Nathdwara is a small town in Rajasthan, 48 kilometers North Eastern side of Udaipur. It is situated on the bank of river Banas. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres for Hindus, famous for temple of Lord Krishna ,which houses idol of Srinathji, a 14th century 7 year old infant incarnation of Lord Krishna.
The term nathdwara suggests the “gate of the Lord”.
I was there recently to attend a wedding and did not want to leave the town without exploring it. I stayed at Justa Brij Bhoomi, which is the only decent hotel in the town. I loved my time at this place basking in the sun with a book all day and spending the evenings out. It was almost like a break from touristy places. You must head to the busy town and indulge in some local delicacies like Pyaaz Kachori which is very famous here.
According to legend the idol of Shrinathji was being transported on a Chariot from Vrindavan to protect it. When the Chariot reached here, it’s wheels got stuck up in the mud and refused to budge. So taking the indication that Lord wants to stay here, the temple was built here. A Kalash on the Shikhar Chakra. The idol was carved out of a single black marble. Srinathji’s idol in the form of Lord Krishna lifting “ govardhan hill” with his left hand and right hand kept on his waist. Images of a Cow, a Snake, a Lion two Peacocks and a Parrot by Lord’s head are imprinted on idols. The whole site looks resplendent to say the least.
He is treated like a living image and go through all normal routine functions like bathing, dressing up, meals and resting at regular intervals. The activities are in the form of a different darshans- Mangala, Shringar, Rajbhog, Uthapan, bhog, Sandhya aarti and Shayan. Also everyday there is a change in the apparels and ornaments of the Lord. He is treated like a very loved and cared for child.
I have heard that devotees throng in huge crowd especially during Janmashtami Holi and Diwali. While walking up towards the temple I noticed some of the most antique doors in this town, tried my best to capture some frames. Once you reach the temple area you’ll notice how everything is so organised here. There is a different queue for men and women. With a lot of pushing, hustle-bustle going around, devotees are not allowed more than 2-3 seconds before the diety. It was quite a moment when I got to see the diety.
The hills temple complex is segmented into various sections – main shrine, Prasad, priest lodges, stitching department, where tailors make beautiful dresses of diety. Surprisingly the Prasad (offerings for the Good) here is very different than the ones you see in every other temple in India. It was very interesting, I particularly loved the taste of something which looked and tasted like papad but sweet. While taking a walk outside the temple I came across a very fascinating little perfume shop, which looked eons old and the owner sitting inside looked fitted exactly into the description of Father Time. Elderly bearded man dressed in a blue robe, knew everything about ittar. Seeing a crowded shop I was really curious and I had to find out if he actually knew what he was doing. Got to know from the people in the shop that he has regular customers from far off places who visit the temple frequently. They never leave without buying ittar from him. So I got a bottle of Oudh which was really cheap but smells so good.
The town of Nathdwara is a honeycomb of lanes and alleys. It’s all economy revolves around the temple and its visitors. Haveli music ( devotional music) and pichwai paintings are a big hit with devotees. “Pichwai” paintings made by the local artists depict Krishna indulging in different activities. Most popular being “Raslila” with “Gopis”. They are recognised for proof use use of pure gold and silver.
Apart from being overcrowded that is expected of any pilgrimage town, visitors can look forward to a day well spent.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Once you reach Udaipur, you can hire a cab which will cost you around 1000-1500. Ola and Uber cabs are available, so try and book those since the fare is cheaper than the normal local cabs. You can also take a bus. The roads are very good in this part of the country, so you reach in around one hour.