Mathura

Mathura is full of stories of Krishna, his birth and the part of his life he spent there with radha Rani. There was a king named Ugrasena ruled over Mathura. Once Ugrasena and his wife were taking a walk in the gardens when a demon saw the queen and fell in love with her. In his lust for her he diverted Ugrasena, assumed his form and the child born of this union was Kansa. Kansa grew up to dethrone his father and imprison his cousin, Devaki. While driving Devaki and her husband Vasudeva in his chariot, Kansa heard a voice in the sky telling him that he way carrying a woman whose eighth child would kill him. Kansa immediately prepared to till Devaki. But Vasudeva intervened and begged for her life with the promise that they would hand over all their children to him soon after their birth. So Kansa imprisoned them and killed seven children.

The land of Braj starts from Kotban near Hodel about 95 km from Delhi and ends at Runakuta which is known specially for its association with the poet Surdas, an ardent Krishna devotee long line of picturesque ghats - with their steps leading to the water's edge, arched gateways and temple spires extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna, emphasise the sacred character of the town of Mathura. The birth place of Lord Krishna, "the best known, best loved and most complex of Lord Vishnu's manifestations" : Mathura is today an important place of pilgrimage

Before the advent of Buddha the territory that Mathura is located in was called Surasena. In Buddhist literature Mathura is called Madhura. It was also known as Mathera. Mathura was a prosperous city and the capital of a large territory. A Buddhist center was established in Mathura during the reign of the Mauryas dynasty. This center existed for a few centuries. Emperor Ashoka made many Buddha stupas in Mathura on the bank of the Yamuna. Emperor Kaniska in the first century BC and his successors constructed many Buddhist stupas and chaityas.

At this time Mathura was the largest city in North India and was the capital city for the area for administration. During these times the present town of Vrindavana was just dense forests without any people living there. In the beginning of the 5th century AD the Chinese traveler Fahien saw twenty viharas (Buddhist monasteries) and three thousand Buddhist priests living in Mathura. By the middle of the 6th century AD Buddhism started to decline in the Mathura area. Many Buddhist relics have been found in the Mathura area. Many of which are found in the museums in Mathura, Calcutta and Lucknow. There is not much known about the period between 700 AD and 1018. Mahmud Ghazni invaded Mathura in 1018. He stole all the riches of the Deities, their jewels, diamonds, gold and silver. He then destroyed the temples. It took his men 20 days to plunder the city. He took 5,000 prisoners and took over 30 million rupees.

He took so many statues of gold and silver and jewelry that it took over 100 camels to carry everything that he took. Tarikhi Jamina wrote a record of Mahmud Ghazni in which he described Mathura at the time that it was attacked. He wrote “If any emperors would ever dream of building temples and palaces like the one in Mathura he would have to spent thousands of golden drachmas. It is doubtful that the best sculptors and artists could build a city like this if they worked uninterruptedly for two hundred years.” According to some historian, in the temples in Mathura at this time, there were five Deities made of pure gold, each 5m (15 ft) high and the eyes of the Deities were made of diamonds, each worth not less than 5,000 golden drachmas.

They were set with emeralds that were extremely brilliant and transparent. During his rule, Pherose Khan Jughalak (1351-1388) destroyed all the temples that were within the territory that he ruled. While he ruled no one was allowed to go on pilgrimage to holy places or allowed to bath in a sacred place. From the eleventh century until the end of the sixteenth century temples in Braja were periodically destroyed. Sekandar Lodi (1488-1516) first duty after conquering a place was to destroy all the temples there. He attacked Mathura in 1500. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana in 1514 during the rule of Sekandar Lodhi. Babar, the king of Kabul defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat in 1526. He died in 1530, and his son Humayun took over the throne of Northern India. After ruling for ten years Humayun was defeated by Sher Shah in 1540 and he fled to Kabul. During his rule Sher Shah built a road between Punjab and Bengal, which had wells every two miles and pilgrim sheds along the way for Hindus and Muslims.

This road helped to make it easier for pilgrims from Bengal to visit Vrindavana. In 1556 Humayun returned and defeated Sher Shah. During this time the Mughals and Pathanas were busy fighting with each other and did not have any time to bother any temple. Madana Mohana (Gopala) revealed himself to Sanatana Gosvami in 1533 and Govinda Deva revealed. Himself to Rupa Gosvami in 1535, during the rule of Humayun. Soon after returning to India, Humayun died and his son Akbar took over the throne. Akbar was a tolerant and pious emperor and he did not bother Hindus in any way. Aurangzeb, the great grandson of Akbar, had his army attack Vrindavana in 1670 and had many of the temples destroyed or desecrated. In 1757, Nadir Shah’s commander in chief, Ahmed Shah Durani, plundered Braja Mandal and killed some of the residents. In 1803, Mathura came under the British rule and from then on there was peace in the area of Mathura

Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir
“Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir” is known to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna who was the 8th incarnation of the deity Lord Vishnu. The God king was said to be born in a prison cell and the exact location of the prison cell is now occupied by a temple that is frequented by thousands of tourists each year. The best time to visit is during the festival of Janmashtami and Holi when the festivities are at their prime.

Jama Masjid
The Islamic mosque was built in 1662 AD by the governor of the Mughals, Abd-un-Nabi. Jama Masjid in Mathura is one of the major historical monuments in Uttar Pradesh. The mosque houses the tomb of the Mughal governor and is located close to the aforementioned Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir.

Dwarkadhish Temple
A fairly new temple in the ancient city of Mathura, the Dwarkadhish Temple was established around 150 years ago by a devotee of Lord Krishna. The temple is known for its amazing swing festival at the start of the monsoons in this region. The Lord Krishna depicted in the idol here is in his “King of Dwarka’ form and is depicted without the peacock feather and the flute.

Kusum Sarovar
Located near Radha Kunj, Kusum Sarovar is 450 feet long and 60 feet deep. The reservoir got its name from Krishna’s famous consorts Radha, who was said to meet Lord Krishna near the tank. The reservoir has a calm and serene environment and can be used by visitors for a swim. The major attraction here is the evening Aarti which is not to be missed and is commonly photographed by the shutterbugs.

Radha Kund
The town is considered to be a major pilgrim spot for the Vaishnavites in India and is known to be the place where Lord Krishna slew a Demon Bull. The pool of the Radha Kund is said to be formed by Lord Krishna who struck the earth and the water emerged at this spot. the pool is considered to be the most sacred and the various pilgrims frequent the place in thousands of numbers.

Kans Qila
Also known as Kans Fort, the Kans Qila is named after Lord Krishna’s maternal uncle and was built by Raja Mansingh I of Jaipur. Raja Mansingh was one of the Navratnas of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The fort is built in a unique Hindu and Mughal styled architecture near the banks the the Yamuna River.

Mathura Museum
Formerly known as Curzon Museum of Archeology, the Mathura Museum was constructed in the year 1874. The museum due to its unique architecture and the important artifacts housed here has also appeared on postage stamps issued by the government of India. The museum houses various ancient archeological findings dating back to the Kushana and the Gupta Empire.

Govardhan Hill
Govardhan Hill is located near the Vrindavan and is one of the major pilgrim spots for the Vaishnavites. The hill is mentioned in the ancient texts of the Hindus and was once lifted by lord Krishna to defeat Indra the god of Rain and thunder in Hindu Mythology. The story related to the legend of this pilgrim spot is pretty interesting and will lead you to explore more about the Hindu myths and legends.