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Braj
Braj
(Devanagari: ब्रज), also known as Brij or Brijbhoomi, is a region in Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
of India, around Mathura-Vrindavan. Brij, though never a clearly defined political region in India, is very well demarcated culturally. The area stretches from Mathura, Jalesar, Agra, Hathras
Hathras
and Aligarh
Aligarh
right up to Etah, Mainpuri
Mainpuri
and Farrukhabad districts.[1] It is believed to be the land of Krishna
Krishna
and is derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word vraja. The main cities in the region are Mathura, Jalesar, Bharatpur, Agra, Hathras, Dholpur, Aligarh, Etawah, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj
Kasganj
and Firozabad.[2]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Area 3 Culture 4 Region and followers of Lord Krishna 5 Selection to the 2015 Word of the Day of the Year 6 Protection of the heritage 7 Tourism in Braj 8 See also 9 Further reading 10 References 11 External links

Etymology[edit] The term "Braj" means 'Pasture', and a settlement of herders and cattle breeders or Abode of Yadavs/Aheers or yaduvanshsthali[3] Area[edit]

Sculpture of woman from ancient Mathura
Mathura
ca. 2nd century AD.

Geographically and culturally Brajbhoomi is a part of the Ganges-Yamuna- Doab
Doab
(ganges valley and upper indus) region, which has had an extensive influence on the entirety of Indian Subcontinent culture. Brajbhoomi falls right in the middle of the Doab. The area was an important part of the Madhya-desha or Aryavarta or midlands. The region lies well within the golden triangle of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra. Covering an area of about 3,800 km2 today, Brajbhoomi can be divided into two distinct units: the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract which includes Gokul, Mahavan, Sadabad, Baldeo, Mat
Mat
and Manigarhi (Nauhjheel) Bajna; and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura
Mathura
region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana
Barsana
and Nandgaon. Contrary to the popular belief that Braj
Braj
is Mathura, Vrindavan
Vrindavan
and Goverdhan alone, this region comprises Mathura
Mathura
district of Uttar Pradesh, Kaman Tehsil of Bharatpur district of Rajasthan
Rajasthan
and Hodal, Hassanpur of Palwal district
Palwal district
of Haryana, and it spans 1300 villages. The land of Braj
Braj
starts from Kotban near Hodel (about 95 km from Delhi).[4] It covers Agra, Aligarh, Hathras, Bharatpur, Bareilly
Bareilly
and Dholpur; in broader terms Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, kasganj, Etawah and Gwalior, Morena, Bhind area are also part of Brajbhoomi or Braj Pradesh. Culture[edit] The residents or natives of Braj
Braj
are called Brijwasi. Braj bhasha or Brij bhasha, closely related to spoken Hindi
Hindi
with a soft accent, is spoken throughout the region. Braj
Braj
is famous for its sweets and Chaat. Pede from Mathura, Petha from Agra, Gajak from Aligarh,Soan Papri from Kasganj, maal puye from Nauhjheel, Soan halwa from Raya, chamcham from Iglas, Boora & Batasa from Hathras
Hathras
and Milkcake from Bajna are famous throughout India. Hathras
Hathras
is also known for its sindoor and heeng . Region and followers of Lord Krishna[edit]

Balarama
Balarama
and Krishna
Krishna
temple at Vrindavan

The region is closely related to the Hindu
Hindu
epic Mahabharata. Krishna is said to have spent his childhood and adolescence in Braj
Braj
and therefore, the region has an important status in Hinduism. Krishna
Krishna
performed his numerous popularly called lilas in the 137 sacred forests, at the 1000 Kunds, on the numerous holy hills and on the banks of the river Yamuna. In Srimad Bhagawat, he himself says to his foster father, Nandbaba that Braj
Braj
is a culture of forests and hills and not of city. Nowhere in the history of mankind, can one find such an emphasis on the harmony of human life with the environment. Thus, the Brajbhasa, the language of Braj
Braj
was the language of choice of the Bhakti
Bhakti
movement, or the neo-Vaishnavite religions, the central deity of which was Krishna. Therefore, most of the literature in this language pertains to Krishna
Krishna
and was composed in medieval times. Many international Hindu
Hindu
communities and disciplic successions established temples in the heart of Braj, the holy city of Vrindavan. Selection to the 2015 Word of the Day of the Year[edit] In May 2014, Braj
Braj
was added to the lexicon. As The 2014 word had already been selected, Braj
Braj
had an early selection for the 2015 Word of the Day of the Year. Protection of the heritage[edit]

Gate of Shet Lukhmeechund's Temple, a photo by Eugene Clutterbuck Impey, 1860's.

The vast heritage of the region is thought to be deteriorating. Out of the 1000 kunds which used to be the source of fresh and potable drinking water source and rain water harvesting, 90% of them have dried and silted up, and been encroached upon and reduced to sludge tanks. Out of the 137 forests, only 3 are left and the rest have been cut down. Out of the 27 picturesque ghats on the banks of river Yamuna, only one remains and rest have been encroached upon and smuggled out. Due to the wide scale illegal mining of Braj
Braj
hills, the heritage spots associated with Krishna
Krishna
are being lost. There is an overall destruction of the most culturally vibrant and heritage region of Vaishnavas, Hindus, Indians and all mankind. Efforts are being made by The Braj
Braj
Foundation, a voluntary organization towards the revival of the 5000-year-old holy region of Braj. The Braj
Braj
Foundation is dedicated to the all round development of Braj
Braj
– the culturally vibrant region lying in close vicinity to Taj Mahal and associated with the legend of Sri Radha-Krishna. The Foundation works directly on projects to restore Braj
Braj
as an idealistic rural society by conserving its 5000-year-old heritage and environment through planning, conservation, renovation and encouraging local community participation.The organisation is headed by Vineet Narain The current focus is on the restoration of 1000 ancient water retention tanks (kunds), revival of 48 important sacred groves, regeneration of around 18,000 acres (73 km²) of hilly terrain into lush-green pasture lands and forests and the resurrection of River Yamuna. Till now the foundation has restored 46 ancient water bodies and 1 sacred forest out of the 3 forests left in the entire region. A small group of dedicated professionals has achieved all this in a period of 10 years. The Foundation is making several interventions in areas like organic farming, dairy industry, rural education, health care etc. towards the realization of its broader mandate. Some Indians still carry the name of Brijen which is one way how the story of Krishna
Krishna
coming down to the Earth will be preserved in oral tradition. Tourism in Braj[edit] The tourism is fourth major source of income after Agro Business, Retail sector and IT sector in Braj
Braj
with Agra, Mathura
Mathura
being the tourist hotspots.

A panoramic view of the Taj Mahal, Agra

Major Tourist Attractions in Braj

Prem Mandir in Mathura 

Vrindavan
Vrindavan
Chandrodaya Mandir currently under construction would be the tallest Hindu
Hindu
temple in World 

Jai Gurudev Naam Yog Sadhna Mandir, Mathura 

Depiction of Vishram Ghat, Mathura
Mathura
in form of painting 

A panoramic view of the Fatehpur Sikri Palace, Agra

See also[edit]

Bhanwari Kaur

Further reading[edit]

Rupert Snell, The Hindi
Hindi
Classical Tradition: A Braj
Braj
Bhasa Reader. Includes grammar, readings and translations, and a good glossary. www.radhavallabhmandir.com

References[edit]

^ Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. p. 49. Retrieved 20 May 2015.  ^ Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. p. 46. Retrieved 20 May 2015.  ^ Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. p. 46. Retrieved 20 May 2015.  ^ http://www.roaddistance.in/uttar-pradesh/kotban-uttar-pradesh-to-delhi-distance/by-road/

External links[edit]

Brajdiscovery.org (in Hindi) http://www.up-tourism.com/destination/braj/braj_bhoomi.htm http://www.tourism-of-india.com/brajbhoomi.html Braj
Braj
Chaurasi Kos Yatra explained in detail The Braj
Braj
Foundation From the land of Braj: Centre of Krishna
Krishna
pilgrimage

v t e

Historical regions of North India

Ajmer Awadh Bagelkhand Bhojpur Braj Bundelkhand Delhi Doab Doaba Dhundhar Garhwal Gird Godwar Hadoti Jaisalmer Jangladesh Kumaon Magadha Mahakoshal Majha Malwa Malwa
Malwa
(Punjab) Marwar Mewar Mewat Mithila Nimar Purvanchal Rohilkhand Shek

.