Among all the gods in Hindu pantheon, Lord Krishna enjoys a special position because of his personableness. His life story is illustrated by several instances with which people can associate themselves to. Best friend, best lover, best warrior, best teacher, best son, best brother, best student … there are several bests that can be attributed to Krishna.
It is believed that Krishna responds to feelings and desires held most deeply in the hearts of all devotees. No wonder, he is the only Hindu god whose earthly appearance on Janmashtami is celebrated with so much fanfare across the country and also outside. And at some places, it is done in such a manner that you may miss some slices of divinity if you fail to visit them at least once in a lifetime.
Here are five such places in India which you must visit on Janmashtami.
These three locations in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of river Yamuna are believed to be the places where Lord Krishna spent his early years. While Mathura is his birthplace, Krishna spent his childhood in Gokul and Vrindavan. On Janmashtami, the Lord’s birthplace gets all decked up and reverberates with the sound of conch shells, bells and hymns. The Lord’s idols are washed with milk, curd, honey and ghee, adorned with clothes and ornaments and placed in a swing. Some of the temples where best celebrations are organised are Bankey Bihari, Dwarkadhish, Krishna Janmabhoomi Mandi and the ISKCON. The best spectacle on the day, however, is Raas Leela, a dance drama based on the life of Lord Krishna, which is organised all over Mathura. The other special celebration you should not miss is the Jhulan Utsav, in which swings are put at all temple courtyards to celebrate the birth of the Lord.
Also, don’t forget to visit Vrindavan, which is about 15 KM from Mathura, where Krishna did Raas Leela with Radha and Gopis. A tour to Gokul from Mathura across the Yamuna can be enjoyable for children too as it the place where Krishna spent his early days with mother Yashoda.
Dwarka (or gateway to heaven) on the Kutch coast is believed to be the place where Krishna shifted his kingdom after killing evil uncle Kansa in Mathura. Visit the Dwarkadish temple here which dates back to 500 BC. Besides, you can also visit Rukmini temple, dedicated to Krishna’s wife Rukmini. There is also Bet Dwarka, a little far from Dwarka, where the Lord is believed to have died.
Dahi Handi celebration is the speciality of Janmashtami festivity in Mumbai. This is celebrated as Krishna used to steal butter from the gopis, and even from his mother. Young men scale human pyramid to break a handi (clay pot) filled with Krishna’s favourite curd/buttermilk. Dahi Handi is famous in old Mumbai areas like Dadar, Worli, Thane and Lalbaug. Over the years, it has become a kind of sports for locals as several Dahi Handi competitions are organised across the city.
Puri’s Lord Jagannath is considered as one of the forms of Lord Krishna. The entire temple town celebrates the festival with much fanfare. While special midnight prayers are held at the time of Lord’s birth in the main temple, in the day chronicles of the Lord are enacted by children. The festivities continue for 17 days starting from Janmasthmi. Besides, you can also spend some time at the Puri sea beach, and maybe take a dip with the waves.
Janmasthmi here is celebrated at the Sri Krishna Mutt which is believed to have been set up after the city of Dwarka submerged following Krishna’s death. At the Guruvaur temple in Udupi, there are eight monastries around it. Devotees here take out a procession of a golden idol of Balkrishna which is accompanied by the elephants of the temple. The procession is accompanied by dance and music performances.