Mathura is popularly know as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is around 50 km from Agra and 145 km from Delhi. For the Hindus, Mathura is among the holiest cities in India. It is also a temple city, and receives thousands of pilgrims each day. There are many places of religious and historical significance here. Needles to say, many temples and places in Mathura are connected with Lord Krishna.
Mathura is located on the banks of the Yamuna River. The city features in the Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana as the capital of the Surasena kingdom ruled by Lord Krishna's maternal uncle, Kansa. Subsequently, the city was ruled by the Muaryans from the 4th to 2nd century BC, and later by the Sunga dynasty in the 2nd century BC. The city was ransacked many times by different rulers, its temples destroyed by Muslims rulers like Mahmud of Ghazni and Sikandar Lodi.
Mathura remains a major pilgrimage site in India today, attracting religious tourists. There are many important temples here, including the Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi, which is believed to be built on the actual birthplace of Lord Krishna.Mathura is also known for its enchanting Holi celebrations. The festival of colours is celebrated with a fervour that no other place in India can ever match. Both Indian and foreign tourists turn up to be part of this famous two-day festival. The streets become alive and colourful, with a jovial mood everywhere.
Here are some important temples to visit in Mathura:
Kesava Deo Temple and Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi Complex:
This is not only the most important temple in Mathura but it is easily the most important temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple was built on the site of birthplace of Lord Krishna. The deity Keshav Dev (Krishna) in the temple is believed to be installed by the Lord's great grandson Bajranabh. It is believed that the first temple in the complex was built 5,000 years ago by the great grandson of Krishna. Since then, it has been the site for many temples. Many temples have come and gone, but the grandest of them all was built during the reign of Gupta emperor Chandragupta II around AD 400. Legend has it that no words or paintings could describe the beauty of it. The present temple was constructed only in 1965. According to legend, the site was a prison at the time of Krishna's birth. The temple is guarded by armed security men. No cameras or electronic devices are allowed inside the complex that sees lakhs of Hindu devotees during the festival of Jansmasthami.
The Dwarkadheesh Temple is built on the side of a congested gully, very close to the Yamuna River. Built in 1814 by one Seth Gokul Das Parikh, the then treasurer of the estate of Gwalior, the temple has become one of the most revered temples in Mathura. It is quite popular during the Holi festival, featuring many rituals.
Vishram Ghat is the main ghat of Mathura. It is right in the heart of the city. A congested gully traverses through the old city towards the ghat. It is a much revered place of worship and sacrifice. Some devotees even taken a dip in the Yamuna River. There are boats on the ghat for tourists as well as devotees. There are many smaller temples at Vishram Ghat, an interesting one being the Brother and Sister Temple.
Potra Kund Lake:
The Potra Kund lake near the Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi is quite deep but has dried out, exposing the steps leading down. It is believed that water from this lake was used to wash clothes of Lord Krishna, when he was a baby.
The Jama Masjid at Mathura is very close to the Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi complex. The Masjid was built during the reign of Aurangzeb in 1662 by his governor Abd-un-Nabi.
The Birla Temple is also known as Gita Temple. It was built by Jugal Kishore Birla in memory of his father in 1946. The temple is located between Mathura and Vrindhavan.
If you are even remotely religious, a visit to the holy city of Mathura is highly recommended. More so if it's the Holi season, as you are likely to have the grandest experience of your life!