Holi is among the most famous, lively, and energetic festivals among Hindus and Indians in general. Among all the fascinating places to celebrate Holi in India, one place has very remarkable importance.
The place is Bankey Bihari Temple in Vrindavan, a historical city in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India.
The celebration and party for the festival here run for an entire week. At the Temple, the idol of Krishna is dressed in all-white clothes and is made open to devotees so that all the worshipers of Krishna can play Holi with him.
Holi is in Vrindavan is not just a normal festival, it’s a celebration of Lord Krishna and his close association with the place. Every year thousands of people visit the ancient, yet beautiful temple town to celebrate Holi at the temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and also symbolically play Holi with Lord himself.
Holi Celebration and tradition at the Bankey Bihari temple
Lord Krishna(Kanha) is said to be born in Mathura and has performed his wonderful performances in Vrindavan, so Holi is special in both these places. In Vrindavan, the activity for the Holi celebration starts as early as two months back in January.
On Basant Panchami, God is offered Gulal Abir. The practice of Shri Banke Bihari Ji’s temple is that the Holi celebration takes place a day before. The next day, people play Holi across the city.
The tradition of Holi at the Bankey Bihari Temple is also really impressive. It is believed that on the day of Holi, Lord Krishna sits and observes his devotees play Holi but he himself doesn’t participate in the festivities.
Further, it’s actually the day before the main Holi festival, that the temple becomes truly alive when God himself is actually believed to play Holi with his devotees. The priests sprinkle holy water and colors and the devotees chant in unison.
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Story Behind Bankey Bihari Temple
The word ‘Bankey’ means bent and ‘Bihari’ means enjoyer, and these words give the name to Lord Krishna here.
The temple itself is comparatively not very old and was built by Swami Haridas in the year 1862, and since then has become the cultural and religious center of the town.
Details about Holi Celebration at the temple
The Holi celebrations at the temple start at 9 am and go on till 1.30 pm. As expected, there are thousands of devotees who come and play Holi and the place is packed through the hours the temple is open.
However, most devotees visit Vrindavan during these times for the Holi celebration and therefore leave within the same day.
One can find various groups of photographers and journalists who also stay here the longest. While they get to experience Holi for the longest duration, many do not join the crowd to play Holi.
The magnificent visuals during the Holi celebration at the temple have no match as far as the celebration of the festival is concerned. It is a remarkable manifestation of the core Indian spirit of celebration and festivities.
Its a sight, unlike any other, and no word or images, can truly recreate the environment. One has to be physically present to witness the unforeseen experience. As you walk within the crowd and get sprayed with water and colors every few minutes, one gets to see the energy and vibrance of the unbelievable space.
Holi at Banke Bihari Temple is not the first major Holi celebration in the area, it actually starts with Lathmar Holi at Barsana a week before the actual Holi event.
The Holi Celebration at Temple
Meanwhile, outside the temple, people play for a while inside and soon shift outside to play even more.
This is especially true for the localities who are prepared with colors and water and wait at the doorsteps of their houses in the narrow lanes all around the temple.
Right outside the temple, there is also quite a bit of food, and people keep taking breaks to drink some chai, eat some kachori and bite into some jalebis.
How to reach Bankey Bihari Temple
There has been a significant improvement in the infrastructure and that makes reaching the place from any part of India quite easy and convenient.
For those traveling from Delhi-NCR, Vrindavan can be reached through the Yamuna Expressway which is among one of the best expressways in the country.
Another option is the Delhi-Agra NH-2. From Delhi and NCR, take the Agra expressway to cut down on travel time.
Mathura is only 12 km from Vrindavan. A lot of local transport buses, taxis, and rickshaws ply to and from Mathura and Vrindavan.
Vrindavan has no railway connectivity of its own, but there is one in Mathura which connects to a lot of cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore, Agra, Gwalior, Kolkata, and Hyderabad among others.
The railway station at Mathura is about 14 km from Vrindavan. Tourists can hire a taxi or board a bus for Vrindavan from the railway station in Mathura. On reaching the bus stand in Vrindavan, tourists can hire an e-rickshaw to reach Shri Banke Bihari Temple. A rail-bus also runs to and from Mathura and Vrindavan five times every day.
There is no airport facility either in Vrindavan or Mathura. The nearest airport can only be located in Agra (67 km).
Tourists from other parts of India and the world can take a flight to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, which is approximately 200 km from Vrindavan. From Delhi airport, cabs can be pre-booked or hired on the spot for reaching Vrindavan.
Though Vrindavan has a lot of accommodations for tourists to suit all kinds of budgets, those looking to stay close to Shri Banke Bihari Temple can consider booking room(s) in budget and well-rated tourist houses. Likewise, there are many dharamshalas and budget hotels located in that lane.