A fiery battle was raging between the deadly poisonous serpent Kaliya and Lord Krishna, the darling of all the inhabitants of Vrindavan, when Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda came to the bank of the river Yamuna, after being informed by one of Krishna’s friends about what had happened.
It all started on one fine day in the pleasing forest of Vrindavan, which is full of beautiful orchards of the most delicious fruits, exquisitely gorgeous creepers covered with fragrant flowers and abundant with lakes and the river Yamuna, the waters of which were crystal clear, cooling and refreshing, when, while grazing the cows in the pasturing grounds along the banks of the river Yamuna, Krishna’s friends and cows, being thirsty, went and drank the water of the river Yamuna and immediately fell unconscious. This was due to the poison of Kaliya naag, who was living in that part of the river Yamuna, to escape from Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu, as this was the only place where Garuda could not come to eat him, as he had once been cursed by Soubhari muni that if Garuda would come there than he would immediately die. Seeing His friends unconscious, and after reviving them just by glancing upon them, Krishna, in order to punish Kaliya for polluting the waters of the river Yamuna, which in turn had completely destroyed the vegetation in that area, immediately climbed the only surviving Kadamba tree at the band of the river and jumped into the lake named Kaliya daha, within the river Yamuna, which created great disturbance in the water and enraged Kaliya. He at once came to fight with Krishna, not knowing him to be the supreme Personality of Godhead, who is invincible and the most powerful. He tried to strangle the Lord by coiling his serpentine body around the Lord, but Krishna, being the most graceful dancer, at once released himself from the coil and jumped over the hoods of the Serpent, where he performed a most enchanting dance jumping from hood of the thousand hooded Kaliya onto another, and seeing which gave relief and pleasure to all his associates, who had been on the verge of giving up their bodies out of concern for the Lord of their lives, who was fighting with a deadly serpent. The lotus feet of the Lord completely drained out all the pride and poison from Kaliya and made him realise that Krishna was the supreme personality of Godhead. Seeing their husband in a pitiful condition, all the wives of Kaliya came to Krishna with folded hands and bringing along with them various offerings, and begged for the Lord to forgive their husband. The Lord, compassionate as he is, forgave Kaliya and instructed him to go live in the ocean, and assured that Garuda would not bother him when he would see the Lord’s footprints on his head.
That very same tree and the place where Krishna performed this pastime is still present, famously known as Kaliya ghat, situated nearby the Madan Mohan temple, where numerous pilgrims come and pay their respects to the Kadamba tree which was touched by the lotus feet of the Lord. Due to the change of the course of Yamuna over the passing years, this ghat is no longer at the bank of the river but it still remains as one of the most famous and prominent ghats of Vrindavan.