Mathura – the birthplace of Krishna; Vrindavan - where he spent his childhood and charmed many with his pranks; and Govardhan - the hillock that (as the legend goes) he held up with his little finger – attract devotees from all over the country during Janmashtami – the day on which Krishna was born. For property agents here, Janmashtami is also the busiest time for real estate transactions.
Real estate watchers are expecting a spike in sales during this period. Sunil Gautam of Braj Realtors in Vrindavan says that one of the reasons why property prices have gone up here is the ambitious ISKCON project to build the world’s tallest temple, Chandrodaya Mandir. Being developed by Kolkata’s Infinity Group, the Rs. 300 crore temple complex would be spread over 150 acres and more; and will also offer individual villas and apartments with modern facilities. Construction work, which has already begun, is expected to be completed by 2017. Prices vary from about Rs. 1.5 crore for a 150 sq yard residential unit to Rs. 5 crore for 500 sq yards.
Investors, says Gautam, are now moving away from areas around the famous Bankey Bihari temple, which have highly congested, narrow lanes, and are opting for more open areas, even if they are far away from the temple.
The demand for property in the area is generated by people visiting Vrindavan from cities close by for short weekend trips. Most of these visitors are looking for more permanent options like a place of their own here. Reputed builders are now, therefore, buying large land holdings in and around Vrindavan for studio apartments, residential floors and villas. As a result, prices of real estate since last year have gone up by 20% to 25%, depending on the area and property type. A studio apartment of about 500 sq ft costs between Rs. 15 lakh and Rs. 20 lakh, and a two bedroom unit of around 1100 sq ft apartment has a tag of around Rs. 36 lakh.
In Mathura, 11 km away from Vrindavan, the scenario is not as rosy. The Krishna Janmabhoomi, where Krishna is said to have been born, with its dark cell and stone platforms, is a chilling reminder of the imprisonment and travails of Devaki and Vasudev, Krishna’s parents.
Sawan Gautam of Shri Hari Property Services here says that during Janmashtami, countless people visit Mathura, but most of those making enquiries about property want to live here. They are end-users and not just periodic visitors for brief spells of spiritual tourism.
As per an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) board at Mathura Museum, this holy city finds a mention in the Mahabharata. It is believed that earlier, the place was called Madhuvan, which was subsequently changed to Madhupura and later Mathura. In the Puranas, Mathura is one of the seven holiest places in the country where people achieve moksha.
Sawan Gautam says that property prices went up here in 2012, and continue to increase, discouraging buyers in the bargain. The main Krishna temple is located in the middle of the city. In high-end areas such as Dampier Nagar near the museum, an independent unit can cost around Rs. 1 lakh per sq yard. Availability is negligible and most buyers prefer to buy apartments, and that too, modern newly constructed ones. A two bedroom apartment of about 950 sq ft could cost around Rs. 25 lakh; and 1150 sq ft unit about Rs. 30 lakh and above. A 200 sq yard house near the National Highway 2 would be around Rs. 80 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.
Interestingly, while until recently it was mainly the super-rich and celebrities who owned properties in Vrindavan and Mathura, many are now going in for ready- to-move-in apartments or booking them, thanks to the wide choice offered by various builder groups here.
(The writer is a senior columnist)