Mathura

About

Mathura  is a city in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of Agra, and 145 kilometres (90 mi) south-east of Delhi; about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from the town of Vrindavan, and 22 kilometres (14 mi) from Govardhan. It is the administrative centre of Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient period, Mathura was an economic hub, located at the junction of important caravan routes. The 2011 census of India estimated the population of Mathura to be 441,894.

Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna which is located at the centre of Braj or Brij-bhoomi, called Shri Krishna Janma-Bhoomi, literally: ‘Lord Krishna’s birthplace’.[citation needed] It is one of the seven cities (Sapta Puri) considered holy by Hindus. The Keshav Dev Temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna’s birthplace (an underground prison). Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kansa the maternal uncle of Krishna.

Mathura has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.

History

Mathura has an ancient history and also homeland and birthplace of Krishna who was born in yadu dynasty. According to the Archaeological Survey of India plaque at the Mathura Museum, the city is mentioned in the oldest Indian epic, the Ramayana. In the epic, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughna slays a demon called Lavanasura and claims the land. Afterwards, the place came to be known as Madhuvan as it was thickly wooded, then Madhupura and later Mathura.

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 Shunga 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.

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 I.

Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora).

The Indo-Scythians (aka Sakas or Shakas) conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE.

The findings of ancient stone inscriptions in Maghera, a town 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Mathura, provide historical artifacts giving more details on this era of Mathura. The opening of the 3 line text of these inscriptions are in Brahmi script and were translated as: “In the 116th year of the Greek kings…”

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.

Faxian mentions the city as a centre of Buddhism about 400 while his successor Xuanzang, who visited the city in 634 CE, mentions it as Mot’ulo, recording 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 ruled the Sultanate of Delhi from 1489 to 1517.

Sikander Lodhi earned the epithet of ‘Butt Shikan’, the ‘Destroyer of Hindu deities’. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built the city’s Jami Masjid (Friday mosque) . The noteworthy fact is that the exact place of birth of Krishna, according to historians, is in the place of worship of the Hindus, though the mosque was built near the birthplace of Krishna. The bigger Krishna shrine, better known as Dwarkadeesh Temple is a few metres away from what is believed to be the actual birthplace of Krishna. It was built in 1815 by Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of Gwalior.

In 2016, 24 people including 2 police officers were killed in the Jawahar Bagh clash, when the police tried to evict a large number of squatters from the public park.

Geography

Mathura is located at 27.28°N 77.41°E. It has an average elevation of 174 metres (570 feet).

Map

How to Get There

By train

Mathura is an important railway junction. Most trains between Delhi and Agra stop in Mathura. The journey from Delhi takes 2-3 hours depending on the train type, while from Agra the trip takes about one hour. Most of the south bound and west bound trains stop at Mathura. August Kranti Rajdhani Express 12950/12951 (for Mumbai) for Delhi stops at Mathura. Other than that almost all major trains from Delhi and Agra stop at Mathura. It is well connected to national capital Delhi, state capital Lucknow and all major cities by rail.

From Sultanpur/Varanasi/Lucknow you may take train 13237/13239 Patna-Mathura.

By road

Mathura is situated between Delhi and Agra on National Highway 2, about 150 km south of Delhi and 50 km north of Agra. NH-2 is one of the best highways of country. Upcoming Taj expressway is in east of the city. Mathura is well connected to national capital Delhi, state capital Lucknow and all major cities by road. Many state transport departments busses are running through Mathura. There are also ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) services from Delhi Sarai Kale Khan with frequency of 25 minutes.

By air

Nearest airport is Agra (Kheria Airport). It is 50 km from Mathura. Perhaps most of the international and domestic flights are landing into IGI Airport, Delhi. IGI Airport is 150 km from Mathura. Upcoming new international airport will also be accessible via Taj expressway, 1½ hours from Mathura.

Sightseeing

  • Akhand Jyoti Sansthan,Giya Mandi
  • 1 Bankey Bihari Temple (Bihari Ji Temple), Vrindavan. This is the most famous temple in Mathura and many people including VIPs from across India visit the temple every year.
  • 2 Basantar Park. In memory of the victory of Basantar (1971 war).
  • 3 Birla Temple
  • 4 Dwarkadheesh Temple (Dwarkadhish Temple). Built in 1814, it is the main temple in the town. During the festive days of Holi, Janmashthami and Diwali, it is decorated on a grandiose scale.
  • Gayatri TapoBhumi (First Gayatri Temple)Vrindavan Rd
  • Gita Mandir (On the city outskirts). The temple carving and painting are a major attraction.
  • Govardhan Giriraj Hill (Goverdhan Parvat). 
  • 5 Government Museum (At Dampier Park). Biggest and richest in Asia for Mathura and Gandhar sculpture. It has one of the finest collection of archaeological interest. Rare items from the Gupta and Kushan period (400BC-1200AD) are on display. Major attraction for tourists.
  • Jaigurudeo Temple (also named Naam Yog Sadhna Mandir). Constructed by great saints Baba Jaigurudeo. It resembles the Tajmahal, built with white marble. It is a unique temple in that you are prohibited from donating if you are a non-vegetarian.
  • 6 Jama Masjid. Built by Abo-inNabir-Khan in 1661.A.D. the mosque has 4 lofty minarets, with bright colored plaster mosaic of which a few panels currently exist.
  • 7 Krishna Janma Bhoomi. There are two main places to visit in this complex. First is a prison cell where Vasudev and Devaki, parents of Sri Krishna were held captive. This place is on the left hand side of the main complex. This is the cell were Bhagwan Sri Krishna was born hence the most sacred place in world for all the followers of Bhagwan Sri Krishna. One cannot miss the spiritual and mystical power in the cell. After Darsan here visit a magnificent temple. The idol of Sri Krishna and Radha are so beautiful and has a soothing effect on the devotees. I am sure that any nonbeliever will also feel the magic. There are many other idols of gods here. Walls and ceiling are painted with some of the most events in the life of Sri Krishna. One can climb up the stairs if authority allows to get a great view of idols.
  • Mathura Jain Chorasi (On NH-2). Worship place of Jains. Here is the largest statue of Lord Jambu Swami & is made up of single piece of greynite stone. This statue is about 21 feet in height in sitting position of lord Jambu Swami.
  • Mathura Refinery. Watch the lightning in the evening, if you are coming from Agra in the evening you can enjoy this beautiful scene.
  • 8 Old Fort (Kans Quila), Near Swami Ghat. Its the main Quila in Mathura to protect the city from Yamuna River if this Quila was not built then it would have destroyed the city and it would will fill up with the waters of Yamuna river during the flood time.
  • 9 Rifle Club of Mathura. One of its own kind club. Do not expect rifle shooting now days.
  • Shri Dwarika Dheesh TempleNear river Yamuna (You have to go holi gate first, then enter chatta bazaar and go straight to river Yamuna, then ask anybody nearby you will reach it). This is a 400-year-old temple. It is very beautiful from outside and inside as well.
  • 10 Shri Ganesh Temple (Siddhi vinayak), At Ganesh Tila (Jaisingh Pura, Vindavan Road),  +91 2530063
  • Shri Krishna Janm Bhoomi Temple. Birth Place of Lord Kirshna. Enjoy enjoy Satsung or Bhagvat-Katha here.
  • 11 Vishram Ghat. The sacred spot where Lord Krishna is believed to have rested after slaying the tyrant Kansa. Enjoy evening Yamuna ji ki Aarti here. Also see the river and huge turtles.
  • Culture

    Temple in Barsana, near Mathura, dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna. Being the birthplace of Krishna, Mathura is an important Hindu pilgrimage site.

    Mathura has contributed a lot towards Indian Culture through its rich heritage. The ethos of Mathura, and in fact the whole of Braj mandal is centered on Krishna and his tales. Mathura sees heightened activities during the major festivities dedicated to Krishna.

    The Braj culture has been expressed widely through various practices.

    Sanjhee is the colourful art of decorating the ground with flowers.

    Rasiya is a tradition that is integral to Mathura’s culture. It is the tradition of folk-songs that describe the love of the divine couple Radha and Krshnaji. It is an inseparable part of the Holi celebrations and all other festive occasions at Mathura. (Dhulendi – Holi with drums (dholak), colours, etc. originated from Braj region hundreds of millennia before today.)

    Raaslilas of Mathura have become an integral part of Indian Folklore. Krshnaji had danced the Raas with gopis on banks of Yamuna river.

    Charkula is a traditional folk dance of the Braj. In this dance, a woman balances a column of deepikas on her head and dances to the accompaniment of Rasiya songs by the menfolk.

    The language spoken in the Braj mandal is mainly Hindi which is spoken in a different dialect. This dialect is characteristic with the Braj region and known as Brajbhasha. Being close to haryana and uttar pradesh haryanwi is spoken by people and very few people speak Punjabi. Before Hindi and until past few centuries, Brajbhasha used to be the dominant language in literature.

    Mathura is one of the seven most holy places for Hindus in India.

Do

  • Boating. Boating in Holy river Yamuna and visit to Durvasa Rishi Temple which situated on the other side of the river and go to Hansiya Rani ghat which was built in the time of Rani Hansiya. There she got bath. It was built of Red Stone and the location of the Ghat is so beautiful.
  • Ramleela. Sep-Oct. A play act based on the story of the great Lord Ram. In this act the main play is Ram Barat. In Ram Barat you can take the fun Sword Fighting and other fighting styles in the Akhada’s.

Buy

  • Books on every aspect of Life.Gayatri Tapobhmi (Vrindavan Road, Mathura),  +91 565 – 2530128, +91 565 2530399. Creative writings of Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, 3200 Books on every aspect of LIFE. Gayatri Pariwar is Not For Profit Organisation. Books available in Hindi, English and many regional language of India.
  • Brass/ Copper Pooja Articles
  • Clothes
  • Leather shoes from factory Outlets on NH-2 (towards Agra)
  • Milk Products
  • Pooja Articles
  • Sweets

Eat

Sweets made of milk and milk products are the specialty of Mathura. Mathura is famous for “PEDE” (sweet made of milk and sugar).The best shop for trying sweets is “Brijwasi Mithai wala” which are located at 4-5 places in Mathura like Opposite Janmbhumi, in Holigate,in Chowk Bazaar and at the New Roadways bus stand. Other good sweet shops are Gosai Pede Wala, Radhika Sweets, Shankar Mithai Wala, Bharatpuria etc.

Another famous food item in Mathura that is the most common breakfast in the city is “Kachori and Jalebi”. Kachori is a snack served with “Alloo Ki Subji“(Spicy Potato Curry) and Jalebi is a sweet. One can find a near rush in front of Kachori Shops in the morning in Mathura. If you are in Mathura then you must try Kachori and Jalebi for your break fast. Although there are many Kachori and Jalebi Shops, but most famous among them is OMA Pahalwan KachoriWala, that is situated at Holigate in front of Brijwasi Mithai Wala. Another famous item worth trying in Mathura is “Chat”, specially “Gol – Gappey” (Pani-Puri).There are many chat walas, it depends upon your taste. You can taste these chat on the vendor who are situated from Holi Gate to Chowk bazaar.

For street food, fast food or restaurants, try one of the following

  • Agrawal DhabaNH-2. Probably this is the best place to have food in Mathura
  • Bhagvan Das ka BhallaGhiya Mandi chok bajar (Opp Jain Street). After 5PM. Street food. ₹15.
  • Brijwasi Chat Wala (Near Khadi Ashram, Tilak Dwar). After 5PM.
  • Café Coffee Day (Nh-2 Hiway Plaza). 
  • Canteen of Sri Krishna Janma Bhoomi Temple. For budgeted and hygienic food one can go to Sri Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple just a block away from the temple complex there a canteen run by the temple trust. Here one can try Thaali’s with limited and unlimited version. Taste is good and one thing for sure its more clean than any other eateries..
  • Oma Pahlwan Kachori wala (Near Holi Gate, Opp Brijwasi Mithai wala). 8AM-2PM. Street food.
  • Pizza HutHighway plaza NH-2
  • Radha Ashok Restaurant (NH-2 and at Highway Plaza at NH-2). 

Budget

  • 1 Shankar Mithai WalaTilak Dwar (Holi Gate area),  +91 565 250 0955. 6:30AM–11PM. This candy store is not just famous for its sweet stuff. It’s also renowned for its puri, kachori, and chole bhaturi. All these foods are served upstairs where you can seat and sip chilled lassi served in small pots. Halwas and dahi bhallas covered with thick cream are also worth trying.
  • Suresh ke MangodeGhiya Mandi (Opp Bhargava Street). After 5PM. Street food.

Drink

  • Jaljeera – a digestive drink.
  • Lassi served in a clay glass
  • Milk Badam(almonds and other dryfruits minced in chilled milk)
  • Sweetened hot milk served in a clay glass
  • Thandai
  • Brijwasi Mithai WalaHoli Gate (Mathura). Has an Awesome range of sweets, namkeens, pastries, puddings, etc. at economical rates. The shop is opened till late in the evening. Also try the famous sweet of mathura “PEDA” here, you would never dislike it.
  • Kailash (opp rifles club). sutte waala
  • Fruit Juice

Sleep

  • Country Inn, KosiNH-2 +91 566 2232445
  • Hotel Brijwasi Royal
  • Hotel Dwaper ResortsNH-2
  • Hotel Goverdhan Palace (Mathura), Opp.Narholi Thana Agra-DelhI Highway,Mathura, UttarPradesh +91 9810515872. Check-in: 1200, check-out: 1300. Hotel Goverdhan Palace Mathura is a Three-Star business hotel. Set in landscaped grounds. Can host weddings for up to 2500. 25 rooms which overlook the garden. 2000.
  • Hotel Mukund Palace
  • Shri Radha Brij Vasundhara ResortAanyor, Parikrama Marg +91 565-32 98427. The place has a scenic, peaceful atmosphere. Cluster of detached cottages having Bed room, Lounge & a small kitchenette. Eighty Seven percent of the resort area is Gardens against 13% percent of built up area.

Go next

  • Back Water of Gokul Barrage (2 km south)
  • Baldeo (22 km southeast)
  • Gokul (10 km east)
  • Goverdhan (20 km west)
  • Govardhan for parikrama (circle or pradakshina). While some walk, some do sashtang namaskar every step, some walk every foot by foot, while old people who cannot walk take vehicle or rickshaw. Remember to chant Sri Krishna all the time while you are circling, or when you are in brajbhumi in general.
  • Keetham Bird Sanctuary, Keetham, NH-2 (35 km south)
  • Kelva Dev Sanctuary, Bharatpur (35 km west)
  • Rural Mathura on bank of river Yamuna

 

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