Rajasthan is one of those states in India that owns the pride of being the most visited destination by domestic as well as international tourists. But apart from the beautiful spots, the state is also known for its traditional values and regional sentiments. One such location that surely reflects the religious cultures of the region is Nathdwara.
Where is Nathdwara Temple and How to Reach There?
Nathdwara temple is located in the city of Nathdwara in the Rajsamand district. This scenic city is situated on the banks of the Banas River and is surrounded by the Aravalli hills.
While this place is open throughout the year but the best option is to skip the summer season to avoid the scorching heat and sun.
In order to reach this place, the best route is via Udaipur. Tourists from different parts of the country or even outside the country can land at the City of Lakes, Udaipur, and then can have a road trip to cover 45 km to reach Nathdwara.
Nathdwara Temple Rituals:
The specialty of Nathdwara Temple is that there are 8 different darshans of Shrinathji Maharaj at different times of the day.
Following are the tentative darshan timings of Shrinathji in the temple:
Mangla Darshan – 5:45 am to 6:30 am
Shringar – 7:15 am to 7:45 am
Gwal Darshan – 9:15 am to 9:30 am
Rajbhog – 11:15 am to 12 noon
Utthapan – 3:45 pm to 4 pm
Bhog – 4:45 pm to 5 pm
Aarti – 5:15 pm to 6 pm
Shayan – 6:15 pm to 7:15 pm
The timings of all the darshans are subject to changes as per the management of the temple.
The special thing about all these darshans is that the idol of Shrinathji is dressed up differently for all the darshans. If you wish to experience the religious atmosphere of the temple at its best, you should visit at night after the Shayan Darshan to enjoy bhajans and keerthans that are organized within the temple.
The temple management is quite strict with security and thus they do not allow a number of things in the temple such as mobile phones and cameras.
The Ancient Story of Shrinathji Maharaj
The locals of Nathdwara often narrate a very interesting story about how Shrinathji Maharaj became an inseparable part of this city. They mention that Shrinathji evolved from a small stone of the Govardhan hills when Lord Krishna held up the hill on his smallest finger in order to safeguard his villagers from the torment of Indra. Soon a temple was raised by the devotees in Mathura for the worship of Shrinathji.
7th Century was the time when Aurangazeb was in his highest rage to destroy all the Hindu temples and idols in India. When he heard about the popularity of Shrinathji Maharaj, he sent his army to Mathura to destroy this temple also in the year 1672.
But the then purohit of the temple, Damodar Gosai took the initiative to carry the idol of Shrinathji on a horse cart and headed towards Mewar, considering it a safe place. The king of Mewar, Maharana Raj Singh not only welcomed Shrinathji with great respect but also promised Damodar Gosai that the entire Rajput clan of Mewar will protect Shrinathji till their last drop of blood.
The locals of Mewar also have an interesting story about the connection between the princess of Mewar Ajab Juwar and Shrinathji. Often Ajab Kuwar is also compared to Meera Bai due to this story of hers. They say that Ajab Kuwar was a great devotee of Shrinathji and it was because of her devotion that even Shrinathji used to travel from Brij to Mewar to play Chausar with the princess.
One day, Ajab Kuwar requested Shrinathji to stay in Mewar and this is when Shrinathji promised her that he will definitely fulfill her wish in the future.
Nathdwara Temple Construction
After the episodes of protecting the idol of Shrinathji, finally, the construction of the temple started in Nathdwara city. Sisodia Rajputs took the responsibility of building the Shrinathji Palace. As the locals consider Shrinathji as a 7-year-old baby in place of a god, the temple is also called Shrinathji ki Haveli.
The main area of the temple has displayed a beautifully decorated Kalash and the Sudarshan Chakra of Shrinathji. As it is a haveli, there are different rooms here for different purposes such as kitchen, locker room, bedroom, storage room, and many others. 7 flags always adorn the peak of the temple that are changed from time to time.
Nathdwara Shrinathji Maharaj
Usually, all Hindus travel from distant lands to have a view of Nathdwara Maharaji, but it is said that the people from the Vaishnav clan are the main devotees of Shrinathji.
The idol of Shrinathji is in a standing position with his right hand up in the air like he is still holding the Govardhan hill on his little finger, while his left hand is on his waist. The idol is made up of rare black marble and it has a diamond on the chin that sparkles day and night. There are several carvings of birds and animals surrounding the idol because the locals mention that the birds and animals always felt safe near Shrinathji.
Apart from receiving blessings from Shrinathji, visitors also visit the temples of Navneet Priya, Vitthalnath Ji, and Lord Madan Mohan.
While you can visit Nathdwara temple any time at your convenience, it is always a great idea to visit the temple during any festive season to see the real colours of the place. The locals celebrate Holi, Diwali, and most importantly Janmashtami with great pomp and show.
After you have visited the Nathdwara temple, do not forget to get the famous prasad of Shrinathji that is a combination of different items such as laddoo, mathri, and others. When you are here in Nathdwara, you will also love to carry back home some souvenirs for which the portrait of Shrinathji in the local Pichai Painting, or rice miniature art are some of the ideal options. Tourists also carry laddoo gopal statues from Nathdwara that are extremely popular here.