Baldeo is 20 km south-east of Mathura and 8.5 km south-east of Mahavan on the road to Sadabad. It derives its name from the famous temple dedicated to Balram, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. It was built by Shyam Das of Delhi 200 years ago. The main image in the sanctum is that of Baldeo or Balram with his spouse Revati, Near by is the brick lined tank, the Kshir Sagar or Balbhadra Kund, from where the original image housed in the temple was found.
Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu pilgrimage, Govardhan is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is about 8 km in length. The young Lord Krishna is said to have held Giriraj up on the tip of a finger for 7 days and nights to shield the people of Braj from the deluge of rain sent down by Lord Indra.
Govardhan is set along the edge of a large masonry tank known as the Mansi Ganga, which is believed to have been brought into existence by the operation of the divine will. Its enclosures were built by Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer in 1637 and embellished by Raja Man Singh, who built a long flight of steps leading up, from the end of the tank. Close by is the famous red sandstone temple of Haridev and the Kusum Sarovar with exquisitely carved chhatris - the cenotaphs of the members of the royal family of Bharatpur, who perished whilst fighting against the British in 1825. Towards the south is the beautiful chhatri of Raja Surajmal of Bharatpur. Fine fresces - illuminating the life of Surajmal, vividly depict darbar and hunting scenes, royal processions and wars.
Where to stay
Tourist Bungalow, Radha Kund
Barsana, 50 km to the north-west of Mathura and 19 km north-west of Govardhan, is situated at the foot of a hill that is named after Brahma. Barsana was once the home of Radha-Rani, Krishna's beloved and consort.
Temples dedicated to the divine couple ornament the four elevations of the hill. The chief among them is the Radha-Rani Temple, more fondly referred to as the Ladliji Temple. The most beautiful temple at Barsana, it was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo of Orchha in 1675. The new marble temple adjoining it is a later addition. The other three shrines are the Man Mandir, Drgah and Mor-Kutir temples. The are between the hill housing the Radha-Rani Temple and the adjoining one, is known as the Sankari-Khor. This is the venue of the annual fair held in the month of Bhadon (July-August).
The birth anniversary of Radha-Rani is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (July-August) as the Mor-Kutir Temple which was built about 300 years ago. Women celebrate the occasion by giving laddus to the peacocks - to symbolise the serving of sweets by Radha to Lord Krishna.
Most of the monuments and edifices here have deteriorated with the advent of time. Still a few tanks do survive and can be seen, including the Prem Sarovar, Roop Sagar, Jal Mahal and the Bhanokhar Tank.
Barsana is also famous for its `Lathmar' Holi - celebrations of the festival of colour that are unique to this town.
Where to stay
Tourist Bungalow, Barsana
Nandgaon lies 8.5 km north of Barsana on the metalled road to Mathura (56 km). According to tradition, it was the home of Shri Krishna's foster father, Nand. On the top of the hill is the spacious temple of Nand Rai, built by the Jat ruler Roop Singh. The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gopinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan, and Yasodha Nandan which is located half way up the hill. A little beyond is the Pan Sarovar, a large lake with masonry ghats along its sides. Legend has it, that this was the place where Shri Krishna used to take his cows for water. Not far away is the Kadamb grove called Udhoji - ka - Kyar.
Just 5 km north of Govardhan and 26 km west of Mathura, Radhakund is a large lake, where Shri Krishna is said to have killed Arishta - the bull demon. To commemorate this event, every year on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Kartik (Oct./Nov.), a large fair is held at this spot.