Bankey Bihari Temple is the prime attraction and the highly revered shrine of Vrindavan. In Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is a small town that is celebrated for this holy shrine of Lord Krishna. Banke Bihari Mandir is the popular temple amongst the Vaishnavites of India. The present temple was built by Swami Haridas in 1864. Here, Lord Krishna is observed in his phase of childhood. The services offered to the Lord are made in such style, as if, nurturing a small child.
In the phrase Bankey Bihari, the term 'Bankey' suggests 'bent at three places' and 'Bihari refers 'the Supreme enjoyer'. Thus, Bankey Bihari is the benefactor of bliss and pleasure. Lord Bankey Bihari is also known Thakurji, the owner of everything. The black wooden idol of Bankey Bihariji was brought in this temple from Nidhivan by Swami Haridas. The services made to deity is regarded as the 'sewa' of the deity. At that time, Swami Haridas tendered the 'sewa' of Bihariji to Goswami Jagannath.
Ever since, the 'sewa' of Bihariji is performed by the descendants of Goswami. Unlike other temples of the Hindus, this temple doesn't observe the 'Mangal Aarti' that is a kind of wishing good morning to the Lord because the child sleeps till late in the morning. Bihariji is worshipped in a different way, classifying the services into three parts, Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan respectively. During Shringar, the lord is bathed, dressed and decorated with jewelry.
In the forenoon, Thakurji is offered Rajbhog, which is a feast including the best delicacies to satisfy the taste buds of the child. The third sewa is known as 'Shayan' and in this service; Bankey Bihari is made to sleep. This temple opens late in the morning because it is considered that the lord plays at night and gets up late. The divine aura of the shrine makes one to forget all his/her miseries and bestows the eternal bliss.
Another attraction of this temple is that the deity is clothed and offered food as per the season and occasion. During the months of 'Saawan' (monsoons), the temple is decorated with flowers and lights. This decoration of temple is called as 'Bangla' that suggests bungalow of the Lord. The temple doesn't comprise any bell or conch because the sound disturbs Bihariji.
The temple has many features that are unique in their own way. Bankey Bihari has a kind of magnetic appeal in his eyes and to prevent the attraction, a curtain is made after every 1 minute. The charisma of the Lord is really strong and it is believed that, if one stares into the eyes the God for a long time, the individual would lose his self-consciousness.
The only thing that is common throughout the temple is the chant of 'radhe radhe'. The Lord loves the name of 'Radha' that is why the shrine is always reverberated with the chant. The structure of the temple is imbibed from the Rajasthani style of architecture. Even after 150 years, the temple has not lost its charm. In fact, thousands of devotees come to visit this temple everyday.
The festival of 'Janmashtami' (Birthday of Lord Krishna) is celebrated here with full gusto and fervor. The whole temple is festooned with flowers and lights. For the day, the 'darshan' of the deity is not allowed as the Lord is said to be in the womb of her mother. The 'darshan' is allowed only when the clock strikes 12 in the night. During months of Sawan and Phagun, the altar of the Lord is brought out of the main shrine, so that devotees can get the 'darshan' of Bihariji.
Even in the month of Phagun, the temple observes much celebration. On Holi, Bankey Bihari is supposed to play Holi and the whole town of Vrindavan gets submerged in colors. Bankey Bihari Temple is also one of the richest temples of India. People donate huge amounts of money and gifts for the services of the Lord. Bankey Bihari is truly the epitome of devotion, dedication and is a 'must-visit'.
How to reach: One can easily reach Banke Bihari Temple by taking local Buses, Rickshaws or by hiring Taxis from Vrindavan