One of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities, Mathura is the birthplace of the very beloved Lord Krishna. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mathura and Vrindavan are often considered twin cities (located only 10km away from each other). Mathura is a small town dotted with temples from various ages and attracts a horde of pilgrims from all over the world.
One side of Mathura is stretched across the Yamuna River, lined with 25 ghats, which are best visited during dawn when you can witness locals and tourists taking a holy dip, and at dawn (just after the sunset) when hundreds of diyas are floated during the daily aarti. Mathura is flooded with tourists and pilgrims during the two main festivals – Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday) in August/September, and Holi in February/March.
Shri Krishna Janmabhumi is the most famous tourist attraction in Mathura, as this place is believed to be the exact place where Lord Krishna was born, and the prison where he was born is now on display for tourists to see. Mathura has many temples, both big and small, dotting the entire city, with many of these temples being dedicated to Lord Krishna. The two most important temples in town are the Dwarkadheesh Temple and the Gita Mandir.
If you are looking for more than just the standard tourist fare, then the best way to explore Mathura is by taking a walk around the streets of the city. Every nook and cranny of this religious town still retains an old-world charm that belies the urbanization the city has kept up with. There is a lot of history to Mathura that you can experience only by exploring the old-fashioned architecture; the crumbling ruins of old houses, and the genial amiability of the locals who are always willing to show you around.
It is not possible to think of a city as old as Mathura and imagine it not having a delicious history of street food! Don’t forget to try out local snacks like kachodis, aloo-puri and chaat, which are available at any and all eateries lining the streets. Jalebis and gulab-jamuns are also very popular local street food items that are available at all shops throughout the day.
Places to visit In Mathura
Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex: Shri Krishna Janmasthan Temple is located in the holy city of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. It is built around the prison cell in which Lord Krishna’s parents, Mata Devaki and Vasudeva were imprisoned by his evil uncle Kansa. The temple is of great significance for the Hindus, as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Dwarkadhish Temple: The Dwarkadhish Temple, touted as one of the holiest temples in Mathura, is famous all over the country for its elaborate architecture and paintings. Built in 1814, the temple is relatively new but is highly revered. The temple is dedicated to Lord Dwarkadheesh, a form of Lord Krishna known as Dwarkanath, depicted in a black marble idol.
Gita Mandir: Located on the Vrindavan – Mathura Road is the famous Birla Mandir, also popularly known as Gita Mandir. It is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narayan – an avatar of Vishnu. The architecture of the temple speaks of its magnificence and the exquisite carvings and paintings of its grandeur.
Govardhan Hill: Govardhan Hill or the Giri Raj is situated at a distance of 22 km from Vrindavan. It has been stated in the Holy Bhagwat Gita that according to Lord Krishna, Govardhan Parvat is not different from him. Therefore, all his worshipers worship the pure rocks of the hill just like they worship his idol. The hill is made up of sandstone and stands 80 ft tall with a circumference of 38 km. Some interesting places one gets to visit the hills including Mansi Ganga, Mukharvind, and Daan Ghati.
Radha Kund: Situated near Govardhan Hill in the small town in Mathura is one of the holiest places in Braja – the Radha Kund and Shyam Kund. The two holy water tanks lying next to each other are considered to be the supreme of all holy places, containing pure and sacred water, also known to contain magical properties to heal for conception.
Sri Ranganatha Temple: Rangji Temple, also known as Sri Ranganath Temple, is situated on the Vrindavan – Mathura Marg. It is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda Ranagamannar – a South Indian Vaishnava Saint, and Lord Ranganatha – an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The highlight of the temple is the idol of Krishna present in the form of the groom with Goda (Andal) as his bride.
Kusum Sarovar: Located between Govardhan and Radha Kund in Vrindavan, Mathura, Kusum Sarovar is a beautiful reservoir fringed by palatial sandstone building from the bygone era. The reservoir has a flight of stairs, which can be used to descend in the pond. The sarovar is believed to have got its name from one of the girl attendants of Radha, named Kusum. The water is ideal for swimming and dips. Kusum Sarovar also has several temples and ashrams in the vicinity.
Radha Vallabh Mandir: Situated near Gotam Nagar on the cliff near Bankey Bihari temple is the Radha Vallabh Mandir, one of the seven temples of Thakur of Vrindavan. This temple is the epitome of the sacred and divine love of Radha and Krishna, displayed in the rarest form ‘Ras-bhakti’. Enshrined by Lord Krishna, the temple does not have a deity of Radha. Instead, it has a crown placed next to Lord Krishna to signify her presence.
Ghats: Vishram Ghat is a revered and sacred bathing ghat located at about 4.5 kilometres from Mathura Junction on the banks of River Yamuna. It is the main ghat of Mathura and is central to 25 other ghats. Pilgrims from all over the country visit Vishram Ghat to bathe in its holy waters and perform the traditional parikrama that starts and ends here.
Best time to visit Mathura?
October to March is the best time to visit Mathura, as the weather is pleasant and cool for sightseeing. To experience the best of the city’s culture and to soak in the vibes of Lord Krishna, the ideal time to visit Mathura is during Krishna Janmashthami (August/September) and Holi (March). However, keep in mind that the town sees a flood of tourists during these festivals, so be prepared for the pulsating crowd.
How to Reach Mathura
The nearest airport to Mathura is the Agra airport located 50km away while the major international airport close to Mathura is the Indira Gandhi International Airport located almost 147km away. Mathura is connected to Delhi through the Noida-Agra expressway. The Mathura railway station is connected to the major cities in India through regular trains. One can also reach Mathura through buses from nearby cities like Agra, Faizabad, Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and even Delhi.www.holidify.com