Banke Bihari Temple is one most scared temples at Vrindavan, in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh which was founded by the famous Hindu saint Haridas of Nimbarka Sampradaya, who was one among the contemporary of the six Gosvamis.
Video - In and Around Banke Bihari Temple
Significance of the temple
Banke means 'bent in three places’ while Bihari constitutes the ‘supreme enjoyer.' The idol here of Banke Bihari was discovered by Haridas at Nidhivana in the 16th century, where the original Lord was worshiped and moved here as the temple was constructed in 1864. Previously Banke Bihariji was worshiped alone and along with him a small deity of Radharani was added later. The curtain before the Deities is always closed and open during the darshans . Often, the curtain is pulled shut and then opened again.
During the month of Shravana i.e. from July-August, a swing festival of Lord Krishna called Jhulan Yatra is held. In this festival, a number of silver-plated and solid silver swings are shown all over. The main day of Jhulan Yatra is the third day of the waxing moon. At this time, Banke Bihari is placed on a golden swing (hindola).
Once in a year in this temple the mangala-arati is held. The lotus feet of the Banke Bihari can be seen only on one day a year, on Akhyaya Tritiya. The priests here at the temple belong to the Nimbarka-sampradaya.
The deity is dressed up with all the colourful ornaments and offered cuisine like the bhog, and Prasad which are according to the season. The whole Temple is decorated with lights and various types of flowers according to the festival. In the Temple premises there are no bells or conch because Bankey Bihari does not like the sound of bells or conch. While there is only chant of 'radha naam'. As one enters into the temple, the devotee feels an eternal bliss and calm and forgets all misery. While the Devotees meets with Thakur ji, automatically becomes dedicating himself to Thakur ji.
Time to Visit
The temple is open for worship from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 6 pm to 9 pm.
One thing that remains common throughout the temple is the chant of 'radhe radhe'. As the Lord loves the name of ‘Radha’ that is the reason in the shrine is always reverberated with the chant. The complete structure of the temple is imbibed from the Rajasthani style of architecture. Even today after 150 years, the temple of Banke Bihari has not lost its charm. In fact, thousands of devotees visit it everyday.
The festival of ‘Janmashtami’ which is the Birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated here with full gusto and fervor. The whole temple is beautifully decorated with flowers and lights.
For the day the 'darshan' of deity is not allowed as the Lord is said to be in the womb of her mother. The 'darshan' here is allowed only when the clock strikes 12 in the night. During months of Sawan and Phagun, the altar of the Lord is brought out of the main shrine, so that devotees can get the 'darshan' of Bihariji.
For the month of Phalgun, the temple observes much celebration. On Holi, Banke Bihari is supposed to play Holi and the whole town of Vrindavan gets submerged in colors. Banke Bihari Temple is also one of the richest temples of India. People donate huge amounts of money and gifts for the services of the Lord. Banke Bihari is truly the epitome of devotion, dedication and is a 'must-visit'.
Rules and Rituals of the temples
The Lord Biharijis Sewa or the service is done in a unique way. It has and is been performed in three parts every day i.e. Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. The shringar includes bath, dressing and adornment with jewellery like crown and necklaces of the lord and Rajbhog (feast) is nothing but the offered in the afternoon, and the last sewa the Shayan Sewa (shayan means sleep) is been offered in the evening. This temple does not have a tradition of Mangala which is the early morning sewa. As Swami Haridas did not favour Mangla Sewa as he wanted his child like Lord to have complete rest and did not want to disturb him out of deep slumber so early in the morning.
The Temple today stands with its full glory, inside which the Lord himself resides. It is thronged by thousands of visitor's everyday.
Other Places to Visit
There are quite a few popular temples like Radha Raman temple, the Rangaji temple, Radha Vallabh temple, ISKCON temple but among them the most revered is the Banke Bihari temple.
The Madan Mohan Temple
The Madan Mohan Temple is located nearby the Kali Ghat, built by Kapur Ram Das of Multan. It is an oldest existing temple in Vrindavan today. The temple is closely usually associated with the saint Chaitanya and the original idol of Lord Madan Gopal was shifted from the shrine to Karauli in Rajasthan for safe keeping, during the time of Aurangzeb's rule. Today a scared replica of the image is worshipped at the temple.
Radha Vallabh Temple
Radha Vallabh Temple is a famous temple set up by the Radha - Vallabh sect, it has the crown of Radha-Rani placed next to the Shri Krishna idol in the sanctum.
The Jaipur Temple is a richly embellished and a very sacred temple in Vrindavan. This temple was built by Sawai Madhav Singh, who was the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1917. The temple has the fine hand - carved sandstone which is of unparalleled workmanship. This particular temple is dedicated to Shri Radha Madhav.
The Shahji Temple
In 1876, the Shahji Temple was designed and built by a wealthy jeweller, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. This temple is known to be another popular temple at Vrindavan. The deities here at the temple are very much popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. The temple is noted for its magnificent architecture and beautiful marble sculpture, the temple has twelve spiral columns each 15 feet high. The `Basanti Kamra' - the darbar hall is famed for its Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.
Near the Temple there are several accommodations available in Vrindavan. The hotels here at the temple range between luxury and budget. The Devotee who visits the temple find best accommodation option available in Vrindavan, keeping their interest and expenses in mind.
How to reach the temple
Through Road ways -as Vrindavan is situated on Delhi-Agra NH-2, there are various buses which run between the Agra and Delhi. The temple is 7 km. away from National Highway. Going to Temple is very easy as there are frequent tempos and rickshaws available throughout the day. Mathura is just 12 km away. Frequent buses, tempos and taxies runs between Mathura and Vrindavan.
By Railways -the major railway station nearby would be Mathura on the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai main line. Apart from those there are several express and passenger trains connecting Mathura from other major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Gwalior, Dehradun, Indore, and Agra. Though Vrindavan itself is a railway station, a rail bus runs between Vrindavan and Mathura 5 rounds in a day.
Through Air -nearest airport is Agra just 67 km away from Vrindavan. The nearest international airport here is at Vrindhavan near by to the Banke Bihari Temple i, which is connected to almost every important city in the world with major airlines. There regular flights being arranged to other important tourist destinations of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, etc.