Kartik Braj Darshan with Vrindavan Today (Day 24): Ashta Sakhi Mandir

Every day shringaar itself takes around three hours. Some of the exquisite dresses used for the deities are more than a century old.

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Vrindavan, 2020-11-19 (VT):  The Shri Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Mandir, situated right opposite to Madanmohan Temple in Vrindavan is the only shrine dedicated to the ashta sakhis (eight friends) of Shri Radha. It was built in the year 1886 by the Maharaja of Hetampur (Bengal), Ramranjan Chakravarti and his wide Padmasundari.

It is one of the two places, the other being Nidhivan, where Shri Krishna indulges in the Ras Leela with Radha and Her sakhis. There are stories about people hearing the sounds of the anklets beating in tune to a divine melody here at night.

In the ‘garbha griha’ are the deities of Shri Krishna, Radha and the ashta sakhis - Lalita Sakhi, Champaklata Sakhi, Visakha Sakhi, Citra Sakhi, Tungvidya Sakhi, Indulekha Sakhi, Rangdevi Sakhi and Sudevi Sakhi. Of the eight, Lalita and Vishakha Sakhi are considered to be chief.

Worship at the temple is conducted in accordance with ancient traditions. Every day shringaar itself takes around three hours. Some of the exquisite dresses used for the deities are more than a century old.

Yet there was a time when the condition had worsened to an extent where it became difficult to maintain even the most basic of sevas such as bhog and shringaar, and eventually the temple had to be sold. A restoration effort using a combination of traditional craftsmanship, modern technology, and precious stones used in murals/inlays was carried out recently to give the shrine a more contemporary look. 

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