Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mathura Temples | Mathura Tourist Places to Visit | Lord Krishna

Mathura weidely known as birth place of lord Krishana is a city in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately 50 km north of Agra, and 145 km south-east of Delhi; about 11 kilometers from the town of Vrindavan and 22 kilometers from Govardhan. It is the administrative centre of Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient period, for about 3000 Years Mathura was a hub for culture and civilization. Today, it is a fast expanding city with over 2.5 million residents.

Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna at the centre of Braj or Brij-bhoomi, called Shri Krishna Janma-Bhoomi, literally: 'Lord Krishna's birth place'.  Mathura and Vrindavan are still alive with the Krishna legend, and still sway in fascination to the tune of his flute. Mathura, otherwise a dusty hamlet on the bank of the river Yamuna, was transformed into a place of light after Krishna was born here. The Vrindavan town stands apart in Indian mythology as the place where Krishna spent most of his childhood, serenading his gopis one moment, and slaying demons the next. The Keshav Dev was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna's legendary birthplace (an underground prison). According to the Mahabharata and Bhagvata Purana epics, Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kansa the maternal uncle of Shri Krishna.

Visit the area in August, and you'll see Krishna fever at its peak, as countless Vaishnava pilgrims gather to relive the birth of the blue-skinned god. Romance, legend, even controversy (over Krishna's actual birthplace)… these two cities have enough to last lesser locales for an eternity.


Mathura has an ancient history. According to the ASI plaque at the Mathura Museum, the city is mentioned in the oldest Indian epic, the Ramayana. In the epic, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughana slays a demon called Lavanasura and claims the land. Afterwards, the place came to be known as Madhuvana as it was thickly wooded, then Madhupura and later Mathura. The demon that Shatrughan killed in Ramayana, Lavanasura was the progeny of a devout king Madhu who gets Lord Shiva's Trident in a boon in the Puranas. The Puranas ascribe the founding of the city to Ayu, the son of Pururavas and the celestial nymph Urvashi. The city might also have got its name from a famous Yadav king Madhu who reigned around 1,600 BCE.

In the 6th century BCE Mathura became the capital of the Surasena Mahajanapada. The city was later ruled by the Maurya empire (4th to 2nd centuries BCE) and the Sunga dynasty (2nd century BCE). It may have come under the control of Indo-Greeks some time between 180 BCE and 100 BCE. It then reverted to local rule before being conquered by the Indo-Scythians during the 1st century BCE. Archeological evidence seems to indicate that, by 100 BCE, there was a group of Jains living in Mathura. Mathuran art and culture reached its zenith under the Kushan dynasty which had Mathura as one of their capitals, the other being Purushapura (Peshawar). The dynasty had kings with the names of Kujula, Kadphises, Kanishka, Huvishka and Vasudeva. All the Kushans were patrons of Buddhism except Vasudeo, mentioned on coins as Bazodeo. Kanishka even hosted the third Buddhist council, the first two being hosted by Ajatshatru and Ashoka the Great. The headless statue of Kanishka is in the Mathura Museum. Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name (M├ęthora).

The Indo - Scythins (aka Sakas or Shakas) conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE. One of their satraps was Hagamasha, who was in turn followed by the Saka Great Satrap Rajuvula. The findings of ancient stone inscriptions in Madhera, a town 17 km from Mathura, provide historical artifacts giving more details on this era of Mathura. The opening of the 3 line text of these inscriptions is in Brahmi script and was translated as: "In the 116th year of the Greek kings..."

The capital also mentions the genealogy of several Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura.Rajuvula apparently eliminated the last of the Indo-Greek kings, Strato II, around 10 CE, and took his capital city, Sagala.The Mathura Lion Capital inscriptions attest that Mathura fell under the control of the Sakas. The inscriptions contain references to Kharaosta Kamuio and Aiyasi Kamuia. Yuvaraja Kharostes (Kshatrapa) was the son of Arta as is attested by his own coins. Arta is stated to be brother of King Moga or Maues.rincess Aiyasi Kambojaka, also called Kambojika, was the chief queen of Shaka Mahakshatrapa Rajuvula. Kamboja presence in Mathura is also verified from some verses of epic Mahabharata which are believed to have been composed around this period.

This may suggest that Sakas and Kambojas may have jointly ruled over Mathura and Uttar Pradesh. It is revealing that Mahabharata verses only attest the Kambojas and Yavanas as the inhabitants of Mathura, but do not make any reference to the Sakas. Probably, the epic has reckoned the Sakas of Mathura among the Kambojas (Dr J. L. Kamboj) or else have addressed them as Yavanas, unless the Mahabharata verses refer to the previous period of invasion occupation by the Yavanas around 150 BCE.

The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the "Northern Satraps", as opposed to the "Western Satraps" ruling in Gujarat and Malwa. After Rajuvula, several successors are known to have ruled as vassals to the Kushans, such as the "Great Satrap" Kharapallana and the "Satrap" Vanaspara, who are known from an inscription discovered in Sarnath, and dated to the 3rd year of Kanishka (c 130 CE), in which they were paying allegiance to the Kushans. 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.

Fa Hien mentions the city, as a centre of Buddhism about A.D. 400; while his successor Hsuan Tsang, who visited the city in 634 AD, which he mentions as Mot'ulo, and writes that it contained twenty Buddhist monasteries and five Brahmanical temples . Later, he went east to Thanesar, Jalandhar in the eastern Punjab, before climbing up to visit predominantly Theravada monasteries in the Kulu valley and turning southward again to Bairat and then Mathura, on the Yamuna river

The city was sacked and many of its temples destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1018 and again by Sikandar Lodhi, who earned the epithet of But Shikan, the destroyer of idols.

The Keshav Dev temple was partially destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who built the city's Jami Masjid (Friday mosque) on the same site, re-using many of the temple's stones was won over from the Mughals by the Jat kings of Bharatpur but subsequently the area was passed on to the Marathas. The main Krishna shrine is presently the Dwarkadeesh temple, built in 1815 by Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of Gwalior.

Moreover, Mathura is one of the seven most holy places for Hindus in India where Varanasi is considered as the holiest of the seven holy cities. There are many place of historic and religious importance in Mathura and its neighboring towns. Most of them are linked with Hindu heritage.

The major places of tourist attraction:

The Jama Masjid : This is Mathura's main mosque. It was built by Abd-un Nabir Khan in 1661. A colourful edifice on a plinth raised above street level, its teal domes add to the picturesque setting of Mathura's bazaar and fruit market. It may have lost its original glazed tiles, but it has retained its four minarets and assorted outer pavilions. A good palce to view the goings-on in the dusty temple town.

Dwarkadhish Temple: This temple is one of the most splendid and the most remarkable temples of Mathura. This temple dedicated to Lord Krishna was built in 1814 by Seth Gokuldas Parekh, the then treasurer of the princely state of Gwalior, and is the main place of worship for the city's Hindus. It is presently the most visited temple of Mathura and currently managed by the followers of the Vallabha sect. It lies on the eastern part of Mathura and is recognized for its architectural magnificence.

Government Museum: It is the repository of the finest collection of archaeological importance and is located at Dampier Park. The Museum houses by far the most significant collection from the Mathura school of sculpture (3rd century BC – 12th century AD, and representative of the early Indian, Indo-Scythian and visiting Hellenistic cultures which reached its pinnacle under the Kushana and Gupta emperors. It contains some excellent specimens of the mottled red sandstone sculpture for which the region is noted. The star attractions: two immaculately preserved Buddha statues from the 4th and 5th centuries.  There is also a rather informative library with books on a large variety of topics.

Krishna Janambhoomi: Kishav Dev Temple or Keshav Dev Mandir also known as Krishnajanmabhoomi is one of the most remarkable tourist attractions in Mathura and is highly venerated by the tourists. This place is said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The main shrine, of course, is inconspicuous; a small, dimly lit replica of the prison cell where he was born while King Kamsa held his parents captive. According to the people the present temple is built over spot of the prison where Lord Krishna was born.

Vishram Ghat: Vishram Ghat, a bath and worship place on the banks of river Yamuna is the main ghat in Mathura, central to 25 other ghats. It is here that the traditional parikrama (a circumbulation of all the important religious and cultural places in a city) of the Mathura ghats begins and ends. This is where Lord Krishna is said to have rested after killing the evil king Kamsa.

Kusum Sarovar:  The most striking among the Mathura tourist attractions actually is this 450 feet long tank that dates back to the time of Lord Krishna. It has a depth of 60 feet and has many flights of stairs from all the sides. It is a half an hour walk from another famous tank which is called Radha Kunj.
Sati Burj: A four-storeyed tower built by the son of Behari Mal of Jaipur in 1570 in remembrance of his mother's supreme sacrifice: sati or self-immolation at the funeral pyre of her husband. Aurangzeb razed the upper storeys, but they were promptly rebuilt.

Kans Qila: This once-splendid-now-ruined fort was constructed by Raja Man Singh of Amber. It was rebuilt by Emperor Akbar and Jai Singh of Jaipur set up an observatory here, but it has since disappeared.

The other places of visit are:

Jai Gurudev Ashram - Naam Yog Sadhna Mandir

Shri Gopal Mandir, Chatta Bazar, Mathura.

Holi Gate

Durvasa Rishi Ashram

Sri Keshavji Gaudiya Matha

Rangeshwar Mahadev Mandir

Bhooteshwar Mahadev Mandir

Birla Mandir

Kans Khar Bazar (Place of Kans Vadh)

Galteshwar Mahadev Mandir

Mahavidhya Devi Mandir