Mathura is one of the most ancient cities of India and is one of the holiest of religious places in the Hindu mythology.Mathura an ancient holy city in India derive its eminence from being the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Situated at a distance of 145 kms from Delhi and 58 kms from Agra in the state of Utter Pradesh, the city is known for its many temples dedicated to the Lord Krishna located at Katra, Keshav Deo, the temples are visited by pilgrims from all over the world. The Temple Dwarkadesh built by Seth Gokul Das of Gwalior in 1814 is arrayed with some ethereal pictures depicting the entire life of Krishna.
In 600 BC. Mathura was the capital of Braj situated on the West Bank of river Yamuna. Today Mathura has become the sacred place of religious and epic interest and attracts pilgrims from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina religion. All round the year, a large number of festivals and fairs are held in Mathura and the bordering areas of Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana and Goverdhan
Krishna was born of Devaki, the wife of Vasudeva, while the couple was imprisoned in Mathura by the evil king Kansa. Legends have it that the eighth child of Devaki was destined to kill Kansa. However, Kansa managed to kill all children, but Krishna, the eighth child escaped. When Krishna was born, the doors of the prison magically opened and the guards fell asleep. Vasudeva then took Krishna across the Yamuna River to Gokul to be cared for by his foster parents, Nand and Yasoda in Vrindavan.
When Krishna and Balarama were older, they were invited to Mathura, where Kansa was planning their deaths. However, Krishna killed Kansa and thereafter established the devout king Ugrasena as the emperor of several kingdoms. Krishna lived in Mathura for the next 18 years before moving on to Dwarka.
Places of Interest
Krishna Janma Bhoomi – is the prime attraction of Mathura. A stone slab marks the original spot of the birth of Lord Krishna in the Katra Keshav Deo Temple. The main shrine is unobtrusive, a narrow passageway leading into a small room with a raised platform, and pictures of Krishna and tales of his birth adorning the walls.
Dwarkadhish Temple – was built in 1814. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The Temple depicts an excellent work of art. The interiors of the Temple are adorned with the images of the Lord Krishna with His beloved Radha. There are images and idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Ranghbhumi – in Mathura spreads the message that one should be bound to one’s duty. It explains why Lord Krishna had to slay his maternal uncle Kansa for the welfare of people.
Gita Mandir - on the Mathura-Vrindavan road has been built by the Birlas, one of India’s premier industrial clans. It has a fine image of Lord Krishna in its sanctum. The entire Bhagwad Gita is inscribed on a pillar called the Gita Stambh.
Radharamana Temple - This is the famous temple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Radharamana means “one who gives pleasure to Radha”, and is one of the many names of Lord Krishna. The seva puja of Radharamana was established in 1542, after the Deity self-manifested from a saligram-sila. Also kept iin this temple is the wooden sitting place (hoki) and shawl (chaddar) or Lord Chaitanya, that He gave as a gift to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. There is no deity of Radharani in this temple, but a crown is kept next to Krishna signifying Her presence.
Jugal Kisore Temple - This is one of the oldest temple of Vrindavana and was completed in 1627. After Emperor Akbar’s visit to Vridavana in the year 1570, he gave permission for four temples to be built by the Gaudya Vaisnavas, which were Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha and Jugal Kisore. It is sometimes called the Kesi ghata temple, as it is located next to this ghata.
Kesi Ghata -This is the place where Lord Krishna killed the Kesi demon who appeared in the form of a gigantic horse and then took His bath in this very same ghata. This is also very famous bathing place in Vrindavana. An arati to Yamuna Devi is held here every evening.
Rangji Temple -This South Indian style temple was built by the wealthy Seth family of Mathura in the year 1851, and is dedicated to Lord Sri Ranganatha or Rangaji – a form of Lord Vishnu lying down on the Sesa Naga (celestial serpent). This temple has a traditional South Indian gopuram (gateway) and is surrounded by high walls. It is one of Vrindavana’s largest temples. Once a year a grand car festival (Ratha Yatra) is held known as Brahmotsava, during the month of Chait (March – April), this festival lasts for 10 days.
Vrindavan - is 10 km from Mathura and it is associated with the childhood exploits of Lord Krishna. Like Mathura, Vrindavan is also famous for its temples. There are about 4,000 temples in Vrindavan. The main temples are Govind Dev Temple, Rangaji temple, Bankey Bihari temple, Radha Ballabh temple, Madan Mohan temple, Pagal Baba temple and the Nidhi Van temple.
Gokul – is 16 km south of Mathura. It is said that Lord Krishna was secretly raised here.
Mahaban - is 18 km southeast of Mathura. Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his youth here.
Barsana - 50 km northwest of Mathura, is worth visiting as it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna?s consort Radha. The Holi festival of Barsana is unique. The Barsana women attack men from Nandgaon with wooden sticks, when they try to put color on these women.
Govardhan - is 25 km west of Mathura. Legend has it that Lord Krishna had protected the local people from the wrath of the rain God Indra by holding up a hill on one finger.
Getting there and Around
By Air - The nearest airport is at Agra, 52 kilometers away.
By Rail - The Mathura railway station is well connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow and other major cities of I9ndia by a good railway network.
By Road - Mathura, which lies on the National Highway number 2, is well linked with regular state bus services from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana.
Accommodation in Mathura ranges from guesthouses to high-end hotels. Hotel Mansarovar Palace, Hotel Madhuvan and Hotel Radha Ashok (3 km from the city on the Delhi road) are the only top-end hotels in Mathura.