|The city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh,
the nucleus of Brajbhoomi, is located at a distance of 145 km south-east of
Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra. Covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km.,
today, Brajbhoomi can be divided into two distinct units - the eastern part
in the trans-Yamuna tract with places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and
Bajna and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that
encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.
The land of Braj starts from Kotban near Hodel about 95 km from Delhi and
ends at Runakuta which is known specially for its association with the poet
Surdas, an ardent Krishna devotee. A long line of picturesque ghats - with
their steps leading to the water's edge, arched gateways and temple spires
extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna, emphasise the sacred
character of the town of Mathura. The birth place of Lord Krishna, "the
best known, best loved and most complex of Lord Vishnu's manifestations"
- Mathura is today an important place of pilgrimage.
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. Mathura is 141
km south of Delhi and 47 km northwest of Agra. The climate of Mathura is
extreme and tropical. Summers are extremely hot and winters are cold and
foggy. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains from July to September.
An ancient city whose origins fade into the mists of history, Mathura's
strategic location at the cross roads of various trade routes - that went
westwards to West Asia and the Roman Empire; northwards, via Taxila,
Pushkalavati and Purushapur to Central Asia and the Silk Route and eastwards
to China - ensured its position as a centre of trade and a meeting point for
By the fifth century BC, during the time of Buddha, it was a major
metropolis and the capital of the Surasena Kingdom - one of the 16
Mahajanapadas of the period. Mathura saw its `golden age' during the rule of
the Kushanas and the able governance of rulers like Kanishka, Huvishka, and
Vasishka, when the arts flourished and economic wealth grew. It remained a
centre of power during the Mauryan period, through the enlightened rule of
Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) to the Gupta era (4th century AD).
Brij Culture in Mathura
According to the Bhagwat Purana, Shri Krishna along with the gopis had
danced the Raas on the banks of the Yamuna at Vrindavan. When the gopis felt
conceited about Lord Krishna dancing with them, he disappeared from their
midst. In the agony of separation from their beloved Krishna, the gopis
recalled and enacted his lilas (divine episodes of his life) which in course
of time came to be known as the Raaslilas. The Raaslila in its present form
is ascribed to Swami Haridas and Shri Narayan Bhatt. Only young Brahmin boys
of 13 to 14 years of age can perform the Raaslila. The charming childhood
pranks of Shri Krishna constitute the main them of these dramas.
- Radharamana Temple
This is the famous temple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Radharamana
means "one who gives pleasure to Radha", and is one of the
many names of Lord Krishna. The seva puja of Radharamana was
established in 1542, after the Deity self-manifested from a
saligram-sila. Also kept iin this temple is the wooden sitting place
(hoki) and shawl (chaddar) or Lord Chaitanya, that He gave as a gift
to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. There is no deity of Radharani in this
temple, but a crown is kept next to Krishna signifying Her presence.
- Jugal Kisore Temple
This is one of the oldest temple of Vrindavana and was completed in
1627. After Emperor Akbar's visit to Vridavana in the year 1570, he
gave permission for four temples to be built by the Gaudya
Vaisnavas, which were Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha and Jugal
Kisore. It is sometimes called the Kesi ghata temple, as it is
located next to this ghata.
- Kesi Ghata
This is the place where Lord Krishna killed the Kesi demon who
appeared in the form of a gigantic horse and then took His bath in
this very same ghata. This is also very famous bathing place in
Vrindavana. An arati to Yamuna Devi is held here every evening.
- Rangji Temple
This South Indian style temple was built by the wealthy Seth family
of Mathura in the year 1851, and is dedicated to Lord Sri Ranganatha
or Rangaji - a form of Lord Vishnu lying down on the Sesa Naga
(celestial serpent). This temple has a traditional South Indian
gopuram (gateway) and is surrounded by high walls. It is one of
Vrindavana's largest temples. Once a year a grand car festival
(Ratha Yatra) is held known as Brahmotsava, during the month of
Chait (March - April), this festival lasts for 10 days.
- Dwarkadish Temple
The Dwarkadish Temple, built in 1814, is a popular temple in the
center of town. This is the most visited temple in the center of
town. This is the most visited temple in Mathura. This temple is
managed by followers of Vallabhacarya. Once you enter this temple
from the street, it is fairly interesting architechually and there
is a lot of activity inside. It is located in the eastern part of
Mathura, not far from the Yamuna River.
Attractions of Mathura - Holi
Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna
(Feb-March). Holi in Braja is celebrated for several days, at different
places around Braja, before the actual day of Holi.
People throw colored powdered dye and colored water on each other. This is
joyfully celebrated in Braja, especially at Varsana, Nandagram and Dauji. In
Varsana the festival includes colorful processions with music, song, dance,
and some boisterous scenes around the temples. If you go to these festivals
you should expect to be totally covered in dye and never to be able to use
the clothes that you are wearing again, at least until next year's festival.
This is celebrated at the same time as Gaura Purnima.
Varsana Groups of visitors go around in small and large groups here. In the
afternoon gopas (men) from Nandagram come to Varsana and play Holi with the
local gopis (women) of Varsana. The women hit the men hard with 2 ½m
(7ft) long bamboo staffs. The men have shields which they protect themselves
with. During this time local songs are sung. This festival is celebrated on
the ninth day of the month of Phalguna (Feb-March).
Nandagram The day after the Holi festival at Varsana, Holi is celebrated in
Nandagram. The gopas (men) from Varsana come to Nandagram to play Holi with
the gopis (women) there. The flag of the Larily Lal Temple in Varsana is
carried in an elaborate procession to Nandagram. At this time the residents
of Nandagram attempt to capture the flag, but their attempts are foiled.
After this, women play Holi with bamboo staffs. This festival is celebrated
on the tenth day (dasami) of the month of Phalguna (Feb-March).
Phalen On the full moon night in Feb/March a huge bon-fire is burned. One
of the local priests walks through the fire unscathed. One story about Holi
is that Prahlada Maharaja refused to worship his father and wanted to
worship his father's enemy, Lord Vishnu instead. His father's sister Holika,
who was immune to being burned, sat with the boy in a big fire. Prahlada's
devotion was so great that Holika was burnt to death and Prahlada was
unharmed. The Holi festival at Phalen re-enacts this event.
How to Reach
The new bus stand is located near Hotel Mansarovar Palace. Bus service from
Mathura to Delhi (3½ hours) and Agra (1½ hour) is very good. The
old bus stand no longer serves local destinations, but there a few buses to
Agra. Mathura railway station is located south of the new bus stand. Mathura
is well connected by train with Agra (1 hour), Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur and
Kota. The Taj Express runs daily between Matura to Delhi (2½ hours).
Travelers can make use of auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws to move around
the city. Tempos ply back and forth on the 10-km stretch between Mathura and
Vrindavan. One can also take auto-rickshaw to Vrindavan from Mathura.