The sixteenth stop on Braja Mandal Parikrama is Nandagaon. Most parikrama groups stop at Nandagaon for 2-3 days in order to visit the many important places of Shri Krishna’s childhood pastimes.
Upon arriving in Nandagaon, many devotees first take snan in Pavan Sarovar. Twenty acres of land was allocated as a reserve and rest area for pilgrims here, however, farmers have encroached on this land. Despite the importance of Pavan Sarovar as a pilgrimage and resting place, there are no public amenities here.
It is said that Pavan Sarovar was made by Pavan Gopa, the father of Vishakha Sakhi. Shri Krishna and the gopas would lead their cows to drink here in the evenings and would swim and play in the water. Local tradition is to take snan or sprinkle water on oneself here for purification before heading up the hill to the Nandababa temple.
At Pavan Sarovar, devotees also take darshan of Shrila Sanatan Goswami’s Bhajan kutir, as this kund is one of many places in Braj where Sanatan Goswami stayed to meditate on the pastimes of the lord.
Another of Nandagaon’s famous kunds is Yashoda kund. This kund reminds devotees of Krishna and Balaram’s sweet childhood pastimes. Yashoda Ma used to bring the children to this kund to bathe. On the Western bank is a statue of Hau Bilau. Yashoda Ma used to tell the boys that if they don’t come immediately when she calls them, a demon called Hau Bilau will catch them.
← Statue of Hau Bilau at Yashoda Kunda
Nandgaon local, Suresh Chand, said that many of Nandagaon’s 50 kunds have disappeared and the ones that are left have shrunk in size. He said that the authorities should act to preserve the remaining kunds as these serve as an important water source and resting place for devotees at the hottest time of day, when the temples are closed.
Gupta Kunda →
From Nandagaon’s kunds we can trace the activities of Shri Krishna and the gopis. Many kunds are the meeting places of Krishna and the gopis – Shri Krishna would see the gopis at Panihari Kund when they came to collect water and Radha and Krishna would meet secretly at Gupta Kund.
Next to Gupta kund is Vrinda kund, a kund dedicated to the worship of Vrinda Devi (Tulsi), who is in charge of arranging meetings and pastimes of Radha and Krishna.
The kund is well maintained by ISKCON. Madhava Baba, an activist who organized for the preservation of many of Braj’s pilgrimage places, entrusted this area to ISKCON in 1990, in honour of Shrila Prabhupada’s efforts to introduce the worship of Tulsi-devi to people around the globe.
Ancient deities at Vrinda Kund
One of the most popular and mysterious kunds of Nandagaon is Moti Kund. It is said that the pilu trees at this kund bear white fruit resembling pearls and locals collect these ‘pearls’ for good luck.
‘Pearls’ found on the trees near Moti kund
According to the katha associated with Moti Kund,
Krishna planted pearls here and irrigated them every day with milk. The pearls began to sprout after a few days, and lush, green plants emerged. A few days later, those plants bore fruit; and as these fruits ripened, radiant and splendid divine pearls began to manifest.
When Radhika and her sakhis heard that Shri Krishna had planted pearls and reaped a huge crop, they asked Him for some. However, Krishna flatly refused, telling them, “When I requested some milk from you to irrigate my pearls, you refused to give me any. Now I will decorate my cows with ornaments made from these pearls, but I will not give any to you.”
Vexed, the gopis stole pearls from their own homes, dug a field and planted them. Although they irrigated the field with cow-milk for many days, the pearls did not sprout pearl plants – only thorny bushes that were completely devoid of fruit emerged from the soil.
The disappointed gopis returned to Krishna and narrated the whole story to Him. Krishna smiled and said, “Come, I want to see your pearl field myself.” Krishna went there and uprooted all the thorny plants. He planted His own ripened pearls and irrigated the field with cow-milk. Within a few days, these pearls sprouted and also bore pearls, filling the gopi’s hearts with joy.