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Gokul – Importance – Temples – Rituals – Gokul of Sri Krishna near Mathura

Gokul, the place of Sri Krishna’s boyhood, is located around 10 km southeast of Mathura Junction Railway Station. This is the birthplace of Sri Krishna across the Yamuna River from Mathura. The importance of Gokul is found in the Harivamsha and the Srimad Bhagavad Purana. The place attracts thousands of Hindus from India and around the world.

Krishna and his brother Balarama spent their childhood days at Gokul under the care of their foster-mother Yashoda and father Nanda. Many of the famous divine incidents mentioned in various Puranas and other Hindu scriptures took place here. Gokul witnessed Krishna’s childhood experiences, activities and adventures. Mahavan (great forest) nearby was another important place associated with the adventures of Krishna in Gokul.

Gokul is the place where Vaishnava Bhakti Saint Sri Vallabhacharya founded the Pushtimarga (path of grace) movement in the 16th century. In 1520, he built a temple to Sri Nathji on Govardhan Hill at Gokul.

At Gokul, while Vallabhacharya meditated on the banks of the Yamuna, Krishna manifested to him as Sri Nathji (Lord of Sri) and instructed him to teach the path of complete and whole-hearted dedication of mind, body and soul to Krishna, with greatest internal and external purity.

Three oldest temples at Gokul are dedicated to Gokulanatha, Madan Mohan and Bitthalnatha (Vithalnatha), built in 1511.

Other notable temples are Dwarkanatha (1546) and Balakrishna (1636). Two shrines in honor of Lord Shiva was built in 1603 by Vijay Singh, the raja of Jodhpur.

The daily rituals at the temples in Gokul include:
  • Morning Prayer (mangala aarti)
  • Sringara (Krishna is adorned with jewels and seated on his throne in the form of the divine image)
  • Gopala (when the deity takes his cattle to graze in the woods)
  • Raj Bhog (midday meal offered to Lord)
  • Uthapan (awakening of the deity from his midday nap)
  • Evening bhog
  • The removing of robes at sunset.
  • Serving the lord as he retires to rest.
The annual festival of Ramlila is held at Gokul every year in the month of Ashwin (September – October).