Mathura or Brajbhoomi is famous as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, an important deity in the Hindu religious pantheon. It is an important pilgrim place of the Hindus and one of the seven sacred cities in India. The main pilgrim centre in Mathura is the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple. Mathura is also an important craft centre. These twin cities also find their mention in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, which has made them prominent religious destinations in the country. The charm and beauty of the cities can be largely witnessed during the two major Hindu festivals, namely Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday) and Holi (the festival of colours). You can’t help being mesmerised with the morning temple bells, the Hare Krishna Hare Rama chants being played in every narrow lane, the myriad ancient temples, and ghats surrounding these cities. There is something about this place that will fill you with a sense of spirituality. Take a holy dip in the waters of Yamuna, explore new and old religious centres, witness the evening aarti through your lenses or just connect yourself with the soft flute music, Mathura Vrindavan has a lot to offer to every traveller.
The city of Mathura is located in the western part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the northern region of India. It is a part of the great northern plains and is situated on the west bank of the river Yamuna. Today, Mathura is one of the most important pilgrimage centres of the Hindus boasting innumerable temples dedicated to Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. However, before the city gave way to Hinduism in the 8th century, it was a Buddhist centre with several monasteries housing more than 3000 monks.
The best time to visit Mathura is during winter, between the months of October and March.
What are the cultural festivals in Mathura like?
Holi the festival of colours that marks the victory of good over evil is one of the main festivals of Hindus. It is celebrated with great vigour and enthusiasm throughout India. Lathmar Holi is celebrated 4-5 days prior to the festivities of other states. However, it is interesting to note how this festival is celebrated in a rather peculiar way in Nandgaon and Barsana towns in Mathura-district of Uttar Pradesh. The towns are located some 42 km from Mathura and are extremely popular for the celebrations during Holi. Lathmar Holi in Barsana is very well known. This celebration takes place in the Radha Rani temple in Barsana. It is important to note that it is the only temple dedicated to Radha. The Lathmar Holi lasts for a week where men and women indulge themselves in colours, songs, dances and of course the lathis!
The men who come from Nandgaon irk the women by singing annoying songs and provoking them. The women play the part of the Gopis and hurl sticks at the men in tunes of fun and frolic. The unlucky men who get into the hands of the women of Barsana are made to wear female dresses and dance in public.
Janmashtami which is a celebration in Mathura because being the birthplace of Krishna, celebrates Janmashtami in the grandest way possible. Each and every household and person in Mathura can be seen in their best attires, ready to celebrate the day of their favourite Bal Gopala.
The celebration is divided into two parts, wherein one is known as Jhulanotsav and the other one as Ghatas. Juhlanotsav is the ceremony, where devotees of Krishna place his child avatar idol, Balakrishna, in swings at their homes. Before placing the idol, it is bathed in milk and honey, and adorned with stunning jewellery, new clothes and Mor Pankh.
Dahi Handi Tradition
This ceremony is basically an enactment of Krishna’s childhood. The stories of Krishna stealing butter and milk from people’s houses along with his friends are very famous. The entire act of Dahi Handi is not just symbolic but is also fun and entertaining to watch; the custom is followed and celebrated across the country.
Dahi is hung on top, tied to a wire usually, and huge human pyramids are formed, wherein people climb on each other to reach the top and smash the pot.
Places to visit and things to do in Mathura.
The Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Lord Krishna)-
Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi is the main attraction of Mathura and an important pilgrim place of the Hindus. A stone slab marks the original spot of the birth of Lord Krishna. The earlier Kesava Deo temple had the room where Lord Krishna was born. According to legend, Lord Krishna was born in a small prison room where the tyrant ruler Kansa held his parents captive.
The Archeological Museum of Mathura
This is an important place to visit. It houses an excellent collection of sculptures belonging to the ancient Mathura school of art.
The Vishram Ghat
Located on river Yamuna, is another place to visit in Mathura. It is said that Lord Krishna had killed the tyrant Kansa here.
This beautiful temple is located on the outskirts of the town and showcases some amazing temple carvings and paintings.
The Muslim population finds representation in the Jama Masjid which was built in 1661 AD. This masjid represents the peace and secularism in Mathura.
Shopping in Mathura
Shopping in Mathura is a true delight. If you are a book lover, you will find books on every facet of human life in Gayatri Tapobhmi, which is located in Vrindavan Road, Mathura.
You will find ingenious works of Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya and thousands of books. Books are available in different languages including English, Hindi, and other local languages of the country. Gayatri Pariwar is a non-profit seeking organization. Other than books, you can purchase the following items:
- Pooja articles
- Copper/brass pooja articles
- Mementoes from Government Museum
- Synthetic sarees
- Pictures of Lord Krishna and other deities
The Pedas or sweetmeats of Mathura are known all over the world. The Dwarikadheesh Temple and Tilak Dwar are the major shopping areas. The silver pieces of jewellery, milk-based sweets, and handicrafts are the popular buys in Mathura.
Mathura has a beautiful culture and historic places. The way they celebrate their festivals is quite worth the experience, it shows how life was back in those centuries and this makes it a remarkable place to visit.