One of the holiest places for practitioners of Hare Krishna, Vrindavan is located in northern India’s state of Uttar Pradesh. It’s most famous for two things: (1) it’s the town where Krishna, the Hindu deity, grew up, and (2) is known as the land of 5,000 temples, many of which are Hare Krishna temples.
Disclaimer: we were unable to verify if there were, in fact, 5,000 temples in this town. I would guess that we saw close to 40 in our short time there.
Why we came:
On our way to O’Hare in Chicago, just hours before flying out of the United States to kick off our round-the-world trip (more about that here), Max and I put a call into his Uncle Bradd. Like many of our friends, Bradd has been to India many times. Unlike any of our friends, Bradd is a Hare Krishna and had a close friend, a swami, who offered to show us around if we came to his town of Vrindavan.
Srila Dhanurdhara Swami sent a car to pick us up from our hostel in New Delhi. Due to Delhi’s traffic, the two-hour drive took a short three-and-a-half hours and only a small handful of panic attacks on our end. We arrived at what we were told is Vrindavan’s nicest hotel, the MVT Guesthouse & Restaurant and…found that it was completely booked up. Instead, we walked around the corner of the dirt road and booked a room at the Bhakti Dham Hotel ($26/night). We were promised that it would have hot water. Perfect! Sold.
In our 22 hours in Vrindavan, we…
- Got a quick rundown on Hare Krishna basics. For those as uninitiated as myself, it’s a branch of Hinduism that was formed in 1966 in NYC by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, which, according to its own website, “teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the ‘all-attractive one’”.
- Visited several temples in the town, including the Krishna-Balarama Mandir temple, which has had live music playing for 24 hours a day since 1986.
- Hugged (and got our clothes chewed on by) no less than 30 cows.
- Ate at MVT Restaurant twice.
- Visited the town’s flower farm, the source of the thousands of flowers that are picked and strung daily on beautiful necklaces that are offered to the deities.
- Indulged in an excellent meal at a local family’s home, where they live without electricity or any modern conveniences.
- And said “Hare Krishna” more times than I can count (we quickly learned it is not only the name of the religion, but also a chant, meditation, and a way to say “thank you,” “hello,” and “goodbye”).
Our time spent learning about Hare Krishna, Vrindavan, and meeting those that live/study there was short but memorable (although, if we’re being completely honest, we don’t see ourselves coming back here anytime soon).
A special thanks to Uncle Bradd and Srila Dhanurdhara Swami for the tour!