Exploring Mayapur: The Hidden Gem Of West Bengal

Mayapur is the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Largely centred on this Vaishnava religious tradition, it has temples dedicated to Radha and Krishna
Chandrodaya Mandir in ISKCON Campus, Mayapur
Chandrodaya Mandir in ISKCON Campus, MayapurPinaki/WikiCommons

Mayapur is famed for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's dham, Nabadwip, which is located at the confluence of the rivers Hooghly and Jalangi in Nadia district. Devotees from all over the world travel to this hallowed land to see the Mayapur Chandrodaya Temple of ISKCON, which also serves as the organisation's headquarters. It is one among the world's most visited spiritual sites.

Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, ISKCON Mayapur
Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, ISKCON MayapurWikimedia Commons

The Roots

The Mayapur-Nabadwip-Krishnagar circuit in Nadia district, located north of Kolkata, is noted for its Vaishnava tradition. The famed Vaishnava guru Chaitanya was born in Mayapur and commemorated by a shrine. Today, however, Mayapur is better known as the headquarters of the global organisation International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which was founded in 1966 by Srila Prabhupada.

Once a small village on the bank of the Ganga, Mayapur shot to global fame as the headquarters of ISKCON, a Vaishnav institution founded by Srila Prabhupada in the 1970s.

It is believed that the famous 15th-century Vaishnav scholar and preacher Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur. Several temples exist in and around the town, including Yogapith or Chaitanya's birthplace.

Bhajan Kutir inside ISKCON Mayapur
Bhajan Kutir inside ISKCON MayapurWikimedia Commons

What To Do And See

Although one can visit Mayapur (located on the bank of the Ganga) on a day trip from Kolkata, a night stay at the ISKCON complex allows one to explore the complex at leisure.

The Radha Madhav temple complex, the artistically styled Srila Prabhupadas Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, museum galleries, gift stores, and so on are among the main attractions. Contact Mayapur Tourism (www.mayapur.com) for boating and other activities.

Check out the Pushpa Samadhi Temple, built in memory of the founder, before attending the evening at the Chandrodaya Temple. The sanctum sanctorum is divided into two halls. In one resides the presiding deities of Radha Madhav and their sakhi (eight companions). The gaily attired idols and their companions adorned with ornaments and floral offerings look magnificent.

Around Mayapur

You can take a ferry to Nabadwip, a Gaudiya Vaishnava learning centre on the other side of the river. And make a stop in Krishnagar (around 25 kilometres ahead of Mayapur). A former royal kingdom, it is now the headquarters of Nadia district and a commercial area near the India-Bangladesh border. Visit the famous clay modellers colony at Ghurni and buy some souvenirs from the workshops' sales counter.

Caitanya Bhavan restaurant inside ISKCON Mayapur
Caitanya Bhavan restaurant inside ISKCON MayapurWikimedia Commons

The Information

Where to Stay

In Mayapur, stay in ISKCON guest houses. Their complex offers several dining options. Prasadam is available in the Gada Bhavan and the Sulabh Prasdam halls. The Govindas restaurant here is open from 7.30 am to 9 pm and serves excellent vegetarian dishes, fresh fruit juice, and sweets.

How To Get There

From Kolkata's Howrah Junction Railway Station, take a train to Nabadwip Dham. Then, take a taxi from the Nabadwip Dham train station to Mayapur (about 30 kilometres away). The nearest airport is in Kolkata.

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