The Vrishbhanu and Kirti kund along with Jal Mahal are associated with the past times of Shri Radha Rani, the conjugal partner of Lord Krishna. It is said that her father Raja Vrishbhanu who was the king of Vrishbhanu Pur built this Kund for bathing of his family. RadhaRani used to come here every morning for her bath, along with her friends and mother etc. Ancient structures disappeared in course of time.
However the present structures were built by the local Jat ruler in the 13th century. Many new structures were subsequently added to the complex by Rup Ram, in the early 18th century. He constructed 3 cenotaphs and a temple in the complex. He also restored the tank.
A pillar describing it’s history exists at the site and is the only piece listed by ASI as the protected monument.
The Jal Mahal was lying in dilapidate condition with no floors or ceiling, broken chattris and encroachers living in it’s various parts. Locals used this historic building restored the kund with grant from UP Govt But no substantial work was done except fixing a railing on it’s ghats. The most fundamental thing as de-silting was not even attempted. Jal Mahal remained untouched.
Inspired by the Shri Ramesh Babaji of Barsana one NRI tried to restore this kund in 2003 but as he started the work he got angry with the sadhus of maangarh and withdrew from this work. At this staged the CEO of the Braj Foundation approached his friends in the Parliament of India and convinced three of them to allot 25 lakhs from their development fund to restore this kund. The money came to the Distric magistrate Mathura and restoration was then done by the govt. agencies. Founder trustee of Braj Foundation Mr Rishikesh Mafatlal also gave financial support for this work.
Earth movers dug the 90x95 meter kund for over 10 feet till the sources of sub soil were opened up. The fertile silt thus recovered was taken free by the poor farmers of Barsana because it is considered to be very fertile.
After that the ghats were repaired and jal mahal was totally restored and painted. At this stage the Braj Foundation also started annual Barsana Mahotsav to popularize this historic site. The Mahotsav was instant hit with the local people, tourists, saints and many VIPs including Union Cabinet Ministers came to see this.
When the spot started attracting attention of the media and people out of blue one local lawyer appeared on the scene and claimed that major part of the land surrounding to the kund belongs to him. Since then The Braj Foundation made several attempts to sort this out at the official level. Considering it’s spiritual and historic significance the site should be protected by the Archeology Dept.
The Jal Mahal can have a photo gallery and moving exhibition space on various themes like paintings on Radha Krishna, documentation on the conservations works in the region, photo exhibition on the architecture of the area, etc.
Presently, there is a UP Govt. building in the complex that is abandoned since many years. The structure of this building has completely deteriorated. An interpretation cum accommodation centre has been proposed on this plot of land. This centre will have multiple activities. On the ground floor it will have audio visual facility, curio shop, tourist information desk and a cafeteria for 50 people. While on the first and second floor there will be 20 rooms for the tourists and pilgrims. The terrace of this centre can be rented for hosting private parties. The height of the building will be less than Jal Mahal and its architecture will blend with the historic architecture around. It will not subdue the Jal Mahal.
An open air amphitheatre has been proposed in the complex as a platform to showcase the Braj cultural and religious events. The Jal Mahal will be the backdrop of the stage. The proposed structure will have a capacity of housing 1500 spectators. Toilet and storage facility can be integrated in the structure of the amphitheatre which can be accessed from its rear side.
A haat is proposed on the NE side of the garden complex where temporary stalls can be erected by local craftsmen. It can act as a platform to showcase the arts and crafts of the region. It can have different themes to attract visitors throughout the year.
The complex will have beautiful landscape and a regular Sound and Light Show with many attractions in the water of the kund.
The proposed design scheme of the complex is a response to the needs of the locals, pilgrims and to built fabric of the complex. The annual calendar of the complex should comprise of various events so that it is continuously used. It can serve as an important cultural and religious centre.
Minimalist built interventions have been proposed in the garden so that Jal Mahal and kunds do not lose their prominence. The paving material, plant material and slope of the land should allow high permeability of surface water.
The entire complex will have manned entry and exist points to prevent trespassing and misuse. There will be clear segregation of the vehicle movement in the complex. It is proposed that the complex should be predominantly pedestrian zone. A car drop-off will be provided on the SW side of the garden. The visitors can park their vehicles in the existing bus stand where a large plot of land is lying vacant. The municipality can charge a nominal fee for parking.
Visitor facilities like benches, signage and pathways will be provided in the entire complex for the convenience of the visitors. We need around Rs 4 Crores to develop this entire complex.