Mathura is a city in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately 50 km north of Agra, and 145 km south-east of Delhi; about 11 kilometers from the town of Vrindavan and 22 kilometers from Govardhan. It is the administrative centre of Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient period, Mathura was an economic hub, located at the junction of important caravan routes. Today, it is a fast expanding city with over 2.5 million residents.
Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna at the centre of Braj or Brij-bhoomi, called Shri Krishna Janma-Bhoomi, literally: 'Lord Krishna's birthplace'. The Keshav Dev Temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna's legendary birthplace (an underground prison). According to the Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana epics, Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kansa the maternal uncle of Shri Krishna.
Mathura has contributed a lot towards Indian Culture through its rich heritage. The ethos of Mathura, and in fact the whole of Braj mandal is centered on Krishna and his tales. Mathura sees heightened activities during the major festivities dedicated to Krishna. The Braj culture has been expressed widely through various practices. Sanjhee is the colourful art of decorating the ground with flowers. Rasiya is a tradition that is integral to Mathura’s culture. It is the tradition of folk-songs that describe the love of the divine couple Radha and Krshnaji. It is an inseparable part of the Holi celebrations and all other festive occasions at Mathura. (Dhulendi – Holi with drums (dholak), colours, etc. originated from Braj region hundreds of millennia before today.)
Raaslilas of Mathura have become an integral part of Indian Folklore. According to popular belief, Krshnaji had danced the Raas with gopis on banks of Yamuna river.Charkula is a traditional folk dance of the Braj. In this dance, a woman balances a column of deepikas on her head and dances to the accompaniment of Rasiya songs by the menfolk. The language spoken in the Braj mandal is mainly Hindi which is spoken in a different dialect. This dialect is characteristic with the Braj region and known as Brajbhasha. Before Hindi and until past few centuries, Brajbhasha used to be the dominant language in literature.
Places of interest:
A very famous twin-city to Mathura is Vrindavan. As the home of Lord Krishna in his youth, the small town is host to a multitude of temples belonging to various sects of Hinduism proclaiming Lord Krishna in various forms and Avatars. Some of the most famous temples are Banke Bihari Temple, Prem Mandir, Vrindavan, Maa Vaishno Mandir, Rang ji Temple, Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi and Iskcon Temple.
Mathura is a holy city for Hinduism, the World's 3rd largest religion. There are many place of historic and religious importance in Mathura and its neighbouring towns. The major holy sites are listed below.
Major tourist sites:
- Keshav Dev Temple (Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi)
- Naam yog Sadhna Mandir (Baba Jai Gurudev Temple)
- Dwarikadheesh Temple
- Vishram Ghat (Bank of River Yamuna)
- Mathura Museum
- Birla Mandir
- Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi