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Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

Information about Mathura
Mathura is an important place of pilgrimage in India as it is the birth place of Lord Krishna. Mathura is one of the most sacred cities of Hinduism and is situated on the western banks of the Yamuna River. The thousands of devotees visit this place throughout the year. It lies at the heart of the Brajbhoomi, a land that is imbued with sanctity, for it was here that the young Krishna was nurtured. The little towns and hamlets in this area are still alive with the tales of his mischievous pranks, his

Mathura Uttar Pradesh

extraordinary exploits and still seem to echo with the sound of his flute. Today, Mathura with its many temples and splendid ghats along the Yamuna river, is an important pilgrimage town. It is also a rapidly growing industrial city. Hindi, English and Brajbhasha are the main languages which are spoken in Mathura.

History of Mathura
The history of Mathura belongs to 600 BC. Ptolemy mentions the town and it played an important role in the formation of the first to second century Kushan Empire. Kanishka and his successors used it as their capital. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang visited it in 634 AD. At that time it was also important Buddhist centre with over 2,000 followers. Mathura continued to be a centre of power during the enlightened rule of Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) and upto the Gupta era (4th century AD). By the time Mahmud of Ghazni came and sacked the city in 1017, Buddhism had virtually disappeared. The Mahmud of Ghazni’s looted Mathura by burning the city, destroying the temples and various numerous jewel encrusted idols were carted off. Sikander Lodi did similar harm to the religious places in 1500 while the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb used a local revolt in which his governor was killed as an opportunity to destroy all the main temples. The present day Braj-bhoomi was resurrected by the passionate devotion of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya in the 16th century. The patronizing rule of Akbar helped seers and devotees redecorate the ancient Braj-bhoomi. The land was largely green, redolent with gardens, groves and lakes in which the Lord frolicked. As the Mughal Empire declined, Jats and Marathas jostled for control. As it lay on the main Dehi-Agra artery it had great strategic value. Its strategic location ensured its location as a centre of trade and a meeting point of the cultures. In the beginning of the 19th century it came under British control. They laid out a cantonment in the south and left a cemetery and the Roman Cathoic Church of the Sacred Heart. Today, Mathura is an important and rapidly growing industrial city. The opening of a big oil refinery on the outskirts of the city in 1975 caused great concern among environmentalists that atmospheric pollution would be carried by prevailing northwesterly winds and irreversibly damage the Taj Mahal. Vallabhacharya, one of the revivers of Braj, first visited Braj in a boat at age 13. On beholding Vishram Ghat, he spontaneously sang a paean in praise. This song, Yamunashtakam in Sanskrit, is still well preserved in the oral tradition of the land, and other songs which have been handed down by greats such as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami, Mirabai, Suradas, Raskhan and Jayadeva. Innumerable poets are born daily in Braj, as devotees are stirred to sing praises of the Lord as they experience him in Braj-bhoomi.

Festivals of Mathura
The most important festival of Mathura is Janmashtami when the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great pomp and splendour during August. The Holi Gulal Mahotsav is also held here in the month of March and it celebrates Holi in an exuberant way.

Shopping in Mathura

Idols in metals, granite, sandstone and marble, silver ornaments for deities, temple decorations, fancy fabrics and books are in abundance in Mathura. There are various shops that sell the traditional dresses, designer tulsi jewellery, books on Vrindavan, Krishna and vegetarian cuisine, wooden footwear locally called Paaduka or Chatti and silk and batik paintings and music cassettes.

Cuisine of Mathura
The Vaishnav cuisine is without meat, onion, garlic or liquor. Iskcon’s restaurant Govinda's offers a wonderful menu for meals, snacks and drinks. The traditional food of Braj-bhoomi is milk and is found in many mouth-watering incarnations in Vrindavan. Warm kesar milk with the wafting aroma of kesar, an expensive flavouring from Kashmir, is great for a good night’s sleep. Chilled lassi, a sweet yogurt drink, mattha, a salted digestive drink, chaach buttermilk, reminds of Krishna’s dalliance with the Braj maids for a gift of the above. Butter is the Krishna’s all-time favourite and offered to him for breakfast along with other sweet goodies in all temples. Other sweets include Peda, Rabari, Khurchan, Malai and milk-cake, all made from cow’s milk.

Tourist Attractions in Mathura
The main tourist attractions in Mathura are the temples and the ghats on the Yamuna river. The tourist attractions in Mathura are the Jami Masjid, Sati Burj, Kans Qila, Dwarkadheesh Temple and Sri Krishna Janmasthan. The Yamuna river is a focal point for Hindu pilgrims and a paved street runs the length of it. There are a number of bathing ghats which leads to the water's edge and punctuated by arched gateways and temple spires that extend along the right bank of the river. The Dwarkadheesh Temple is situated close to Vishram Ghat and offers an introduction to the heart of Braj. This temple was built in 1814 by the treasurer of Gwalior state. Dwarkadheesh Temple is an architectural jewel, but the barely three-feet-high black deity inside is the show-stealer. The living deity with twinkling eyes and naughty smiles charms visitors. The splendid temple of Katra Keshav Dev is built over the little prison cell and is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna or the Sri Krishna Janmasthan.

How to reach Mathura
By Air:

The nearest airport is Kheria, about 62 kms. from Mathura.

By Rail:
Mathura is situated on the main line of the Central and Western Railways and is connected with most important cities around the country like Agra, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Kanpur and Lucknow.

By Road:
Mathura is located on the NH2 and connected with all major cities like Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra and Delhi.


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