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Nathdwara City

Nathdwara City | Shreeji Sharnam
Nathdwara

Nathdwara is a town in Rajasthan state of western India. It is located in the Aravalli hills, on the banks of the Banas River in Rajsamand District, 48 kilometers north-east of Udaipur. This town is famous for its temple of Krishna which houses the idol of Shrinathji, a 14th century, 7-year old "infant" incarnation of Krishna. The idol was originally worshipped at Mathura and was shifted in the 1672 from Govardhan hill, near Mathura along holy river Yamuna after being retained at Agra for almost six months, in order to protect it from anti-Hindu fanatic iconoclastic Islamic policies of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb’s. Literally, Nathdwara means ‘Gateway to Shrinathji’.
Nathdwara is a significant Vaishnavite shrine pertaining to the Pushti Marg or the Vallabh Sampradaya or the Shuddha Advaita founded by Vallabha Acharya, revered mainly by people of Gujarat and Rajasthan, among others. Vitthal Nathji, son of Vallabhacharya institutionalised the worship of Shrinathji at Nathdwara. Nathdwara town itself is popularly referred to as ‘Shrinathji’, after the presiding deity.
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Geography and Demographics

Nathdwara is located at 24.93°N 73.82°E. It has an average elevation of 585 metres (1919 ft). Located just 48 km north-east of Udaipur in Rajasthan, this town is easily reached by air, road or nearest rail-head. A steady stream of pilgrims has ensured a plentiful supply of transport and accommodation at Nathdwara. It is set amid idyllic hills. The temple town is also connected to nearest rail head Mavli Junction which is 28 km from Nathdwara.

As of the 2001 India census, Nathdwara had a population of 37,007. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Nathdwara has an average literacy rate of 73.0%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; male literacy is 80%, and female literacy is 65%. In Nathdwara, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age.


The Nathdwara Town

Nathdwara town is also famous as the Apollo of Mewar. In the town of Nathdwara, Shrinathji temple is the centre of attraction, but the town is also famous for its 'pichhwai' paintings, handmade terracottas, ivory articles and milk-made sweets. During the times of Holi, Diwali and Janmashtmi, people throng in large numbers and the place gets overcrowded. Apart from festivals like Holi and Janmashtmi, Annakutta (Linked to Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill) is a major festival that is celebrated in the temple with full gusto and fervor. Nathdwara is known for Pichwais (Large paintings on cloth depicting legends from the life of Lord Krishna ) and Haweli music (devotional music, akin to dhrupad singing with composition meant for various seasons, festivals and sections of the day).

Nathdwara has a small, but throbbing township around the temple. Its shopping in the by-lanes is a great revelation. It is famous for its 'Pichwai Paintings', with Krishna in the centre of various raas-lila (pictures depicting godly acts, instances and dances) and is recognized for profuse use of pure gold color.


Artists of Nathdwara

Nathdwara Artists are a group of artists working around the precincts of the famous Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan. They are renowned for splendid Rajasthani-style paintings, called "Pichwai Paintings", belonging to the Mewar School. The paintings revolve around the image of Shrinathji, the enigmatic black-faced figure of Krishna, who is shown holding up Mount Govardhan. Over the centuries, these artists have produced a work of gorgeous illustrations. Several authoritative books have been published on this subject.

Apart from Pichwai Paintings, the artists also produce small-scale paintings on paper. Themes from Krishna legend predominate. Mentioned under notable citizens are some of the famous artists who have won accolades/awards in the past.