An exploration of the less heralded pilgrimage spots in Braj
By: Hare Krishna Movement, Vrindavan
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Akrura was taking Krishna and Balaram from Vrindavan to Mathura on the order of Kamsa, they halted on the way on the banks of the Yamuna. While Krishna and Balaram rested under a tree there, Akrura went to take bath and had Darshan of Krishna and Balaram as Vishnu reclining on Ananta Shesha. The place where this pastime was enacted came to be known as Akrura Ghat. This pastime is described in the Krishna Book thus:
The Lord, accompanied by Akrura and Balarama, traveled in the chariot with great speed toward the bank of the Yamuna. Simply by taking a bath in the Yamuna, anyone can diminish the reactions of his sinful activities. Krishna and Balarama took Their baths in the river and washed Their faces. After drinking the transparent, crystal-clear water of the Yamuna, They took Their seats again on the chariot. The chariot was standing underneath the shade of big trees, and the two brothers sat down there. Akrura then took Their permission to also take a bath in the Yamuna. According to Vedic ritual, after taking a bath in a river, one should stand at least half submerged and murmur the Gayatri mantra. While he was standing in the river, Akrura suddenly saw Balarama and Krishna within the water.
He was surprised to see Them there because he was confident that They were sitting on the chariot. Confused, he immediately came out of the water and went to see where the boys were, and he was very much surprised to see that They were sitting on the chariot as before. When he saw Them on the chariot, he began to wonder whether he had mistakenly seen Them in the water. He therefore went back to the river. This time he saw not only Balarama and Krishna there but many of the demigods and all the Siddhas, Charanas and Gandharvas. They were all bowing down before the Lord. He also saw Lord Shesha Naga, with thousands of hoods.
Lord Shesha Naga was covered with bluish garments, and His necks were all white. The white necks of Shesha Naga appeared exactly like snowcapped mountains. On the coiled lap of Shesha Naga, Krishna was sitting very soberly, with four hands. His eyes were like the reddish petals of the lotus flower.
In other words, after returning to the Yamuna, Akrura saw Balarama turned into Shesha Naga and Krishna turned into Maha-Vishnu.” – Krishna Book, Chapter 39
Akrura Ghat is also the place where the residents of Vrindavan saw the Vaikuntha planets in the water of the Yamuna, as described in Chapter 28 of Krishna Book.
This place assumes significance from the fact that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made Akrura Ghat His headquarters as long as He was in Vrindavan when He came here from Varanasi. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also took bath in the Yamuna here and remained submerged in the water for a long time.
At Akrura Ghat is now a temple of Akrura with Krishna and Balarama. Opposite the altar is a deity of a surabhi cow and next to it is the lotus footprint of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
A little to the right of the altar is an old banyan tree, which is said to be where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rested. There is a Pancha mukhi Hanuman temple here (Hanuman with five faces).
To reach here, one goes along the road from Vrindavan to Mathura till one reaches Vatsalya Gram on one’s right. Here one turns left onto a narrow asphalted road opposite Vatsalya Gram. After a few hundred meters, one can see the Akrura Ghat temple on one’s right after passing through a small village. Around this temple is nothing much except agricultural fields. The Yamuna has now moved away by about 1km from Akrura Ghat.