In the district of Mathura, there is located a sacred destination in Uttar Pradesh - Govardhan Parvat, a hill which is believed to be lifted by Lord Krishna on his finger. Every day, devotees from round the world come to this place to do the parikrama (circumambulation) of the hill. However, a large gathering can be witnessed on the pious occasions of Guru Purnima and Govardhan Puja. This entire parikrama is about 23 km which takes around 5-6 hours to complete. It starts from Manasi-Ganga Kund and while performing pilgrimage to Lord Harideva, the journey leads to Radha Kund Village where Vrindavan Road takes devotees to parikrama path. En route to this highly sacred pilgrimage in Uttar Pradesh, a number of important holy sites are covered; these include Radha Kund, Shyama Kund, Daan Ghati Mandir, Mukharvind, Kusuma Sarovar, Rinamochana, and Puchari. However, there is no fixed time limit to complete the parikrama.
Those who perform dandavata parikrama, it takes weeks and sometimes months to complete it. In dandavata parikrama, devotees offer their homage to the lord by lying flat on the ground(prostrate). One person marks the spot where the fingertips of the hands of the devotee touch the ground while lying. From the marked spot, the same process is repeated and likewise, the entire route of Goverdhan Parikrama is covered. There are some sadhus who perform 108 homages at only one spot, in this way, they do 108 dandavat parikramas.
The ritual of Govardhan Parikrama is considered even more sacred if it is performed with milk. In the ritual, devotees carry a pot with a hole at the bottom, which remains filled with the milk. The pot of milk is carried by the pilgrim, who perform the parikrama of the popular Hindu pilgrimage site of Govardhan Hill, in one hand. Along with that, another pot with incense smoke (dhoop) is also held by the devotee in another hand. Throughout this sacred journey of Govardhan Parvat, devotees are escorted by a person (who could be someone from his family) who ensure to fill up the pot with milk until the parikrama gets over.
The mythological importance of this entire pilgrimage dates back to the time when Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill on his little finger to protect the people of the region from the wrath of Lord Indra (the rain god). This entire incident made Govardhan a blessed hill, and hence, it is believed that one who circumambulate it, will be sanctified from all sins.
The parikrama can be performed round the year. However, the best time to do Govardhan Parikrama is the winter season. Unlike summer and monsoon, the winter season enjoys a pleasant weather condition which remains in favour of tourism. The season starts in the month of October and lasts until March.
Please Note: If you are planning to perform the parikrama in the winter season, it is advisable to start it early in the morning (if it is not a dandavata parikrama) so that, you can complete it before the sunset.