Nathdwara is located in the Rajasmand district on the banks of the river Banas in Rajasthan. The air connection is from the Udaipur airport. It is 48 km from Udaipur and is connected by road and train to all the major cities in Rajasthan as well as from all over India. It is a very small town built only for the temple of ShreeNathji. Many times people just call the town as “ShreeNathji”. All roads lead to the Haveli of Shreeji; which is central in location. The word ‘Nath’ maens ‘the Lord’ and ‘Dwara’, which means ‘gate’. Thus, Nathdwara stands for the gate of The Great Lord.
The surroundings are very pretty and scenic and fills an unknown joy whenever I enter this boundary. It is surrounded by the Aravali hills. The place is also built to remind us of Mathura; the Banas river is known as Shree Yamunaji and the surrounding hills as Govardhan; which is the original home of our ShreeNathji. Before the arrival of Shreeji this place was known as ‘Sinhad’.
As we approach from Udaipur airport, about 2 km before the Haveli is Shreeji’s gaushala. As we pass this place our heads bow down in respect, as it is one of the most sacred and pavitra (pure) place in the entire world. (More about this place later).
Approaching the town I always feel the strong vibrations gripping me with an excitement; Shreeji’s Presence is very welcoming; it feels as if He is present there to welcome us to His town; acting like the perfect host. As soon as I enter deeper in bhao at times I hear this divine sweet child voice inside which echos from no where, “Tum log mujhse milne aaye ho, main tumhara dhyan to raakhunga na”. (“You’ll have come to meet me, how can I not be there to make your stay Divine”). This is the sweetest voice that could be ever heard; full of loving mischief and playfullness.
Shreeji’s town wears a white washed look. There are paintings on every house and wall; it is a very typical look that the entire town of Nathdwara adorns. The roads are all very narrow and ultimately lead one to the centre square, chowk where Shreeji’s Haveli is located. To be able to reach the Haveli is only on foot, as the cars have to be left at least 1\2 km away. The narrow lanes only allow scooters.
These lanes are full of small shops selling various items used by devotees for sewa in their own homes. It is a place very famous for silver artefacts and the tie and dye fabric so typical to Rajasthan.
Another very important shopping is for the paintings of ShreeNathji. Hundered’s of shops are there with every mood and dress of Shreeji; painted, for your choice. The karigars (artists) also use stones and pure gold paint to complete their Shreeji paintings. Another form of painting is called pichwai; which is an elaborate painting done on cloth depicting various past times of Thakurjee. The variety of different chavis is just amazing. I am always at a loss as to what I can take with me. No number of Shreeji chavi is enough; and I love to glance in every shop, trying to steal a look at my dear Shreeji in His various Forms and decorations.
I have been in the interior passages of the town and it would be extremely easy to get lost in them. They are like a maze something about them makes me feel extremely nostalgic. It is very, very romantic and mystic; the entire passages, the people and the aura of the town. The Presence of Shreeji is very strong in every little detail everywhere. The surroundings make sure you do not forget that this is Shreeji’s town and you are here to pay your respects to the “Parmatma”, residing here in the form of a very young child in all His innocence and mischief.
Though it is crowded all year through, during the special festivals and important days it gets flooded with devotees. There are several dharamshalas and small hotels; all well maintained. Food of all types is available in the bazar.
Tea stalls come up in the early mornings selling various fragrance teas; most famous is the pudina-mint flavour. Though we do not have tea before the Mangala (early morning) darshans there is usually a crowd at every tea stall of which there are easily 50 in number.