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Home » Uttar Pradesh » Mathura   

Mathura

This area, popularly known as Brij Bhoomi, is a major pilgrimage place of Hindus. Shree Krishna, the popular incarnation of Vishnu, is believed to have been born in Mathura (Muttra) and the area is closely linked with many episodes in his early life. Nearby is Vrindavan (Vrindaban) where Krishna 'sported' with his gopis (milkmaids).

History of Mathura
Mathura Tour PackagesMathura is an ancient cultural and religious centre. The Buddhist monasteries that were built here received considerable patronage from Ashoka, and Mathura was mentioned by Ptolemy and by the Chinese visitors Fahsien (who visited India from 401 to 410 AD) and Xuan Zhang (634-762 AD) in their works. In 1017, Mahmmad of Ghazni intruded into Mathura, damaging the Hindu and remaining Buddhist shrines.

Sikander Lodhi continued the destruction in 1500 and the fanatical Aurangzeb flattened the Kesava Deo Temple, which had been built on the site of one of the most important Buddhist monasteries, and built a mosque in its place. The Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali continued the destruction trend.

Holy Land
It has often been said that it is easier to count the number of dust particles on the surface of the earth than to count the number of holy places in Mathura. Each of the Ghats, for instance, has its own Krishna myth. Here He rested after killing his evil and tyrannical uncle, King Kansa. This is where His mother tied him after he stole butter. This is the sacred grove where Krishna and Radha spent lazy, love filled times the list is endless. In Mathura-Vrindavan, it is difficult to know the dividing line between reality and myth.

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Prime Attractions of Mathura

» Dwarkadish Temple
The Dwarkadish Temple, built in 1814, is a popular temple in the center of town. This is the most visited temple located in the center of town. This is the most visited temple in Mathura.

» Shiva Temple
Siva is the eternal guardian of the Braja Mandala area. Because he is the guardian one is supposed to ask his permission to be able to successfully circumambulate Braja Mandala. He is the greatest Vaishnava. There are four important Siva temples that surround Mathura. There are four Siva-lingas that protect the four sides of Mathura, which are called the dik-pala (protectors) of Mathura. They are Gokarnesvara Mahadeva in the north, Pippalesvara Mahadeva in the east, Rangesvara Mahadeva in the south, and Bhutesvara Mahadeva in the west.

» Radharamana Temple
This is the famous temple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami 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 shaligram-shila. There is no deity of Radharani in this temple, but a crown is kept next to Krishna signifying Her presence

» Kesi Ghata
This is the place where Lord Krishna killed the demon Kesi who appeared in the form of a gigantic horse and then took 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.

» Rangaji Temple
Rangaji Temple Mathura Travel VacationsThis 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. This temple has a traditional South Indian gopuram (gateway) and is surrounded by high walls. It is one of Vrindavan's largest temples. Once a year a grand ratha festival (Ratha Yatra) is held known as Brahmotsava, during the month of Chait (March - April), this festival lasts for 10 days.

» Jugal Kishore 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 also called the Kesi ghata temple, as it is located next to this ghata.

» Twenty Five Tirthas
There are 25 holy tirthas (bathing places or ghatas) in Mathura. Visram Ghata is in the middle and there are 12 ghatas south of Visrama Ghata and 12 ghatas north. The 12 ghatas in the south extend to Moksa Ghata.

Some pilgrims take bath in all 25 tirthas before beginning Braja Mandala parikrama. It is said that Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda both took bath in all these ghatas before doing commencing the parikrama of Braja Mandala. These holy tirthas are mostly located about 400m south of Visrama Ghata, almost right next to each other. Many of the ghatas are known now by different names. Asi Ghata, Prayaga Ghata, Chakra Tirtha Ghata, Krishna Ganga, Dhruva Ghata and Visrama Ghata are still known by the same names.

Excursions of Mathura

» Kaliya Ghat
On the banks of Kaliya-Hrada Ghat, Lord Krishna jumped from a huge Kadamba Tree into the Yamuna river, in order to chastise the Kaliya serpent who was poisoning the waters of the river. The same Kadamba tree is said to be still there.

» Baldeo
Baldeo is 20 km south-east of Mathura and 8.5 km south-east of Mahavan on the road to Sadabad. It derives its name from the famous temple dedicated to Balram, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. It was built by Shyam Das of Delhi 200 years ago. The main image in the sanctum is that of Baldeo or Balram with his spouse Revati, Near by is the brick lined tank, the Kshir Sagar or Balbhadra Kund, from where the original image housed in the temple was found.

» Govardhna
Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu pilgrimage, Govardhan is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is about 8 km in length. The young Lord Krishna is said to have held Giriraj up on the tip of a finger for 7 days and nights to shield the people of Braj from the deluge of rain sent down by Lord Indra.

Govardhan is set along the edge of a large masonry tank known as the Mansi Ganga, which is believed to have been brought into existence by the operation of the divine will. Its enclosures were built by Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer in 1637 and embellished by Raja Man Singh, who built a long flight of steps leading up, from the end of the tank. Close by is the famous red sandstone temple of Haridev and the Kusum Sarovar with exquisitely carved Chhatris - the cenotaphs of the members of the royal family of Bharatpur, who perished whilst fighting against the British in 1825. Towards the south is the beautiful Chhatri of Raja Surajmal of Bharatpur.

» Gokul
Gokul Temple Mathura Tour OperatorThe most celebrated of Shri Krishna's abodes, Gokul lies to the west of Sadabad, 1.6 km from Mahavan and 15 km south-east of Mathura, on the Mathura - Etah metalled road. It was here that Lord Krishna was brought up in secrecy by Yeshoda, in the pastoral beauty of this village on the banks of the Yamuna.

Gokul attained importance during the time of Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) when it became a major centre of the Bhakti cult. The three oldest temples in the place are those dedicated to Gokulnath, Madan Mohan and Vithalnath, said to have been built around 1511. The other temples include those of Dwarika Nath and Balkrishna and the shrines which were built in the honour of Lord Mahadeo in 1602 by Raja Vijai Singh of Jodhpur.

The celebration of Janmashtami in August is unparalleled for its gaiety and melas are a constant attraction here. Other such festivities celebrated with traditional fervour include the Janmotsav in Bhadaon, the Annakut Festival and the Trinavat Mela held on the fourth day of the dark half of Kartik. Important sites worth visiting in Gokul include the Gokulnath Temple, Raja Thakur Temple, Gopal Lalji Temple and the Morwala Temple.

» Nandgaon
Nandgaon lies 8.5 km north of Barsana on the way to Mathura (56 km). According to tradition, it was the home of Shri Krishna's foster father, Nand. On the top of the hill is the temple of Nand Rai, built by the Jat ruler Roop Singh. The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gopinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan, and Yasodha Nandan which is located half way up the hill. A little beyond is the Pan Sarovar, a large lake with masonry ghats along its sides.

» Barsana
Barsana, 50 km to the north-west of Mathura and 19 km north-west of Govardhan, is situated at the foot of a hill that is named after Brahma. Barsana is said to be the home of Radha-Rani, Krishna's beloved and consort.

Temples dedicated to the divine couple ornament the four elevations of the hill. The chief among them is the Radha-Rani Temple, more fondly referred to as the Ladliji Temple. The most beautiful temple at Barsana, it was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo of Orchha in 1675. The new marble temple adjoining it is a later addition. The other three shrines are the Man Mandir, Drgah and Mor-Kutir temples. The are between the hill housing the Radha-Rani Temple and the adjoining one, is known as the Sankari-Khor. This is the venue of the annual fair held in the month of Bhadon (July-August).

The birth anniversary of Radha-Rani is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (July-August) as the Mor-Kutir Temple which was built about 300 years ago. Women celebrate the occasion by giving laddus to the peacocks - to symbolise the serving of sweets by Radha to Lord Krishna. Most of the monuments and edifices here have deteriorated with the advent of time. Still a few tanks do survive and can be seen, including the Prem Sarovar, Roop Sagar, Jal Mahal and the Bhanokhar Tank. Barsana is also famous for its `Lathmar' Holi - celebrations of the festival of colour that are unique to this town.

» Brij Parikrama
The rainy month of Bhadon - the month when the Lord Krishna was born, is a time of colourful celebrations. The famous Braj Parikrama - a pilgrimage of all the places in Braj that are associated with Shri Krishna, is undertaken. Traditionally, the Chaurasi kos (84 kos) pilgrimage of Braj Mandal, with its 12 vanas (forests), 24 upvanas (groves), sacred hill Govardhan, divine River Yamuna and numerous holy spots along its banks, is undertaken annually by lakhs of devotees from all over the country.

The yatra extends to Kotban to the north of Mathura, to Nandgaon, Barsana and the Goverdhan Hill to the west and south-west of the city and to the banks of the Yamuna to the east, where the Baldeo Temple is located. Colourful melas and performances of the Raaslila (a depiction of the exploits of Shri Krishna) are speciality of this festive period.

Lake Of Tears

Lake of tears or Mansarovar, a rare wetland grove and bird sanctuary, roughly five acres in size, a few miles across the Yamuna River from the town of Vrindavan. Local tradition has it that the lake, or `sarovar', was formed from the tears of Radha, while in an intensely emotional state of wounded love. Unlike most sacred groves, no village has grown here. Only the gnarled trees and swaying palms, which shelter a group of `viraktis'-those indifferent to the world-who spend their days in prayer and meditation and tending the shrine. The only other people are pilgrims, who visit throughout the spring and autumn seasons.

But the real visitors to Manasarovar are the birds. Crowds of waterfowl and heron frequent the place. A special visitor is the Sarus Crane, an endangered species which breeds only in Northern India, but whose total population is now down to less than 15,000. The Sarus is the world's tallest flying bird-a male can stand as tall as six feet-and regarded with reverence in Vraj.

Places to stay in Mathura

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.

How to get there
Temple Mathura Travel Guide
» Air
Nearest airport is Kheria (Agra), 62 km, also Delhi Airport 155 km.

» Rail
Mathura is on the main lines of the Central and Western Railways and is connected with all the important cities of the state and country such as Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gwalior, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow, etc.

» Road
Mathura is connected to all the major cities, either historical or religious, via the National Highways. It is linked by the regular state bus services of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.

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