This area popularly known as Brij Bhoomi,
is a major pilgrimage place for Hindus- there are literally thousands of
temples here. Krishna, the popular incarnation of Vishnu, is believed to
have been born in Mathura and the area is closely linked with many episodes
in his early life. Nearby is Vrindaban where Krishna sported
with his gopis (milkmaids) and where the Hare Krishnas have their
The Buddhist monasteries here received considerable patronage from Ashoka,
and Mathura was mentioned by Ptolemy and by the Chinese visitors Fa Hien
(who visited India in 401-410 AD) and Hieun Tsang (634 AD). Buddhism began
to give way to Hinduism here with considerable drop in Buddhist population.
In 1017, Mahmud of Ghazni arrived on his rape, burn and pillage trip from
Afghanistan, damaging the Hindu and remaining Buddhist shrines. Sikander
Lodi continued the destruction in 1500 and the fanatical Aurangzeb flattened
the Kesava Deo Temple, which had been built o the site of one of the most
important Buddhist monasteries, and built a mosque in its place.
Amongst the foundations of the Kesava Deo Temple is a small room made up to
look like a prison cell. Here pilgrims file paste the stone slab onto which
Krishna is said to have been born, 3500 years ago. He was obliged to make
his entry into the world I these undignified surroundings as his parents had
been imprisoned by the tyrannical King Kansa. Aurangzebs mosque rises
above the site and theres a more recent Hindu temple beside it.
the Yamuna River
The 300-metre wide Yamuna River, which flows through Mathura, is lined with
ghats. Vishram Ghat is the most important bathing ghat and is where Krishna
is said to have rested after killing King Kansa. The Sati Burj, beside
Vishram Ghat, is a Four storey tower built by the son of Behari Mal of
Jaipur in 1570 to commemorate his mothers sati. The ruined fort, Kans
Set back from the river in the main part of the town are the Jama Masjid,
which was built by Abo-in Nabir Khan in 1661, and the Dwarkadheesh Temple.
Built in 1814 by Seth Gokuldass of Gwalior, this is Mathuras main
temple and is dedicated to Krishna.
The Archaeological Museum is worth a visit for its large collection of
examples of the Mathura school of ancient Indian sculpture. This includes
the famous, and impressive, 5th century standing Buddha found here. There
are many other sculptures, terracotta work, coins and bronze objects and
theres a pleasant garden. Its open daily (except Monday)
This modern temple was funded by the Birla family (the wealthy
industrialists). Pilgrims stop off on their way to Vrindaban to see the Gita
Stambh, a pillar on which the whole of the Bhagavad Gita is carved.