This area, popularly known
as Brij Bhoomi, is a major pilgrimage place of Hindus.
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
is an ancient cultural and religious centre.
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.
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
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.
Prime Attractions of
Mathura » Dwarkadish Temple
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
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. »
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 »
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. »
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
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
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
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 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. »
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
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
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
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.
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).
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
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 TearsLake 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
Nearest airport is Kheria (Agra), 62 km,
also Delhi Airport 155 km. » Rail
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.
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.