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Mathura is situated on the west bank of river Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh and is famous as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, an important deity in the Hindu religious pantheon. Mathura is an important pilgrimage center of the Hindus and one of the seven sacred cities in India. Mathura is situated on the west bank of river Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh and is famous as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, an important deity in the Hindu religious pantheon. Mathura is an important pilgrimage center of the Hindus and one of the seven sacred cities in India. By the fifth century BC, during the time of Buddha, it was a major metropolis and the capital of the Surasena Kingdom - one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of the period. Mathura saw its `golden age' during the rule of the Kushanas and the able governance of rulers like Kanishka, Huvishka, and Vasishka, when the arts flourished and economic wealth grew. It remained a centre of power during the Mauryan period, through the enlightened rule of Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) to the Gupta era (4th century AD).

Mythology
The holy town along the banks of the Yamuna is one of the few which has been mentioned both in history and mythology. Mathura is full of stories of Krishna, his birth and the part of his life he spent there. 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 was 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. A few minutes before the eighth child was to be born Vasudeva was advised by a voice from the heavens to carry the baby to Yasoda and Nanda (a cowherd) in Brindaban and exchange it for the baby girl born there. It was midnight and pouring with rain. Putting the new born baby in basket Vasudeva set out wondering how he’d protect the child from the rain. But he needn’t have worried. The prison doors opened, the rivers receded and the serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines came down to protect Lord Krishna with its hood. Krishna arrived safely in Brindaban to grow up to kill Kansa.

Temples in Mathura

Krishna Janmabhoomi : The birth site of lord Krishna, it is also a disputed land due to its closeness to a mosque. There is a old prison at the basement of the temple, which is said to be the same prison where Krishna took birth. The temple complex was heavily destructed by Aurangzeb and a mosque was constructed at the site.

Brajbhoomi
The land where Lord Krishna was born and spent his youth, has today small towns and hamlets that are still alive with the Krishna- legend and still redolent with the music of his flute. Mathura, a quiet town on the River Yamuna was transformed into a place of faith after Lord Krishna was born here. Vrindavan, a village - once noted for its fragrant groves, is where he spent an eventful youth. There are numerous other little spots in the area that still reverberate with the enchantment of Lord Krishna.

The Dwarikadhish Temple
The most popular shrine at Mathura is the Dwarikadhish Temple to the north of the town, dedicated to Shri Krishna. This was built in 1815 by a staunch and wealthy devotee, Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of the State of Gwalior.

Shaivite Temples
The town has a number of Shaivite temples as well. The chief among them being the Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple to the west of the town, the Gokarneshwar Temple in the north, the Rangeshwar. Mahadev Temple to the south and the Pipaleshwar Mahadev Temple to the east.

Kunds
No pilgrimage to Mathura is complete without a visit to its "Kunds". Tradition has it that there were 159 ancient kunds in all. Of these only four survive and can be seen. There is the elegant shiv Tal, the more famous Potara Kund associated closely with Lord Krishna besides the Balbhadra and Saraswati kunds.

The Jami Masjid
The Masjid, on a plinth raised above street level a little way north, was completed in 1661 by Aurangzeb's governor Abd-un-Nabi.It has long since lost its original vivid glazed tiles, but remains surrounded by four minarets & assorted outer pavilions.

Katra Masjid
500m west, stands another of Aurangzeb's mosques, the impressive red sandstone Katra Masjid. This was erected on the foundations of the once-famous Kesava Deo temple, destroyed by the Mughal Emperor, which had itself been built on the ruins of a Buddhist monastery. Some traces of the Hindu temple can be seen around the back, where the Shri Krishna Janamsthan or Janmabhoomi complex now stands. Directly behind the mosque, approached through a corridor a shrine marks Krishna's exact birthplace; its cage -like surround signifies that he was born in captivity, when his parents were prisoners of the tyrant King Kansa. Inside the adjacent Bhagwat Bhavan-is the modern, towering, flamboyant great hulk also known as Gita Mandir. Nearby the impressive stepped sandstone tank of Potara Kund is believed to have been used to wash Krishna's baby clothes.

Kans Quila
Lying on the northern bank of the River Yamuna is the Kans Quila, now mostly in ruins. An observatory, akin to the Jantar Mantar at Delhi, was built here at a later date by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh (1699-1743) of Amer. Sati Burj, 17 mt. high, built of red sandstone in 1570 AD, is a slim tower which commemorates the death of a noble lady - widow of Raja Bihari Mal of Amer who committed sati. The four storeyed tower was erected by Raja Bhagwan Das on the right bank of the Yamuna at Sati Ghat The Jama Masjid with its four lofty minarets and bright mosaic, built in 1661 AD, is also a must see.

The Vishram Ghat
There are about 25 ghats in Mathura today, of which the most important is the Vishram Ghat. Where according to legend, Shri Krishna took his rest after killing Kansa. It is at Vishram Ghat that the traditional parikrama (circumbulation of all the important religious and cultural places of the city) starts and ends.

The Vishram Ghat is lined with elegant temples and some of Mathura's most important shrines are found here - the Mukut Temple, Radha-Damodar, Murli Manohar, Neelkantheshwar, Yamuna-Krishna, Langali Hanuman and Narasimha temples. The baithak of the great Vaishnava Saint, Shri Chaitanya, is also nearby. The aarti held at the Vishram Ghat each evening is not to be missed, for the little oil lamps that are floated on the river set the placid water as sparkle with a myriad flickering lights.

The 12 ghats to the north of Vishram Ghat include the Ganesh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat with its Neelakantheshwar Temple, Saraswati Sangam Ghat, Chakratirtha Ghat, Krishnaganga Ghat, Somatirth or Swami Ghat, Ghantagharan Ghat, Dharapattan Ghat, Vaikuntha Ghat, Navtirtha or Varahkshetra Ghat, Asikunda ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. To the south, there are 11 ghats - the Guptatirth Ghat, Prayag Ghat marked by the Veni Madhav Temple, Shyam Ghat, Ram Ghat, Kankhal Ghat, the site of the Janmashtami and Jhula festivals, Dhruva ghat, Saptrishi Ghat, Mokshatirth Ghat, Surya Ghat, Ravan Koti Ghat and Buddha Ghat.

Radha Dhiraj Bazaar
Heading through the network streets that radiates from Vishram Ghat brings you to Radha Dhiraj Bazaar & the large & ostentations turn-of-the-century Dwarkadhish temple, approached by steep steps off the busy main road.

The Government Museum
Mathura originally founded by F.S. Growse in 1874, is today one of the leading centres for research, study and the preservation of Mathura' s splendid heritage of art. The museum housed in a fine octagonal, red sandstone building, located at Dampier Park, has the largest collection of Kushana sculptures in the country. The Museum has also fine collections of stone sculpture and terracotta, gold, silver and copper coins, clay seals, ancient pottery, paintings and bronzes.

How to reach Mathura :

Air : Nearest airport is Kheria (Agra), 62 km.

Rail : Mathura is on the main lines of the Central and Western Railways and is connected with all the important cities of the state and country such as Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gwalior, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow etc.

Road : Mathura is connected to all the major cities, by National Highways. It is linked by the regular state bus services of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.




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