Mathura is an extremely important pilgrimage city where Lord Krishna was born 5,000 years ago. It is 150km south of Delhi and 14km from Vrindavan. Mathura is on the main train line between Delhi and Agra.
Mahmud of Ghazni sacked Mathura in 1017. At that time Mathura was considered one of the richest cities in the world. Both Sikander Lodi, in about 1500, and Aurangzeb, in 1669, destroyed temples in Mathura and Vrindavan. The Muslims would sometimes take the deities from the temple and bury them under the steps of a mosque. The steps of the Nawab Kudsia Begum Mosque had deities taken from Mathura buried under its steps. After the British took over this part of India in 1803, no harm came to the temples or deities.
Information and Tours
There is a Tourist Office on the first floor of a building in the back of the Old bus stand.
There is a daily tour to the towns of Vrindavan, Nandagram, Varsana, Govar-dhan Hill, Radha Kund, and Krishna Janmasthan that leaves from the Old bus stand at 6.30 am.
Most of the temples are closed between 1 and 4 pm.
A good astrologer to see is Raghunatha Yogi (Radha Mohan Das) who does astrology, palmistry and numerology. He is located at the Hotel Brij Bihar in Mathura. You should call him at 404-209 for a appointment. One person told me that Raghunatha Yoga answered the question that he had come to ask before he asked the question and when Raghunatha Yogi answered the question he mentioned the person’s name that he was asking about without him telling Raghunatha Yogi the person’s name. He is iniated by His Holiness Kesava Maharaja.
The temple here is called the Keshava Deo Temple (1965). Lord Keshava, one of the four presiding Deities of Braja, was installed here by Vajranabha, but the original Deity was moved to Rajdhani, a small village near Kanpur. The central Deities in the temple are Radha-Keshava. On the left altar, by the entrance door, are Lord Jagannath, Balarama, and Subhadra, being looked at by Sri Chaitanya. On the right altar are Sita, Rama, and Laksman. Across from them is Hanuman.
The Deities can be viewed from April to October 5 am to 12 noon and 4 pm to 9 pm and from November to March 5.30 am to 12 noon and 3 pm to 8 pm.
There have been several major temples built on this site. The first temple here was constructed almost 5,000 years ago by Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. The next big temple was constructed here during the time of the Gupta Emperor Chandragupta Vikra-maditya around 400 AD. This temple was so grand that it was said that neither painting nor description could describe it. Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed this temple.
Another temple was built here in 1150. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this temple. It was destroyed in the 16th century during the reign of Sikander Lodi.
During the reign of Jahangir, Raja Veer Singh Bundela of Orchha constructed another temple about 75m (250 ft) high at the cost of Rs 3.3 million. In 1669 Aurangzeb destroyed this temple and had a mosque, which is still here, built from the materials of the temple.
Next to the temple is a small room that looks like a prison cell, where it is said that Lord Krishna appeared. Aurangzeb’s mosque is directly next to the temple, but it is normally closed.
Others say that Krishna’s appearance place is about 250m away, at a small temple nearPotra Kund. At this other temple there are deities of Vasudeva, Devaki, and four-armed Krishna. Darshan is from 8 am to 7.30 pm. Just behind this place is Jnana Vapi where Sri Chaitanya stayed while in Mathura.
Yamuna River and Visrama Ghat
The Yamuna River is lined with several ghats. It is a nice peaceful place to walk around. You can rent a boat here and take a pleasant ride on the river. A boat should cost less than Rs 50 for an hour.
The most important ghat is Visrama Ghat, which is where Krishna rested after killing King Kamsa. It is said that Lord Varaha also rested here after killing Hiranyaksa. There are 5,000-year-old deities of Yamuna Devi and her brother Yamaraja here. Every day there is a Sunset Arati offered to the Yamuna River.
The Sati Burj (16th century), a red sandstone tower with a dome, is said to have been built to commemorate the sati of the wife of the Maharaja of Amber (Jaipur).
A km north of Visrama Ghat on the riverbank, is Kamsa Qila, an old fort that is now in ruins. Raja Man Singh of Amber (Jaipur) built it.
Not far from Visrama Ghat is the Dwarkadish Temple, built in 1814. It is a very popular temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Mathura has an excellent museum which has many ancient sculptures of Lord Krishna and Vishnu. Many of the sculptures here are also of the Buddha, which include a famous 5th century standing Buddha. Many ancient sculptures in museums throughout India and in London are originally from Mathura. This museum is located on Museum Road by Dampier Park and is open daily except Mon and government holidays from 10 am to 4.30 pm. From the middle of April to the end of June it is open from 8 am to 12.30 pm; free.
Many pastimes from the Srimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas took place in Mathura. Ambarish Maharaja waited at Ambarish-tilain Mathura for Durvasa Muni to return from being chased by Lord Vishnu’s disc. At Bali-tila, Bali Maharaja performed his great yajna (sacrifice) to take over the universe. Lord Vamanadeva begged three steps of land from Bali Maharaja at this place.
Narada Muni instructed Dhruva Maharaja in Mathura. Ravana performed austerities to acquire his mystic powers here.
Where to Eat
Most of the places in Mathura are cheap vegetarian places.
Bhojanalaya vegetarian restaurant at the International Guest House, is located next to Sri Krishna Janmasthan. Open 11 am to 3 pm and 7 to 10 pm.
Brijraj, across from Sri Krishna Janmasthan, serves snacks and dosas.
Brijwasi Mithai Wala, across from Sri Krishna Janmasthan, has good sweets and snacks.
Hotel Madhuvan, Krishna Nagar, has Indian and Chinese food. It is one of the best places in town.
Mathura is 145km southeast of Delhi and 50km northwest of Agra.
Air The closest major airport is in New Delhi (3½ hr, 150km).
Train Mathura is a major stop on the Delhi–Agra and Delhi–Mumbai broad-gauge lines. It is a hectic station, so it is hard to miss. From Delhi it takes two to four hours, usually three, to reach Mathura.
Many trains depart each day for Mathura from both the New Delhi train station, by Connaught Place, and the Nizamuddin train station. Trains leave more often from the New Delhi Station, but the Nizamuddin station is closer to the airport. If you take an evening train (after 5 pm) it may be difficult to get a seat, and you cannot purchase an A/C-class ticket.
From Mathura many trains go to and from Agra (1 hr). There are direct trains to Jaipur (6 hr), Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Kota, Ujjain (12 hr), Mumbai, Calcutta (32 hr), Ahmedabad, and Baroda.
There are two bus stations in Mathura. From the Old bus stand, buses depart to Agra (hourly), Vrindavan, Haridwar (9 hr), and to the town of Govardhan. A semi-luxury bus goes to Haridwar (10 pm, 8 hr).
From the New bus stand, a couple of km west of the Old bus stand, buses depart to Delhi (3½ hr), Jaipur (6 hr, almost every hour), Bharatpur (1½ hr, every hour), and Agra (1 hr, every half-hour). A luxury bus goes to Jaipur at 10.30 pm. For Delhi there are deluxe buses that come from Agra, and if there is a seat available when it reaches Mathura, you can get a seat.