Vrindavan, 2017.10.17 (VT): The Govind Dev Temple is one of the most important and historic temples of Vrindavan. Built entirely of red sandstone with an absolutely unique design, it is one of the most precious treasures of this country. The temple is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but unfortunately, the temple is in danger of being destroyed as the ASI’s rules are continuously flouted by local residents without any consequences from the government.
The Govind Dev temple is located on a small, low hill called Gomatila. But besides the temple, there are also a number of privately-owned homes on the hill. From their simple beginnings, these homes have grown into multi-storey buildings over the years, obstructing the view of the temple from the road almost completely. Not only that, but many of the homes have installed basements by hauling out large amounts of earth from Gomatila, thus putting the temple’s very foundation in danger. All this activity is in direct violation of the ASI’s rules regarding protected monuments, however nothing is being done to stop it.
Social activist Mahant Madhumangal Sharan Shukla has expressed deep anguish over the matter and sought protection for the temple through a letter, which has been sent to the Director General of the Indian Archaeology Department in New Delhi and to the head of the Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority.
In his letter, Shukla emphasized the historical importance of the Govinda Dev temple. Before Govind Dev was transferred to Jaipur to protect him from Aurangzeb’s raids, Govind Dev was known as the King of Vrindavan. His temple was built with special permission of the pre-Aurangzeb Mughal government, and thus was allowed to be made with the same red sandstone as official government buildings.
Shukla says that the temple was constructed in such a way that the first rays of the morning sun would fall at Govind Dev’s lotus feet, offering pranam to him. And when first rays of the moon on Sharad Purnima caressed his lotus face, only then would the night’s festivities begin throughout Vrindavan. The temple’s beauty has been highlighted by many native and foreign scholars describing Braj culture.
In his letter, Shukla goes on to say that he has been interacting with the Central Government and UNESCO for the last ten years trying to obtain World Heritage status for the Govind Dev Temple. But unfortunately, due to corruption, apathy and the ineffectiveness of survey officers, the temple’s ethos is continuously being violated.
Shukla closed his letter by saying that if strict action is not immediately taken, then he will be forced to pursue the matter in the Allahabad High Court to protect the temple’s sacred heritage.
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