A cowherd, prankster, butter thief, lover, dancer, warrior and leader: Krishna is said to have been all of this. There are countless tales of his heroism, mischief, love and wisdom, which is probably why he is one of the most revered of all Hindu gods in India. Krishna Janmashtami celebrates his birth, which was an adventure in itself, and this year it falls on August 14, 2017. You can expect to see thousands of people celebrating the festival in their own way. The Dahi Handi festival, for instance, celebrates the naughty side of the god. This Krishna Janmashtami, you can celebrate the birth of the god by traveling to these incredible Krishna temples in India. ALSO READ: 10 best places to visit during Janmashtami in India
Dwarkadish Temple, Dwarka
Dwarkadish Temple, Dwarka
The coastal city of Dwarka in Gujarat is very closely linked to the mythology of Krishna. It is one of the four sacred Chardham pilgrimage sites because of its association with the ancient kingdom of Dwarka that was once ruled by Krishna. So it makes sense that the Dwarkadish or Trilok Sundar temple in the modern city is one of the most important temples dedicated to the god. Located in the middle of the serene coast and the busy city, Dwarkadish is more than 2,000 years old and is said to have been commissioned by Vajra, the great grandson of Krishna. The main idol of the temple is carved out of gorgeous black marble, and the temple itself is built in the Chalukya style, using granite and soft limestone.
Guruvayur Temple, Kerala
Guruvayur Temple, Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
One of the most famous temples in South India, where temples are a dime a dozen, the Guruvayur Temple is often called the Dwarka of the South. It was built in 1638 CE, thought the deity is considered to be more than 5,000 years old. The idol is a four-armed version of Krishna holding a pear necklace and a holy garland. Outside the temple, you can see an expansive water tank, which is said to be where the family of Shiva worshiped Vishnu. The temple is famous for its architecture and dress code: men must wear dhotis and women must wear a sari or salwar. It also has several elephants who you can feed during the Aanayoottu ritual. ALSO READ: Kochi to Guruvayur: How to reach Guruvayur from Kochi by road
Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, Mathura
Devotees at the birthplace of Lord Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple
Also called the Kesava Deo Temple or Krishna Janmasthan temple, the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple lies in the city of Mathura, said to be the place where the god was born. Locals believe that it was first built nearly 5,000 years ago by Vajra, followed by the king Chandragupta II in around 400 AD. Chandragupta Vikramaditya built the second temple, but it was demolished in 1017 AD. Vir Singh Deo, also known as Bir Singh Bundela, an Orchha king and vassal of the Mughal Empire, built the fourth temple, but it too was destroyed. The temple you see today was constructed only in 1965, but you can still visit what seems like a prison cell where Krishna is said to have been born.
Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan
The Banke Bihari temple is one of the most famous in Vrindavan, the town in Uttar Pradesh where Krishna is said to have spent his childhood days. Built by the Goswami family in 1863, the Banke Bihari temple’s claim to fame is its idol and the stories around it. The temple’s main idol shows Krishna in a Tribhanga stance, and it is said that the idol was given to Swami Haridas by Krishna and Radha themselves, after they were impressed by his singing. The lotus feet of the idol are only shown on Akshaya Tritiya, and the idol itself is behind curtains most of the time because it is said that you may lose consciousness if you stare at it for too long.
Prem Mandir, Vrindavan
Located at the edge of Vrindavan town, Prem Mandir is a beautiful white temple located on 54 acres of land. Established by a godman named Kripalu Maharaj, the temple is famous for its scale rather than its history. You can find several statues and paintings of important figures and events in the mythology of Krishna, and the fountain show in the evenings is one of the main highlights here. Krishna Janmashtami is one of the best times to visit the temple, since there are special events held during the festival here. NOW READ: Janmashtami Celebration in India: How Janmashtami is celebrated in Maharashtra, Vrindavan, Mathura and Manipur
Rajagopalaswamy Temple, Tiruvarur
Located around 60 km east of the temple city of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur is home to the famed Rajagopalaswamy temple. The temple lies in Mannargudi, Tiruvarur, and it consists of a massive 154-feet tall Rajagopuram at the entrance. Inside, there are 16 towering gopurams, 24 shrines, seven halls, nine sacred water tanks and seven outer courtyards. The innermost sanctum is said to be a thousand years old, but the first stone structure in the complex can be dated back to 1113 AD, during the reign of Kulottunga Chola I. Much of the outer construction dates back to the Vijayanagara period.