Well, I am not a road trotter. But, when one of my acquaintances asked, what to expect while visiting Mathura? I started babbling about all sort administrative mishaps and the legendary condition of the roads. Suddenly, my friend interrupted and said, “If it’s so bad then why so many people visit it every year”.
Why? Whoa! This ‘why ‘is nagging me continuously. That’s when I started to give it a hard thought. Mathura was once the capital city of the Kushan dynasty’s’ KingKanishka. Prior to that it was the capital of the Surasena dynasty to which the devil King Kamsa belonged. Then again the city is much older to that and has references in the various books of older times.
This land has borne the footprints of the Lord Krishana also called ‘Bal Gopal or Laddo Gopal’ as we natives call him fondly. People from all over the world are able to recognize Lord Krishna as a naughty butter-thief prince furthermore, as a great ruler, visionary and diplomat. But, again these things are not of much significance over the years.
Then one day I have visited ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan. There I saw people from foreign lands chanting ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’. They were engrossed in the rhythm and dancing to their own tunes of divine bliss. At that moment, I realized that what to expect while visiting Mathura.
Mathura is at the heart of Hindu Spiritualism. It is considered as one of the seven holy cities of Hindus. The city has its own blend of different cultures, predominantly the Bhagawat or the Harinaam Sankirtaanculture, which is collectively known as the Braj Culture. The ethos exist that it is the playground of Lord Krishna.
While you are in the city chants of ‘Jai Shi Krishna’ and ‘Radhe Radhe Govinda’ greets you from dawn to dusk. Bhajans, Kirtaans, Govind Geets reverberate through the narrow lanes. While strolling through the old by-lanes, it is impossible to circumvent the strong feelings of the Lord Krishna’s presence, which is evident in every single aspect that flows through the city.
The chants, the hymns, the geets, the sanctity all this is truly an enriching experience. It leads you to deep sense of spiritual fulfillment. This strong spiritual belief forms the nerve center of Mathura and it is impossible to escape the magic that Lord Krishna and His devotees weave on you.
Places of Interest:
- Shri Krishna Janmabhumi, it is the birth place of Lord Krishna and a major pilgrimage place. A stone slab marks the original birth place of Krishna. Now there is a temple complex with a small prison where Lord Krishna is supposed to have been born.
- Dwarkadhish Temple, it was built in early 19th century by Seth Gokuldass of Gwalior. Dedicated to lord Krishna, the temple attracts pilgrims from all parts of India for its numerous colourful festivals celebrated throughout the year.
- Ranghbhumi, it is the place where Krishna killed Kansa and set his parents free.
- Vishram Ghat, It is the most important bathing ghat along the river Yamuna, where Lord Krishna took rest after killing the tyrant king Kansa.
- Government Museum, it has one of the finest collections of archaeological interest objects. Rare items from the Gupta and Kushan period (400 B.C.-1200A.D.) are on display.
- Jama Masjid, it was built by Abo-in Nabir-Khan in 1661.A.D. the mosque has 4 lofty minarets, with bright colored plaster mosaic of which a few panels currently exist.
Places around Mathura:
- Vrindavan is 10 km from Mathura and it is associated with the childhood exploits of Lord Krishna. Like Mathura, Vrindavan is also famous for its temples. There are about 4,000 temples in Vrindavan. The main temples are Govind Dev Temple, Rangaji temple, Bankey Bihari temple, Radha Ballabh temple, Madan Mohan temple, Pagal Baba temple and the Nidhi Van temple.
- Gokul is 16 km south of Mathura. It is said that Lord Krishna was secretly raised here.
- Mahaban is 18 km southeast of Mathura. Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his youth here.
- Barsana, 50 km northwest of Mathura, is worth visiting as it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna’s consort Radha. The Holi festival of Barsana is unique. The Barsana women beat men from Nandgaon with wooden sticks, when they try to put color on these women.
- Govardhan is 25 km west of Mathura. Legend has it that Lord Krishna had protected the local people from the wrath of the rain God Indra by holding up a hill on one finger.
- Agra is 47 km southeast of Mathura. It was the one-time capital of the Mughal rulers and is known for the Taj. It also has a number of monuments belonging to the Mughals.
How to Reach:
Mathura is connected by road with Delhi (3½ hours) and Agra (1½ hour). Mathura is well connected by train with Agra (1 hour), Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur and Kota. The Taj Express runs daily between Matura to Delhi (2½ hours).
By: Juhi Agrawall
(India Halla Bol)