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 Temples. The city situated on the bank of the Yamuna River and the continuous line of ghats along the river makes a splendid spectacle when viewed from the opposite bank. Today, Mathura is a city of temples and places of pilgrimage flooded with the thousands of devotees, coming to visit the city of Lord Krishna.
Katra Keshav Dev
A wonderful temple at the Katra Keshav Dev marks the spot that is believed to be the Shri Krishna Janmasthan – the birthplace of the Lord, by his followers.
Gita Mandir, Braj
The Gita Mandir, located on the Mathura -Vrindavan Road has a fine image of Shri Krishna in its chamber. The whole of the Bhagwad Gita is emblazoned on the walls of this temple.
Dwarikadhish Temple, Braj
The most popular shrine at Mathura is the Dwarikadhish Temple to the north of the town, dedicated to Shri Krishna. The temple was built in 1815 by a wealthy devotee, Seth Gokuldas Parikh of Gwalior.
Sati Burj, 17 mt. high, built of red sandstone in 1570 AD, is a slim tower which honours the death of a noble lady – widow of Raja Bihari Mal of Amer who committed sati. The four storied tower was raise by Raja Bhagwan Das on the right bank of the Yamuna at Sati Ghat.
The Jami Mazjid with its four lofty minarets and bright mosaic was built in 1661 AD.
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 impressive heritage of art. The Museum has also fine collections of stone sculpture and terracotta, gold, silver and copper coins, clay seals, ancient pottery, paintings and bronzes.
The Rainy month of Bhadon, the month when the Lord Krishna was born, is a time of colourful celebrations. The famous Braj Parikrama – a Temples of all the places in Braj that are associated with Shri Krishna, is undertaken.
Traditionally, the Chaurasi kos (84 kos) Temples of Braj Mandal, with its 12 vanas (forests), 24 upvanas (groves), sacred hill Govardhan, divine River Yamuna and various other holy places along its banks, is undertaken annually by numerous devotees from all over the world.
The Yatra extends to Kotban to the north of Mathura to Nandgaon, Barsana and the Govardhan Hill to the west and South-west of the city and to the banks of the Yamuna to the east, where the Baldeo Temple is located.
The most celebrated of Shri Krishna’s abode, Gokul lies to the west of Sadabad, 1.6 km from Mahavan and 15 km south-east of Mathura, on the Mathura – Etah metalled road. It was here that Lord Krishna was brought up in concealment by Yashoda his assumed mother, in the rural beauty of this village on the banks of the Yamuna.
Gokul attained importance during the time of Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) when it became a major centre of the Bhakti cult. The three oldest temples in the place are those dedicated to Gokulnath, Madan Mohan and Vitthalnath, said to have been built around 1511.
The other temples include those of Dwarika Nath and Balkrishna which were built in the honour of Lord Mahadeo in 1602 by Raja Vijai Singh of Jodhpur.
Important sites worth visiting in Gokul include the Gokulnath Temple, Raja Thakur Temple, Gopal Lalji Temple and the Morwala Temple.
Around 18 km from Mathura, lying on the left bank of the River Yamuna, is the place of pilgrimage of Mathuranath. It is famed for its Chaurasi Khambhas (eighty four pillars). The palace of Rohini, the mother of Baldeo is now the Chhathi-Palana Temple. Other important temples include the Shymlalji Temple, the Yogmaya Temple, Tranairatri Temple and the Mahamall Rai Ji’s palace.
Baldeo is 20 km south-east of Mathura and 8.5 km south – east of Mahavan on the road to Sadabad. It derives its name from the famous temple dedicated to Balram, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. It was built by Shyam Das of Delhi 200 years ago. The main image in the sanctum is that of Balram with his spouse Revati.
Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu Temples, Govardhan is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is about 8 km in length. The young Lord Krishna is said to have held Giriraj up on the tip of a finger for 7 days and nights to shield the people of Braj from the deluge of rain sent down by Lord Indra.
Barsana, 50 km to the north-west of Mathura and 19 km north-west of Govardhan, is situated at the foot of a hill that is named after Brahma. Barsana was once the back of Radha-Rani, Krishna’s beloved and consort. Temples dedicated to the divine couple ornament the four elevations of the hill.
The main among them is the Radha-Rani Temple, more fondly referred to as the Ladliji Temple. The other three are the Man Mandir, Dargah and Mor-Kutir temples. The area between the hill housing the Radha-Rani Temple and the adjoining one is known as the Sankari-Khor. This is the venue of the annual fair held in the month of Bhadon (July-August). Barsana is famous for its ‘Latthmar’ Holi-celebration of the festival of colour that is unique to this town.
Nadgaon lies 8.5 km north of Barsana on the metalled road to Mathura (56 km). According to tradition, it was the back of Shri Krishna’s foster father, Nand. On the top of the hill is the spacious temple of Nand Rai, built by the Jat ruler Roop Singh.
The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gophinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan and Yashoda Nandan which is located half way up the hill. A little beyond is the Pan Sarovar, a large lake with masonry ghats along its sides. Legend has it, that this was the place where Shri Krishna used to take his cows for water.
Just 5 km north of Govardhan and 26 km west of Mathura, Radhakund is a large lake, where Shri Krishna is said to have killed Arista – the bull demon. To celebrate this event, every year on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Kartik, a large fair is held here.
Vrindavan, just 15 km from Mathura, is another major place of Temples. It is noted for its numerous temples – both old and modern. The name Vrindavan evokes the playfulness and lovable characteristics of Shri Krishna. This is the wood where he frolicked with the gopis and tenderly wooed Radha. Vrindavan today, is noted for its numerous temples.