Radha Kund and Syama Kund
This is a very tranquil and peaceful place. Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider it to be the most holy place in the Braja area. There are two holy tanks here right next to each other. For years Radha Kund and Syama Kund were lost and no one knew exactly where they were located. When Sri Chaitanya came to Vrindavan in 1514, he rediscovered these two important kunds.
The story of Radha Kund is that a demon named Aristasura, in the body of a bull, was killed by Krishna. The gopis (cowherd girls) told Krishna that for killing a bull he had to purify himself by visiting every single holy place in the three worlds. Krishna then said, “Why should I visit all these places, I will just bring the water from all these places here and then bathe in them.” Krishna then struck his heel on the ground and all the waters of the holy places entered into Syama Kund. The gopis led by Radharani then dug another pond nearby with their bangles. Then a representative of all the sacred places told Radharani, “Our lives would be successful if we could enter your pond.” The holy waters from Syama Kund then flowed into Radha Kund with the permission of Radha. So Radha Kund is the holy waters from all the sacred places.
Raghunath Dasa Goswami
Raghunath Dasa Goswami first stayed at Radha Kund, the two kunds were only 4m by 4m in size. Raghunath Dasa Goswami and Jiva Goswami supervised the expansion of the kunds around 1554.
Radha Kund appeared at 12 midnight on Bahulastami, the eighth day (astami) of the waning moon in the month of Kartika (Oct/Nov). On that day thousands of people come and bathe at midnight in Radha Kund. It is an ecstatic and exciting event.
There are many people who will try to guide you around the area and give you things. If you take anything from them or talk to them, expect to pay something. Do not get angry, it will not help. Some of the guides that approach you are actually very good and know the area very well.
If you give charity to the children, you may attract an immediate crowd of twenty or thirty kids, who will not leave you alone. A good idea, if possible, is to not talk to anyone and not even acknowledge their existence. Any donations given at temples will be politely accepted. If you like to give donations to anyone else, it is advised to give as you are leaving.
The cheapest way to get to Radha Kund is to take a tempo (many) to the end of Chatikara Rd. From there you get another tempo to Radha Kund. There are several direct buses to Radha Kund that can be boarded at the bus stand or in front of the ISKCON temple.
You can get a motor rickshaw or a taxi (45-min) roundtrip, which includes a two-hour waiting time. From Vrindavan, the road to Radha Kund is bumpy, and a motor rickshaw can be uncomfortable.
There are fairly decent rooms at the Manoranjan Dharamshala.
Tour of Radha Kund
From where you arrive by taxi or bus you walk down the road toward Radha Kund. Just past the small hospital on the left is theRadha-Gokulananda Temple. As you continue walking to Radha Kund you come to the small white marble roadside temple of Sri Kundeswara Mahadeva on the left. This is just before you see Radha Kund on your right. There are four Lord Siva temples in the four directions, surrounding Radha Kund, which protect Radha Kund.
As you continue on this road, Radha Kund is on your right. Another 60m (200 ft) from the Sri Kundeswara Mahadeva Temple is a stone structure shaped like an upside down U on the right side. This marks the site of Radha’s and Krishna’s swing pastimes. If you walk up the small alley sloping up the hill to your left you come to the blackish pyramid-shaped Radha-Krishna Temple. This temple is the oldest temple in Radha Kund. Raghunath Dasa Goswami rediscovered the Radha-Krishna Deities in this temple when he excavated Radha Kund. There is a large neem tree and banyan tree entwined together in the courtyard of the temple, which are worshiped as Radha and Krishna. Next to this temple is a small ISKCON Temple, from which there is a good view of the kund from the roof.
You return to the parikrama path, turn left and walk 20 metres. The next road you see is the Govardhan parikrama path. Just after this junction on the left, is the red stone Gopala Manipur Mandir.
You then continue down the road 30 seconds and just pass the water taps, you come to theRadha-Gopinath Temple on the right. This temple is right next to Radha Kund. On the altar of this temple the Deity of Gopinath is in the center and on his right hand side is Srimati Radharani and on his left hand side is Ananga Manjari, the younger sister of Radharani. Some of the ashes of Raghunath Dasa Goswami are entombed in this temple, and there is 24-hour kirtan at this spot.
You then return to the parikrama path and continue down the path 15m. On your left is the red stone Mahadeva Siva Temple. Lord Mahadeva protects the northern side of Radha Kund.
Down a little is the Radha-Govinda Templeon the right. In the outer compound of this temple is the Tongue of Govardhan. Raghunath Dasa Goswami saw the need of a water source other than Radha Kund, so he decided to have a well dug. As the workers dug down, they struck a rock and blood flowed from it. That night in a dream it was revealed to Raghunath Goswami that the stone was the tongue of Govardhan and should be worshiped.
If you proceed to the left from the Radha-Govinda Temple entrance on the path toward Syama Kund and walk straight 20m you come to the Teen (Three) Goswamis’ Samadhis of Raghunath Bhatta (left side), Krishna Dasa Kaviraja (center), and Raghunath Dasa Gosvami (right side). Gopal Bhatta Gosvami’s bhajan kutir is 8m—to the right as you face the Teen Gosvamis’ Samadhis.
To the left of this samadhi is the bhajan kutir of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami. This is where he wrote the Chaitanya-caritamrita. The bhajan kutir of Raghunath Dasa Goswami is directly opposite Kaviraja Goswami’s bhajan kutir and down a few steps toward Syama Kund. At this place Raghunath Das Goswami would speak three hours a day about the pastimes of Sri Chaitanya. On the left side of the same building is the bhajan kutir of Sri Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura.
Also near here is where the Pandava treesmeditated on the bank of Syama Kund. When Raghunath Dasa Goswami was excavating Syama Kund, the Pandavas appeared to him in a dream. They told him not to cut the trees because they, the Pandavas, were living in that form meditating on the banks of Syama Kund. He therefore dug around the trees, giving Syama Kund its irregular shape. Local authorities say the Pandavas have left and only a dead tree marks the place of their previous residence. At Manas Pavan Ghat, Radharani and her girlfriends are said to bathe every day at noon.
You then come to the Jagannath Temple on the left. A little further down, on the left side of the road is Lalita Kund. Next to this kund is the Lalita Mohan Temple, where there are deities of Krishna and the gopi Lalita. Directly across the road from Lalita Kund is thebhajan kutir of Jiva Goswami and a small temple dedicated to Radha-Damodara. Jiva Goswami did much of the practical work of excavating and managing Radha Kund. Inside the kutir is the impression of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s footprints.
Just before the path bends to the right, 10m further on the left hand side is a small dirt path, which leads to the Bankhandi Mahadeva Siva Temple. This Siva Deity protects Radha Kund on the eastern side.
If you continue about 10m around Syama Kund you come to the place where Sri Chaitanya sat when he came to Radha and Syama Kund. This spot, called Tamal Tala(Mahaprabhu Baithaka, sitting place), is on a platform, on the bank of Syama Kund. Sri Chaitanya’s footprints are enshrined here.
About 20m further down the path is theManoranjan Dharamshala.
A little distance further, on the right, is theMadana Mohan Temple. Just past this temple are the stairs that lead to the path where Radha and Syama Kund meet. On this path, just past the mini-mountain of Govardhan-shilas, is a small open-air shrine honoring the lotus footprints of Radha-Syamasundara.