The Padma Purana says that when the Lord descends to enact His pastimes, He is accompanied by His associates as also the actual land where the pastimes are performed. The entire land of Vraja Mandala descended from the spiritual world. After finishing His pastimes, Krishna left behind this holy land for His devotees to draw inspiration.
Vraja Mandala descended along with the Govardhana Hill on which Krishna performed many of His childhood pastimes. As the Lord lifted it with His hands, it is considered non-different from Him. This pastime of Krishna is so enjoyable to His devotees, that He is also called Giridhari – one who holds a mountain.
According to Garga-samhita, Govardhana Hill was cursed by Pulastya Muni, a powerful mystic and one of the sons of Lord Brahma. The curse was that with each passing day, Govardhana would reduce by the size of one mustard seed. Accordingly Govardhana Hill, which was initially two yojanas tall, has been reducing in size. The scriptures say that as long as the Govardhana Hill and river Yamuna are present, there will be God consciousness. On the day they disappear, in about ten thousand years from now, effects of Kali-yuga will start in earnest and religion will vanish.
Parikrama of Govardhana Hill:
The Govardhana Hill is in the shape of a peacock. Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda are the eyes, Dan Ghati is its long neck, Mukharavinda is the mouth and Punchari is its back and tail feathers. Govardhana hill takes on the shape of a peacock that curves its neck and puts its head under its stomach.
According to the curse of Pulastya Muni, it is reducing in size daily. In the Satya Yuga, Pulastya Muni approached Dronachala, the king of the mountains, and asked him for his son Govardhana. Dronachala was depressed and pleaded the sage that he was unable to bear the separation from his son. Govardhana went with the sage, with the understanding that wherever the sage would put him down, he would remain there.
Pulastya Muni took Govardhana and started for his ashrama. When passing through Vraja Mandala he put Govardhana down to answer the call of nature. On returning he found that he couldn’t move Govardhana. Becoming angry he cursed Govardhana to shrink by the size of a mustard seed daily. At that time Govardhana was 115 km long, 72 km wide and 29 km high. Now the hill is only 80 feet tall at its highest point.
Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhana Hill with the little finger of His left hand, and gave shelter to the Vrajavasis under that huge hill from a rain storm created by Lord Indra. The parikrama (going around the hill) is a sacred service performed by many devotees. It is approximately a 24-mile route. Govardhana is on the edge of a large tank – Manasi Ganga. Nearby is the famous red sandstone temple of Haridev and the Kusum Sarovar.
The parikrama begins with a bath in the Manasi Ganga, followed by the darshan of Harideva, Manasi Devi and Brahma Kunda.
Circumambulation of the Govardhana Hill starts from this point. There are eleven main silas on the Govardhana parikrama – bhuma sila, sindura sila, etc. If someone commits a sin then he should pay obeisance to Sri Giriraja over here.
Rinamochana Kunda is near the Govardhana power station. If one bathes in this kunda they are freed from all vices. There are several important places in the vicinity of Govardhana Hill. It is said that anyone who bathes in the nearby Papamochana Kunda, has all his sins removed.
In the Dvapara Yuga, Sri Krishna convinced the cowherd men to worship Govardhana, instead of doing a sacrifice to please Lord Indra, who is in charge of the rain. His reasons for discouraging the sacrificial ceremony to please Lord Indra were twofold. First, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita there was no need to worship the demigods for any material advancement. Secondly, whatever temporary result one derives is actually granted by the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This act of stopping his puja angered Lord Indra and in return he sent torrents of rain upon Vrindavan. The residents approached Lord Krishna for help.
Seeing the residents suffering in the heavy downpour, Sri Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill and held it over the residents like a giant umbrella. Seeing the extraordinary mystic power of Krishna, Indra was thunderstruck and immediately called for all the clouds and asked them to desist. He then worshipped Lord Krishna.
As Lord Krishna is worshipped, His land Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill also are worshipped. In all the temples of Vrindavana huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and distributed. According to the Vedic scriptures, Giri Govardhana is greater than even the transcendental kingdom of Vaikuntha, the eternal abode of Lord Vishnu.
Sri Giriraja's sacred tongue at Radha Kunda
While circumambulating Radha Kunda – Shyama Kunda, one can have darshana of Sri Giriraja's tongue.
At Radha Kunda – Shyama Kunda, one can also have darshana of the Pandavas and the Narayana tree. This is also the site where Radha Krishna enjoyed Their jhulan pastimes. There is a Kadamba tree whose branches are in the shape of a Mridanga. Close by are the ponds of the ashtha-sakhis. At this spot one can have darshana of the lotus feet of Giriraja.
Sri Giriraja's mouth at Manasi Ganga
On the banks of the Manasi Ganga is a temple of Sri Giriraja, who appeared in the shape of a mukuta. One should bathe Sri Giriraja with milk and offer bhoga. One can attain highest fruits in life by circumambulating Sri Giriraja and by drinking the waters of the Manasi Ganga.
The reason for it to be called Manasi Ganga
Sri Krishna killed the demon Vatsasura. His friends told Him that He had killed a cow and He would have to bathe in the Ganges to purify Himself. So Krishna mentally (manasa) produced the Ganges to bathe in it. Hence it is called Manasi Ganga. Sri Giriraja is submerged in the water at the Manasi Ganga.
During Diwali thousands of devotees float candle-lights in the waters of the Manasi Ganga. There is a great importance of having bath in the Manasi Ganga on Diwali.
Sri Govindadeva is one the four vyuhas who was incarnated with Srinathaji for His pastimes. In the Sarasvata Kalpa, Indra had performed the Govindabhisheka of Sri Krishna at this place.
Krishna once had a bath with all the Vrajabhaktas in this kunda. Srimati Radha was to the left while Chandravalli was to the right of Krishna along with their groups. While bathing, the hands of Radha and Krishna got separated and so they could not bathe fully with the Vrajavasis.
Dhoka Dauji – Lord Balarama's place
Sri Balarama used to hide and watch the divine sports of his younger brother, Krishna from this place. This is also the place where Krishna took rest in the afternoon while grazing cows.
Once Balarama fell unconscious after seeing the Rasa lila here. At that time his mukuta and stick fell on Giriraja. Sri Giriraja is so delicate that the marks of the mukuta and stick became etched on him.