A trip to the holy town of Mathura is a pilgrimage that every devout Hindu cherishes to make. The reason is not fat to seek. One of the seven sacred cities or ‘Sapta Puris’, Mathura, on the western bank of the Yamuna River, is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Coveted as a spiritual destination since antiquity, the land has been attracting visitors. Mathura and its atmospheric surrounding areas of Vrindavan, Goverdhan and Gokul, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, are referred to as "Braj-Bhoomi" and are home to numerous shrines visited by thousands of people.
In ancient India, Mathura was famous centre of Buddhism. The famous Mathura school of art flourished here. During the rule of the Kushana kings, Mathura was a great centre of Jaina art. A gem produced by this school is a votive plaque (ayapatta) depicting the cross-legged naked figure of a Tirthankara.
The Mathura school of art is credited with the production of the first idols of the Buddha. With the decline of Buddhism, the Buddhist site of Mathura was destroyed by the Afghan and Mughal rulers. The beautiful Buddhist sculptures of Mathura are now kept in the Archaeological Museum.
The sacred city Mathura is renowned all over the world for its Kesava Deo temple whose presiding deity is Kehsav Dev (Krishna).
This is one of Mathura’s most popular temples, and is in the heart of the town. Constructed in 1814 by Seth Gokul Das Parikh, the temple is visited by thousands of devotees during Janmashthami, the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna.
The most famous of the twenty five ghats (steps at the water's edge) lining the Yamuna River, the Vishram Ghat sacred spot where Lord Krishna is believed to have rested after killing the tyrannical King Kansa, who happened to be the cousin of Devaki, Krishna’s mother. It was prophesied that Kansa will be killed by Devaki’s eighth son, Krishna. Adjacent to the ghat is the 17m high four-storey tower called Sati Burj, built in 1570 by Raja Bhagwan Das, the son of Jaipur ruler Behari Mal to commemorate his mother’s sati (self-immolation on her husband’s funeral pyre).
Set up in the year 1874 by F. S. Growse, the Government museum has a rich collection of the works of art produced by the famous Mathura school which is credited with producing f the first idols of the Buddha. The collections include the famous headless life-sized statue of Kushan ruler Kanishka.
Also known as Mathura Museum, this archaeological museum remains open every day except on Mondays and public holidays. Kala Vividha Art Gallery is situated within the Government Museum.
The mosque, built in 1661 AD., is characterised by four lofty minarets.
More than five thousand years ago Vrindavan was the very place where Lord Krishna performed divinest of the divine lilas by playing flute and sporting with the Gopies (milkmaids). The place is full of many ancient and historical temples which are thronged by thousands of pilgrims.
Bankey Bihari Temple, Banshivat, Ramji Ka Bagirha, Gopinath Temple, Guda Vihar Temple, Govind Deo Temple, Jaipur Temple, Kunj Galliyan temple, Jugal Kishore Temple, Radha Ballabh Temple, Madan Mohan Temple, Krishna Balaram Temple (ISKCON), Rangaji Temple, Dwarakadeesh Temple, Seva Kunj, Kalya Ghata, Kesi Ghata, Radha Damodara Temple, Shahji Temple and Radha Ramana Temple are some of the popular temples in Vridavan.
Prem Mandir is the latest edition to the list of the majestic temples in Vrindavan. Occupying an area of 54 acres, the Prem Mandir complex in Vrindavan is endowed with stunning landscape that includes beautiful gardens and fountains. The foundation stone of this grand building, a masterpiece of the Vedic architecture, was laid by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Maharaj on 14th January, 2001.
Located 16 km southeast of Mathura on the banks of the Yamuna River, Gokul is the place where infant Krishna and his brother Balarama brought up as the sons of the cowherds Nanda and his wife Yashoda in secrecy to escape the wrath of the tyrant Kansa who had ordered the slaughter of all male children in his Kingdom. Its most important temple is that of Gokul Nathji.
18 km from Mathura Mahavan , loctated on the left bank of the Yamuna River, is revered by the Hindus for its association with Lord Krishna’s childhood. Mathura Nathji and Assi Khamba are famous attractions of Mahavan.
26 Km from Mathura, the hillock of Govardhan was held over the heads of the cowherds by Krishna with his finger for seven days to shelter them from a storm unleashed by Indra, the Rain god. On the top of the Govardhan hill is a temple built by Bhakti movement saint Vallabhacharya in 1520. Manasi Ganga Kunda and Daan-Ghati Mandir are other attractions of Govardhan.
20 km from Mathura, the place is named after Balarama, also known as Baldeo (Dauji), the elder brother of Lord Krishna. Here a temple dedicated to him is the chief attraction.
Other excursions from Mathura are Barsana and Nandgaon which are 21km and 60 km from Mathura.
How To Reach Mathura by Air: The Delhi airport is the nearest international airport and is 147 km away from Mathura. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, and Agra, home to Taj Mahal, are the other airports that are near to Mathura and are 219 km and 54 km away respectively from Mathura.
How To Reach Mathura By Rail: Mathura is a major railway junction connected with all the main places in India
How To Reach Mathura By Road: Mathura is well connected by road to different places in India. Some of the cities and places connected with Mathura by road are Agra (54km), Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (112 km), Delhi (147 km), Alwar (155 km) and Jaipur (219km).
If one is visiting on a budget and looking for a cheap hotel or if one wants to enjoy the comforts of a luxury hotel with wonderful service, Mathura can offer accommodation options to suit their taste.