Riding smoothly from Delhi on the Yamuna Expressway, it took us only three hours to reach Govardhan, which lies just beyond the land known as ‘Braj Bhumi’. I felt a certain peace ascend as we entered and not just because it’s quieter, compared to its neighbour, the pilgrim town of Mathura. Somehow the resonance of silence is deeper here.
We arrived at the Shri Radha Brij Vasundhara Resort and Spa in time for a delicious, homey lunch of arhar dal, palak aloo and paneer bhurji. Then we settled into our cottage to rest. The place is green, quiet, well-planned and feels quite unlike a ‘hotel’. The cottages, placed at a reasonable distance from each other, ensure privacy. I mentally estimated the ratio of green versus construction at 85 : 15, and was pleased to have my guess confirmed by the management later.
Having already explored Mathura and Vrindavan on an earlier visit, this time our interests lay elsewhere. The quaint town of Govardhan is located right in the centre of Braj Bhumi, with Mathura and Vrindavan both only 30 minutes away and Barsana, Nandgaon and Daoji all a quarter of an hour’s distance.
Refreshed after a nap, we decided to visit Barsana. This is where Radha is said to have spent her childhood, youth and time with her beloved Krishna. Located about 20km from the resort, Barsana is famous for its Holi celebrations, known as ‘Lath Mar Holi’. We visited the Shriji temple and Man Mandir and soaked in the quiet piety. We also visited Mor Kutir, where Krishna and Radha danced as a peacock and peahen, respectively. Also, Sankari Khor, a narrow passageway at the junction of the Brahma and Vishnu hills. We retired in the evening after a bowlful of wonderful thukpa and noodles.
Next morning began early with prayers at the beautiful in-house temple, which echoed with chants and hymns. After this we tagged along with Director Operations of the resort, Deepak Sethi, for his morning walk around Radha Kund, an area popular with Westerners who come and stay for months at a time. It’s a 3-4km circuit, which takes you through small lanes past old houses (one so old that the fifth generation of a family still lives there); hundreds of shrines, big and small, all dedicated to Radha; snack shops selling local delicacies, kachoris and samosas; roadside stalls purveying sindoor, fresh flowers and tulsi malas of every size, which cost from a few hundred rupees up to ten thousand. We saw a few women and men making them, and watched them awhile at their intricate task. We stopped to pray at the point where Radha Kund and Shyam Kund meet, where the mythological Radha and Krishna are said to have met. On the way back we visited an ashram where hundreds of widows were singing bhajans. It took us three hours to explore the space; Seth says that even three days might be too little to explore it fully.
Back at the resort we tucked into a dhokla and chhole bhature brunch and then explored the resort. Located at the feet of Govardhan Parvat and en route to the famous Parikrama of Govardhan Parvat, the Shri Radha Brij Vasundhara Resort and Spa offers cottages complete with designer décor, each equipped with microwave, refrigerator, LCD TV and, of course, air-conditioning. There’s a choice of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and duplex cottages. The campus also has landscaped gardens, fountains, a club house, a gym with the latest machines, a yoga and meditation centre, an indoor swimming pool, a spa and sauna.
We were told that an aerial view of the resort would show that it has been planned like a tree. As we sat in a golf cart and went around with Tanya Agrawal, the young director of the resort, she explained the concept behind the design. The tree is, of course, revered in all religions, as it is the basis of existence of life on earth—a source of oxygen, fuel, food and shelter. The entrance, and pathway that follows, resemble the trunk of a tree. Each ‘branch’ along the trunk guides you to a cluster of cottages and a waterbody, with each cluster named after an Indian river. The well-planned clusters offer both privacy and accessibility: no cottage is too far from the club house or the restaurant. Or, of course, there’s room service!
Evening saw us explore Govardhan, and relive the story oft heard during childhood about how Krishna held aloft the Giriraj mountain on his little finger for six days to protect the Brajwasis from Indra’s anger. We then visited the ancient Shrinathji temple on top of a hill, which took some climbing.
Back at the resort, I headed for the beautiful spa and indulged in their signature therapy—the candle massage—as well as the aroma head massage, both of which left me feeling light, relaxed and clear-headed. The skilled therapist expertly knotted out all the aches and pains of the last two days of sightseeing. If the resort was any nearer home, she would have seen a lot more of me.
After that we simply ordered some food in the room and slept soundly, soaking in the peace that staying in Braj Bhumi had given us. The next morning, after tucking into kachoris—made the way they are only in this part of the country—and aloo bhaji, we left for Delhi. I miss the music and peace of the silence I’m sure I heard.
Where: Shri Radha Brij Vasundhara Resort and Spa, Aanyor, Parikrama Marg, Goverdhan 281501, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. 160km from Delhi by road
Accommodation: 60 cottages
Tariff: One-bedroom cottage: ₹4,500; one-bedroom suite: ₹5,500; two-bedroom cottage: ₹6,500. The tariff includes breakfast as well
Contact: +91-8191082226, shriradhabrijvasundhara.co