A long streak of picturesque Ghats with their steps leading to water, arched gateways and temple spires extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna- emphasise the sacred character of the town of Mathura. The birth place of Lord Krishna, “the best known, best loved and most complex of Lord Vishnu’s manifestations” – Mathura is today an important place of pilgrimage.
Located at the centre of Braj or Brij-bhoomi, Mathura is at a distance of about 145 km southeast of Delhi and approximately 5o km north-west of Agra. It is one of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities and attracts floods of pilgrims throughout the year. Every square foot of Mathura is wrapped in timeless devotion to Lord Krishna, the evergreen hero of Hinduism, the lover of Radha, the cowherd-prince and the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The city boasts of multitudes of temples from various ages. Known for its various monasteries of the Hindu religion and innumerable pilgrim spots and temples, Mathura contains a plethora of tourist attractions.
Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi Temple
A religious temple in Mathura, Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple is the most sought after devout centres in the town. The original temple was built by Vajranabha, then later rebuilt by Vikramaditya. It is believed that the temple is built around the prison cell where lord Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudev. Garbh Griha (Sanctum sanctorum or Prison Cell), Keshavadeva Temple and Bhagvata Bhavan are the main temples in Shri Krishna Janamsthan. These places overwhelm the devotees by the palpable feeling of his divine grace.
The temple is said to have been ruined and rebuilt 17 times in its history. Today Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple is one of the most frequently visited temples in India.
Sri Dwarkadheesh Mandir
Built for the famous Hindu deity Dwarkadheesh, it is one of the oldest and largest temples of Mathura city. The temple is known for its amazing swing festival at the start of the monsoons in this region. The temple consists of large premises enclosed by a magnificently carved Rajasthani style entrance. It has huge religious significance and therefore millions of pilgrims visit the shrine every year from different parts of the country and even abroad.
Situated near Radha Kund, Kusum Sarovar is 450 feet long and 60 feet deep. It has a spiritual importance as Radha along with her friends would pick flowers from the sarovar, and also spent most of her time with Lord Krishna here. The reservoir has a calm and serene milieu and is the best swimming spot in Braj. The main attraction here is the evening Aarti which is not to be missed and is commonly photographed by the shutterbugs. Ashoka-lata, a kunja (forest grove), is also on the bank of Kusum Sarovar. This is where Krishna braided Radharani’s hair.
According to the sacred writing “Sri Upadeshamrita”, Radha-Kund is considered to be the supreme of all holy places. It is known to be a place where Lord Krishna slew a Demon Bull. The pool of the Radha Kund is said to be formed by Lord Krishna who struck the earth and the water emerged at this spot. People from far and wide come here to take a holy dip.
Erected by Raja Mansingh I of Jaipur, one of the Navratnas of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Kans Qila in Mathura is the fort of Kansa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna. Situated near Krishna Ganga Ghat and Gau ghat, the fort is built in a unique Hindu and Mughal styled architecture near the banks of the Yamuna River.
The Kans Fort enjoys a special prominence among all the other Mathura monuments. The Fort, at present, is in a ruined state but one can still form a clear conception as to the imposing structure it once was. It is also famous as Old Fort or Purana Qila of Mathura.
Usually called as Mathura Archaeological Museum, it houses the items discovered in the archaeological excavations from Mathura and adjacent area. The museum contains artefacts pottery, sculptures, paintings, and coins primarily from in and around Mathura along with the discoveries made by noted colonial archaeologists like Alexander Cunningham, F. S. Growse, and Fuhrer.
The aesthetically beautiful building of the museum is octagonal in shape and is made out of the red-sandstone. The museum boasts of the largest, vivid and the most splendid collection of Kushana sculptures in the country. It comprises nearly 6000 stone sculptures, 400 paintings, 3000 terracotta figures and 350 metal figures. Today it is one of the leading museums of Uttar Pradesh attracting zillions of visitors.
Known as Govardhan or Giriraj, it is the sacred centre of Braj and is identified as a natural form of Krishna. Govardhana is an 8km long hill located near the town of Vrindavana, and is one of the major pilgrim spots for the Vaishnavites. According to Hindu Mythology, the hill was lifted by Lord Krishna to defeat Indra the god of Rain and thunder. It is also believed that by residing in the foothills of Govardhan Hill, all the senses and the respective duties of a soul attain divinity and are more inclined to perform service to Krishna.
Besides, Mathura has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India. It is in Mathura that Leelapurushottam Shri Krishna and Ashthabhuja Ma Yogmaya manifested. Indeed, a visit to this holy city would calm your soul.