My First North India Travelogue – Temple Marathon – part 1

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My First North India Travelogue – Welcome to Temple Marathon (PART 1)

Making our way to one of the humungous states, passing by all the lush green wheat, groundnut, mustard fields, experiencing the modern infrastructures vs the natural alleys, dhaba’s, tea stalls. Here’s a summary of our memorable journey to the holy town in Uttar Pradesh – Mathura, Vrindavan.

Just when we thought, going on a vacay to an international destination would be better, this trip reminded us our motherland is the BEST. Festivities are incomplete without your families around, hence we decided to celebrate Holi with our family this year – 2019.

Mathura, Vrindavan is the most famous city known for its authentic celebrations during Holi, and it proved to be one yet again.

Day 1: 18 March 2019

Start to our 35% planned trip. Sleepy heads, early morning, ready but not so ready  to get on the road.

We started off from home, Patna at around 6:30 am with our own driver AbdeshBhaiya in an Innova (comfortable for 6-7 persons). Apparently a bumpy drive till we hit the National Highway. Google Maps, the best app to use, though in some places we used our own navigation skills and regretted it !

Our first pit stop at a local street food point for some littichoka and kachori’s. Breakfast looked nice, but the hygiene dint, hence I dint want that to take a toll on me, I ended up eating pomegranate which I packed for myself in case of emergency.

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Litti Kachori – Breakfast

WARNING: If death runs a toilet, then that particular one it was. Use washrooms at your own risk.

We got done with our breakfast and back on the wheels, we took the SoanNadi Bridge, towards Aara via Sasaram route, which was a pathetic road to take to reach Grand Trunk Road (GT road). Never mind, there was something better coming. We reached the Karamnasha River, border of UP and Bihar.

Road trips are the best ways to experience the beauty of any place. Though there is filth, potholes, dirty surroundings, etc. the diversity and culture overpowers all of them.

On the road still, its now time for Lunch. Once again, Google maps to search for good restaurants, we came across Satkar Family Restaurant in Chandouli – Varnasi highway.  Good ambiance, good veg food, time to freshen up, take good selfies, and relish the meal. Reasonably priced, one of the nicely rated restaurant to stop by. After a happy meal, Siesta!!!

Watching the serene Ganges and as the dusk falls, stopped by to have some piping hot tea in an earthen cup at Matha Tea Stall.

Without having an idea of which city we would be reaching at night, we hadn’t done any hotel bookings for overnight stays during the journey except at our Final Destination, that’s Vrindavan. GoIBIBO was the app which came in so handy for us. Filtering, checking reviews, helped us a lot. We excluded the OYO rooms since we had very bad experiences in the past.

Kanpur for the night!

Entering the dark galli’s of Kanpur, finding hotels near the Railway Station, Hubby and Papa (FIL) inspecting the rooms before the queens arrive was all the fun part of that night. Finally into one of them, SAIN DASS, quite good, clean  and pretty reasonable. Ordered dinner from the hotel restaurant itself and  just waiting to crash on bed.  Snooze….

Day 2: 19 March 2019

Next morning, back to the back seat, gazing through the highway NH19, and unlimited toll gates, heading over to the next stop for breakfast at the Hotel Highway Inn, tummy filling parathas and tea to start the day. One of India’s most beautifully maintained National Highways towards the sacred city of Mathura. Excitement level at its highest, to explore new culture, food, traditions, shopping, historical places and so much more.

Now comes one of the most adventurous part of our Trip! A Punctured Tyre. Well, there was nothing to worry much, since we had a stepney, but the case was different with us. Our driver wasn’t able to find a tool to remove the stepney from the car. (Fun Fact: He has driven only a sedan car till date, and wasn’t much aware of other cars,  that’s the trouble we got into). In the middle of Firozabad highway, where we wouldn’t be able to find a garage or a service center for miles. My Hubby walked almost 2 kms to find if there’s any repair shop, and fortunately he found one shop which did  the patch work and some small repairs. A little boy came with his cycle to take the punctured Tyre and get the patch done. At the meantime, Hubby checked on YouTube on any alternate ways to take off the stepney, and Voila! The tool was lying just there.  We fixed the Tyre and moved ahead to the repair shop to fill some air and pay their charges. Well, we also enjoyed a tad bit of it, we sat under the shade of a tree, beside a farm, tile factory, eating some fruits, listening to some stories from Papa (About Shabari), ate hot samosas, some truck drivers too came to help us. Overall it was a nice experience and YouTube to our rescue.

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The amazing Lassi’s

Next Stop, Agra. We stopped there for a while since it was lunch time already, and found a Dhaba on the way. Some yummilicious veg food, and lassi to keep us calm till we reached Mathura. One nice thing we saw on our way was carts of bangles of the same colours in Sikohabad. They were beautiful.

We arrived at Mathura. Since our Hotel was booked in Vrindavan which is around 14kms from Mathura, we still had to drive a little to get there. We passed by River Yamuna and finally reached our destination The Hotel Royal Bharti at around 3.30pm. One of the finest hotels in Vrindavan, again through Goibibo. We freshened up, dint laze around much, got a rickshaw (6 people can fit in one) from outside the hotel, since cars will not be allowed after a certain point during the occasion. Also its better not to risk it, since you’ll not be able to find parking, and there’s a fine for incorrect parking. You need to bargain with the rickshawwala’s as its their time to charge you double the normal amount. They can be your guides too. So as per his opinion, we visited the gorgeous PremMandir, by KripaluMaharaj. It’s certainly a Magnificent Temple in all its glory. Marbled Floors, 3D painted walls, bright and shiny Chandeliers, colours all around, praises to Radhe Krishna, huge crowd, nice energetic vibes, be careful about your belongings, pick pocketing at its highest. Sachins wallet was about to be stolen. People outside will put a RadheRadhe and other kinds of tattoo/ stamp of chandan probably on your face/forehead and ask for money, so you can totally avoid it, it looks nice to get one though.  We were right in time to get an enchanting Aarti of Radhe Krishna, we were mesmerized by the charming idols there. We went around the temple, clicked pictures (clicking pictures inside the temple isn’t allowed), wished people Happy Holi and decided to visit ISKCON Temple which is about 1km away from there. Yet again right in time for the Aarti. The idols looked as though they are in a verge of coming into life. Graceful. We danced for a while there for the tunes of the bhajans and dhols, collected Prasad, exchanged colors, they also have some shops to buy books and products. From there the rickshaw wala took us to have dinner at Bharti foods.

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ISKCON

Fun Fact: Monkey Mania – You can find a lot of monkeys around, and the rickshaw wala’s advise you not to wear your glasses/glares because monkeys take them off.

Also you may find some people, basically a family asking for money, since their bag got stolen and they are left with nothing. Not sure if it’s a scam, but we did help them.

We had some delicious veggie food and got back to our hotel. Straight to bed, after a long day.

Day 3: 20 March, 2019

Morning breakfast at the hotel, wide spread continental buffet. We asked the hotel guys for suggestions for some sight-seeing, they helped us with the opening and closing hours of places, etc. We called the same rickshaw guy, and asked him to take us to places which were open at that time in the morning. We visited ShriPriyakantJu Mandir, which is approx. 2kms from the hotel. It’s a beautiful white Lotus Shaped Temple.

Then our auto wala took us to  Shish Mandir (Mirror Temple), photography not allowed, more or less like a museum, it was nice to watch the pictures made out of glass pieces and mirrors. From there we moved on to Shri Rang JiMandir/ RangnathMandir, on the way there were people throwing colours at us, splashing water, our driver used to warn us to close our eyes when he spotted danger. Danger dint look this colourful before. The temple looked more like a South Indian one,  too many guides asking to hire them to take you around the temple. Its ok to take them if you are a history freak, otherwise its not worth it. Next to it was another temple – ShriGovindDevJiMandir, it’s a Majestic 16th Century Temple featuring a  red sandstone front. Too many homeless people begging for money at the entrance, unfortunately not so pleasing to see. We did our part of service, and spotted a lassi stall nearby. Next up on the list was BankeBihariMandir. This was the most awaited one and it was undoubtedly anelectrifying experience. There was a loooooooong Queue to enter the temple, small alleys filled with colours, we literally got drenched, no matter who it is, they just put gulaal on you. The inside of the temple was hazed with Gulaal, which blurred our vision to see the idols. Entering the temple was an awful experience, it felt as if there was a tsunami and people were running for their lives. We decided to take a step back and made our way out of the temple. Now came the chappal hunting task. Don’t make a mistake of wearing chappals to the temple, it’ll be almost lost or hidden in the pile. It was our Driver AbdeshBhaiya who managed to get us out of there. It was still a pain to reach the main road. Once we did, we shopped for topi’s (caps) and gulaal there. By now we were almost not recognizable.

Gokul

We waited for the auto guy to come to pick and take us to some other place from there, but he wasn’t quite sure if those places were open at that time. So we decided to head back to the hotel, freshen up and drive around in our car.

After a while we took the car and left to Gokul (25kms from our Hotel) as Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi opens only at 4, and we had ample time before that. We reached Gokul, wasn’t much crowded, the place looked like a setup from some ancient movie. Lanes and passages which took us to some small temples inside the house like structures. On the way we met our smallest guide – Laddu Sharma, he was only 10 years old and his father was a pandit in of the small temples there. He asked only for 10 rupees to take us around. He does this as a part time, and during holidays. The temple is situated on the banks of River Yamuna, there are many tiny temples within the alleys.

In some places they ask you to chant some verses, and rock Baby Krishna’s Cradle. The most nasty part was, the pandits there make us do things just to make money, like they tell you you’ll get a baby next year (not our choice), you’ll do very good in your career, and all extravagant things, but believe it or not, its upto you. If you really need to spend some penny, then drop it at the temple trusty and not to the pandits. Because the temples are not maintained well.

Laddu Sharma kept on telling this:

Gokulmaijohasa, uskagharbasa

(those who laugh in Gokul, will get settled in life)

Gokulmaijoroya, dononainakhoya

(those who cry in Gokul, will lose their eye sight)

We did laugh a lot after this. Once we got done with darshans in all temples, we went in search for some appetizing veg food. Found a place roadside, Hotel Gopalwhich served unlimited thali, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now it was almost time for Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi to open, we drove to that place.

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Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi

Once we reached there, we skipped the long queue for the tickets and hired a guide who took us from the back gate. Make sure to keep all your belongings (phones, gear watches, fitbit, cameras, hand bags except your wallet, any metals- jewelry which your wearing excluded, modern lock car keys, power banks, etc.) in your car, or in the cloak room, since they don’t allow anything to be taken inside the temple. There’s high security in the place. You can see a Masjid which was built by the Mughals, and there’s a prison next to it, it is said to be the place where Lord Krishna was born. After looking around the temple, we collected our things from the cloak room and came out looking for our driver. All were exhausted by now and wanted some time to relax. Hence we chose to go back to the hotel and rest for a while. After a nap, around 7pm we thought of going to PriyakantJuMandir once again, you can shop for Lord Krishna frames, prasad and other accessories outside the temple. After shopping we went in search of some famous Mathura Peda and also had to sort out our dinner. We checked for places in the highway and came across Kamini Family Dhaba and got some peda as well. Again the food was yum and very reasonable.

Back to hotel – slept off as we had to check-out the next morning.

To be continued….

Must Read: Shopping in Bhutan & Things you can buy

Yours Truly,

Queen Bee!!!

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