in the Dvapar age, Krishna ji asked the villagers of Braj to not worship Lord Indra. Bhagwan Indra, the Hindu God of rain, in a fit of rage, flooded Mathura and nearby places with excessive rains and calamities.

This created panic amongst local villagers of Mathura. To save the residents of Mathura and Govardhan, Shri Krishna performed one of his most famous leela. He lifted the entire Govardhan Parvat on his little finger for 7 consecutive days and 7 nights.

What happened next was nothing less than magical. All the Braj Vasi (residents) came rushing to him and found shelter under the huge Govardhan mountain. Krishna ji showed his ‘Virat Roop’ (grand form) by lifting an entire mountain.

After 7 days of lifting mountains, the events finally broke the pride of Indra Devta. Eventually supremacy of Lord Krishna was established.

Ever since, the Govardhan Parvat has been worshipped by Hindus from all over the world and this event is celebrated with much fanfare in Braj. Isn’t it a beautiful thing that in India, we worship nature?

With this blog, I aim to help you plan your travel to Govardhan. This is indeed the best available guide to Govardhan Parikrama on the internet. I have been mentioned as one of the most famous Travel influencers in India several times.

Why is Govardhan Parikrama famous?

Countless devout Hindu pilgrims consider the holy Govardhan Parbat near Mathura and Vrindavan, as the natural form of Shree Krishna himself. It is one of the holiest of all Hindu pilgrimages. It is no ordinary mountain! Goverdhan Hill is considered very holy in Sanatan Dharm aka Hinduism.

What’s more? The area in and around the sacred mountain is addressed by local people as Braj ki Bhoomi or the land of Shri Krishna. Preserving and celebrating the 5000-year-old cultural and spiritual heritage of the Braj region is the duty of all Hindus.

Govardhan Parvat Parikrama distance

What is Govardhan Parikrama distance in km. Here is all about Govardhan Parikrama km. The total distance of Govardhan Parvat Parikrama is 21 kilometers. Most people do this parikrama in a single day. You can also choose to do the shorter Choti Parikrama of 9 kilometers or the longer parikrama of 12 kilometers.

I did both choti and badi parikrama together in which I covered a total distance of 21 kilometers. Distance of Govardhan Parikrama can be covered on foot with determination and will power.

History of Goverdhan

Did you know that many buildings located in Braj ki Bhoomi and the nearby areas date back to sixteenth century? The history of Govardhan dates back to thousands of years ago. Much of the history of Govardhan is associated with the life and times of Shri Krishna from the Dvapar Yuga or Dvapara Age.

Now you will get an idea of how old this place is. The fact that people still live in Govardhan and sing paeans in the glory of Shri Radha Krishna guarantees goosebumps. The stories of Sri Krishna lifting Govardhan Parvat still echoes here. I have shared many such deep insights in this exhaustive travelogue. You will not find such information in mainstream media or travel guide books.

Nomenclature of Govardhan Hill

Much like Shri Krishna, Govardhan hill is also known by various names. Some of these are just English names while most are the names given out of respect.

Goverdhan Hill is also known as

  • Giri Raj
  • Royal Hill
  • Govardhan ji
  • Shri Govardhan
  • Giriraj Maharaja
  • Mount Govardhan
  • Govardhana Parbat
  • Giri Govardha Parvat

Krishna ji is also called as Giriraj ji or Shri Dwarkadhish. Bhakts can be heard chanting, “Shri Giriraj Maharaj Ki Jay” with much enthusiasm.

Circumambulation around Govardhan Parvat is also known as

  • Goverdhan ji Parikrama
  • Govardhan ji ki Parikrama 
  • Giri Govardhan Parikrama

Top Things to do during Govardhan Parikrama

There are so many interesting and free things to do in Govardhan during parikrama. Some of the best activities to do in Govardhan with friends and family (or even solo) are as below:

  • Perform the coveted parikrama around Shri Govardhan Parbat
  • Join a bhajan keertan program with other devotees
  • Visit pious Hindu temple during Parikrama
  • Take a holy dip in the kunds or ponds
  • Meditate in silence for hours!

Legend of Goverdhan Parbat

According to the Hindu history, Bhagwan Shri Krishna lifted the Govardhan Parbat singlehandedly on one finger when he was just a child. He performed this miracle to save the local villagers of Goverdhan and Mathura from torrential rain and thunderstorm. Krishna ji used to perform various Leela or miracles on the hill.

Ever Since, the Govardhan Parbat is considered sacred and is now revered by crores of Hindu devotees from across India and world.

What is Goverdhan Hill made up of?

Did you know that Goverdhan Parbat is composed of sandstone? This is the most detailed travel guide on Govardhan Parikrama.

Govardhan Parvat Height

Why is Govardhan Parbat reducing in size? Did you know that Govardhan Parbat decreases in size continuously? As per the Hindu history, since it is the degenerated Kaliyug that we live in, the size of holy Goverdhan Parbat is also decreasing day by day.

At present, the Goverdhan hill is 82 feet or 25 meters in height. The Govardhan Parikrama guide I hired confirmed that because of a shraap or curse, a day will come when the entire Govardhan Parbat will flatten and merge with the earth.

Govardhan hill length

What is the length of Govardhan? I observed Govardhan Parvat is a very wide mountain. This is why parikrama around the holy mountain takes so long. Govardhan Parbat is has a total length of approximately 8 kilometers. It is spread across a large area of land. Goverdhan Hilll is surrounded by the villages. It is the center of all spiritual activities here.

Govardhan Parikrama Route

There are several routes to Govardhan Parikrama. However, two main routes of the classical Govardhan Parikrama include ‘Badi Parikrama’ or ‘Longer circumambulation’ and ‘Choti parikrama’ or ‘Shorter circumambulation’. What is Govardhan Parikrama Starting Point? Govardhan Parikrama starts and ends at Daan Ghati. Govardhan Parikrama 21 km route starts and ends at Daan Ghati.

Route of Saptakoshi Parikrama

How many km is Govardhan Parikrama? The route of Govardhan Parikrama is 21 kilometers long. You can-not start the any parikrama from just about any place. There is a designated path which you should follow so that you can do parikrama in the right way.

Below are the places to visit in the route of Badi parikrama

  • Daan Ghati
  • Gaya Prasad Maharaj Samadhi
  • Anyor Village
  • Luk Luk Temple
  • Poonchri Ka Lota
  • Lunch at Binani
  • Mukharbind
  • Odia Temple
  • Sarovar

Sequence wise route of Govardhan Parikrama Route

Where to start Govardhan Parikrama? Govardhan Parikrama starts at Daan Ghati. It also ends here as well.

Below are the major places of interest which appear during badi parikrama in Govardhan. I am mentioning the below places in their order of appearance on the Govardhan Parikrama Route.

  • Daan Ghati (Badi Parikrama starts)
  • Aanyaur Gaanv
  • Govind Kund
  • Luk Luk Dauji Maharaj
  • Poochri Ka Lautha
  • Jatipura Mukharvind
  • Indra Puja
  • Shrinath ji ki Baithak
  • Chootar Teka (Choti Parikrama starts here)
  • Radha Kund
  • Krishna Kund
  • Kusum Sarovar
  • Hargokul mandir
  • Mansi Ganga
  • Daan Ghati (ends)

Places to visit in Govardhan Parikrama

What are the places to see in Govardhan? It is a frequently asked question. Below is all you wanted to know about places to see during Govardhan Parikrama. There are so many picnic spots and interesting places to see in Govardhan such as several holy ponds, ancient and modern Hindu temples, Chattris, local villages and what not! There are many hidden gems in Govardhan.

You can visit when unexplored place if you go off the touristy trail. Even 1 day is not enough to experience Govardhan in all its glory! However, you can still visit many Govardhan Parikrama places if you have only one day here.

You can visit these places on foot during parikrama or even by car or autorickshaw. You should also try to visit offbeat places in Govardhan such as Giriraj Temple, Shri Chaitanya Temple. There are many such unusual places to see in Govardhan. Following are some of the best places to visit in Govardhan:

Temples and ponds en route Saptakoshi Parikrama

While performing the Saptakoshi Parikrama around the Goverdhan Parbat, I realized that there are so many more famous Hindu temples to be visited en route.

Some of the best places to see where Shri Krishn Bhakts pay their respect and offerings while doing the saptakoshi parikrama are as below:

Temples of Govardhan

  • Aanyor or Aanyaur
  • Daaanghati Mandir
  • Poonchari ka Lautha
  • Jatipura Mukharvind
  • Lakshami Narayan Mandir
  • Chakreshwar Mahadev Mandir
  • Shri Thakur Hari Dev Ji Maharaj Mandir

Ponds of Govardhan

  • Indra Kund
  • Naval Kund
  • Lalita Kund
  • Gauri Kund
  • Neep Kund
  • Rudra Kund
  • Radha Kund
  • Surbhi Kund
  • Shyam Kund
  • Govind Kund
  • Apsara Kund
  • Mansi Ganga
  • Airavat Kund
  • Uddhav Kund
  • Brahma Kund
  • Bicchalu Kund
  • Kusum Sarovar
  • Gandharv Kund
  • Sankarshan Kund
  • Udar Kund or Maad Kund
  • Sukhta Kund or Suraj Kund

Destinations on other route of Govardhan Parikrama

  • Chandra Sarovar
  • Shyam Dhak
  • Ganthuli Gram
  • Surya Kund
  • Mukhrai
  • Kilol

Soul Window Facts

Did you know that Parikrama or circumambulation is also performed around the holy ponds such as Radha Kund, Mansi Ganga and Shyam Kund? Hindus consider these places as a form of Bhagwan Shri Krishna.

Daan Ghati: Top Place to see in Govardhan

When should I start Govardhan Parikrama? Many people ask how to start Govardhan Parikrama. Even I didn’t know how to do Govardhan Parikrama until I arrived at Daan Ghati. It is also known as Govardhan Chauraha. Parikrama marg Govardhan also begins here.

The first thing to do during parikrama is the darshan at Daan Ghati. There is an interesting story behind Daan Ghati. It is no ordinary place. This was the place where daan of dahi first started. This is from the time when Shri Krishna was a cow herder.

When the gopis used to pass Daan Ghati to trade the dairy products such as milk, curd, makhan etc, little Krishna ji used to break their matkis (earthen pots) request them to donate the same to him. Yes, it was in Daan Ghati that Krishna ji used to take makhan daan (donation of butter) from the gopis. On one occasion, the Gopis gave Radha ji to him in daan. This was the moment Krishna ji was waiting for.

By forcing the gopis to donate him dairy, Shri Krishna displayed his Govardhan form and established the tradition of Govardhan pooja here. This was known as Govardhan Leela.

There is also a beautiful sculpture here which shows Sri Krishna lifting the Govardhan Parbat on his little finger even as his fellow villagers and cows take refuge under it.

I went inside to realize that it is actually a huge temple complex. There are many small temples here which are devoted to deities from the Hindu pantheon.

Devotees make a beeline to worship a rock here. The rock is beautifully decorated every day. One must not start the Govardhan parikrama without having a darshan of Shri Giriraj Maharaj inside.

While starting the parikrama from Daan Ghati, devotees do dandvat pranam or dhok. This place is actually a road now. Metal bars mark the start of parikrama. Dhok is whendevotee bows down once.

Soul Window Thoughts

I bent down and did the first dandvat pranam of my life here. Doing that in public made me feel vulnerable but learn a lot of things. Doing complete surrender in public view helped me drop off my ego and surrender to the unseen. I did 7 dandvat pranams at the beginning of badi parikrama as that is the auspicious number.

Timings in Daan Ghati

As per a board by Shri Giriraj Sevak Samiti, Daan Ghati, Govardhan, here are the timings for various services:

Mangla Aarti

Winter: 5 o’clock

Summer: 4 o’clock

Time for offering milk

Milk can be offered from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Raj Bhog Seva: 11:30 p.m.

Shringar Seva: 3:00 p.m.

Shayan Seva: 1:00 a.m.

Lakshami Narayan Mandir

This beautiful temple complex known as Lakshami Narayan Mandir was constructed in the year 1903. It was built by a well to do family from Hathras.

It is located right opposite Daan Ghati. I also peeped inside the pooja area where Govardhan pooja is done on each morning and evening. This place is located next to the police station.

My First darshan of Govardhan Parbat

Govardhan Parikrama guide took me to a place at the start of Badi Parikrama near Daan Ghati. This is the first place during parikrama from where you can have a darshan. I touched the holy mountain with the same reverence I had while meditating under Kailash Parbat in Tibet.

Soul Window Observations

While doing Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Tibet, I noticed that it was the only mountain of its kind in the vicinity. The pyramidal Kailash Parbat near Darchen in Tibet looked very different from all the other high-altitude mountains nearby.

Similarly, Govardhan Parbat is also odd because it is the only mountain of its kind in Braj Bhoomi which spans across a whooping 21 kilometers. It sure is a special mountain.

I was lucky that I had my first darshan of Govardhan Parbat on my 40th birthday. It was a special moment, the memory of which will not fade ever.

Before moving ahead, I went back to touching the sacred mountain again. I stood there in silence, numb and thoughtful, and imagined Shri Krishna lifting the holy mountain on his finger.

Of course, we are not supposed to climb on the pious mountain. I walked around for a bit even as a troop of precocious monkeys scurried away on the top of Govardhan Parbat.

Giriraj ji Shila

As I run to touch the Govardhan Parbat for the first time, some local priests insisted that I worship a stone idol first. Giriraj ji Shila, which is also known as Dandvati Shila lies on the first leg of badi parikrama.

Every stone and each sand particles of Govardhan is sacred and seen as Radha Krishna. There are stones every-where here. It is pretty common to see temples built around a stone idol here. Sometimes, they make human eyes and facial features on stone. At other times, the stone is worshipped as it is.

The priest asked me to do the 1-minute long parikrama of the stone idol.

Sant Shri Gaya Prasad Maharaj Samadhi in Govardhan

This is what my Govardhan Parikrama guide told me about Sant Shri Gaya Prasad Maharaj Ji Ki Samadhi,

“Since the time of my father, Gaya Prasad Maharaj ji used to do seva of Thakur here. He spent his entire life in seva of Giriraj Maharaj. This was the place he had left his mortal body. He breathed his last taking name of Hari.”

It was clearly mentioned here that one should only think about God and not worldly affairs here. In fact, day to day conversations were not allowed at this samadhi sthal. The idea is to focus inwards rather than outwards. Any distractions such as perfume, dhoop, agarbatti (incense sticks) are not allowed here.

Some natural carvings in a shila (stone) are also found nearby. The natural carvings include figures of Cow, peacock, feet of Shri Krishna, Hanuman ji, Yashoda Maa, Kanhaiya ji, Narsinh Bhagwan and Kadam tree. This stone was found by Krishnadas ji. He is a disciple of Sant Shri Gaya Prasad Maharaj and presently takes care of the samadhi. His ashram was earlier located here but the forest department didn’t allow him to continue here. Due to this, the ashram was relocated to a nearby place.

Shri Gaya Prasad Maharaj must be the most devout bhakt or devotee of Sri Krishna who spent much of his last 65 years maintaining and praying at the feet of Govardhan Parvat. He came to Govardhan in the year 1936 to perform parikrama and never returned back to home.

He used to perform parikrama daily and lived on the donations received from villagers of Braj. He continued doing parikrama till the age he was able to. He earlier lived in the Bageecha of Mirchi Maharaj. Later he moved to the Laxmi Narayan mandir which is located near Daan Ghati.

He became unwell at the age of 101 years old on the day of Guru Poornima in 2051 Samvat. The local villagers offered to take him to a doctor but he refused to leave Govardhan Parbat. Such was his love for Giriraj ji, that he preferred to die there instead of leaving it for medical emergency.

The samadhi was like a hut with thatched roof. I did pranam at his kutiya (hut) before leaving. Parrots chirped and ants went about their work under the plants neatly arranged in a kyari (flower bed) that surrounded the hut.

I left the samadhi and started the parikrama on the mud path. I did the 7 times dandvat pranam again as my tourist guide sang a bhajan. This Govardhan Ashram is a must-visit! Despite its proximity to Daan Ghati, the Samadhi is located away from the crowds.

Aanyor Village

Local kids played rural sports as we approached Aanyaur village. The famous Aanyor Village was located in the beginning of the Badi Praikrama. I briefly stopped here and interacted with the local women who were making uplas or dry cow dung cakes for fuel on the roof of their homes.

It is a pretty big village with a bustling population. Since it is a busy village, many domestic cows also roam the area nonchalantly.

There is an interesting story behind how Aanyor Village got its name. The name Aanyaur can be divided into Aan and Aur. This story dates back to the Dwapar Yuga. It is common knowledge that Krishna Bhagwan had lifted the Govardhan Parbat for 7 continuous days even as torrential rains and fierce storm refused to stop. He was very tired and hungry after lifting the parbat continuously.

It was then that the Brajwasis or villagers of Braj Bhoomi made 56 meals for Krishna ji. But that would not satiate his hunger. He kept asking for more food which also explains the meaning of Aan Aur in the local dialect of Braj Bhasha. Ever since, Aanyor village is named so.

I was surprised to know that the concept of Chappan Bhog or 56 Bhog comes from this story. In the Hindu science, one day is divided into 8 prahars. So, if we multiply the 7 days with 8 prahars, we will get the number 56. This is why residents of Braj made 56 meals for Krishna ji. Each meal was made for each prahar.

The parikrama happens behind the Aanyor Gaanv. Earlier this was not the route. Devotees had to do parikrama outside the walls that surround Giriraj ji. The new route on soft mud connects Aanyor village to Govind Kund.  

Shrinath ji Temple

Shrinath ji Temple is located very close to Aanyor village. It is a very old temple. There is also a cave inside which goes up to Nathdwara in Rajasthan. My guide told me that Shrinath ji comes here every evening. He is served bhog thali (food) and bed is also prepared for him.

He said that the next day, the thali is always found empty and the bed crumpled or wrinkled. It is a huge temple, I noticed from the ground below.

Since it is located atop the Govardhan Parbat, only Brajwasi or people of Braj Bhoomi are allowed to enter this temple. Outsiders are not allowed to enter Shrinath ji Temple.My guide told me that the locals can walk up to Shrinath ji temple because they are like children of Giriraj maharaj aka Goverdhan Parbat.

Much like how kids can stay in the lap of their parents all day, they are also allowed to climb atop. Next stop after Shrinath Ji Temple was the holy Govind Kund.

Soul Window Observations

When I visited Nathdwara near Udaipur, I was happy to see a little Govardhan in the heart of Rajasthan. Now when I visited both Nathdwara and Govardhan, I can connect the dots. It is interesting how most of the places I have visited since 2008 are linked to each other, without me planning it that way. Shrinath ji never returned to Aanyaur and continues to live in Nathdwara.

Shri Luk Luk Dau ji Maharaj Maharaas Sthali.

Luk Luk in Braj Bhoomi means to hide and see. Dauji Maharaj, the elder brother of Krishna ji, watched Raas Leela of Radha Krishna in a clandestine manner. He took the form of half lion and half man to do so. Shri Luk Luk Dau ji Maharaj Maharaas Sthali is devoted to the same. It is an offbeat destination in Govardhan which you must visit.

Inside the Shri Luk Luk Dau ji Maharaj Maharaas Sthali, I saw women worshipping shilas or huge stones. There are no murtis or idols here. The devotees here worshipped several dark black rocks which represented Dauji Maharaj, his wife and his friends aka gwalbal or sakha. I also did a small parikrama around this temple.

There is a small naturally formed Shivlinga behind the temple which the wife of Dauji Maharaj used to worship. I saw fresh milk and flowers which were offered here. Indra Pooja is also located behind this temple. The panoramic views from here are also picturesque.

On a rock outside the main gate of the temple, the guide showed me two eyes and tears formed on a rock. Both of us touched the eyes on the rock and then touched our eyes. Doing so removes any problems associated with eyes.

Soul Window Observations

I noticed that the priests across Braj Bhumi, including places like Nandgaon and Barsana, will show you signs of cows, footmarks, eyes and Radha ji and Krishna ji on stones. These are the stones after all which stood witness to the Nitya Leelas of the divine couple Shri Radha Krishna. It is no wonder then that they still carry the imprints from Dwapar Yuga

Thakur Hari Dev Ji Mandir

Two small elephants built in red sandstone welcome me as I entered Thakur Hari Dev Ji Mandir. It is a beautiful temple built entirely of sandstone. My guide told me that this was the place where Krishna Bhagwan stood while he lifted Govardhan Pahar on his little finger. This is why it is one of the most important places to see in Govardhan.

Chatkeshwar Mahadev Temple

Do not miss visiting this unusual Shiva Temple in Govardhan. What makes this Shiv temple different is that 5 Shivlinga in the shape of a Chakra are worshipped here. Devi images in brass are also present here. You will be amazed to know the historical significance of this shrine.

When Krishna ji was lifting the Govardhan pahad, it was raining so much that all the water started collecting in a huge nearby pit. It was then that Shiv Bhagwan came to rescue. Shiv ji manifested himself in the form of a Chakra and flushed out all the excess water.

The 5 Shivlings here represent that story. This can also be seen on a carved stone here. It is an old stone with beautiful carvings. I am not sure of the age of this carved stone but it does look like hundreds of years old.

You can see a conch, Shri yantra with 9 boxes and Brahma ji carved on this stone. Sculpture of the sacred Nandi ji in black stone is also seen here. This temple is off the beaten track.

Also read: Tallest naturally formed Shivalinga

Poonchari ka Lautha

As I jostled amongst the crowds to get a glimpse of the presiding deity here, I realized that it is one of the most important places to see in Govardhan during the Badi Parikrama. Thousands had gathered here to offer their prayers and ask for their wishes to be granted. It is a very lively temple which constantly buzzes with activity.

I finally had my darshan of Lautha, for whom the main temple here is devoted to. The murti here looked very different from the Hindu deities I am accustomed to pray to since childhood. A wrestler like build, stout body, orange face, thick eyebrows, a big moustache and a Vaishnavite tilak are some of the most important features of the murti of Lautha. Tons of flowers and incense sticks surrounded him.

For a moment, he looked like Hanuman ji to me. But he is different. Outside of Govardhan, not much is known about him. Let’s find out who is this lesser-known deity of Govardhan?

When Bhagwan Krishna left Braj Bhoomi for Dwarka in present Gujarat in West India, he requested Lautha to come along with him. But Lautha loved Braj Bhoomi and expressed his inability to leave his motherland.

Ever since then Poonchari ka Lautha has been waiting for him to come back. He vowed not to eat or drink anything till Shri Krishna returns back to the holy soil of Braj. These are some amazing facts about Govardhan Parikrama which not many people know about.

As we know once Krishna ji left Mathura, Gokul, Vrindavan and Govardhan, he never came back. Therefore, Shri Krishna gave him special blessing which allowed him to lead a healthy life without eating or drinking anything.

This temple is the symbol of eternal wait. Much like how Nandi ji waits endlessly for Shiv ji outside temples. Poonchari ka Lautha was the childhood friend of Krishna ji and they grew up together. They even used to do wrestling together as kids. This is why Poonchri Ka Lautha is called so because he used to stick around as a tail (poonch) to Krishna ji.

Till today, the people of Braj feel that Shri Krishna will one day return for his friend Lautha. Till date, lakhs of people worship Lautha every day.  

There is one more temple devoted to Shri Radha Krishna in the back of the main temple. It houses beautiful murtis. A sadhu with long hairs tied neatly over his head sat here and blessed devotees.

On the back of the main temple, there is a wall which is covered in fresh cow dung cakes. Devotees stick coins of Re. 1, Rs. 2 and Rs. 10 depending on their capacity. If they do it with devotion, the coin sticks to the cow dung cake, otherwise it falls. This is where Thakur ji takes ‘attendance’ of all the devotees, my guide told me. This is why, it is a must to bow here during parikrama.

Poonchari ka Lautha is located only 3 kilometers away from Aanyor village towards the south direction.

Indra Pooja

Next stop after Poonchari ka Lautha and Shrinath ji Mandir was Indra Pooja. I took a flight of stairs here to arrive at the main temple. A black rock is worshipped here. This place is also known as Shri Giriraj Indra Maan Bhang, Indra Puja, Mukharvind or Chappan Bhog Indra Sharnagati Sthal, Jatipura.

It is managed by Shri Giriraj Ji Mukharvind, Gudhainiya (गुधेनिया) Seva Samiti, Aanyor, Jatipura (Mathura). This falls before Jatipura Mukharvind. It was a relatively empty place. I did a parikrama of the main rock here and proceeded ahead.

I also saw the ruins of an old haveli here. It was written Bharat Bhawan on one of the walls here. It must have been a beautiful house in his heydays. Just a little ahead 15-20 women surrounded me and made me pay to feed grass and spinach to cows.

Jatipura Mukharvind

As I navigated the narrow lanes to reach Jatipura Mukharvind, I was engulfed by the sensory delighst that vied for my attention. Rows of vendors selling milk with rose petals, halwai shops, sweet shops and what not lined the streets. Cows walked here with as much rights as did the humans.

I was in the small village of Jatipura. Jatipura Mukharvind is located on the other side of Aanyaur village. This place is known for Mukharvind temple, which is the top place to see during Govardhan Parikrama.

A massive cluster of statues greeted me here. It showed Shri Krishna lifting the Govardhan Parvat while the Brajwasis which include cows, take shelter from torrential rains under it. The walls behind these idols are decorated with colorful depictions from the life and times of Shri Krishna.

Shri Giriraj ji Mukhar Bind is a symbol of mouth of Krishna ji. Devotees offer donation, gifts and seek blessings from Lord. The special Prasad of Jatipura is coveted. A mere darshan of Shrimukh at Jatipura Mukharvind is considered as good as actual darshan of Shri Krishna himself. I saw a long line of devotees here who waited patiently for their turn to offer milk to a huge rock which is worshipped here.

Shringar is done at the rock by the priests at different time periods in different styles throughout the day.

Just as you leave Jatipura Mukharvind, you will see a huge temple on a rocky knoll.  It is said that there is a 623 kms long cave here which ends at Shrinath ji.

Shrinath ji used to give darshan to people in Nathdwara in the morning and Jatipura in the evening. Devotees used to have darshan of Krishna ji through the cave.

In fact, the word Jatipura is derived from the illumination or ‘Jyoti’ of Srinathji while he was eating.

Srinathji Murti was earlier located at Gopalji temple. The local Brajwasis hold the belief that after Sandhya Aarti or evening aarti is done in Nathdwara of present Rajasthan, Shrinath ji return to his original home to sleep.

Do not forget to eat Alu ki jalebi at a shop here. Jatipura Mukharvind is the top place to visit during Govardhan Parikrama.

Bada Bazaar

This half kilometer long market is the main market of Govardhan. Bada Bazaar is where badi parikrama ends and choti parikrama starts. It is a very busy, noisy and crowded market. From medical shop to shops selling pooja samagri and toys, everything is sold here.

Laxmi Narayan Mandir

Laxmi Narayan Mandir is located near Bada Bazaar. It is a very old temple located right on the streets of Bada Bazaar. It is managed by Shri Giriraj Sevak Samiti Daan Ghati. This is the first stop at Choti Parikrama.

Chootar Teka

By the time I visited Jatipura Mukharvind, it took only 1.5 kilometers to finish the 12 kilometers long parikrama. After Chootar Teka, 9 kilometers of choti parikrama starts. This is why Chootar Teka is one of the most important stops during parikrama in Govardhan.

How long Govardhan Parikrama? I did both 12 and 9 kilometers parikrama, which totals up to 21 kilometers. After Chootar Teka, Uddhav Kund, Radha Kund, Krishna Kund, Kusum Sarovar and Mansi Ganga and back to Daan Ghati appears in that order.

There are benches here. It is customary to sit at these benches before starting the choti parikrama. You should sit here for 1 minute before moving ahead.

Radha Kund is 4 kilometers of walk from Chootar Teka and Kusum Sarovar is 6 kilometers of walk from Chootar Teka. Vrindavan is 26 kilometers from here as per a signboard.

A little ahead are beautiful and tall statues of Shiv Bhagwan and Hanuman ji. Both are shown with 5 heads each.

Mandir Thakur Shri Shri Krishna Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu

Located just a few steps ahead of Uddhav Kund is this temple built in Odia style. I had visited many temples in Odisha in Bhubaneshwar, Puri and even Pattadakal in Karnataka and could easily identify the typical temple architecture of Odisha.

I found out that Mandir Thakur Shri Shri Krishna Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu is indeed built in Odia style. The two lion statues that guard the entrance here reminded me of the similar lion statues I saw in Konark Temple of Odisha. It is a very big temple with a rich history. This temple even had a Neel Chakra on the top of Shikhara much like the famous Neel Chakra on the much-revered Jagannath Puri temple.

An Ashdhatu Murti is housed here. Peacocks, parrots and pigeons ate grains nonchalantly in a chabootra nearby. I even saw a family of 3-4 grey francolin in a field here. I have spotted many grey francolin, lesser floricans and rain quails on my birdwatching trips.

Sri Giriraj Dandwati Shila

A parikrama across Sri Giriraj Dandwati Shila is considered as auspicious as a parikrama across Govardhan Parvat. This place is also a part of Govardhan Parbat and is therefore considered equally sacred.

Devotees who are unable to perform the 21 kilometers long Badi Parikrama due to health, money, time or other issues perform 7 circumambulations of Sri Giriraj Dandwati Shila. This place is located near Jatipura Mukharvind.

Gokulnathji Temple

Gokulnath Temple is one of the most important temples of Govardhan. The temple that we see today was built in 1510 C.E. The colossal shikhar or the central tower of the Gokulnath temple is worth admiring.

Shri Krishna and Giriraj Maharaj or Govardhan Parbat are worshipped in this shrine.

The Gokulnath temple premises are flooded with pilgrims on special occasions and festivals such as Janamashtami, Trinvat Mela, Annakut etc. Mansi Ganga is located near this temple. This water tank in the temple premises also has links with ancient Hindu history from Dwapar Yuga.

Gokulnath ji mandir also marks the end of the Govardhan Parikrama.

Shri Sakshi Gopal Ji

This is another temple devoted to Krishna ji. You must stop here for some time during the parikrama.

Sakhitada

There are many famous and lesser-known places in Govardhan. One of them is Sakhitada. Not many know about this place which is the village of Chandravali. She was a sakhi or friend of Lord Krishna.

Kunds or Sarovars of Govardhan

As I explored one place at a time, I was surprised to discoverer that there are more than 250 kunds or water tanks across the Braj Bhumi. I saw many beautiful sarovars in Barsana, Nandgaon etc. The biggest Sarovar I saw was the Potara Kund in Mathura near Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi. Some of these kunds are the top places to see during Govardhan Parikrama.

Many of these kunds are man-made but they were originally made by God. Shri Krishna himself made many of these kunds. Existing since the Dwapar Yug, these kunds still tell the tales of Radha Krishna with same passion as if they roamed the earth just few years ago.

Many kunds in Govardhan are small while some such as Radha Kund and Mansi Ganga are very huge. These kunds are located within the parikrama marg. I didn’t have to take a detour to visit these kunds. Instead, these kunds or sarovar fell on the route of Govardhan Parikrama. Mentioned below are some of the most important kunds or water tanks in Govardhan.

Mansi Ganga

Mansi Ganga was built by Raja Bhagwan Das and Raja Man Singh. This iswhy it is easy to see Rajasthani influence in the architecture of the buildings here. A visit to Mansi Ganga is a must, otherwise parikrama is considered incomplete. Just a mere darshan of Mansi Ganga gets devotees rid of their paap (sins).

I stopped here and sprinkled the holy water of Mansi Ganga on my head. I also noticed many beautiful houses with unique architecture. Mansi Ganga is a major attraction in Govardhan.

There is a lovely story from the Dwapar Yuga which is associated with Mansi Ganga. When Nand Baba and Yashoda Maa, who were the foster parents of Krishna Bhagwan wanted to visit the sacred Ganga River, they took an overnight stop here.

On the next day when they wake up, they see that Krishna ji brought Ganga from his mind. Manas means mind. This is why Mansi Ganga is still called so.

I spent a lot of time at Mansi Ganga. There are several big and small temples built around Mansi Ganga. I also visited many temples built within the huge temple complex of Mansi Ganga. It is a vibrant place. I also noticed several colorful paintings in some of the temples here.

Even here you can see people worshipping the sacred rocks in temples, homes and public places.

Brahma Kund

This small kund or water tank is also a must-visit place in Govardhan. Brahma Kund is located near Mansi Ganga. It is an offbeat place to see in Govardhan. It is one of the most popular of all Govardhan Parikrama places.

Kusum Sarovar: Where Radha ji met Shri Krishna

First things first! The astonishing architecture of monuments around Kusum Sarovar impress, to say the least! The wonderful atmosphere is akin to cherry on the cake. Spending an evening here, useless to say, is soulful. The word Kusum means flower and Sarovar means water tank.

The 450 feet long and 60 feet deep pond is one of the most sacred Hindu places in India. According to the Hindu history, Kusum Sarovar was the place where Radha ji, with flowers in her hand used to meet Shri Krishna Bhagwan in Dvapar Yuga.

Every evening, aarti is performed at Kusum Sarovar. You must not miss it! Both devotees and local people of Mathura take a holy dip in Kusum Sarovar on a daily basis!  This place was so peaceful, I paused and sat here in silence for some time.

The art work and paintings done on the ceiling of monuments here is worth a dekko! You can also get a memorable photo shoot done here. There were many ducks and fish which swam here without a worry in the world.

Visually stunning, this is a very well maintained sarovar of Govardhan. I visited Kusum Sarovar just before it turned dark. Kusum sarovar lies towards the last leg of my parikrama. You can also offer your prayers to a Shivalinga here. It was built by the royal family of Rajasthan.

Kusum Sarovar looked unreal and stunning when it was bathed in the night lights. The bright blue and yellow lights made it one of the most visually stunning spectacles I had ever seen. This is why do not miss seeing Kusum Sarovar during night if your first visit here was during the day.

My guide took me to a hidden gem located near the Kusum Sarovar. It gave us a different vantage point of Kusum Sarovar. Also, the Chattris and lovely architecture of this place makes it worth a visit. I climbed a few stairs to get to this offbeat place which is built on a raised platform.

Just before Kusum Sarovar, I bumped in to my local host Divyakshi who was going home with her mother in car.

Radha Kund – A must visit in Govardhan!   

Radha Kund is a very important stop during Govardhan parikrama. It is said that the parikrama is not complete unless the devotee has visited Radha Kund and Krishna Kund. It is said that Radha ji created this kund (pond) with the help of a kangan or bangle. This is why Radha Kund is another major attraction during Govardhan Parikrama.

It has a beautiful main entrance with carvings of interesting motifs such as peacock and flowers. I was stunned to see how huge Radha Kund was. The walls here are beautifully decorated with beautiful floral designs as well. Monkeys roamed around freely without the crowds panicking. Music kept playing in the background, adding to the ambiance.

It was easily the biggest and most crowded water tanks of Govardhan. Always buzzing with activity, the Radha Kund is one of the best places to visit during Govardhan Parikrama.

There is an interesting story behind Radha Kund. The leela Krishna ji performed at Radha Kund is still remembered. In Dwapar Yuga, a demon or asura/rakshas took the form of a bull and started harassing milk men and their herd of cows.

It was then that Shri Krishna came to rescue and killed the demon. After killing the asura, Radha ji and Krishna ji took a boat ride in Radha Kund. This is why Radha Kund is one of the most important places to see in Govardhan.

My guide told me,

“Before Diwali festival, people come here to do snan or take a holy bath. Women who are unable to bear child take holy bath here at 12 a.m. in midnight during the Ashtami near the dates of Karwa Chauth festival. People also donate and wish for the fulfilment of their manokamna.” This is the best things to do with family and kids in Govardhan.

Do not forget to take Charnamrit or aachman here. My guide made me sprinkle the holy water of Radha Kund on my head and chant ‘Radhe Radhe’. It is a great idea to hire a local tourist guide who will enrich you with stories from the life and times of Radha ji and Shri Krishna Bhagwan.

Located close to the revered Govardhan Parbat, Radha Kund is another important pilgrimage stop for devotees of Shri Krishna.

Since Radha Kund is very popular, expect heavy crowds at Radha Kund throughout the day.  Several temples around the Radha Kund are visited by lakhs of people every day. You need to take off your shoes before you enter the main gate of Radha Kund.

This is for those who are not doing parikrama but visiting Radha Kund on a rickshaw. Radha Kund and Shyam Kund are built on a level lower than the road. I visited here during evening. The buildings here acquired a golden glow in the evening sun light. The reflection of buildings in water added to its beauty.

Shyam Kund

Shyam Kund is located right next to the Radha Kund. A narrow strip of land divides Radha Kund and Shyam Kund. There are many small temples built around this place. When Radha ji created Radha Kund with her bangle, she found that water was no-where to be seen here.

This is why Shyam Kund, which has the water from all the holy rivers and ocean fed the Radha Kund with same water. It is a must-see place in Govardhan.

I noticed a large population of Bengali community around Radha Kund and Shyam Kund. The famous widows of Braj had also lined the narrow streets of the roads leading to these twin water tanks. They sit there all day, expecting monetary help from the devotees. I visited Radha Kund and Shyam Kund towards the last leg of the parikrama marg.

Lalita Kund

Lalita Kund is named after Lalita ji who was the famous friend or sakhi of Radha ji. People throng at the temple here which is devoted to Lalita ji. There is a temple called as Shri Laliteshwar Mahadev which is located near the Lalita Kund. As per the Shakta tradition, Lalita ji is revered as the supreme goddess.

Lalita Kund, which is located very close to Radha Kund and Shyam Kund is a must-visit place. I noticed various ghats and a huge artificial lotus flower in the middle of this water-tank. I also spotted many turtles here. Lalita Kund falls on the parikrama marg only.

You can have a darshan from the main parikrama road itself. A chatri houses a beautiful idol of Shiv ji here. This chatri is located on the ghats of Lalita Kund.

Gauri Kund

This was the place where Gopika Chandravali used to pray to Gauri and wished for meeting Shri Krishna. Just sitting here peacefully is one of the best things to do with family and kids. This is not to be confused with the Gauri Kund of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra or Kedarnath.

Narad Kund

This is another important water tank to visit in Govardhan. It is located near Mansi Ganga. It is one of the most unusual places to see in Govardhan Parikrama.

Apsara Kund

The apsaras or the celestial maidens used this water tank to have a bath. Apsara Kund is off the beaten track.

Two Dwarpalas flank the either side of the main gate. A nearby image of Balram ji is worshipped by thousands daily. Not many know about the history of Sankarshan Kund. This divine Kund is associated with the Patal Lok and Shesh Naag.

Chandra Sarovar

Chandra Sarovar is located a little away from the main Parikrama Marg. It was at this place that the moon made a halt to enjoy the Ras Lila of Sri Krishna.

You must visit this sarovar as it dates back to the time of the world-famous Bhakti poet Surdas ji. Devotees visit Chandra Sarovar every day as this is also the place where samadhi of Surdas ji is built. Surdas ji was a 16th century Indian poet who was born in 1535 and breathed last in 1640 C.E.

A beautiful sketch of Surdas ji on a marble slab rests next to a doha carved on another slab. You can see people meditating and singing the poems written by Surdas ji here all day.

You will be surprised to know that the famous Main Naahin Maakhan Khaayo was written by Surdas ji in Braj Bhasha, which is a dialect of Hindi native to Braj area. This Hindu devotional song is set to Raga Ramkali. Depicting the Vātsalya Ras or the parental Love, this song talks about infant Krishna ji’s love for fresh butter.

In modern times, singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Anup Jalota, Nitin Mukesh and Kundan Lal Saigal made this 16th century bhajan popular.

Rudra Kund

It is another important kund as this was the place where Shiv Bhagwan, in the form of Rudra prayed so that he could have a divine darshan of Shri Krishna.

Sankarshan Kund

Until I visited Govardhan, I had no idea that Sankarshan was another name given to Balram ji or Dauji, the elder brother of Shri Krishna. Needless to say, Sankarshan Kund is devoted to Balram ji. A Vaishnav Tilak or Urdhva Pundra and a conch shell is carved on the main entrance of Sankarshan Kund.

Devotees visit here daily to offer their prayers in the small temple devoted to Balram ji. This temple is located near Sankarshan Kund.

Indra Kund

Indra Kund is an important place to visit as this was where India Bhagwan offered his prayers to Krishna ji. It is a lesser-known place.

Govind Kund

Krishna ji built the Govind Kund with his flute. You must know the interesting story behind Govind Kund. It is a lesser-known fact.

Bhagwan Indra had performed abhishek of Shri Krishna here after surrendering to him. The abhishek was done with the water of 7 Ganga, 7 seas and Akash Ganga. The water of Govind Kund is seen as symbol of the entire universe. Indra God used to see Krishna ji as a gwala (milkman).

After Krishna ji performed his leela and displayed his ‘virat roop’ (grand form), Indra God visited him with Airavat or ‘abhra-Matanga’, his white elephant and apologized. He said that he didn’t know that Krishna ji had taken birth on Earth.

People take aachman (sprinkling holy water on head) here before moving ahead. Devotees perform a parikrama of Govind Kund, sit at a baithak at a temple nearby and then proceed for parikrama.

Govind Kund is located right after the busy Aanyaur village and the huge Shrinath ji temple. Mostly Bengali people and Iskcon devotees organize pravachan here. Residences of highly evolved saints and mahatmas are also located. They are the holy men who daily perform parikrama 2-3 times.

Airavat Kund

This was the place where Airavat Haathi brought water from Akash Ganga which the modern students know as Milky way. Airavat Haathi was the celestial elephant of Indra Bhagwan. This Kund is a hidden gem of Govardhan.

Surbhi Kund

This was the place where Surbhi cow appeared so that she could give milk to Indra ji, so that he could perform abhishek of Krishna ji. Do not forget to visit this unusual place to see during Govardhan Parikrama.

Gandharv Kund

This was the spot where celestial Gandharvs sang songs when the abhishek of Shri Krishna was underway. It is an unusual place to see during Govardhan Parikrama.

Neep Kund

This lesser known Kund was the place where Krishna ji with his cow herder friends made pattal or dona from the leaves of Palash tree. They used these donas (dry leaf bowls) to eat curd.

Soul Window Thoughts

In my home state Uttar Pradesh, dona is still used for serving food. This indigenous way of making plates and bowls is eco-friendly and low cost.

I remember that in childhood, we were always served food on donas in large gatherings such as picnics and weddings. We need to replace the thermocol and plastic plates and get back to tradition.

Uddhav Kund

This kund is devoted to Uddhav ji who was a cousin of Shri Krishna. There is a very old Goshala here where you can donate as well. Uddhav Kund is located a little ahead of Chootar Teka. I saw old temples here as well.

It is a very beautiful kund. I could see many fish in this water tank. Bhajans play here all day. Surrounded by greenery, it is cocooned from the chaos and noise of the streets outside. There is a Goshala right next to Uddhav Kund.

Sukhta or Suraj Kund

This is another lesser-known place in Govardhan. It is one of the most underrated points of attractions in Govardhan.

Naval Kund

It was named after Poonchari village previously. This is why it was known as Poonchkund earlier. Later it was renamed as naval after the queen of Bharatpur. As I noticed, there is a lot of influence from the nearby Bharatpur in Rajasthan on the architecture of monuments of Govardhan.

Bicchalu Kund

This was the Kund where Radha ji used to play Aankh Micholi or hide and seek with Krishna ji. It is one of the most unusual places to see in Govardhan.

Maad Kund

This water tank belongs to the people from the Maad community. Maad Kund is also known as Udar Kund. This tourist attraction is a must-visit place in Govardhan!

Visit a Goshala

You should also visit a Goshala when in Govardhan. I came across a huge Gaushala right next to the quaint Uddhav Kund. There were many cows when I visited. My guide told me that there are many more cows who live here but they have gone to forest to graze at grass. A poster nearby showed ‘virat roop’ of cow.

Types of Govardhan Parikrama

What is Govardhan Parikrama? How can we do Govardhan Parikrama? There are many different ways of performing Govardhan Parikrama depending upon the available time, budget, age, stamina, energy, gender, enthusiasm etc. I am also explaining below why Govardhan Parikrama is done?

Why is Govardhan Parikrama done barefoot?

Govardhan Parikrama by foot is not easy but not impossible either. The right way to do Govardhan Parikrama is to do it barefoot because each and every sand on the Parikrama Marg is very sacred.

However, if you are not comfortable walking barefoot in Govardhan, you can buy a low-cost ‘use and throw’ slippers or soft shoes made of cloth. I bought these one-time use flip flops from a shop near my hotel. In case you forget to buy the slippers, you can pick it from any shop en route. Many shops sell these slippers through the entire parikrama marg.

I personally alternated between wearing the chappals and walking barefoot on the parikrama marg. By the time the Badi parikrama was over, the slippers were torn and useless. The slippers will save you from any trash or thorn on the way.

Walking parikrama

I observed many people, both women and men and young and old performing the most difficult form of Parikrama. When compared to those I found out that walking parikrama, though also tough is the easiest form of parikrama which can be done in Govardhan. In walking parikrama, devotees have to walk barefoot on the designated path around the holy hill. It is one of the most popular things to do with family and kids. The best part is that it is free. You can easily take a free walking tour here.

Badi Parikrama

Badi Parikrama is the most common and ultimate form of performing circumambulation around the sacred Govardhan Parbat. I had chosen to do the Badi Parikrama. In the Badi Parikrama, I started and ended the parikrama at Daan Ghati.

I walked barefoot in a clockwise direction. I ensured that the Goradhan Parvat was always on my right side while performing Parikrama. This is the right way to do Goverdhan Parikrama.

Most people take anywhere between 5 to 9 hours to do Badi Parikrama. Taking stops for refreshments, photography and toilet adds to the time.

Majority of places of interest in Govardhan fall during badi parikrama. Some of the major attractions of Badi Parikrama are as below

  • Airavat Kund
  • Chandra Sarovar
  • Dandavat Shila
  • Dani Raja Temple
  • Danivaran Kund
  • Gauri Kund
  • Gopal Raj Temple
  • Govind Kund
  • Gulal Kund
  • Indra Kund
  • Iscaan Temple
  • Laxmi-Narayan Temple
  • Narasimha Temple
  • Nipa Kund
  • Papamochan Kund
  • Radharani Padminh
  • Sanskar Kund
  • Surabhi Kund
  • Temple of Puchari Lota

How to do Parikrama under Sun?

I started doing Badi Parikrama early in the morning thinking it would help me avoid the Sun. I did Parikrama on 21st November, my 40th birthday. Since the winter sun was a pleasure to expose my body to, I actually enjoyed walking in the sun. In case you feel Sun is harsh, you can cover your head with a cloth and then walk.

Also, throughout the parikrama, the canopy of dense forests will ensure that you are protected from harsh sun. The trees were lush tree when I visited in November. However, in autumn months, especially in March and April, you may find dry trees bereft of any leaves.

Choti Parikrama

After I arrived in Govardhan I realized that there are many different types of Parikramas here. Choti Parikrama is a shorter version of the badi parikrama. It spans only 9 kilometers as compared to 21 kilometers of Badi Parikrama. And once you get tired of all the walking you can rest at one of the benches at Bhakton ka baithka. These benches are located at regular intervals during the parikrama.

Some of the major places to see in Choti parikrama are as below:

  • Ashok Van
  • Brahma Kund
  • Giriraj Temple
  • Haridev Temple
  • Jugal Kund
  • Kakaleshwar Temple
  • Kilola Kund
  • Kushum Sarovar
  • Lalita Kund
  • Mansi Ganga
  • Mukharwind Temple
  • Narada Kund
  • Panch Tirtha Kund
  • Radha Kund
  • Ratna Kund
  • Shyam Kund
  • Uddhav Temple

84 Kos Parikrama or Vraja Mandal Parikrama

Vraja Mandal Parikrama was established in medieval India. The history of Chaurasi kos parikrama can be traced back to 16th century. Sri Nagaji of the Nimbarka Sampradaya and Sri Narayana Bhatta of Unchagaon or Varsana (Barsana) are credited with founding the 84 Kos Parikrama or Vraja Mandal Parikrama. The latter had even written guides on the correct way of doing the Vraja Mandal Parikrama.

While Braj Yatra is a longer form of parikrama, there is a shorter foot parikrama as well. Braj Yatra is the longest parikrama you can do in this region. In the longer pilgrimage circuit, the devotees traditionally walk the entire path which spans from Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Govardhan to the slightly far away Nandgaon and Barsana.

In the Braj Yatra, which is also the shorter parikrama, the yatris (pilgrims) walk and pay their respects at Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul and Govardhan.

Both the yatras are difficult and demands stamina, time, money and devotion! However, I feel it is still shorter than the Kanwar Yatra of North India in which devotees walk for much longer.

This type of parikrama is also known as Chaurasi kos parikrama or 84 kos parikrama, Braj Yatra or Braj pilgrimage. This Hindu pilgrimage of epic proportions can take up to 2 months, depending upon the route taken, stamina and pace of the devotee to cover the distances on foot.

The 3 major Hindu pilgrimages of Shri Krishna are as below:

  • 48 kos parikrama of Kurukshetra in Haryana in North India.
  • Braj parikarma in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh state
  • Dwarka parikrama or Dwarkadish yatra of Dwarkadhish Temple in Gujarat, West India.

Sohni Seva Parikrama

What better way to clean the road while also offering the service to the God? The literal meaning of Sohni Seva Parikrama is to beautify the place. I had observed that despite such huge footfalls every day, the roads of Govardhan were spic and span even in the most crowded places. Perhaps this is the reason why Govardhan is such a clean place.

In Sohni Seva Parikrama, the devotees perform the parikrama while simultaneously cleaning the roads with a broom. I found it to be one of the most beautiful ways to perform parikrama in Govardhan.

Saptakoshi Parikrama

What is Govardhan Parikrama distance in kosh? It is a frequently asked question. Saptakoshi Parikrama is called so because the entire route is 7 kos long. Thousands of pilgrims perform this journey while chanting Radhe Radhe.

Doodh Parikrama

While doing parikrama, I noticed some people carrying pots of milk which left a white line on the grey roads. In Doodh Parikrama, the devotees ensures that he offers the milk on a continuous basis. The milk keeps dripping slowly from a small hole in the pot as they keep walking with pot in their hands. This leaves behind a trail of mail on the road. The devotees can do this on either a vehicle or on foot.

Couple Dandavat Parikrama

I observed many couples performing parikrama together in Govardhan. However, all is not as simple as it seemed. I asked my guide about how Couple Dandavat Parikrama works out? He explained to me that in Couple Dandavat Parikrama, the wife and the husband perform the parikrama in an alternate manner. This means that after wife performs a step in parikrama, the husband performs the next step.

Though this is as tough as the regular Dandvat Parikrama, but in Couple Dandavat Parikrama, the spouse gets a short breather even as his or her spouse performs his or her turn.

This is a better explanation. When the wife lies down on the mud path and stretches her arm to mark the spot, the husband will lie down from where the arms of wife reached and do the next set.

Sashtang Pranam or Dandavat Parikrama

Govardhan Parikrama is always stated with Sashtang Pranam or prostration.

How is Sashtang Pranam done?

In Sashtang Pranam, the devotee prostrates by lying down on the ground. Then the hands of the devotee join as a namaskar and stretches towards the Almighty, Shri Krishna in this case.

In the perfect Sashtang Pranam, all body part touches the ground. These body parts include

  • Eyes
  • Head
  • Mind
  • Speech
  • Chest
  • Thighs
  • Hands
  • Feet

Soul Window observations

I noticed many devotees performing Sashtang Pranam in several South Indian temples such as Brihadeshwara temple of Thanjavur, Shore temple in Tamilnadu, Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu

In fact, there is a carving on the floor of Sri Aghoreswara temple in Ikkeri in Karnataka which shows the devotee performing dandavat pranam. This proves that the practice of Sashtang Pranam or dandavat pranam began in Hinduism in India.

It is common knowledge that Buddhism was created from Hinduism. While doing parikrama around the holy Kailash Parbat in Tibet, I came across many Bon devotees who prostrated and did Sashtang Pranam or dandavat pranam in reverence to Mount Kailash. Do read about my blog on once-in-a-lifetime experience called as Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. It is the holiest of all Hindu pilgrimages.

Muslims across the globe who also prostrate during namaaz clearly did not invent it. Islam is a recent religion while Hinduism is the oldest surviving religion of the world. It is not a surprise that Sanatan Dharm or Hinduism taught the world about many such practices.

I observed this is also a case with Relic stupas of Buddha found in Shravasti, Kapilvastu, Vaishali, Lumbini in Nepal etc. The Buddhist stupas were inspired from mud mounds of Hindus.

Why is Sashtang Pranam done?

The purpose of Sashtang Pranam is a scientific one. By doing Sashtang Pranam, our indriyan merges with that of the almighty.

So, what are the 5 indriya? Well, the 5 indriya or senses are:

  • Gyan indriya -knowledge
  • Shravan or Shrotra indri-listening ability
  • Chakshu indriyan-sight
  • Rasanna indriyan-taste
  • Ghraana Indriyan-sense of smell

It is the complete surrender of the devotee to his God. Hinduism believes in Karma. As per ancient Hindu scriptures, Karma is performed by body, mind, speech, hearing, etc. By doing Sashtang Pranam, the devotees offer their Karma to the God.

By doing Sashtang Pranam, we also expose our spinal cord to the God. Spinal Cord represents upward movement. By exposing our spinal cord, repair, upgrade and elevation of mental faculty happens.

Keeping in mind the health aspect, women are not allowed to perform Sashtang Pranam. Performing the same can affect their health. Eight limbed pranam is known as Sashtang Pranam or dandavat pranam. Another one is 5 limbed Sashtang Pranam.

Simple bowing or bending down on knees is seen as inferior form of offering prayers in a temple. By integrating the mind, body and spirit, the devotee embarks upon a higher spiritual path, thereby giving a positive direction to his evolution.

Dandavat parikrama around Govardhan Hill

While most of the devout Hindus perform the parikrama by a mere barefoot walk, there are some devotees who cover the entire journey by performing the difficult dandavat parikrama. Each step these pilgrims take is a mammoth effort.

Even when the manokamna or wish of a devotee is fulfilled, they perform dandavat parikrama to thank Shri Krishna.

While performing dandvat parikrama, the Hindu pilgrims perform the below steps while chanting the name of Shri Krishna in their mind. Below steps are in chronological order:

  • Lie down on the ground.
  • Chant holy prayers or the name of Shri Krishna.
  • With the help of a stick or danda, mark the place till the spot where their hands reach after lying down.
  • Stand up.
  • Walk till that spot.

108 Dandavat Parikrama

The extreme form of parikrama is known as 108 dandavat parikrama. 108 is an auspicious number in Sanatan Dharm or Hinduism. My eyes could not believe what they saw.

I observed that many regular men and women perform 108 Dandavat Parikrama around Govardhan Parbat. Even in the busiest of narrow streets, I saw women lying on a mat on the road. Each woman or man were carrying two buckets with 108 stones in one bucket or kamandal

They would pick one stone from the bucket near their leg and keep it in another bucket kept near their head. They would do it 108 times until all the stones of the buckets near the leg have been kept in the bucket near the head. Only after competing one set of 108 dandavat, would they move ahead with their mat.

Soul Window Observations

I could not believe that people have so much stamina, mental strength, agility and devotion to be able to perform 108 Dandavat Parikrama without a complain. It is Incredible India after all. Hindu rituals have never failed to amaze me. This is the toughest for of Govardhan Parikrama and can take many years to perform. Most people are able to move for just 15 to 40 foot in a day.

Hindu Sadhus can easily be seen performing 108 dandavat parikrama. In this strict form of parikrama, the holy Hindu men offer 108 obeisance at one spot before repeating the same at the next spot.

During this difficult parikrama, the sadhus spend the nights in dharamshalas (subsidized accommodation) etc which fall on the way. This is so because it takes a long time to finish the parikrama successfully, sometimes even months. During this arduous yatra, the sadhusrely on the alms donated by other Hindu devotees.

6 Goswamis of Vrindavan perform Govardhan Hill parikrama on a continuous basis. The parikrama duration of Sanatan Goswami is a little longer. This 24 miles parikrama passes through Chandra Sarovar, Shyam Dhak, Ganthuli Gram, Surya Kund, Mukhrai and Kilol.

Interview of a devotee doing 108 Dandavat Parikrama

I saw piles of stones with ritualistic objects on the side of the road with no owner in sight. This indicated that the person, mostly a sadhu had retired for the day, leaving behind the parikrama props on the spot from where he will start again on the next day.

Such stone piles were present after every few steps in the Badi and choti parikrama marg. I have been to many spiritual places but I have personally never seen such devotion elsewhere. I realized that many people had been doing the parikrama here for several years. To add, it is not easy to do dand-baithak for 108 times alone. It can take up to 5 years.

The piles of stones belonged to an Odia man. When he noticed us, he appeared out of nowhere and in his distinct Odia accent shared some secret details of how he does 108 Dandavat Parikrama. He was bare chested and wore a Vaishnavite tilak on his forehead and several malas around his neck.

He had been continuously doing the parikrama around Govardhan Parbat since 7-8 years now. I realised there are many like him who devote the prime of their life in doing the parikrama and continue to do so till their body supports them.

With a casualness he said that he takes around 4 years to perform 108 Dandavat Parikrama around Govardhan Parbat. All he did was smile and fold hands when I told him he is doing great work which not many can do.

In his own words,

“My name is Satya Narayan Das. I take around 4 years to do 108 Dandavat Parikrama. I have already done 2 108 Dandavat Parikrama earlier. The first one took 4 years and the second one took 3 years and 5 months. Currently, it took me 2 months to start from Chootar Teka to here. Now I am old. It can take even more than 4 years. I started at 5 a.m. and still continuing. I will take one more hour today (around 4:30 p.m.)

I live on a rented house in a village nearby. I originally belong to Odisha.

Soul Window Observations

I can easily see that much of Buddhist philosophies has been heavily borrowed from Sanatan Dharm aka Hinduism. During the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Tibet, I noticed many Bon people and devout Buddhists performing kora, their version of parikrama or circumambulation. They walked for hours around the holy Kailash Parbat.

I noticed some Bon people even did dandavat parikrama around the holy Kailash Mountain as well. Do read my blogs on road trip to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, Mansarovar lake, Taklakot, Darchen, Saga, Kyirong and packing list for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

It is interesting for me to observe how Hinduism has influenced many other religions of the world. Such was the power of Hinduism. 

1008 Dandavat Parikrama

I also came across another stone of pile. It was larger. My guide told me that devotees perform the same Dandavat Parikrama but 1008 times.Needless to say, it is more severe form of parikrama and takes much longer to complete.

Soul Window Thoughts

I had no words to express how overwhelmed I was to see that there are real people who voluntarily go through such hardships in serving God. Where else but in India can we find such unbelievable customs and rituals.

Duration of Govardhan Parikrama

How long Dandavat parikrama around Govardhan Hill takes?

Did you know that it takes as many as a total of 17,300 dandavat repetitions to complete the dandavat parikrama around Shri Govardhan Parbat?  Govardhan hill is very wide. While a regular walking parikrama can be done in 5-6 hours, the more strenuous dandavat parikrama takes around 1 year to complete. Some people take few months to perform dandavat parikrama.

How long does Badi parikrama around Govardhan Hill takes

How long does Govardhan Parikrama take? There is no time limit to perform Govardhan Parikrama. Generally, it takes only 5 to 8 hours to complete the regular parikrama by simple barefoot walk. The time taken for parikrama can increase or decrease based upon the individual’s physical strength, stamina, pace, season, weather conditions and occasion.

How long is Govardhan Parikrama? I started the Badi Parikrama at sun rise and completed after sun set. What is the length of Govardhan? I started Badi parikrama from Daan Ghati at exactly 10:15 a.m. and finished it by 6:31 p.m. Since it was winter (21st November), so it became dark when I finished the badi parikrama. So, I took a total of 8 hours of continuous walking for 21 kilometers to complete the badi parikrama in one day.

I took much longer because I was shooting a video on Govardhan Parbat for my You Tube Channel.

How long Choti Parikrama takes?

This is a frequently asked question. Choti Parikrama around Govardhan Hill takes anything between 4 to 6 hours depending on your stamina and the stops you take en route. While the choti parikrama is 9 kilometers long, the badi parikrama is 12 kilometers long. I perform both parikrama in a single day, which totaled 21 kilometers.

About Dandavat parikrama

Dandavat parikrama is not as common as the regular parikrama because of the herculean efforts, physical stamina and strength it requires. It is not everyone’s cup of tea. This is why it is the most unusual things to do in Govardhan.

Who performs Dandavat Parikrama?

Anyone can perform dandavat parikrama based upon the personal capacity and availability of time. However, that said, it is easily understandable why mostly young, strong and devout pilgrims perform dandavat parikrama around the Govardhan Hill. It is advised not to performdandavat parikrama in case one is unfit or has medical conditions.

It is much easier to perform the regular parikrama which is a simple walk on even plains. Though it is not required for most people, you can buy a walking pole which can help in the parikrama.

Famous people who have performed Govardhan Parikrama

It is said that when Chaitnya Mahaprabhu saw the Govardhan Hill for the first time, he felt unconscious. Later, when he touched the Parvat, he was so overwhelmed that he could not hold back his tears. Other famous people who have performed Govardhan Parikrama are Narottam Das Thakur, Madhvendra Puri, Vishwanath Chakravarthy, Vallabhacharya, Nityanand, Raghav Goswami, Advaita Acharya, Shrinivas Acharya.

Right way of performing Govardhan parikrama

Daan Ghati is the place where the parikrama starts and ends. As per the Hindu tradition, the devotees do parikrama in a clockwise fashion. This implies that Shri Govardhan must be on your right hand throughout the parikrama.

The best way to perform badi parikrama in Govardhan is to complete it in one day. However, if you are unable to do so due to health then you can split the parikrama over two or more days. On the next day, devotees start the parikrama from where they left it on last day. I however, successfully did the Badi Parikrama in one day. I was able to visit all the major tourist attractions and sightseeing places in one day.

Ambiance during Govardhan Parikrama

Much like most Hindu destinations, Govardhan is also very atmospheric. There is never a dull moment here. Devotees often lose a sense of self as they drown themselves in melodious bhajans and kirtan. Sadhus and commoners can also be seen chanting sacred Hindu mantra and japa (hymns) in the praise of Shri Krishna while doing the parikrama. Shri Giriraj Maharaj Ki Jay is the most common way devotees praise the lord here.

This positive atmosphere builds a sense of community, helps focus on the parikrama and channelize their energies on their beloved God Shri Krishna. Joining them for an impromptu jig is the best thing you can do as it helps you make connections with stark strangers.

Donations in Govardhan

Devotees who have performed Govardhan Parikrama previously donate food to other pilgrims once their wishes are granted. The prasad quantity can go up to 1-2 quintal. 1 quintal equals 100 kilograms. In fact, the family members of such devotees fold hands and request the passer byes to accept their prasad or food. Govardhan prasad is also offered at various temples here.

There are many Goshalas in Braj Bhoomi. These are cow shelters. Donating in a Goshala not only helps you build good karma but also leads to personal satisfaction. You can donate at any Gaushala here. It is known as Gau Seva in Govardhan.

Soul Window Thoughts!

These bhandaras and personal donation is seen throughout the parikrama marg. No one goes hungry in Govardhan! And isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Yes, of course, there are free lunches in the world! In India! In Hinduism, not everything is a trade! Even when I visited other Hindu shrines such as Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu in North India and Shri Guruvayur Temple in Thrissur in the state of Kerala in South India or even Puri Jagannath Temple near Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, I saw the tradition of donating food and other items! In India, you donate, even if you have little!

The other ways you can donate in Govardhan are as below

  • Makhan Mishri Seva
  • Mangla aarti Seva
  • Jal Tanker Seva
  • Anna Daan Seva
  • Gau Seva
  • Manorath Seva

INR 200 to INR 5000

Can I take away the stone of Govardhan Parbat?

It is strictly prohibited to take away or relocate the stone of Govardhan Parbat. There have been several instances where people tried to smuggle out the sacred stones of Govardhan and met will ill fate later.

I remember a slogan I read in Mathura near Janmbhoomi,

“Has Has Ke Kiya Paap,

Ro Ro Ke bhugatna padta hai.”

This translates to:

You will cry for the sin which you did joyfully.

I think it is a reminder that why you should not commit the sin of taking away the holy stone of Govardhan Parbat. It is also a good way to protect the environment. What belongs to Govardhan, stays in Govardhan.  

Islamic Invasions in Govardhan

I was also surprised to learn that Aanyaur is also the original home of Srinathji of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. I visited Nathdwara during my epic road trip across Jaipur, Ajmer, Bundi, Chittorgarh and other offbeat places in Rajasthan.

The original temple and idol or murti of Shrinathji was worshipped on a temple on the parvat of Aanyaur. However, when the Muslim plunderers and dacoits were invading the holy land of Braj, the sacred murti of Srinathji was relocated to Agra in present day Uttar Pradesh. Later it was relocated again to Nathdwara.

Is Govardhan Parikrama safe to do?

Yes, Govardhan Parikrama is absolutely safe. Most of the devotees, local shopkeepers, guides and service providers are friendly and harmless. Most of the tourist attractions of Govardhan are located in busy streets.

Where is Govardhan Hill located?

Where is Govardhan Parvat now? Where is Govardhan Parikrama? Govardhan Hill is located just 22 kilometers away from the bustling city of Mathura. It is located in the outskirts of the town.

Why is Govardhan Parikrama done barefoot?

The Govardhan parikrama is always done barefoot. Since I walked mostly on soft earth, it was not much of an issue. But also, because so much walking is involved, it did tire me physically. Since the walking paths are marked clearly, the devotees are able to walk on the sand path comfortably even when the harsh sun is at its peak.  

Surprisingly, I noticed that the parikrama paths here are very clean and well-maintained. This is how it must have been like in Dwapar Yug? Barring some areas around Anyor village, most of the path was very spic and span. This makes walking here easy. At some places such as village area, you may feel uncomfortable walking barefoot due to the trash on the path.

Also, the path way is very broad. This helps in doing the parikrama even on the day when the footfall is more than usual here. In some places such as village, market area etc I had to walk on tar roads. The proper roads here are also very clean despite the never-ending crowds of Govardhan.

Is Govardhan Parikrama easy or difficult?

It is a frequently asked question. Several people think that Govardhan Parikrama is easy. This is far from the truth. It is not everyone’s cup of tea to walk barefoot for 21 kilometers while being exposed under the elements. By no means Govardhan Parikrama is an easy yatra.

Badi parikrama of Govardhan is a difficult walk mainly because of its length. There are no other challenges here. Neither are there any inclines or slopes. It is a plain walk on mud paths and tar roads.

The 21 kilometers long parikrama can take all day if you take too many stops. This is why some people do the parikrama in car or e-rickshaw. I am proud that I was successfully able to do the complete Govardhan Parikrama within a day. Many people also perform the parikrama over 2-3 days.

Tar Road or Mud path?

It is a frequently asked question. You can choose to walk entirely on tar roads or on a mix of mostly mud roads and few patches on tar roads. A majority of the path I chose was on soft mud. But staying relatively comfortable was not my goal.

I wanted to walk as closely as possible with the sacred Govardhan Parbat.  Walking on the inner parikrama marg on soft mud also helped me stay away from traffic noise. The canopy of dense trees at most places provides the much-needed shade.

However, I enjoyed walking under the pleasurable winter sun. The soft rays of Sun nourished me as I walked non-stop for several hours!

Is Govardhan Parbat shaped like a cow?

As per the locals, Govardhan Parbat is shaped like a cow. While some claim the cow to be in sitting posture, others feel that it is in standing posture. The various portions of the sacred mountain are seen as different part of cows. Poonchhari village for example is known as the tail of the cow.

Building House

My guide also showed me small houses (the size of a big guava) which the devotees made with small stones. These houses are made at designated spots in the foothills of Govardhan Pahad. By doing so people pray that may Krishna ji help them build a similar home in real.

The Ramayana Connection with Govardhan

Not many know about the connection of Ramayana with Govardhan. We all know that Ramayana took place in Treta Yuga, which was the time of Ram Bhagwan, the 7th avatar of Vishnu ji. To compare, Dwapar Yuga of Krishna ji happened much later. Krishna ji was 8th avatar of Vishnu ji. Govardhan is that rare place which is associated with both 7th and 8th avatar of Vishnu ji.

This story dates back to the Dwapar Yuga, when the vanar sena or the monkey army of Shri Ram was busy in building the Ram Setu in order to cross the rough sea and rescue Seeta Maa from the captivity of demon king Ravan in what is now Sri Lanka. Ram Setu was being built in Rameswaram in present Tamil Nadu in South India.

Big stones were required to build the bridge and the army men picked up huge mountains and stones from where they could. After sometime the Ram Setu was completely constructed. Nal and Neel, who watch over the construction of Ram Setu as the main architects, instructed the army to stop collecting mountains.

Everyone was asked to drop the stones where they were present. Hanuman ji was carrying a huge mountain from Himalayas while the announcement was being made. He was present at Braj and this is where he had left the Himalayan Mountain. Then he proceeded towards Sri Lanka.

Devotees from Gujarat in Govardhan

If you call a Gujarati on phone, he will not say hello or hi, but instead he will say, ‘Jai Shri Krishna’. People all over Gujarat are an equally devout bhakts of Shri Krishna as the people of Braj Bhoomi. The Gujarati community does baithak at several places such as Aanyor Village, Jatipura Mukharvind and Radha Kund. They take charnamrut in the kunds and proceed ahead.

Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Govardhan

Throughout the parikrama, I noticed that food, fruit juices, water was available after every few steps. I had sugarcane juice from stalls on the parikrama marg.

Lunch at Binani

I had a sumptuous lunch at Binani Restaurant. It falls between Indra Pooja and Jatipura Mukharvind. They serve some of the best lunches in Govardhan, I discovered. They also have a huge space which means that many people can dine here together. It was houseful when we arrived here in the afternoon.

This is what they served in the thali

The food is unlimited here. Yes, you can eat as many roti or take as many repeats of curries as you want. I was full within 2 small servings here. Since there is a large Gujarati community, so Gujarati Gujarati Kadhi is served here on a regular basis. Binani Restaurant falls between Indra Pooja and Jatipura Mukharvind.

The best part is that they serve wholesome home-made food on eco-friendly pattal or plates made of dry leaves. All the dishes served here are strictly vegetarian. Vegans can request to remove ghee and other dairy products (such as curd in raita) from dishes.

Soul Window observations

I grew up in an India where pattal and dona (dry leaf bowls) was a way of life in North India and was commonly used, especially when a large number of people were served in a gathering or picnic or wedding etc. Sadlly, the plastic and thermocol plates replaced these. But I hope that people return back to the roots.

Alu ki jalebi

I ate a special jalebi at Mukhavind. This jalebi is made with potatoes, milk, curd, Arvi ka aata (colocassia flour). It was a very unusual jalebi. It was huge and very crisp. I had never eaten anything like this before. It is vegetarian and not vegan. Alu dahi ki jalebi is sold in only one famous shop right outside Jatipura Mukharvind temple.

Getting your hands on these unique jalebis is one of the most unusual things to do during Govardhan Parikrama. The other unique jalebi I keep eating is the huge Jaleba sold in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi.

Bhagwan Das Halwai

My friend Divyakshi Gupta had highly recommended this place to me. Also known as Shri Giriraj Mishthann Bhandar, they serve the best bedhai in not only Govardhan but all of Braj Bhoomi. I sampled their bedhai, samosa, kachori, gajar ka halwa and lassi and I can vouch that those were the best I had tasted across Braj Bhoomi.

In fact, the bedhai of Bhagwan Das Halwai was far better than the bedhai of the famous and hyped Oma Kachori wala near Janmbhoomi in Mathura.

Their hot milk in winters is also one of the most thick and flavorsome I have ever tasted. No wonder, I used to eat here every day during my 3 days stay in Govardhan. Bhagwan Das Halwaiis located few meters ahead of Daan Ghati in the same lane.

Expect long queues, especially in the morning. Bedhai is available here only in morning for breakfast while kachori, samosa, lassi, sweets and hot milk etc are available throughout the day. Govardhan is a quick weekend break from Delhi NCR. I might just travel here again only for the bedhai.

Soul Window Tips

Here is a tip. I bought water in a pouch, so that I do not have to carry water bottle through the parikrama. This is a good idea if you want to walk hands free. I wanted to walk light and this helped.

Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Govardhan

Shops are present in Govardhan at every few steps. From Pooja Samagri to artificial jewelry to toys for kids, everything is available in Govardhan. You will find a shop selling water, food, pooja samagri, groceries, medical supplies and even toys throughout the Govardhan Parikrama Marg.

Do I need walking pole for Govardhan parikrama?

No, walking pole is not required to do badi parikrama because it is done on flat land. I had used walking poles only on high altitude ambitious treks such as high Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal and Roopkund trek and Dodital-Darwa pass trek in Uttarakhand.

Can we climb Govardhan Parvat?

No, it is strictly prohibited to climb Govardhan Parvat. It is a very sacred Parvat and walking on it is not allowed. Also, as a mark of respect, avoid showing your back or feet to the divine hill.

What to carry for Govardhan parikrama?

I didn’t carry anything during the Govardhan parikrama, not even a water bottle. It is a good idea to leave behind your luggage in the hotel room and walk with bare minimum. The only thing I carried were my non-leather wallet, mobile phone and DSLR camera. The more hands free you are the easier the parikrama is. It will also help you focus on the God rather than your worldly belongings.

ATM in Govardhan

There are many ATMs around Govardhan since it is a developed place. Still, if you want to travel hassle free, it is better to carry some cash from Mathura or your city of origin. Since there are many free things to do during Govardhan Parikrama, most of the expenditure is done on food and stay.

Photography Tips for Govardhan

Govardhan is a photographer’s paradise. Always buzzing with activity, there is so much you can click in Govardhan. From street photography to people photography, the possibilities of a good shoot in Govardhan are endless.

Hire local tourist guide in Govardhan

I could have easily done the parikrama solo as well but I wanted to help the local people by hiring them as guide. The paths here are well marked and you can do parikrama solo but I still recommend hiring a guide.

I had hired a local Brajvasi Virendra as a local tourist guide. Virendra showed me places of interest in Govardhan which I could have missed otherwise. Virendra also kept educating me about various aspects of the Govardhan lifestyle as we kept walking on the holy soil of Parikrama marg.

Hiring Virendra also helped me save a lot of time. I could have taken more time in finding the right turns and locating the important temples on the route of Badi Parikrama.

You can contact Virendra for guide services in Govardhan at 9027928392. He is one of the bestGovardhan Parikrama guide.

Languages spoken in Govardhan

Braj Bhasha dialect, Bhojpuri and Hindi are the most spoken and understood languages of Govardhan. English is also commonly understood and spoken by many people here.

Books recommendation on Govardhan

Is there any book that summarizes all the events that happened in Mathura Vrindavan Gokul Barsana Nand Gao Goverdhan Parbat etc during the childhood of Sri Krishna? It is a commonly asked question. Well, Srimad Bhagavatam and Krsna Book mentions the life and times of Shri Krishna in great details.

You must read Shrimad Bhagavad Gita before, during and after the trip to Govardhan. Everlasting life lessons were taught to common people in Bhagavad Gita as long ago as in the Dvapara age or Dvapar Yuga. Srimad Bhagavatham by Gita press of Gorakhpur and TTD Publications are good trustworthy publications which produce authentic versions of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.

Other ancient Hindu texts which depict life of Shri Krishna are Srimad Bhagwada Mahapurana, Brahma Purana, Brahma-Vaivarta Purana, Vishnu Purana, Garga Samhita and Harivamsa

Krishana charit manash written by Vyas das ji and Prem Sagar written by Pandit Lallu Lal ji are other great reads.

UPSC Exam question on Govardhan

This is a complete guide to Govardhan Parikrama which answers the questions asked in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam for for IAS, IFS, PCS etc.

Toilet facility during Govardhan Parikrama

Clean toilets are located at every few steps for the benefit of the people who do choti and badi parikrama.

Entry fee in Govardhan

There are many free things to do in Govardhan. You can walk all day in the major attractions of Govardhan and pay absolutely nothing. You can take a self-guided free walking tour around all the major temples of Govardhan.

Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Govardhan

I went on a solo budget trip to Govardhan. Being a solo backpacker on a low budget, it was very easy for me to travel across Govardhan on a very low budget.

Not only is Govardhan an inexpensive place to visit, but the value for money you get in Govardhan has few parallels. Govardhan is a pocket friendly destination with so much to offer. There are many free things to do during Govardhan Parikrama.

Solo Trip Tips for Govardhan

I was on a solo trip to Govardhan. I found Goverdhen to be one of the easiest places I ever travelled to. Great connectivity and abundance of facilities makes Govardhan a very easy place to travel to for solo travelers like me. Govardhan is a ideal place for solo budget travel.

Luxury travel Tips for Govardhan

Though most of the facilities in Govardhan are available for low budget travelers, you can also very easily avail luxury facilities here.

Where to stay in Govardhan?

There are many hotels, dharamshalas and low budget lodges in Govardhan. I stayed in one of the Dharamshala in Govardhan Parikrama Marg. I stayed in a Dharamshala run by Teerth Vikas Trust Govardhan. It was very low budget and still excellent. The amount I paid per night stay in Vikas Teerth Dharamshala was same as cost of 2 coffees in Starbucks. The Dharamshala has huge rooms, clean linen, hot shower and even small balconies. It also had a TV which I didn’t use. They also serve great food at low cost in their restaurant. The only drawback here is that a banquet is located next to this lodge. In case there is a wedding or an event, it can disturb the sleep badly.

A little ahead from Teerth Vikas Trust, a luxury stay is available. Shri Radha Brij Vasundhara Resort and Spa in Aanyor on the Parikrama Marg is a luxury stay. There are many one-bedroom cottages here.

What to wear in Govardhan?

This is also a commonly asked question. You must wear respectful clothes as Govardhan is a highly revered place. You should wear loose fitting pants, lowers or pajamas for easy movement of legs because a lot of walking is involved here.

Timings of Govardhan Parikrama

What are Govardhan Parikrama Timings? is Govardhan Parikrama open now? Yes, Govardhan Parikrama is open every day of the week throughout the year.

People perform choti parikrama and badi parikrama all day. There is no specific timing for Govardhan Parikrama. I saw many devotees singing and doing parikrama even as late as 10 p.m. Some of my friends have done parikrama even in midnight.

However, I recommend doing the parikrama early in the morning. My parikrama started early morning and ended just after dark.

Soul Window Suggestions

I was aghast to see filth and lack of cleanliness around the sacred Govardhan Parbat. I found the area around Aanyor Village to be particularly unclean. The government should take struct actions to maintain the cleanliness at the areas surrounding the holy Govardhan pahad.

Best Time to visit Govardhan?

What is the best time for Govardhan Parikrama? I performed Govardhan Parikrama on my 40th birthday on 21st November. It was the perfect time to do Badi Parikrama around the holy Govardhan Parbat. From the month of Ekadashi to Hindu month of Poornima of the Shukla Paksha of each month is an auspicious time to do parikrama in Govardhan.

Winter

Winter is the best time to do Govardhan Parikrama. Winter is the high season to do Govardhan parikrama. I personally found the third week of November as the best time to do Badi Parikrama. I found the days to be crisp and the nights were not very cold either in Govardhan in November. December and January are the coldest months in Govardhan. Weather of Govardhan is undoubtedly the best in winter.

Summer

Lakhs of devotees also perform Govardhan Parikrama even in the hash months of summer. Despite the high temperatures, so many people go on parikrama each year. April, May and June are the hottest months in Govardhan. Beware of the heat stroke. Drink lots of water if you do parikrama in the harsh weather of summer months.

Monsoon

Despite the rains, many people still do parikrama here. However, since the parikrama is done in open spaces, therefore monsoon is not the ideal time. However, climate of Govardhan is pleasant in rainy season. So, you can still consider it. Though beware of the muddy puddles on the way!

Best Time to perform Goverdhan Parikrama

Global Hindu devotees do the parikrama aka circumambulation spanning the entire diameter of Govardhan Hill throughout the entire year. There is no preferred or fixed season for parikrama of Goverdhan Parvat. Even in extreme winter or extreme summer, people do the Goverdhan parikrama with immense faith.

Such is the unwavering faith of Hindus in their beloved Shri Krishna, that neither hot climate, freezing winter or torrential rain and thunderstorm can stop the determined footsteps of the Krishna Bhakts (Krishna devotees).  Savan month is also popular for performing parikrama by the devotees.

That said, there are certain occasions and Hindu festivals when the Goverdhan Parikrama is done in large numbers and with much fanfare. On special occasions and festivals such as Purusottamamasa, Guru Govardhan Pooja or Poornima, more than 5 lakh devotees perform parikrama in just one day.

Festivals of Govardhan

On some of the major festivals celebrated in Govardhan, as many as a whooping 5 to 6 lakh devotees perform parikrama around Govardhan Hill on a single day. It is a good idea to visit Govardhan during festivals. Though it can be crowded and chaotic during festivals in Govardhan, it is also a good opportunity to observe the local culture up, close and personal.

You can see the devotees sing and dance on devotional songs, keep fast, performing Ras Lila or Shri Krishna Lila and what not!

Shri Krishna Janamashtami in Govardhan

I don’t need to say why Shri Krishna Janmashtami is the biggest festival in Govardhan. Janmashtami is the day when Shri Krishna was born in Janmasthan in the nearby Mathura. Festivities take place on a grand scale across Govardhan during the festival of Janmashtami. Hindus from all walks of social status come together and observe the birth day of their beloved Krishna Bhagwan.

Janmashtami happen in which month? As per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, Shri Krishna Janmashtami falls on the Ashtami or 8th tithi of the Krishna Paksha or dark fortnight of the Bhadrapada Masa (month). This falls mostly in August and sometimes in September of the Gregorian calendar. The celebrations start midnight onwards as Shri Krishna was born during midnight.

Radhaashtami in Govardhan

Radhaashtami is the birth anniversary of Shri Radha Rani. Crores of Hindus celebrate Radhaashtami in not only Govardhan but other parts of Braj Bhoomi and India as well. The grandest celebration of Radhaashtami happen in Radha Rani Temple of Barsana. However, celebrations across Govardhan also take place on Radhaashtami.

What is the spiritual significance of Radha ji? Well, Radha ji represents the finite who blends into Shri Krishna or the infinite. Radha Ashtami happens in which month? The date of Radha Ashtami as per the Gregorian calendar changes every year. Radha ji took birth on earth on the Ashtami Tithi or the 8th day, Shukla Paksha (bright phase of the Lunar cycle) of the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar. This falls somewhere in August and September as per Gregorian calendar.

Ekadashi: On the Ekadashi of every month’s shukla paksha to poornima, lakhs and crores of Hindu pilgrims perform the saptakoshi parikrama around the Govardhan Hill. In fact, many people come here to perform parikrama every month.

Deepawali: All Hindus observe the Govardhan Pooja just a day after the major Hindu festival Diwali aka Deepawali. Did you know Govardhan Puja has links with the Govardhan Parbat? Deepawali falls in October or (my birth month) November each year.

Holi: While all roads lead to Barsana and the nearby Nandgaon, you can also celebrate Holi festival in the lanes of Govardhan. It will be slightly less crowded and a novel experience.

Guru Purnima: On the pious occasion of Guru Purnima festival, pilgrims walk barefoot, doing parikrama around the holy hill for 23 kilometers.

Purushottam Maas: It is another auspicious time to perform Govardhan Parikrama. It is a great time to observe the culture and the local lifestyle of Govardhan and other places in Braj Bhoomi.

Annakut: It is another major Hindu festival. It is celebrated on a grand scale in and around Govardhan by the Hindu devotees.

Trinvat Mela: This popular fair is the time when the temples of Mathura are visited by many pilgrims.

Govardhan Pooja

How can we talk about Sri Krishna and not about cows and peacocks? Govardhan Pooja, which is observed over much of India is Gau Pooja or worship of cows. My guide Virendra took me to a place at the start of badi parikrama.

Severalcemented structures in rectangular and triangle shapes were kept in the open air. Colored in pink and white, these were the remnants of Govardhan Pooja which takes place every year after the festival of Deepawali. This place is located right behind the evening aarti sthal of Daan Ghati. Govardhan Parikrama Ki Aarti is done here daily.

Who celebrates Govardhan Puja? I saw women making uplas or dry cow dung cakes on the roof of their homes in Aanyor village. My guide told me that it is also used for doing Govardhan Pooja. Not only villagers of Aanyor village but Hindus across the globe celebrate Govardhan Puja.

My local tourist guide further told me that, “Ekadashi onwards it’s the wedding season. This is when Gau Pooja happens. The Gau Mata or holy cow is given a bath and decorated. Rangoli is made on the cow and then they are worshipped. Tulsi Vivah also happens here. Gau Mata Ki jai. Radha Rani Ki jai!”

I visited just after Ekadashi and I could still see the cows painted in interesting motifs. I could identify imprints of palm and even a figure of Krishna ji probably lifting the Govardhan Parvat. Govardhan Puja is a must attend festival here.

Duration of Visit in Govardhan

What is there to do in Govardhan? How many days to spend in Govardhan? It is a frequently asked question about Govardhan Parikrama. I stayed for 3 days and 3 nights in Govardhan.

What can I do in 1 day in Govardhan?

If you have only 1 day in Govardhan (which is sad), then you can easily visit all the sightseeing places of Govardhan in a single day in an e-rickshaw or privately hired car. However, I feel that a visit to Govardhan without performing the badi parikrama on foot is incomplete.

What can I do in 2 days in Govardhan?

You need at least 2 to 3 days in Govardhan if you are performing parikrama in Govardhan. I stayed for 3 nights and 3 days in Govardhan.

Itinerary for Govardhan

I also visited Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon by keeping Govardhan as my base. I moved next to Mathura and visited Janmbhoomi, Gokul, Raskhan ki Samadhi, Raman Reti and Brahmand Ghat.

Brahmand Ghat near Raman Reti in Gokul
Brahmand Ghat near Raman Reti in Gokul

Day 1

I arrived in early evening in Govardhan and spend the rest of the evening just meeting my friend and local host Divyakshi Gupta.

Day 2

I started doing the Badi Parikrama early morning on the 2nd day. I was able to finish Badi Parikrama only after dark.

Day 3

I had blisters on my legs on the day 2 and I was barely able to move. But magically, the pain vanished on Day 3. I rested for a while, enjoyed the local Bedhai and Kachori once again and made a day trip to Vrindavan on public transport while keeping Govardhan as my base.

Day 4

I left Govardhan early morning after another session of binge eating the good food.

My Experience of parikrama around Govardhan Parbat

Govardhan Parbat, the sacred Yamuna River and the holy soil of Braj Bhumi are the only elements from the era of Shri Krishna in Dwapar Yug which exist till date. It is nothing less than a privilege to have my first darshan of the sacred Govardhan Parbat on my landmark 40th birthday.

But this was not the only co incidence or as I call it, ‘the plan of God’. I had arrived in Govardhan before it was dark. The driver which my friend had sent dropped me at the hotel. I didn’t realize that the hotel was located right opposite the Govardhan hill. Had I known, I could have walked 20 steps and had darshan of the sacred mountain. However, I didn’t even look at the Govardhan hill even by mistake.

Perhaps the supreme God willed it this way. He wanted to reveal the Govardhan Parvat to me only on my 40th birthday. No darshan on day 1 was perhaps a blessing in disguise. It was surreal to be able to see and touch Govardhan Parbat on the morning of my birthday during the badi parikrama.  

I had not even planned it this way. On a casual chat with my friend Divyakshi, who lives on and off in Govardhan, I planned to meet her. During chatting she told me about Govardhan Parikrama. Honestly, thanks to my schooling in Christian colleges, till then I didn’t even know that Govardhan Parbat which Krishna ji lifted on his finger still exists.

Curious, I wanted to make this epic journey. I decided that since I will also do badi parikrama why not do it on my landmark 40th birthday. Normally, I see many obstacles come before any of my big trip but the Govardhan trip went very smoothly.

It was a long and tiring day of parikrama despite the cool winter climate as I did parikrama on 21st November. Towards the last leg of the parikrama, I was tired and told my guide, “How much more will Kanha ji make me walk?”. My local tourist guide who grew up Govardhan said, “Kanha Ji wants you to walk. It is because of him you are able to walk so easily. Not many are able to do even that!”

Does the Govardhan mountain which Krishna lifted still exist?

That is one of the most commonly asked questions about Goverdhan Parvat. People still ask: Is there any proof of the real Govardhan hill lifted by lord Krishna? Not many know that Govardhan Parvat still exists here. The holy mountain itself is a proof of its existence.

How many days did Krishna lift Govardhana Giri

It was a calamity because it rained without stopping for as many as 7 days and 7 nights. Throughout the seven days and seven nights, Bhagwan Krishna lifted Govardhan ji on his little finger. It was one of his most famous miracles. Krishna ji was only a child when he performed this leela in front of all the villagers.  

Divine Intervention

When I returned to my hotel, I crashed in to bed. I could not even walk. I lied on the bed for a long time. After sometime, I gathered some courage and walked out in night to look for dinner. I had blisters on the sole of my feet.

I was barely able to walk. After walking for 3-4 kilometers more (after the 21 kilometers long parikrama), I jumped in the bed and slept like a baby. I thought, I might have to cancel my trip to Barsana and Nandgaon the next day with my friend Divyakshi.

However, when I woke up, I was surprised to notice that the pain vanished along with my blisters. It was nothing less than a miracle. Because the last time something like this happened to me, I rested for 2-3 days before moving. I was able to visit Nandgaon and Barsana with fresh energy. Perhaps, I passed the test!

Bulawa: When the Gods call!

I have noticed that my visit to some of the most important Hindu sites in India and abroad happened due to co incidence. I had planned none of them.

In Hinduism, we say that we can-not visit such spiritual places until the deities want us to. This is called bulawa.

I feel blessed that all my major Hindu pilgrimages such as Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, Mata Vaishno Devi and Govardhan parikrama happened at important phases of my life. And I had planned none of it. It was the Hindu Gods and Godesses who called me!

Soul Window Thoughts

It is a shame that I didn’t know anything about Kailash Manasarovar Yatra until I visited it. I was invited to visit highly revered places like Kailash Parbat, Gauri Kund, Dolma La, Mansarovar lake and even the cursed Rakshas Tal. I think Shiv Bhagwan called me on this epic Hindu pilgrimage.

Similarly, on my first visit to Mata Vaishno Devi, I was unable to climb up. I just stayed in Katra and left due to blogging related work. It happened during the Kailash Mansarovar yatra trip via Nepal. My actual visit to Mata Vaishno Devi happened as a last-minute trip.

Me and my friend was going through a rough patch. We decided to visit Rishikesh in Uttarakhand but my friend suddenly changed the plan and we ended up visiting Maa Vaishno Devi. What is it if not divine intervention?

Also read: Mystery of Manasarovara Lake

Govardhan Parikrama by car

Can Govardhan Parikrama be done by car? Yes, I know many people who do Govardhan Parikrama by car. Many people who live in Govardhan perform the parikrama on car every day. The reason for doing Govardhan Parikrama by car can be health issues, convenience, lack of time, lack of stamina, old age or handicap etc.

It is totally alright to do Govardhan Parikrama by car. Many people also perform parikrama around Mansarovar Lake in Tibet in a vehicle as I observed during Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Govardhan Parikrama by e rickshaw, auto and local transport

Countless e-rickshaws are available at every step through entire Parikrama Marg in Govardhan. I hired e-rickshaws several time on shared basis after Parikrama was done. The cost of shared e rickshaw is very low here as most of the points of attractions in Govardhan are located very close to each other.

You can either hop on to a shared e-rickshaw or privately reserve an entire rickshaw. Govardhan Parikrama by e rickshaw price is very low. Govardhan Parikrama by auto charges are also within the budget of many people.

Govardhan Parikrama by helicopter booking

On certain festivals and occasions such as Mudiya Purnima Mela, devotees can also do Govardhan Parikrama by helicopter booking. The helicopter ride facility is available on and off. The helipad is located near D.A.V. inter college. A total of 5 devotees can take helicopter ride at a time. You can also do online booking of helicopter at Upstdc.

How to reach Govardhan

It is very easy to arrive at Govardhan. In fact, I discovered that Govardhan makes for an amazing weekend getaway from New Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad etc. I had no idea that Govardhan is located so close to New Delhi. This is also why Govardhan tourism is so popular.

You can easily visit all the major sightseeing attractions of Govardhan over a weekend. Most of the tourist places in Govardhan are located at walking distance from each other. Below are all possible ways to arrive in Govardhan.

Airport

The closest international airport from Govardhan is located at the Indra Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, the capital of India.

Railway Station

How to reach Govardhan parikrama from Delhi? Mathura railway junction is the nearest railway station from Govardhan. I had taken a super cheap non-air-conditioned train (it was winter) from New Delhi to Mathura. Once I arrived in Mathura, I instantly hopped on to a mini bus, which was standing right outside the railway station.

Bus

I took a private bus from outside the Mathura junction. The bus dropped me right at the place from where badi parikrama starts. It was at walking distance from the main bus station of Govardhan as well. It was quick, low budget and easy to travel in this semi crowded bus. It was also a great opportunity to travel with the local people of the sacred Braj Bhoomi.

Road Trip

You can easily hire an air conditioned (or not) car from nearby places such as New Delhi, Mathura, Barsana, Nandgaon, Gokul, Vrindavan etc. The roads here are in excellent condition and it’s a pleasure to drive through the almost empty countryside roads. This historical destination is picturesque as well. The path here is very scenic at places.

Soul Window Travel Tips

There are many buses outside Mathura Junction which go to Govardhan. Sit in the bus which is the fullest as that is more likely to leave for Govardhan soon.  

Excursions from Govardhan

You can easily plan a trip to below tourist attractions near Govardhan

  • Barsana
  • Nandgaon
  • Gokul
  • Raman Reti
  • Mathura
  • Vrindavan
  • Bhatarpur
  • Alwar
Nand Bhawan, Nandgaon
Me in Nand Bhawan of Nandgaon. Pic: Divyakshi Gupta

Distances from Govardhan

Below is a distance chart from Govardhan in ascending order. This chart will give you a perspective on how close are some of the major attractions from Govardhan. You can easily plan your trip using this distance guide to Govardhan.

Distance between Barsana to Govardhan is 20.3 kilometers and it takes only 35 minutes via MDR143W

Distance between Mathura to Govardhan is 21.8 kilometers and it takes only 50 minutes via Mathura Govardhan Road and Mathura Deeg Marg.

Distance between Vrindavan to Govardhan is 23.2 kilometers and it takes only 37 minutes via Radha Kund Road

Distance between Nandgaon to Govardhan is 30 kilometers and it takes only 50 minutes via MDR143W

Distance between Gokul, Raman Reti, Brahmand Ghat and Raskhan Ki Samadhi to Govardhan is 33.8 kilometers and it takes only 1 hour via Mathura Govardhan Road. You can also reach Gokul from Mathura by NH 19, NH44 and Mathura Deeg Marg.

Distance between Bharatpur in Rajasthan to Govardhan is 35.8 kilometers and it takes only 1 hour via MDR143W

Distance between Alwar in Rajasthan to Govardhan is 88.6 kilometers and it takes only 2 hours and 30 minutes via Bharatpur Road.

Distance between New Delhi to Govardhan is 182 kilometers and it takes only 3 hours via Yamuna Expressway

Conclusion: Is Govardhan worth visiting

Why visit Govardhan? It is a commonly asked question. Here are my final thoughts. In a nutshell, Govardhan is an important spiritual center of all the Vaishnavite devotees. To summarize, Govardhan has remained a center of faith for crores of Hindus since thousands of years. Govardhan is where all roads lead to on not only festivals but throughout the year. Whether it is badi prakirama or choti parikrama, pilgrims throng this dusty little outgrown village in every season.

Being an easy weekend escape from New Delhi NCR, it is also easy to arrive at Govardhan. Every Hindu should perform Govardhan Parikrama at least once in a lifetime.

The view from my Soul Window is drowned in devotion!

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