This isolated and untouched verdant forest is still much the same as it was even in ancient times and is full of many bird varieties and other wildlife like deer and antelope. The Puranas say that Kokilvana is one of the sub-forests or upavanas of Vrindavana, although in some Puranas it is mentioned to be one of the dwadashavavas. Kokilavana is one of the forests where Krishna performed pastimes with Radharani and the gopis including the celebrated rasa-dance. The forest takes its name from the ‘kokila’ bird, which refers to the black colored Indian cuckoo also known as koel. This particular cuckoo has a loud shrieking call; kuhoo, kuhoo, kuhoo, repeated in crescendo four or five times during the summer, usually in the early morning and late evening. One day Krishna came to this forest in order to meet Radharani and the gopis, but due to the ever-watchful eye of Jatila, Radharani and the gopis could not leave the house.
Understanding the situation, Krishna began to call the gopis by imitating the melodious song of the kokila bird, which inspired all the other kokila birds in the forest to start singing, thus creating a tumultuous sound that could be heard for miles. The Bhakti-ratnakara says. “To the west of Yavat is a forest where one may hear hundreds of thousands of kokilas sing. One day Krishna entered this forest and happily made a sound just like a kokila bird. In response, all the birds began singing so loudly that the sound was heard in Yavat. Hearing the sound of the kokilas, Jatila told Vishakha that she had never heard such songs from the kokilas. Vishakha replied that if Jatila would give them permission, the gopis would go to see the kokilas in the forest. Jatila then told them to go and listen to the birds and thus Radharani with Her girlfriends entered the forest. In unlimited happiness they came here and thus Radha was able to meet Krishna, who was engaged in making sounds of the kokila bird. For this reason this forest is known as Kokilavana.” In the forest of Kokilavana one can see the rasa-mandala platform established by Shrila Narayana Bhatta to commemorate Krishna’s rasa-lila pastimes in this forest and also Ratna-kunda, where it is said the gopis obtained many kinds of precious gemstones which they used in decorating Radharani. The word ‘ratna’ means ‘gemstones’. There are also two famous temples here; the Radha Kokila-bihari Mandira dedicated to Krishna’s pastimes at Kokilavana and the more recent Shanideva Mandira, dedicated to the demigod of the planet Saturn, where large crowds gather on Saturdays, the day on which Hindus worship Shanideva (Saturn).