Pankajnath Tiwari :-
Mathura, located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a city steeped in history and mythology. It is primarily known for its association with Lord Krishna, who is believed to have been born and raised in Mathura. The city holds great religious significance for Hindus and attracts millions of devotees every year.
According to Hindu mythology, Mathura is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The story of Mathura begins with the tyrannical reign of King Kansa, who was the uncle of Krishna. It is believed that a prophecy predicted that Kansa would be killed by his sister Devaki’s eighth child. To prevent this, Kansa imprisoned Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.
When Krishna was born to Devaki, a divine intervention occurred. Vasudeva was instructed by Lord Vishnu to take baby Krishna across the river Yamuna to Gokul and exchange him with the newborn daughter of Yashoda and Nanda, another couple living there. With divine help, Vasudeva successfully carried out the exchange and returned to the prison cell with the baby girl.
Meanwhile, Krishna grew up in Gokul, a village near Mathura, under the loving care of Yashoda and Nanda. His childhood is filled with various enchanting tales of his playful and mischievous nature, such as stealing butter, playing pranks on the villagers, and performing miraculous acts. These stories are collectively known as “Bal Leelas” or “Childhood Leelas” of Lord Krishna.
As Krishna grew older, he returned to Mathura to fulfill his divine mission of defeating his evil uncle, King Kansa, and liberating the people from his oppressive rule. Krishna engaged in various epic battles, including the famous wrestling match with Kansa’s strongest wrestlers. Ultimately, Krishna defeated Kansa and restored peace and justice to Mathura.
The city of Mathura, along with its neighboring town of Vrindavan, is dotted with numerous temples dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha, his eternal consort. These temples attract pilgrims and devotees from all over the world, especially during festivals like Janmashtami (Krishna’s birthday) and Holi (the festival of colors).
Krishna Janmabhoomi: Mathura is home to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, which is believed to be the exact place where Lord Krishna was born. The temple complex houses the prison cell where Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, were held captive. The temple attracts devotees who offer prayers and seek blessings at this sacred site.
Raas Leela: Mathura is renowned for its association with the Raas Leela, a divine dance performed by Lord Krishna and the Gopis (cowherd girls) of Vrindavan. It is said that Krishna would enchant the Gopis with his melodious flute-playing, and they would leave everything behind to join him in an ecstatic dance under the moonlit skies of Mathura.
Dwarkadheesh Temple: Located in the heart of Mathura, the Dwarkadheesh Temple is one of the most prominent Krishna temples in the city. Built in the 19th century, the temple showcases stunning architecture and intricate carvings. Devotees throng to this temple to seek the blessings of Dwarkadheesh, another name for Lord Krishna.
Holi in Mathura: Mathura is renowned for its grand celebration of Holi, the festival of colors, which marks the divine love between Radha and Krishna. The Holi festivities in Mathura attract thousands of visitors who gather to witness the Lathmar Holi, where women playfully hit men with sticks, recreating the playful banter between Radha and Krishna.
Govardhan Hill: Located near Mathura, Govardhan Hill holds immense significance in the life of Lord Krishna. According to mythology, Krishna lifted the entire Govardhan Hill on his little finger to protect the people of Mathura from the wrath of Lord Indra. The Govardhan Puja, performed in reverence to this incident, is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Mathura and surrounding areas.
Vishram Ghat: Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, Vishram Ghat is a sacred bathing spot where Lord Krishna is believed to have rested after defeating Kansa. Devotees take holy dips in the river and perform rituals at this ghat, especially during festivals and auspicious occasions.
Mathura Museum: Mathura is home to a renowned museum that showcases a vast collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures, and archaeological finds. The museum houses a significant collection of sculptures from the Mathura school of art, which flourished during the Kushan period (1st to 3rd century CE). These sculptures depict various aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, providing insights into the rich artistic heritage of the region.
Keshav Dev Temple: Also known as the Krishna-Balaram Mandir, the Keshav Dev Temple is a major pilgrimage site for followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The temple complex not only houses beautiful deity forms of Krishna and Balaram but also offers devotees an opportunity to engage in devotional practices, attend spiritual discourses, and partake in the famous ‘Prasadam’ (sanctified food) served at the temple.
Gita Mandir: Located near the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, the Gita Mandir is a significant structure that showcases verses from the Bhagavad Gita, a revered Hindu scripture. The temple’s architecture incorporates intricate carvings depicting scenes from the epic text, making it a place of spiritual contemplation and reflection.
Braj Mandal Parikrama: Mathura is part of the Braj region, which encompasses several important places associated with Krishna’s life. The Braj Mandal Parikrama is a traditional pilgrimage that involves circumambulating the entire Braj region, covering various sacred sites such as Vrindavan, Govardhan, Barsana, and Nandgaon. Devotees undertake this pilgrimage to connect deeply with the divine pastimes of Lord Krishna and seek spiritual elevation.
Jhulan Yatra: Jhulan Yatra, also known as the Swing Festival, is celebrated with great fervor in Mathura and Vrindavan during the monsoon season. Devotees decorate swings with flowers and garlands and recreate the swinging pastimes of Radha and Krishna. The festival symbolizes the playful and loving relationship between the divine couple, and devotees participate in joyous singing, dancing, and swinging celebrations.
Yamuna Arati: Every evening, devotees gather at the Vishram Ghat to witness the Yamuna Arati, a mesmerizing ritual that involves offering prayers and lamps to the sacred Yamuna River. The arati ceremony is accompanied by devotional songs and chants, creating a serene and spiritually uplifting atmosphere.
Brahma Kund: Located in the holy town of Vrindavan, near Mathura, Brahma Kund is a significant water tank believed to have been created by Lord Brahma. According to mythology, Lord Krishna and his friends would play in the waters of Brahma Kund, engaging in water sports and splashing each other with joy. Devotees visit this site to take a holy dip in the Kund, considering it spiritually purifying.
Mathura Peda: Mathura is famous for its traditional sweet called “Mathura Peda.” These delicious milk-based sweets are made from khoya (reduced milk) and garnished with nuts and saffron. Mathura Peda is considered a culinary delight and is an essential part of the local cuisine. Visitors often indulge in this sweet treat while exploring the city.
Mathura Chhappan Bhog: The concept of “Chhappan Bhog” holds great significance in Mathura. It refers to an elaborate offering of 56 food items, including various sweets, savories, fruits, and beverages, prepared and offered to Lord Krishna as part of his worship. Devotees believe that by partaking in the Chhappan Bhog, they receive the blessings and divine grace of Lord Krishna.
Rangbhoomi: Rangbhoomi is an ancient open-air wrestling arena in Mathura that holds historical and cultural importance. It is believed to be the site where Krishna engaged in wrestling matches and displayed his exceptional strength and skills. Wrestling, known as “Kushti” in Hindi, has been a popular sport in Mathura for centuries, and Rangbhoomi stands as a testament to its sporting heritage.
Gokul: Gokul, a small village near Mathura, is intricately connected to Lord Krishna’s childhood and adolescence. It is believed that Krishna spent a significant part of his youth in Gokul, herding cows and engaging in playful adventures with his friends. The town is dotted with temples and sacred spots associated with Krishna’s childhood pastimes, making it a popular destination for pilgrims and Krishna devotees.
Radha Kund and Shyam Kund: Radha Kund and Shyam Kund are two sacred ponds located in close proximity to each other in Govardhan, near Mathura. These water bodies are deeply associated with the divine love of Radha and Krishna. It is believed that Radha Kund and Shyam Kund were formed by Krishna’s tears of separation when he longed to be with Radha. Devotees consider these ponds highly auspicious and take dips to cleanse their sins and seek the blessings of Radha and Krishna.