In Vrindavan, on the holy Krishna Janmabhoomi, lies the temple that is a “must visit” destination for devotees completing the 84 kosh Vraj Parikrama Yatra. The temple is centuries old and is the first Indian temple that is dedicated to the divine couple and their Ashta Sakhi’s - the eight “friends” of Radha who were intimately involved in her love play with the Lord Krishna. Mention of the Ashta Sakhis are found in the ancient texts of Ramayan and the Srimad Bhagvat.
The temple is called – Shree Radha Ras Behari Ashta Sakhi Mandir and it is home to the divine Ras Leela of Lord Krishna and Radharani. It is located in close proximity to the Banke Behari mandir.
Legend has it that the Shree Radha Ras Behari Ashta Sakhi Mandir is one of the two places in Mathura, Vrindavan where the Lord Krishna actually indulges in the Ras Leela with his beloved Radha and her sakhis. On these nights, devotees have reported hearing the sound of the anklets, beating in tune to a divine melody.
Where the aesthetic meets the divine - A visual feast
The temple has been recently restored and modernised with exemplary attention to detail. The stone work and the carvings have been handled by skilled, traditional craftsmen some of whom are descended from the master carvers and sculptors who worked on the famed Taj Mahal!
Semi precious stones * (hyperlink to the list of semi precious stones and materials used.) imported from all corners of the world are used in inlay as well as in the murals depicting signal events in the colourful life of Lord Krishna. Alongside this traditional craftsmanship is modern fibre optic technology, used tastefully to heighten the impact and create an atmosphere of serenity and piety. The entire lavish decor and displays flow from the playful and feisty nature of Lord Krishna - the lover of beauty.
The Sanctum Sanctorum
The divine figurines of Shree Krishna, Radha and the Eight Sakhis are the epitome of allure and beauty. The deity is always dressed in resplendent attire that is changed every day of the year. The wardrobe of the diety and the Ashta Sakhi’s include antique dresses that date back to over a hundred years! The attire and makeup of Shree Krishna, Radha and the eight Sakhis are a daily ritual that takes over three hours a day – before the commencement of the poojas.
The Poojas at the temple are conducted in keeping with ancient tradition and represent a combination of piety and divine exaltation.
Shree Krishna is depicted here as the feisty and passionate dark lord. Each of the eight sakhi’s depict their innate character and their bhavas as per tradition.
The Ashta Sakhis
Of the eight sakhis, two – i.e Lalita and Vishaka are considered to be the leaders. All the sakhi’s have a single mission – to serve Radha and they are her foremost friends and companions.
The eight sakhi’s are: