Of the four major shrines of Vrindavan Govinddev temple also called Govindaji temple enjoy the special place and is considered as the most finest and the exceptional piece of religious edifice that Hindu art and architecture has ever exhibited in the northern part of India. The central tower of the main temple building is seven storeyed and resembles the form of the Greek cross. The central part of the temple is surmounted by a dome of exceptionally elegant magnitudes and the four arms of the cross are roofed by the vaults like those of the arches as in the Gothic Cathedrals rather than those of the traditional Hindu architecture. The temple is built up of red sandstone and is adorned with elegant dome, archways and wall surfaces which are intricately carved and decorated giving it a warmth and magnificent look. The experts describe the temple’s architecture as a most harmonious and exceptional combination of dome and spire and quote it as a great crux of modern art.
Govind in Sanskrit literature means the God of Cows. This temple along with the four other presiding deities of Gopinath, Jugal Kishore and Madan Mohan mandir are the oldest of all and are believed to be installed by King Vajranabh( great Grandson of Krishna) about 5000 years ago. But during the course of time the deities were lost. It’s believed that once when Sri Rupa Goswami was tired of searching for Yoga-pitha (actual place where deity of Govindaji was hidden) he sat down under a tree, resting and chanting the bhajans of Lord Krishna near the bank of river Yamuna. Suddenly then, he was approached by a small cowherd boy who told him that he has seen a cow who goes up a nearby hill everyday and pour its milk into a hole. There is some mystery behind that he (Rupa Goswami) must see. Rupa Goswami visited the place as told by that cowherd boy and started digging that hole. There he found the beautiful deity of Lord Govindaji in his threefold bent form. He incapable of building a temple for Govindaji, requested Raja Man Singh of Jaipur to build the temple. Thus influenced by Shrila Rupa Goswami, Raja Man Singh, who was the follower of Raghunath Bhatta built this magnificent temple of Krishna in Samvat 1617 i.e. A.D. 1590. The altar of the temple was made from marble decorated with gold and silver. On the west end of the main temple is an inscription that is too much disfigured, but is revealing the fact that the temple was built in Sambat 1647, i.e. 1590 A.D. under the direction of Guru Rupa and Santana Goswami by Raja Man Singh the son of Maharaj Bhagwan Das. According to the historians, Akbar had donated some of the red sandstone which was brought for Red fort to his then general Raja Man Singh of Jaipur for completing this magnificent temple. During the tyrant attack of Aurangzeb on Vrindavan the temple was ordered destruction and the Mughal troops destroyed its four storeys. In prior anticipation of this invasion, the temple idols were transferred to Jaipur secretly and since then the original idol of Lord Govindaji is worshipped there in Jaipur. During the British rule from 1873-77 the main structure of the temple was repaired again and a new temple was built behind this temple where the Pratibhu Vigraha (replica) of lord Govind dev is worshipped along with the deity of Sri Radharani which was the first deity of Radharani to be installed anywhere. It was sent by Purusottam, the son of king Prataparudra from Jagannath Puri to be installed by the side of Govindaji. In the southern part of the temple there is a cave where Rupa Goswami used to meditate and where the deity of Govinda was found , there is installed a deity of eight armed Yogmaya Devi sitting on a lion. Earlier the deity of Vrinda Devi was also installed in this temple which was later on moved to Kamyavan for safekeeping during Mughal attack.