Mathura, a little town on the River Yamuna is synonymous with Lord Krishna who is believed have been born here. Alive with devotion to Lord Krishna - the evergreen hero of Hinduism, the lover of Radha and re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu - it has a peaceful and refreshing air about it. Mathura without Lord Krishna is like Bethlehem without Christ.
A very famous twin-city to Mathura is Vrindavan. The small town hosts a lot of temples belonging to various sects of Hinduism preaching Lord Krishna in various forms/avatars. Some of the most famous temples are Banke Bihari Temple, Rang ji Temple, Iskcon Temple.
Mathura is reputed to be the birthplace of Krishna, Krishnajanmabhoomi. The Keshav Dev temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna's supposed birthplace (an underground prison). As per epic Mahabharata, Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kansa the maternal uncle of Krishna.
Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BC, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora). Mathura served as one of the Kushan Empire's two capitals from the first to the third centuries. The Mathura Museum has the largest collection of redstone sculptures in Asia, depicting many famous Buddha figurines. In 634 Xuanzang had visited the Mathura town.The city is mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes story 'The Sign of Four.
The city has for long attracted Krishna devotees from across the world. Even the casual visitor finds the temples and monuments set in idyllic environs refreshing to core. Places of interest include:
Jama Masjid :
Built by Nabir Khan in 1661 A.D., the Mosque has four lofty minarets, with brightly colored plaster mosaic of which a few panels currently exist.
Vishram Ghat :
This is the sacred spot where Lord Krishna is believed to have rested after slaying the tyrant Kansa.
Dwarkadheesh Temple :
Built in 1814, it is the main temple of the town. The best time to visit the temple is during the festive days of Holi, Janmashtami and Diwali as it is grandly decorated.
Archaeological Museum :
Located at Dampier Park, this museum has the finest collection of rare items from the Gupta and Kushan period (400 BC to 1200AD).
The rare wetland grove and bird sanctuary, roughly five acres in size, is located a few miles across the Yamuna River. Local tradition has it that the lake, or 'sarovar', was formed from the tears of Sri Radha, while in an intensely emotional state of wounded love. She came here alone when she feared she had lost Krishna. In her memory a solitary image of her is worshipped in a small shrine beside the lake.
Govardhan Hill :
Govardhan Hill was about 16 miles (29 km) high 5,000 years ago. Govardhana is formed in the shape of a peacock. Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda are the eyes. Dan Ghati is its long neck. Mukharavinda is the mouth and Punchari is its back and tail feathers. A peacock often curves its neck and puts his head under its stomach. Govardhana Hill is shaped in this pose of a peacock. It is believed that the hill is sinking by the height of a mustard seed daily as it was cursed by Pulastya Muni.
Kusuma Sarovara :
Kusuma Sarovara is a 25 minutes walk from Radha Kunda. Kusuma means "flower," and here the gopis would pick flowers for Krishna. Kusuma Sarovara is the best swimming spot in Mathura.
Holy 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.
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.
Location and Transport
The city of Mathura is located at a distance of 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra (India). Mathura is situated on very important Road and Train routes in India. The famous Delhi-Agra highway (NH-2, National Highway -2)crosses Mathura, providing the city great connectivity. Also, the city houses a fairly large and important train station, named Mathura Junction. The city is home to the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai train routes.
Mathura had a population of 298,827. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Mathura has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 67%, and female literacy is 53%. In Mathura, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Mathura is home to a large, technologically-advanced oil refinery owned by the Indian Oil Corporation. This refinery is one of the largest oil refineries of Asia. On the industrial aspect, Mathura is home to a flourishing Silver polishing industry, textile printing industry involving in Sari-printing and Fabric dyeing. In addition to this, water tap factories are also flourishing in the area.