Vrindavan, 2016.06.12 (VT): Various websites such as Trip Advisor keep track of the most popular destinations for travelers. In Vrindavan, it is now clear that the top three most popular temples for visitors are (1) Prema Mandir, (2) Banke Bihari, and (3) ISKCON’s Krishna-Balaram temple.
Amidst the many temples dedicated to Krishna in Braj, the newly built Prema Mandira is seen as “a wonder in marble” that adds substantially to Braj Bhoomi’s glorious legacy. Established by spiritual guru Kripalu Maharaj, the Prem Mandir took about eleven years and an investment of Rs 150 crores to be completed. Thousands of craftsmen worked to make it a reality.
For most visitors, the light show, in which the white marble of the temple is bathed in gradually changing colors, is the most impressive feature, if we are to judge by the large numbers of homemade videos posted on YouTube.
Both the interior and exterior of the temple have Krishna’s stories sculpted in bas-relief images. There are also many sculpted scenes or dioramas of Krishna’s lilas like the lifting of Govardhan and the Rasa Lila that lie amidst various fountain displays and flowered gardens. Visitors to the temple are generally very impressed by the monument, calling it “an absolute visual delight” and a “dreamlike environment” for devotees to connect with God.
From Naresh Segal at Ghumakkar.com shares more information:
Prem Mandir is situated in Raman Reti in the holy land of Shri Vrindavan; the divine abode of Shri Radha Krishana’s loving pastimes. This temple is an outstanding monument in terms of its unique architecture beauty and grandeur. It is adjacent to the ISKCON temple and on the Chhatikara Road. A few important facts regarding the temple are listed below.
- The foundation was laid on 14th January 2001.
- It was inaugurated on 17th February 2012, Holi Purnima.
- Temple situated on 12 acre of land. The whole complex including residences, hospital and a stadium, is on 54 acres.
- Well-arranged gardens, fountains and dioramas.
- The combined efforts of approximately 1000 artisans and thousands of labourers who worked tirelessly for 11 years to complete this temple.
- Constructed of 30,000 tons of Italian karara marble.
- 125 feet high, 122 feet long and 115 feet wide.
- Majestically standing on 150 artistically carved pillars.
- Decorated with 9 beautifully engraved domes.
- Resplendent with 17 golden coloured pitchers (kalash) and a grand flag mast at the top.
- Built on the basis of Nagaradi architecture.
When you enter the temple premises through the beautifully engraved entrance door, one beholds the exquisite beauty of the grand temple, the beautiful gardens and the lively dioramas, all of which give extreme mental peace to the beholder.
The spotlessly white marbled Prem Mandir is like a pearl in the center of the spacious temple premises. All the entrance doors of the temple are beautifully carved. The pillars are engraved with beautiful statues of Kinkari Sakhis and Manjari Sakhis serving Shri Radha Krishna in various ways. The entire temple is brightly lit with attractive chandeliers. All the doors and windows are also beautifully engraved. The floor and the walls are decorated with colourful semi-precious stones, depicting floral vines with flowers and buds. The engravings on the main sanctum and its ceiling are extraordinarily attractive and eye-catching. The inner walls of the temple are inlaid with semi-precious stones and selected verses extracted from Prem Ras Madira and Radha Govind Geet, both written by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj.
First Floor- Shri Sita Ram
The sanctum on the first floor has beautiful deities of Janaknandini Shri SIta Ji and Dashrathnandan Shri Ramchandra Ji along with their foremost devotee, Shri Hanuman Ji. On the same floor one beholds some important pastimes from the life of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu as well. The grand statue of the previous original Jagadgurus and the Rasik Saints of Braj are also displayed here. Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj reconciles and honors the philosophies of the previous original Jagadgurus and has paid homage to them by establishing their statues in Prem Mandir.
Second Floor- Shri Radha Krishna
The ground floor has the beautiful deities of Vrishbhanunandini Shri Radharani and Nandanandan Shri Krishna, along with the eight Mahasakhis, their dearest associates. The doors of the sanctum are made of pure sandalwood. On both sides of the sanctum doors, couplets are inlaid using semi-precious stones. On the same floor is a beautifully statue of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj and the beautiful statue of the distinguished speakers of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Shri Sukhdev Paramhans. The inner walls of the temple depict the various pastimes of Shri Radha and Krishna. The two staircases on either side of the ground floor of the temple, leading to the first floor are decorated with artistically carved pillars, engraved with beautifully peacocks.
The circumambulation route, which is 40 feet wide, begins from the main entrance of the temple. This route consists of beautifully engraved pillars, 8 latticed windows, 48 panels displayed on the ground floor and 32 panels displayed on the first floor. In all these 80 panels, the different pastimes of Shri Krishna as described in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana have been chronologically displayed in three dimensional formats.
Prem Mandir is a monument of God’s love. Prem Mandir is a like a magnet that attracts the heart and mind of every sincere spiritual seeker and everyone who desires to experience the love of God. It has revealed, rejuvenated and firmly established the true form of devotion, and gives guidelines and devotional material for spiritual aspirants for all time to come.
Kripalu Trayodashi, a profound and concise overview of all Hindu philosophy in only thirteen verses, composed by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj, is displayed just next to the main shrine. 84 scenes of Radha Krishna lilas are carved into the outer walls. In the surrounding beautiful gardens there are fountains and scenes of Radha Krishna in Jhulan Leela, Govardhan Leela, Kaliya Naag Leela and more that are treasures for rupa-dhyana.
A massive dome shaped sadhana hall is being constructed so that thousands of devotees can do their devotion together.
In Prem Mandir, you don’t just hear the word “Prem”, you learn the philosophy of what “Prem” is and have the chance to actually experience it. The latest statistics from Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat facebook page show that the visitor count is approaching 1 million per month (823,870 in July 2013 alone).
The amazing thing is that Prem Mandir complex is so huge that you never feel crowded and there are no queues. When you enter the Prem Mandir monument, you feel like it is just you there, alone with Radha Krishna or Sita Ram. Prem Mandir has been built under the auspices of Jagadguru Kripalu Prishat (JKP). JKP is an international, nonprofit, spiritual, educational, social and charitable organization. It was founded by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj .
Shri Maharaj Ji was honored with the title of Jagadguru by Kashi Vidvat Parishat, the distinguished and exclusive organisation of 500 Vedic scholars, in the holy city of Kashi, on January 14, 1957. This title of Jagadguru was last granted more than 700 years ago. In the last five thousand years, only four other saints have been acknowledged as original Jagadgurus — Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Shri Ramanujacharya, Jagadguru Shri Nimbarkaracharya and Jagadguru Shri Madhvacharya. This prestigious title is only awarded to a divine personality who possesses complete theoretical knowledge of all scriptures as well as a practical experience of God, and who brings about a spiritual revolution in the world. Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj is the fifth original Jagadguru of this age.
(All the information about the Prem Mandir has been taken from the book printed by the JKP. Pictures by Naresh Segal.)