Within the holy Vraj dham, which by material calculation has a diameter of 84 miles, are twelve sacred forests where Lord Krishna enjoyed many transcendental pastimes. Of these twelve forests, the forest of vrindavan is considered to be not only the most sacred but also the largest. Within it the most intimate and confidential pastimes of divine love took place.
Situated in the middle of this vast forest is the transcendental mountain known as Govardhan. Upon the slopes of this transcendental mountain Lord Krishna enjoyed innumerable childhood pastimes surrounded by his most confidential associates, the beautiful gopis and cowherd boys of vrindavan. Situated 14 miles west of Mathura, Govardhan, also known as Giriraj, is the sacred center of Vraja and is identified as a natural form of Krishna.
The name ‘Govardhana’ has two primary translations. In the literal meaning, ‘Go’ translates to ‘cows’, and ‘vardhana’ translates to ‘nourishment’. Another meaning of ‘Go’ is ‘the senses’ and another meaning of ”vardhana’ is ‘to increase.’ Thus the name is also translated by devotees of Krishna as ‘that which increases the senses’–in their attraction to Krishna. In this connection it is believed that the personality of Govardhan blesses the devotee by increasing his/her devotion. Thus by residing in the foothills of Govardhan Hill, all the senses are more inclined to perform eternal service to Krishna.
It is said that Giriraja has descended from Sri Krsna’s transcendental abode Goloka-Vrndavana to Vraja on this Earth planet. He came with secluded bowers, caves, pure lakes and ponds, and various minerals, like red ochre ( gairika), that are useful in the service of the Divine Couple Sri Radha Krishna. Giriraja-Govardhana is non-different from Krishna in tattva, yet he is considered to be hari-dasa-varya, the best among all the servants of Hari.
Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain in order to curb the pride of Indra, the king of the heavens, when he was just a seven year old boy. Sri Krishna held the enormous Govardhana Hill on the little finger of His left hand for seven days.