Vrindavan: Krishna’s Playground and Underground Tunnel Scam Tour
India is renowned for its incredible spiritual experiences and also for frothing off Westerners’ money. This fun and sometimes friendly activity is a perfect mix of both. If you would prefer to be honest with Krishna and are not the most athletic type, this adventure is probably not for you. But if you not and you and you find yourself with nothing to do in Vrindavan, this guided tour/trap is a fun way to spend your day. What’s more, if you play your cards right, it’s completely free of charge!
There is no specific starting point, and it can’t be guaranteed that you will find a scammer willing to lead you into the depths of the tunnel on any given day, but try your luck by heading to the bustling Sabji market district of Vrindavan. Approach temples, tourist-trap stores or any general local pedestrian and inquire if any of them would like to show you around on a little tour.
First, ask to be taken to Krishna’s playground, or Vishaka Kund. These ancient gardens remain in their original state since, apparently, the time when Krishna was just a little fella. This breast-height maze of tangled trees was once Krishna’s stomping ground, but now is just home to a bunch of nympho monkeys who spend their days heckling humans and bonking each other. The gardens hold extreme cultural and religious significance and are a well-kept secret from the yogi pilgrims of the Western world.
After the forest, make your way to the underground temple tunnel scam part of the tour. You shouldn’t have to ask to be taken, as your guide probably already has it in mind to lure you in here. You will head toward the river near Krishna’s tree of life. You will know the tree when you see it: large and covered with colourful ribbons (I can’t quite remember its significance, but it looks cool and has something to do with Krishna’s childhood… he probably used to swing off it when he was bored, I guess). Your guide will then usher you inside the temple nearby. The walls are covered in plaques to commemorate all the other half-witted western tourists who came before you and didn’t escape. There are literally hundreds of them, each with engravings of the tourist’s name, followed by the names of those in their family and also their place of birth. As you pass through another hall of plaques, you begin your descent into the depths of the Krishna tunnel. An opening at the end leads to a small, dimly-lit room consisting of more plaques, an extravagant paper maché shrine and a man in the seated meditation position waiting on your arrival. He will spoil you with flowers and happiness, but keep your wits about you, hobo – be prepared to bail at any point. You will clap your hands to create happiness, you will sing along to Krishna’s song. Finally, you will be asked to repeat after the man as he recites lines such as, “Krishna will bring my family happiness,” “I put all my trust in Krishna,” and most importantly, “I give 10 000 rupees to Krishna.” At this point, you should stop repeating what the man says and get-the-fuck-out-of-there: shit starts getting seriously real. It really becomes one of those rare moments when your body actually goes into fight-or-flight mode (recommendation: flight mode). After you have escaped the underground temple tunnel scam, make your way swiftly back to your room and hide for the rest of your stay in Vrindavan, as within 10 minutes your guide and the seated meditation man will probably have told the entire town that you owe Krishna 10 000 rupees, and no one fucks with Krishna.