Located about 50 km in north of Udaipur is the highly revered Shrinathji Mandir, Nathdwara the main Peeth of the Vallabh Sampradaya. It is thronged by lacs of devotees from far and near through out the year.
The Lord decided to leave his original abode in Mathura in UP due to the atrocities of Mughal rulers.
As desired by the Lord, his chief devotee Gosain Damodarji left Mathura carrying His idol in a Chariot. The party arrived at Nathdwara after travelling to and staying at several places in the country in a Chariot on 10th October 1668. The party stayed in Agra for 16 days and then left the place on 26th October. After the next halt at Krishnapura, they arrived in Kota where the stay was for 4 months. They were warmly welcomed by Raja Mansingh when they reached Kishangarh near Ajmer after a two-month long journey. However, due to the fear of Badshah Alamgeer the Raja was not able to host them for a long time. So the party left the town and reached Chopasni, near Jodhpur, It was not safe to stay there. So Govindji, uncle of Gosain Damodarji went to Udaipur and met Maharana Rajsingh. Highly elated to learn that the Lord desired to make Mewar His home the Maharana told Govindji that his one lac soldiers would always be in the service of the Lord. Hearings this message, Gosainji’s joy knew no bound.
When the Lord’s charirt reached Ghanerao, the Maharana received it with all his paraphernalia of Rajas, Maharajas, Sardars etc. The Maharana was there with his army riding horses, elephants and camels. When the choriat of the Lord came in front of the Maharana, a twenty one cannon salute was given. He sat on the ground to pay respect and offered one thousand gold Mohurs. There was a lot of singing and dancing. The Lord rested at Ghanerao Chouraha. On his arrival at Rajsamand the Lord was welcomed warmly. When the chariot reached a place called Singhad, its wheels got stuck in the soil and inspite of all out efforts did not even budge. Taking it to be the Lord’s wish to make this place His abode, the Maharana asked Delwara naresh to make all the arrangements and soon a small temple was built. All the surrounding land was given to the temple. On 20th February 1672 A.D. the idol of the Lord was installed in the temple. By order of the Maharana there were grand celebration through out Mewar in which the public participated with great enthusiasm.
The building of the Shrinath Mandir is unique in the sense that it has been designed as a house. In Pushthi Marg, the child form of Lord Krishna performing Baal-Leela is worshiped. The ‘Leelas’ were performed mainly in Brij within the home of Nandbaba as the main centre, so the Mandir is like Nand Bhawan or Nandalaya. The roof of the main Mandir is made of ‘Khaprel’. Being the residence of Lord Krishna there are Kalash Sudarshan Chakra and Saptdhwaja in the main building. Every day Sudarshan Chakra is bathed with the choicest ‘Itra’, scent, and offered ‘bhog’. Nobody can touch it and through constant vigil it is ensured that birds do not sit on it.
It is the only one Mandir of Vallabh Sampradaya where ‘dhwaja’ is set up. The Mandir is surrounded by a Parkota. Entering through any of the three gates, one reaches Ratan Chowk that leads to Dol Tibari from where one can have ‘darshan’ of the Lord. The pose of the Lord with the raised left hand is the one in which He lifted Goverdhan Parwat. With closed fist the left hand touches the waist. A special feature of Shrinathji Mandir is that here Shrinath is not worshipped as an idol but as a living being. As Shrinath is worshipped lifting Goverdhan Parvat on His little finger He is also named Goverdhannathji.
One enters Kamal Chowk through Singh Pol. There is a marble lotus in the Chowk were devotees wait for the ‘darshan’. At the time of Mangal Bhog ‘bhajans’ are sung at Hathipol. Pandits do Katha here. Sanjhi is also made in this Chowk. Big festivals like Hindole are held here. In Ratan Chowk on Diwali Navneet Priyaji sits in Hatdi.
In the month of Jeshtha a wall is built and water is filled here to make a pool for Navautsava. From here one can have ‘darshan’ of Surdarshan Chakra’ and Dhwajaji Standing in Dol Tibari, people have ‘darshan’ of the Lord. Some ‘utsavs’ are also held here . In Khasa Bhandar the material for cooking is cleaned. Navneet Priyaji’s ‘Prasad’ is stored in Shri Krishna Bhandar. In several places are kept different items as indicated by their names- Shakghar, Paaanghar, Phoolghar, Doodhghar, Mishrighar, Pedaghar and Patalghar. From Rasoighar is distributed ‘prasad’. So also pattals that have roti daal bhath, kheer and different vegetables. Each low-cost ‘pattal’ is enough to feed four persons. In Keertaniya Gali, Keertaniyas sing ‘Bhajans’ in classical ragas in keeping with the time of the day and season. In Manikotha are sung Padas composed by A shtchhap Bhakti poets in different Raginis with accompaniment of musical instruments.
Such is the ambience suffused with religious fervour of not only the temple but of the whole town that the huge number of pilgrims who throng the sacred region find themselves deeply immersed in Krishna Bhakti.
(Content courtesy Dr. S.K. Jugnu and Narayanlal Sharma)