This pichhvai depicts the pilgrimage landscape of Vraj, the district around Mathura on the banks of the River Yamuna, and includes the sacred sites associated with Krishna’s boyhood and the discovery of the Shrinathji image. It shows the route for the religious procession or Vraj Yatra which pilgrims undertake each year lasting several weeks. Commencing from Mathura, the birth place of Krishna, devotees move in a clockwise direction around the city. After visiting the villages of Mahavana and Gokul they re-cross the Yamuna and return to Mathura and the spot of Krishna’s victory over the evil king Kansa. Devotees should ideally visit thirty-six groves on their pilgrimage, and in temples of the Vallabha sect, Vallabhacharya’s and Vitthalnathji’s circumambulations of Vraj are commemorated by the Vraj Yatra pichhvai. For those devotees who cannot make the trip, this pichhvai serves as a pilgrimage cosmogram by proxy.
The boundaries of the Vraj Yatra are represented in the central portion of this pichhvai and the River Yamuna, dominates the landscape. Located at the bend of the river, is Mathura. Key sites include Mount Govardhana with its bluish rocky mass in the centre, Chandrasarovara (moon lake) directly below Mount Govardhana where Krishna enjoys the Ras Lila with his gopis, Kamvana (upper left corner), Barsana, the birthplace of Radha (edge of pinkish hill) and Nandgrama, the home of Nanda (upper centre). The scenes in the upper part of the pichhvai focus on Krishna’s play with the gopis whilst those in the lower half depict specific episodes, shrines and places in Krishna’s life.