This is where he was born, this is where he performed his daring tasks and this is where people have temples dedicated to him on every street. Lord Krishna is in every inch of the space surrounding Mathura. Be it Vrindavan or Barsana or Giriraj.
The place is like just any other religious center. The streets are narrow and want to fit in everything – people, shops, animals, rickshaws and even a Toyota Qualis at times. So you can imagine. Not to mention the streets are more often then littered dirty with very little cleaning happening at times. But the spirit is upbeat – there are sounds of bhajans all around, sweet smell of mithai (I call this place the capital of sweets) – Lassi, Rabdi, Malai barafi or the Kulia. You can have a bowl full of all of these and ask for even more. Weight-watchers be ware when you visit this place – the food will tempt you like never before.
The people are sweet talkers – some innocent and some very extra smart out there to make a quick buck – so be very careful when you indulge in any commercial dealing like a rickshaw ride, a pujari at the temple or tour guide. The local language is called Brij Basha, a very sweet style of talking and I tried spending some time with the locals to hear more of their talk. The common greeting among them is “Radhe Radhe”. I wondered why they took Radha’s name when this was supposed to be the town of Lord Krishna. Dear wife was more than willing to tell me all about it. Some great learning for me. I am sharing it here:
It is believed that everyone was a great follower of Lord Krishna but it was only Radha who would make the Lord run behind her. So she had some kind of a controlling power over him. Now they say that if you want to please the Lord it would be a better idea to please his lady first so that she in turn could take your prayer to the Lord for quick action. Talk about Woman power. There is a Radha Rani temple located in Barsana which is atop a hill and you have to climb a lot of stairs to reach up to the top.
Monkeys: if after Lord Krishna there is something evident about this place it has to be the sheer presence of the monkeys. You can find them almost everywhere. Big ones, babies and in gang ready to attack the innocent tourist, snatching away prasad from their hands or even spectacles. It was very difficult for me to roam the streets without my spectacles. Actually the monkeys have been spoilt. Whenever they snatch something important people tend to throw some food at them in return for which the monkey returns the item. So now the monkeys roam the public places knowing very well that we are bound to be fed if we can snatch away something worthwhile from these people.
Although most of the temples did not allow photography I tried to capture some shots from the surrounding areas to get back a feel of the place. See my flickr for more.