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Nathdwara is a city in Rajasthan state of western India. It is located in the Aravalli hills, on the banks of the Banas River in Rajsamand District, and 48km north of Udaipur. This holy town is famous for its temple of Krishna which houses the Shrinathji, a 12th century "infant" incarnation idol (murti) of Krishna.
Nathdwara has a small but throbbing township around the temple dedicated to Lord Shrinathji (Shri Krishna). It is one the main religious places for Hindus of Pushti Marg Vaishnavs. Life in this town revolves around the Haveli, the term used for all the temples of the Pushtimarg Vaishnavism, probably because this temple was situated in a small fortress i.e. Haveli, once a royal palace of the Sisodia Rajput rulers of Mewar when it was shifted here from Mathura, to protect it from obvious danger it was in during the time of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb's campaign against Hindu worship in his empire.
Nathdwara weather is of an extreme type. The climate of Nathdwara experiences hot summers. The average temperature in the summer season falls in the range of 42.2° C (max) to 27.3° C (min). The climatic conditions of Nathdwara, Rajasthan in the winter season are on the colder side. The average temperature is somewhere around 27.0° C (max) to 9.7° C (min). The monsoon season experiences high humidity and scanty rainfall, around 31 cm. The best time to visit Nathdwara is during the period of September to February.
One can reach Nathdwara by road, rail or air. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways & Kingfisher Airlines services are available till Udaipur which is 50 KMS from Shreenathji. Taxi & Bus services are available from Udaipur to reach Nathdwara
The best advice for any visitors wishing to walk around the small town. Much of the town spends its time around the Haveli or Temple area which lends itself beautifully to walking.
There are a number of places to see in Nathdwara however, the temple is the key attraction to the pilgrims thronging to this small city, especially during key festivals and weekends.
Srinath Ji Temple
Shrinathji was brought to Mewar, Rajasthan during the reign of the Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb, for the sake of protection from widespread destruction of Hindu temples. The chariot carrying the image is said to have become stuck in Mewar while traveling, and hence a temple was established with the permission of the then Rana of Mewar at Nathdwara.
According to local worshipers, the Srinathji deity is believed to have originally self manifested from stone and emerged from the Govardhan Hill. Shrinathji was originally worshipped in a humble shrine and then moved to a larger temple on top of the Govardhan Hill. Vallabhacharya made arrangements for the worship of this deity, and this tradition was continued by his son, Vitthalnathji. It is believed that Taj Bibi, a wife of the Emperor Akbar, had visited this temple. It was during the 17th century that this image was shifted to Rajasthan
The structure of this temple is simple, but the aesthetic appeal of this temple is ceaseless. The image of Shrinathji is worth seeing and feeling the celestial beauty of the God. Lord Shrinathji symbolizes a form of Lord Krishna, when he lifted the 'Govardhana' (a hill). In the image, the lord is revealed with his left hand raised and the right is bunged in a fist. The idol is carved out of a large black stone. Images of two cows, a snake, a lion, two peacocks and a parrot by the god's head are imprinted on the idol.
The temple authorities have not less than 500 cows and amongst them; one is regarded as Shrinathji's cow. It is considered that this cow has come from the pedigree that served the lord for centuries. Earlier, wagon-loads of food used to come here, which were said to be consigned by and consigned to Shrinathji. The holy shrine of Shrinathji is famous all over Rajasthan and India. People of Vaishnava community come in large numbers to visit this holy pilgrimage.
Darshan opens eight times a day and the devotees are expected to keep track of the timings. Every darshan is called by different names like Mangala (early morning), Gwal, Utthapan etc. The Lord looks different in every darshan and the Rajbhog darshan taking place around noon is the most important and sought after. During any major hindu festival it is common to see enormous crowds packing the entire town and the temple complex.
Photography and mobile phones are strictly prohibited in the temple premises
The main attractions are the Aartis and the Shringar, i.e. the dressing and beautifying of the idol of Lord, treating it as a person, adorning it with best appropriate dresses for the time of day / night. The intricately woven shaneels and silk clothe have original zari and embroidery work done upon them, along with tonnes of real precious jewels. The formal prayers are offered with diya, incense sticks, flowers, fruit and other offerings, with local instruments and devotional songs of the Lord Shrinathji, according to the demand of the time and occasion. The view of the idol, called jhakhi, after the ‘‘parda’’ (curtain) is removed is a spectacular sight, that is simply mesmerizing, leading to a melee (gully) of visitors crowding to have a glimpse (jhakhi) of divine Lord. The mystic, spirited aura of India comes alive.
Nathdwara has a small but throbbing township around the temple. Its shopping in the bylanes is a great revelation. It is famous for its 'Pichwai Paintings', with Shri Krishna in the centre of various raas-lila (pictures depicting godly acts, instances & dances) and is recognized for profuse use of pure gold color.
Devotees also prefer to buy specially made frames of Shri Nath ji, depicting various practices of dressing and rituals of the Lord for prayers at their house, made by local artists, as photographs of the idol are strictly prohibited.
Apart from the temple complex, Nathdwara is famous for its ‘Name on the Rice’ stalls. The city is flooded with artists – some sitting on the street, some on benches and others in shops – promising to paint your name on a grain of rice. “Although it may look simple, it is extremely difficult to paint a person’s name on rice. But now we are used to it,” shares Ramnaresh Tripathi, who is carrying forward his ancestral art of writing names on the rice grains.
It may seem strange, but eating is a past time in Nathdwara. Roadside food stalls famous for their yummy, scrumptious and delicious on-the-street food are flooded with people in between darshan timings. Nathdwara is known for its Khaman (a crushed mixture of yellow dhokla’s) , Kand (fried yam), Jalebi and Phaphda (a kind of farsan). Even mouth fresheners, mukhwas and all sorts of Jeera Golis are widely available. Piping hot masala tea, served to customers in earthen pots is also a speciality of Nathdwara.
The Thandai made of pure milk and dry fruits is a very famous drink available at Chowppaty. Also one can enjoy kasmiri soda late evening. There is a famous shikanji wala who is jovial in nature. Must drink!
If you are looking out for Budget accommodations then there are lot of dharamshalas run by Nathdwara Mandir Mandal. Rates per room will range from 20 rupees to 50 rupees per day. However you will need to pay extra for bedding and hot water if you need it. (5-10 rupees for Bedding and 5-10 rupees per bucket of hot water). Non vegetarian food, smoking and drinking are strictly prohibited in these dharamshalas.
This is not a well known destination for its accommodation options but few pilgrims stay here. The hotels that are available tend to be near the temple area, although the town itself does have a couple of good quality bed and breakfast options (but vegeterian).
Official website of nathdwara temple http://www.nathdwaratemple.org