~~~ Weekend trip from Kolkata ~~~
Mayapur is a small village town in West Bengal, but this small of a place is widely known to the whole world. Mayapur is mostly known to the world tourist for being the capital hub of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). There are more than 800 temples of ISKCON all around the world, but it all started from this small unknown old village. As popular as this town is, millions of tourists all across the globe pay a visit to this temple every year whereas for locals it’s an anytime place. Be it a weekend, any festival, a holiday, winter excursions, or no reason at all, there are people from every corner of the world visiting this temple compound.
The main ISKCON temple of Mayapur is spread across a 100,000 square feet area, where the Temple of Vedic Planetarium is still under construction for quite some time, the temple ground has so much to keep it’s visitors occupied. It’s a small city inside the temple ground. Krishna Temple, Planetarium, a small museum in the memory of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, accommodations of few varieties, restaurant, ISKCON’s own Vedic school, resting place, so many food stalls, multipurpose store, little shopping area.. that does make it a small city right? Then there is a small town outside the temple ground, in that small town there are more old temples to visit, and there is a beautiful neat clean village to roam around if you wish. It’s a small town as I am repeating but there’s so much to do here and fall in love with this place.
If I start talking about this place.. I don’t think I can put an end to my words.. so let me try to keep it as informative as possible.
How to go?
From Kolkata: You have the option to go by train or by road.
By Train: Either you go to Krishna Nagar by train (Frequent trains are available from Sealdah railway station), from Krishnanagar you may get a private car, a local bus (for which you have to go to the bus stop) or many times a private tuk-tuk.
You may also take a train to Nabadwip station (which you have to take from Howrah Railway Station), from there, you may get a tuk-tuk, car to reach the temple. Also, at times there are direct buses available from ISKCON temple Kolkata to Mayapur.
BY Road: You may go Via Krishna Nagar to Mayapur by road.
Also, people living close to Nabadwip, Krishna Nagar (within 20-25 km surroundings), the easy thing for them is to go by car or Tuk Tuk.. My grandma’s house is close by and we can go anytime by tuk-tuk, the best part of going by tuk-tuk is you drive in between the raw beauty of the villages and this journey is always memorable and breathtaking.
What to do?
Small question but quite vast an answer can it be. The entire compound of the ISKCON temple is more than enough to spend an entire day inside. The Main temple is open for Arati 4 times a day (if not all 4, you shouldn’t miss the morning and evening Aarti), then there is a planetarium, where there are shows going on after 2 in the afternoon. A small museum on the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and PrabhuPad. There’s a cattle barn, which should not be a miss. There’s tuk-tuk available to roam around the compound, as it’s too big to walk around on scorching heat.
Otherwise, everyone is free to roam around the compound as and when they want. Apart from the temple compound, there are tours available to explore the town of Mayapur or making a small visit to the neighbouring town Nabadwip, which is also famous as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace. So all in all.. there’s a lot to do.
The tours are anytime available to book locally on arrival.
Inside the temple compound, there are various options available for staying purpose, starting from budget to moderate category. Ishodyan Bhavan is the best option for moderate accommodation, apart from that there are few other places to stay inside the compound. All these can be booked online on ISKCON’s website. There are few properties outside the temple compound as well, but they may not be suitable for everyone.
Honestly, as this place is very close to my Grandma’s place, for me making a visit to Mayapur is quite easy. But if you are making a trip from Kolkata or any faraway place, try to stay here for a night or 2. A day excursion can be in a hurry for people who are coming for the first time. a 1-night stay will help you to explore the entire temple compound and see the early morning and evening Aarati, which are something to look forward to.
If you stay 2 nights, then you get some time to explore the towns close by, which is again not a bad idea. So you can now figure out how many nights you need and why right?
I don’t have any fancy food story for you here. You will only get Vegetarian food in Mayapur. Simple, humble, Not so Spicy Vegetarian food. There’s a restaurant inside, Gauranga, which serves some variants than Indian food, but all Veg. In the afternoon there’s option to enjoy meals at various places. The cheapest meal available is for INR 35.00 per person (don’t worry, no quality is compromised here, it’s that you get less option, that’s it).
The highest meal Thali is served at Ishodyan Bhavan for 120.00 Rs. per person. You can eat anywhere you like. You can also buy Prasadam inside the shops like Khaja & different sweet snacks. As for option, there’s many, only everything is vegetarian. Simple!!