We had braved the morning queue to got ourselves Kachoris and Samosas at a snack shop with a tea stall. To those of you who haven’t been to Mathura or Vrindavan, it’s an extremely congested city with narrow roads where not many people like to follow the rules. I’ve been visiting since several years to meet some of my extended family members who live there. After the first few trips, I had stopped stepping out of their home to avoid the noise and clutter. But this time was different because I was on a special journey to explore this part of India through its doors.
After an unhealthy but delicious breakfast (isn’t taste always inversely proportional to health), we drove to Vishram ghat, on the banks of Yamuna. The temples on the ghat are of religious importance for the locals, pilgrims and are usually visited by tourists. We parked the car and decided to take a long boat ride. As our boatman drifted the wooden boat, I saw young boys diving in the waters, one after the other, each trying to jump higher than the rest. I saw priests praying alone or in groups. I saw people bathing, washing clothes and even throwing garbage in the river. While all this was going on, I continuously looked at ancient doors we were passing by, of wood and metal, all distinct but fitting in perfectly beside each other. Wouldn’t they have gotten bored of seeing the similar happenings every morning, or would they be amused by all kinds of people coming here!
As the sun shone on top of our heads, we left the ghats and moved towards ‘Bharatpur Rajaon ki Chhatri’, a place that is still a mystery to me. First of all, it’s hard to find and easy to overlook from outside. Thankfully, I was accompanying someone who had already been there. The wide gate opens to an ordinary path leading to a caretaker who sits there with a register to keep a record of visitors. Looking at that, I didn’t think there could be anything more to this place. We were asked to stay quiet and proceed towards the main compound which was once a crematorium for the kings of Bharatpur. No one imagined it to be as incredibly magnificent as this:
Going around these massive structures, we moved ahead and found a slope leading to a door that opens to a drastically different world. There was a bright white temple where an old priest was praying, birds chirping, peacock dancing and a few people quietly walking in the garden. They had come to meet a Yogi who says he hasn’t stepped out in the last 24 years. Mr. Shailendra Sharma calls this fascinating place, home and has built his personal residence deep inside, known as White house, that alone has 60 doors on the ground floor and another 48 on the first floor. We not only managed to get in there but also interviewed the man to know what’s behind all these doors, both inside his home and out in the crematorium compound. Watch here!
It was a remarkable experience and probably wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t a travel blogger. There’s plenty that’s hidden here, at least one story behind each door. To unearth them all, it will take a lot more journeys in this unique world, and I’m sure each would be different from the other.
You may want to know:
- It’s a bad idea to take a car in the lanes around Vishram ghat, or to any lanes in Mathura. Walk or cycle instead.
- The boat ride costed Rs. 150 per person (approx)
- Special permission may be needed to visit ‘Bharatpur Rajaon ki Chhatri’ unless you are there to be enlightened by the Yogi.
This blog post is a part of my Doors of India journey with Tata Pravesh.
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