Shrinathji Temple is one of the most revered shrines of Lord Krishna. Located at Nathdwara, Shrinathji Mandir is easily accessible from anywhere in Rajasthan. Nathdwara is small town that is truly famous for this temple. Shrinathji lies at a distance of 48 kms from Udaipur, the city of lakes in Rajasthan.
Shrinathji’s idol was brought to Rajasthan from Govardhana near Vrindavan to protect it from the hands of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who in 1665 was bent upon vandalizing the area of Vrindavan by widespread destruction of Hindu temples. When the Mughal army came to Govardhana, the devotees of the Lord showed them the titles and gifts given to the temple by the previous Mughal rulers. The army commander then ordered the deity to be taken away from Govardhana. For almost six months the statue stayed in Agra after which the custodians of the idol of Shrinathji left that place with the idol in search of a new heaven.
While several other princes were diffident, it was Maharana Rajsingh of Mewar who dared to provide refuge. The idol went on a journey to Mewar which took 32 months to complete. The decision to settle the Lord here at Nathdwara involves an interesting story. When the wheel of the chariot carrying the Lord got stuck in the mud at a place called Sihar, the Rana saw it as a divine sign that Lord Krishna wished to settle here, and thus a temple was built at this spot and the holy township of Nathdwara grew around the temple
According to another legend, It was Madhvendra Puri who came to Govardhan Hill and, after he went around the hill and began preparing for the evening rest near GovindaKund, a local cowherd boy visited him with a pot of milk. The beautiful boy made Srila Madhavendra Puri forget his hunger and thirst. MadhavendraPuri asked the boy how he knew he was fasting, and the boy replied that he resided in this village and in his village no one fasts.
That night in a dream the boy lead Madhavendra to a bush and explained that he was in the bush and suffered from severe cold, heat, rain, and wind. So Madhavendra was thus instructed to find the deity with the help of the local villagers. Gopalaji had been hidden in the bushes and was discovered by Madhavendra Puri.
After the deity’s installation, a structure was made for Him on top of Govardhan Hill. The deity of Gopalaji stands with His left arm raised in the air in the pose Krishna took when He lifted Govardhan Hill as an umbrella to protect the local residents from the fierce rains sent by the demigod Indra..
The image of Shrinathji is worth seeing and feeling the celestial beauty of the God. Lord Shrinathji symbolizes a form of Lord Krishna, when he lifted the ‘Govardhana’. In the image, the lord is revealed with his left hand raised and the right is bunged in a fist. The idol is carved out of a large black stone. Images of two cows, a snake, a lion, two peacocks and a parrot by the god’s head are imprinted on the idol.
The temple authorities have not less than 500 cows and amongst them, one is regarded as Shrinathji’s cow. Earlier, wagon-loads of food used to come here, which were said to be consigned by Shrinathji. The holy shrine of Shrinathji is famous all over Rajasthan and India.
During the times of Holi, Diwali and Janmashtmi, people throng in large numbers and the place gets overcrowded. Apart from festivals like Holi and Janmashtmi, Annakutta is a major festival that is celebrated in the temple with full gusto and fervor. A visit to this temple must be avoided during these days. Shrinathji Temple can be visited by only Hindus with an exception of foreigners.