Govinddevji temple

When you have approached almost the centre point of Jaleb Chowk take a right turn and go in through a small gate. This will lead you to the oldest part of the City Palace and the structure that Sawai Jai Singh wanted incorporated into the new city - the Govinddevji temple. This temple is dedicated to lord Krishna, Govind being one of the several names of lord Krishna and is undoubtedly the most popular temple in Jaipur.

There are tiny shops at the entrance of the temple where flowers and Indian sweets are available on sale for offering to the lord. The temple is open to all and there is no restriction if you want to offer flowers to the lord. As you approach the temple, be prepared to go barefeet to enter the main hall. If you want to keep your footwear on, then just turn to the left and walk on the periphery until you get on the front side and have darshan from a distance. Many people do so and it is not considered disrespectful.

There is an interesting story behind the temple's foundation.

It is a rare example of a flat roofed Hindu temple but that is because it was originally planned as a residence for Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. That is the reason why the structure of this temple is so unlike traditional temples that you may have seen elsewhere. A Hindu temple almost always has a spire, a dome that houses the idol of the god or goddess. This one has a baradari, an arched veranda that overlooks a beautifully laid out garden towards the south.

But Jai Singh never did get to stay here. After the structure was completed and Jai Singh was ready to move in, Govinddevji appeared to him in a dream and said that he wanted to reside in the place. Jai Singh immediately changed his plans and moved to Chandra Mahal. There are many temples in the country that have been built in the most unlikely of places and there seems no logical explanation as to their origin and if you try to study their history you will find that more often than not, they are the result of somebody's dream or vision. It is a perfectly acceptable reason.

The image of Govinddevji (lord Krishna) was brought from Vrindavan and installed here in 1735 as the guardian deity of Jaipur rulers. Then onwards, the maharaja always started his public speeches with 'subjects of Govinda Deva', which implied that they were humble servants of the all-mighty lord.

The temple has been restored recently and has all manner of decorative elements from gold work on the entire ceiling of the hall, glass chandeliers to murals on the walls.

It is always crowded as devotees sit here chanting bhajans (devotional songs) and wait patiently to offer prayers. There are several schedules fixed during the day when the lord is dressed in different costumes to show different stages of his daily routine. The timings for winter and summer differ and there are seven different darshans in a day. The first one is called Mangala and the final darshan is called Shayan after which the pat, or doors are closed and the lord rests for the night.

Special religious occasions are celebrated with great pomp and gusto. The best time to visit the temple is during the festival of Holi (March), Janamashtami (July-August) and Annakut, after Diwali (October-November).

Located close to the temple are the Jai Niwas Garden, Badal Mahal and Talkatora tank.

Govinddevji temple