Nathdwara: The City of Lord Krishna

Located in Rajasthan, at a distance of 48 km from Udaipur on the Aravalli hills in the Rajsamand district is the lively town of Nathdwara. Nathdwara is a significant Vaishnavite shrine associated with the Pushti Marg, the Vallabh Sampradaya, or the Shuddha Advaita founded by Vallabha Acharya, and is primarily revered by the people of Gujarat and Rajasthan.(1)

 

Nathdwara: The City of Lord Krishna
 

History

The city of Nathdwara is famous for being the residence of Lord Shrinathji, who is considered the “swaroop” or incarnation of infant Lord Krishna. The name Nathdwara literally translates to, “Gateway to Shrinathji (God)”.  The establishment of the shrine happened in the 17th century. Initially. Lord Shrinathji's image was revered in Vrindavan, but it needed to be shielded from Aurangzeb's destructive rage and fury. The story that follows is that, in 1672, Rana Raj Singh was the only gallant, who made an effort to rescue the idol from the domain of Aurangzeb. It is said that when the image was being shifted to an impervious location, the vehicle's wheel sank deep into the mud. Because the image refused to move, the escorting priest deduced that this was the Lord's chosen location. As a result, a temple was built on the same site called Nathdwara.(2) 

 

Nathdwara: History and Culture

 

Geography & Demography

Geographically, Extreme weather is typical of Nathdwara. The summers are scorching in Nathdwara because of its climate. The maximum temperature during the summer months is 42.2 °C, while the minimum is 27.3 °C (min). In the winter, Nathdwara, Rajasthan, experiences a cooler than average climate. The typical temperature ranges from approximately 27.0° C (max) to 9.7° C. (min). The monsoon season is characterised by extreme humidity and little rain, 31 cm on average. It is accessible through air, rail, and road. The closest air base to the area is the Maharana Pratap Airport, also known as the Dabok Airport in Udaipur. The Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is a short drive from Nathdwara.(3)


There were 37,007 people living in Nathdwara as of the 2001 India Census. The population is made up of 52% men and 48% women. Male literacy is 80% and female literacy is 65% in Nathdwara, which has an average literacy rate of 73.0%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. 13% of Nathdwara's residents are under the age of six.(4) 

 

People of Nathdwara

 

Art 

Nathdwara paintings are divided into sub-styles, the most prominent of which are Pichhwai paintings. Pichwai is derived from the Sanskrit words 'Pich' (back) and 'Wais' (hanging). These are fabric paintings that are hanging behind an image of the Hindu deity Shrinathji of Nathdwara. The Nathdwara school of painting is a subgroup of the Mewar school and is regarded as an influential school in 17th and 18th century miniature paintings. As prominent sites of miniature manufacturing, Mewar painting sub-styles include Udaigarh, Devgarh, and Nathdwara.(5)

Nathdwara is a melting pot of styles since painters from this school travelled from regions reflecting many Rajasthani painting traditions. Traditional practitioners were also influenced by nineteenth-century academic realism, portrait painting, and the emergence of photography. Nathadwara painters are often from one of three castes: Gauds, Jangids, and Purbia. Gauds and Jangids are Brahmins who are thought to have moved from Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaipur. At times, they have refuted the allegation and stated that they were initially carpenters (according to R.N. Mehta). Purbias claim to have moved from Delhi and Alwar and were chosen by the patron based on caste rather than skill. Elite clientele were assigned to Brahmin-lineage painters. (6)

 

Artists at Nathdwara

The import and arrival of European objects, the printing press, and photography all had an impact on the quality of traditional art throughout the nineteenth century. As a result, Krishna Leela paintings in Nathdwara become a mix of traditional and modern aesthetics. Portraits in Manoratha paintings have a near exact resemblance. Actual images of donors/devotees were sometimes put on these artworks. The Pichhvais used in Nathdwara haveli now date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because many of the prominent painters are either dead or are not replaced by temple officials, very few are replaced and very few are added. floral motifs to entice secular customers and connoisseurs. (7)



Things to Do

Apart from being an extremely famous temple town, Nathdwara is praised for its wealth of ethnic handicrafts and is known as a haven of art and artefacts. “Meena work” is regarded as the most admirable type of art in Nathdwara's 2000-year-old artwork business. The city is renowned for its vibrant terracotta goods and outstanding paintings in the Rajasthani style known as "Pichwai Paintings."(8) The majority of works created in this genre use Shrinathji as a representation of Krishna and make reference to the story of him holding Govardhan Hill on his little finger. Since every Pichwai painting is seen as a seva, or an offering to the deity, Shrinathji is personified in them as a prince with diamonds and extravagances who is accompanied by gopis and milkmaids.(9) 

 

Things to Do: Nathdwara

 

Over the past few years, the city of Nathdwara has seen an influx of researchers, history buffs, temple lovers and spiritual seekers. This small town is a vibrant place to learn about India’s history and it should definitely be on your travel list! 

 

Politics and Development

In recent years, Nathdwara has been home to some major changes to its city. It now houses the, “The Statue of Belief”, a 351-foot-tall (107-metre) Shiva statue is the tallest in the globe and the fifth largest in the world. This is the second Indian statue on the list, following the one of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Gujarat.(10) The hope for Nathdwara in the coming year is to convert it into a major tourist hub. The Statue of Belief acts to its roster of attractions which includes the beautiful Nathdwara Haveli housing, Shrinathji. The town is also a part of a 20-year plan to promote Sustainable Tourism in the state of Rajasthan. As listed by the Department of Tourism, it forms part of the Mewar Circuit, which includes cities and towns such as Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh. There has been a major creation of luxury hotels and restaurants in  these areas especially Udaipur city (6.6 Lakhs) followed by Nathdwara (3.2 Lakhs). Domestic visitor traffic has increased by more than 7% in Nathdwara, which has become a popular destination for domestic pilgrims visiting the famed temple devoted to Lord Krishna.(11) 

 

Politics and Development: Nathdwara

 

Apart from this, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has authorised a proposal from the Department of Autonomous Government to connect Mount Abu, Pushkar, Nathdwara, and Pilani under Tranche-2 of Phase-4 of the Rajasthan Secondary Towns Development Sector Project (RSTDSP). The plan is for Rs 80 crore to be spent on drinking water delivery, road strengthening, and the rehabilitation of two ponds in Nathdwara city. In addition, tourist development, urban beautification, and other development work will be carried out in the cities of Mount Abu, Pushkar, and Pilani at a cost of Rs. 25 crores.(12)


With things opening up and life returning to normal post- COVID we can expect a major boom to the town in the coming years from domestic and foreign travels. But only time shall tell how much this push in tourism shall benefit the city. 






Citations 


  1. Udaipur.org.uk. n.d. Nathdwara Temple- Shrinathji Temple Nathdwara, Shrinathji Temple Nathdwara Rajasthan, Shrinathji Temple India. [online] Available at: <http://www.udaipur.org.uk/temples/nathdwara-temple.html>. 

En.wikipedia.org. n.d. Nathdwara - Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathdwara>. 

  1. Udaipur.org.uk. n.d. Nathdwara Temple- Shrinathji Temple Nathdwara, Shrinathji Temple Nathdwara Rajasthan, Shrinathji Temple India. [online] Available at: <http://www.udaipur.org.uk/temples/nathdwara-temple.html>.
    Astroved Astropedia. n.d. Shrinathji Temple. [online] Available at: <https://www.astroved.com/astropedia/en/temples/north-india/shrinathji-temple>. 
  2. Native Planet- Explore Your World. n.d. Nathdwara- The Land Of The Little Lord. [online] Available at: <https://www.nativeplanet.com/nathdwara/#weekend-getaways>.
    Wikitravel. n.d. Nathdwara. [online] Available at: <https://wikitravel.org/en/Nathdwara>. 
  3. En.wikipedia.org. n.d. Nathdwara - Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathdwara>. 
  4. Chandrashekhar, Mala. “Nathdwara Pichwai Paintings of Rajasthan – The Cultural Heritage of India.” Nathdwara Pichwai paintings of Rajasthan – The Cultural Heritage of India, June 3, 2020. https://cultureandheritage.org/2022/09/nathdwara-paintings-of-rajasthan.html
  5. Josh, Sandeep . “Nathdwara Paintings: Shrinathji Cult, Haveli Traditions and Bazaars | Sahapedia.” Sahapedia, June 2017. https://www.sahapedia.org/nathdwara-paintings-shrinathji-cult-haveli-traditions-and-bazaars
  6. Josh, Sandeep . “Nathdwara Paintings: Shrinathji Cult, Haveli Traditions and Bazaars | Sahapedia.” Sahapedia, June 2017. https://www.sahapedia.org/nathdwara-paintings-shrinathji-cult-haveli-traditions-and-bazaars
  7. Rajasthan Direct. n.d. Nathdwara Tourism Nathdwara Travel Guide | Why Visit Nathdwara Rajasthan. [online] Available at: <https://www.rajasthandirect.com/tourism/nathdwara>. 
  8. Astroved Astropedia. n.d. Shrinathji Temple. [online] Available at: <https://www.astroved.com/astropedia/en/temples/north-india/shrinathji-temple>. 
  9. Pandey, Kalpana. “Nathdwara’s Shiva Statue – A Religious Milestone or Another Indulgence &ndash; MeMeraki.Com.” MeMeraki.com, September 18, 2022. https://www.memeraki.com/blogs/news/nathdwara-shiva-statue-a-religious-milestone-or-another-indulgence
  10. A.F. Ferguson & Co. “20 Year Perspective Place for Sustainable Tourism in Rajasthan,” April 2020. https://tourism.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020-04/rajasthan.pdf
  11. Drishti IAS. “Connecting Mount Abu, Pushkar, Nathdwara and Pilani in RUIDP,” October 14, 2021. https://www.drishtiias.com/state-pcs-current-affairs/connecting-mount-abu-pushkar-nathdwara-and-pilani-in-ruidp

References

2 comments

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