The deity (Swaroop) at the famous Vaishnav temple of Shri Nathadwara in Rajasthan (India) is known as SHRINATHAJI. This Swaroop in reality is that of Lord Shri KRISHNA . SHRINATHAJI represents child Krishna when He was seven years of age.
This Swaroop is not man made. He manifested Himself from the mountain Goverdhan, (also known as Giriraj) some 500 years ago. He is the same Krishna, who had saved the people of Goverdhan area, from the heavy rainfall caused by the anger of Lord Indra. He lifted the whole mountain with His left hand and protected the people of that area from the rain, for seven days. Because of this, He is also known as Shri Goverdhan nathji. The name was then shortened to SHRINATHAJI.
The story of SHRINATHAJI's appearance goes back to the year 1408. A village by the name of Anyor lies at the foothills of mountain Goverdhan, near Mathura in north India. There lived a cowherd Sadu Pande. His cows were going at the top of mount Goverdhan for grazing. One of the cows would go to a particular spot and would discharge her milk there. Upon inquiry, a stone, which resembled a raised hand, was found at the spot. People started worshipping this place and offered milk, fruits, etc. This unknown God fulfilled their wishes.
The worshipping lasted for almost 70 years. Then on the day of the appearance of Jagadguru Shri Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji, in the year 1478, the whole figure emerged from this spot by itself. People asked Him who He was and He said, “I am Lord Krishna of Saraswat Kulp. I have reappeared in this Kaliyug. I will be known by the names of Shri Devdaman, Shri Indradaman or Shri Nagdamanas.” Shri Devdaman, eventually became known as SHRINATHAJI.
Shri Vallabhacharyaji traveled the lengths and breaths of India for almost 18 years of his life to propagate Hinduism. On one of such tours at Zarkhand, (in the year 1492) Lord Krishna appeared before him and said,” I have appeared as Lord SHRINATHAJI on the mountain Goverdhan. Go there to meet me. I am eagerly awaiting your arrival.”
Shri Vallabhacharya immediately left for Goverdhan area. He stayed at the house of Sadu Pande. He started climbing mount Goverdhan to meet SHRINATHAJI. Lord Krishna in the form of SHRINATHAJI knew that Shri Vallabhacharya has arrived there and was coming uphill to meet Him. He started descending and met Shri Vallabhacharyaji half way on this mountain. They greeted each other very warmly, meeting was very emotional. The incidence became known as PRATHAM MILAN (First Meeting).
Six years after this historic meeting, Shri Vallabhacharyaji started constructing a temple for SHRI NATHAJI on top of the mountain Goverdhan. He appointed Priests (known as Mukhiajis), Singers, Musicians, Cooks, and Manager etc. to manage the Seva-worshipping- of Lord SHRINATHAJI. The sanctum of Shrinathaji was thrown open eight times a day at fixed intervals for Darshans which enabled devotees to see Him for a few moments. The rituals followed during daily worship were intended to evoke memories of Shri Krishna's childhood lilas (pastimes) at Vraj.
Aurangzeb was a Muslim King and a cruel ruler in the areas of Vraj, Goverdhan etc. He was an anti Hindu and started destroying Hindu temples. SHRINATHAJI temple's safety was at stake and it was decided to relocate the Swaroop at some safer place. In the year 1669, the swaroop was transferred to a decorative chariot and a journey started. After traveling for almost two and half years, a new location was selected to sattledown. The place was in Rajasthan in the village of Sinhad. Actually it was a palace of the King of Udaipur, who was a great disciple of Shri Vallabhacharyaji.
There was another reason behind the selection of this place. When Shri Gusainji Shri Vithalnathaji)- a son of Shri Vallabhacharyaji, traveled to Dwarika from Vraj, he would stop at the palace of the King of Udaipur in Sinhad. Princess Ajabkumvarbai there was a great disciple of Shri Gusainji and was always performing seva of Shrinathaji. Shrinathaji was playing the game of checker with her everyday. He would travel from Vraj to this place. Ajabkumverbai thought that this must be uncomfortable for Him. She requested Shrinathaji, instead, to stay there permanently. He promised her that He would do so in future only. So the migration from Vraj to Sinhad was also to fulfill the promise of Shrinathaji to Ajabkumverbai. Sinhad is now known as Shri Nathadwara.
The present temple of SHRINATHAJI at Shri Nathadwara was built in the year 1728. The swaroop of SHRINATHAJI is four feet high and is black in color. The left hand is raised-inviting disciples to go to Him. Right hand fist rests on the waist. The swaroop has a square Pithika, containing nine objects: Two Cows, A Cobra, A Sheep, A Man(Muni), A Parrot, Two men (Munies), A Snake, A Lion and Two Peacocks.