The large Braj Mandal area is situated south of New Delhi and it spread over an area of around 3,800 square kilometers bound by a periphery known traditionally and historically as 84 Kos, spanning Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, Bharatpur district in Rajasthan and Hodal Subdivision of Palwal Dist. of Haryana. The Braj-mandal area has had a deep impact on Indian culture, heritage and tradition, owning to it being the setting for Lord Krishna’s birth, childhood and adlosence years, as enumerated among anothers in the Indian Epic Mahabharata, Vishnu Mahapurana and Srmad Bhagavatam Mahapurana.
There are very many places of cultural, religious and heritage significance scattered all over the large region of Braja. It is estimated that around 50 million pilgrims and tourists visit Braj annually, which come to pay their obeisances in the various Temples, Kunds and Groves of Braj.
punya bata vraja-bhuvo yad ayam nr-linga
gudhah purana-purusho vana-citra-malyah
gah palayan saha-balah kvanayams ca venum
“How pious are the tracts of land in braja, for there the primeval Personality of Godhead, disguising Himself with human traits, wanders about, enacting His many pastimes! Adorned with wonderfully variegated forest garlands, He whose feet are worshiped by Lord Siva and goddess Rama vibrates His flute as He tends the cows in the company of Balaram”. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.44.13)
vrajanti gavah yasminnati vrajah – “The land where the cows cowherd men, cowherd boys and cowherd girls wander is known as Vraja”.
The places where Nanda Baba dwelt and moved around with his cows, calves, family and associates are called Braja. Braja particularly denotes the land of the supreme person Vrajendra nandan Sri Krishna’s pastimes.
Braj-Vrindavan is such an extraordinary and astonishing sacred abode. In this Vrindavan, the sweet splendor of spring, the queen of all seasons, is ever present, and a green velvety carpet covers the surface of the Earth. Lotuses of all different colours bloom in the ponds and rivers, and the branches of the trees are well decorated with fully bloomed campa, cameli, beli, juhi, and other fragrant flowers, whose nectar is relished by the intoxicated bees. The entire atmosphere is pervaded with transcendental bliss and the intoxication of youth. These combine to create a kingdom of ever-increasing joy that captivates the body and mind.
Playing sweetly on His flute,, Vrajendra-Nandana Sri Krishna roams throughout this land of Vraja along with His elder brother, Balaram, and Their innumerable cowherd boy friends and cows. This land of Vraja is blessed; where the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma, dwells in the form of a mountain range in Varsana, in order to have the dust of the Divine Couple Sri Radha Krishna’s lotus feet on his head; where the maintainer, Lord Vishnu, has assumed the forms of Govardhan hill and Vishnu-parvata; where the moon-crested Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) has taken up residence as Nandisvara hill in Nandagram; and where Uddhava, the best of Sri Hari’s servants, lives as a blade of grass, a small shrub and a creeper on the banks of Kusum Sarovar.
Here In Braja, the supreme Lord Sri Krishna becomes the calves and relishes the tender and delicious grass. Here the young girls of Braja go to wells and other water sources each day with the pretext of filling their water-pots, but in fact they only go to fill the pots of their hearts with trascendental love for Sri Krishna.
pragudicyam bahirsado, daksinasyam yadoh purat – pascimayat sonitapuran, mathuram mandalam viduh
“That land between Bahirsad (Barhada) in the north-east, Yadupura (the village Batesvara of Surasena) in the south and Sonitpura (Sonhada) in the west, and which measures eighty-four kosas, has been called Mathura-mandala or Vraja-mandala by learned persons”. (Garga samhita. Khanda 2)
Bara (Barhada) is situated in the present district of Aligarh in the north-east corner of Vraja-mandala. Sonhada lies in the present district of Gurgaon in the state of Haryana, which is the north-west corner of Braja-mandala. Its ancient name is Sonitpura. The village of Surasena is the village of Batesvara in the revenue district of Baha.The area between these places is called Braja-mandala.
In the eighty-four kosas (about 168 miles) of Braja-mandala, there are forty-eight different forests (vanas), which includes upavanas (sub-forests), prativanas and adhivanas.
Quite well defined, culturally, even though not so geographically, Braj Bhumi, is spread over a area of around 5,000 square kilometers bound by a periphery known traditionally and historically as 84 Kos spanning Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, Bharatpur district in Rajasthan and Hodal Subdivision of Palwal Dist. of Haryana. On its northern fringe, Braj Bhoomi starts at a distance of around 115 KMs from the political border of India’s capital New Delhi, along the National Highway 2.
According to the Padma Purana, there are twelve principal forests situated east and west of the Yamuna.
Western side of the Yamuna
East side of the Yamuna
Upavanas (mentioned on the Varaha Purana):
Prativanas (mentioned on the Bhavisya Purana)
- Nandapreksana Krishnavana
Adhivanas (mentioned on the Vishnu Purana)