Mathura District (Hindi: मथुरा ज़िला, Urdu: متھرا ضلع) situated along the banks of the river Yamuna is a district of Uttar Pradesh state of northern India. The historic town of Mathura is the district headquarters. The District is part of Agra division. Mathura is bounded on the northeast by Aligarh District, on the southeast by Hathras District, on the south by Agra District, and on the west by Rajasthan and northwest by Haryana state. Mathura district is an important pilgrimage centre of Hindus.
Mathura has an ancient history. According to the Archaeological Survey of India plaque at the Mathura Museum, the city is mentioned in the oldest Indian epic, the Ramayana. In the epic, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughna slays a demon called Lavanasura and claims the land. Afterwards, the place came to be known as Madhuvan as it was thickly wooded, then Madhupura and later Mathura.
In the 6th century BCE Mathura became the capital of the Surasena mahajanapada.The city was later ruled by the Maurya empire (4th to 2nd centuries BCE) and the Shunga dynasty (2nd century BCE). It may have come under the control of Indo-Greeks some time between 180 BCE and 100 BCE. It then reverted to local rule before being conquered by the Indo-Scythians during the 1st century BCE.
Mathuran art and culture reached its zenith under the Kushan dynasty which had Mathura as one of their capitals, the other being Purushapura (Peshawar). The dynasty had kings with the names of Kujula Kadphises, Kanishka, Huvishka and Vasudeva I.
Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora).
The Indo-Scythians (aka Sakas or Shakas) conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE.
The findings of ancient stone inscriptions in Maghera, a town 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Mathura, provide historical artifacts giving more details on this era of Mathura. The opening of the 3 line text of these inscriptions are in Brahmi script and were translated as: “In the 116th year of the Greek kings…”
The Mathura Lion Capital inscriptions attest that Mathura fell under the control of the Sakas. The inscriptions contain references to Kharaosta Kamuio and Aiyasi Kamuia. Yuvaraja Kharostes (Kshatrapa) was the son of Arta, as is attested by his own coins.
Arta is stated to be brother of King Moga or Maues.Princess Aiyasi Kambojaka, also called Kambojika, was the chief queen of Shaka Mahakshatrapa Rajuvula. Kamboja presence in Mathura is also verified from some verses of the epic, the Mahabharata, which are believed to have been composed around this period.
The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the “Northern Satraps”, as opposed to the “Western Satraps” ruling in Gujarat and Malwa. After Rajuvula, several successors are known to have ruled as vassals to the Kushans, such as the “Great Satrap” Kharapallana and the “Satrap” Vanaspara, who are known from an inscription discovered in Sarnath, and dated to the 3rd year of Kanishka (c 130 CE), in which they were paying allegiance to the Kushans.
Mathura served as one of the Kushan Empire’s two capitals from the first to the third centuries.
Fa Xian mentions the city, as a centre of Buddhism about A.D. 400; while his successor Xuanzang, who visited the city in 634 CE, which he mentions as Mot’ulo, and said that it contained twenty Buddhist monasteries and five Brahmanical temples. Later, he went east to Thanesar, Jalandhar in the eastern Punjab, before climbing up to visit predominantly Theravada monasteries in the Kulu valley and turning southward again to Bairat and then Mathura, on the Yamuna river.
The city was sacked and many of its temples destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1018 and again by Sikandar Lodhi, who ruled the Sultanate of Delhi from 1489 to 1517.
Sikander Lodhi earned the epithet of ‘But Shikan’, the ‘Destroyer of Hindu deities’. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built the city’s Jami Masjid (Friday mosque) . The noteworthy fact is that the exact place of birth of Lord Krishna, according to historians, is in the place of worship of the Hindus, though the mosque was built near the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The bigger Krishna shrine, better known as Dwarkadeesh temple is a few metres away from what is believed to be the actual birthplace of Krishna, was built in 1815 by Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of Gwalior.
Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi is a Hindu temple complex located in heart of city of Mathura. Hindus consider it as one of the most sacred place as they believe that the temple stands on the same place where ancient Hindu god Lord Krishna was born. The complex have a Keshavdev temple where spiritual environment could be felt during morning prayer (Mangla Aarti). The temple complex have a museum, where numerous articles excavated from the site related to story of Sri Krishna’a birth are displayed.
Dwarkadish Temple, built in 1814, is a popular temple near the banks of Yamuna river in Mathura city . This temple is managed by followers of Vallabhacarya. The temple is fairly interesting architecturally. People engaged in Bhajan Kirtan inside temple before daily morning prayer (Mangla Aarti gives an impression of festival and celebration.
Gita Mandir is situated at a distance of nearly five kilometers from Mathura Junction (in way of Vrindaban from Matura city) is popular attractions of Mathura. The magnificent mandir was built by Birla, one of the leading industrial powers of India .The excellent architecture of the temple attracts tourists from all over India. The whole of Gita, the sacred book of the Hindus, is inscribed on the temple. Beautiful carvings and paintings enhance the beauty of the temple. There is a beautiful image of Lord Krishna is present in the sanctum of the Mandir.
Rangaji Temple, built in 1851 is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha or Rangaji depicted as Lord Vishnu in his sheshashayi pose, resting on the coils of the sacred Shesha-nag. The temple built in the Dravidian style has a tall gopuram (gateway) of six storeys and a gold – plated Dhwaja stambha, 50 feet high. A water tank and a picturesque garden lie within the temple enclosure. The annual festival of Jal Vihar of the presiding deity is performed with great pomp and splendour at the tank. The temple is also famous for its `Brahmotsdav’ celebration during the month of Chaitra (March – April), more popularly known as the `Rath ka Mela’. The ten-day-long celebrations are marked by the pulling of the rath (the chariot car) by the devotees from the temple to the adjoining gardens.
Jugal Kishor Temple was built in the 17th century after Emperor Akbar’s visit to Vridaban in the year 1570, he ordered four temples to be built by the Gaudya Vaisnavas, which were Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha and Jugal Kisore. The temple is located near Kesi Ghat in Vrindaban and also called as Kesi temple.
Radharaman Temple is another name of ancient Hindu god Lord Krishna which means “one who gives pleasure to Radha”. The seva puja of Radharamana was established in 1542, after the Deity self-manifested from a saligram-sila. Also kept in this temple is the wooden sitting place (hoki) and shawl (chaddar) or Lord Chaitanya, that he gave as a gift to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami who built the temple. There is no deity of Radharani in this temple, but a crown is kept next to Krishna signifying her presence.
Jaipur Temple which was built by Sawai Madhav Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1917, is a richly embellished and opulent temple located in Vrindaban. The fine hand – carved sandstone is of unparalleled workmanship. The temple is dedicated to Shri Radha Madhav.
Shahji Temple, another popular temple at Vrindavan, was designed and built in 1876 by a wealthy jeweller, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. The deities at the temple are popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. Noted for its magnificent architecture and beautiful marble sculpture, the temple has twelve spiral columns each 15 feet high. The `Basanti Kamra’ – the darbar hall is famed for its Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is the world’s tallest temple under-construction at Mathura.At cost of ₹300 crore (US$45 million) it will be one of the most expensively built temple in world by ISKCON.
Prem Mandir is the most beautiful and clean, religious and spiritual complex situated on a 54-acre site on the outskirts of Vrindavan, is one of the newest temples dedicated to Shri Krishna. The temple structure was established by spiritual guru Kripalu Maharaj.The main structure built in marble looks incredibly beautiful and is an educational monument that reflects the true history of Sanatana Dharma. Figures of Shri Krishna and his followers depicting important events surrounding the Lord’s existence cover the main temple.
Sri Vrindavan-Chandra Mandir (HKM Vrindavan), located in Vrindavan, is a replica of that supreme Goloka Vrindavana in the spiritual sky. It was inaugurated in 2006 on the most auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami day. The temple is housed in an ultra-modern geodesic structure with a traditional gopuram based on khajuraho style of architecture, greeting pilgrims at the entrance. The major festivals of the temple are Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Sri Radhashtami, Kartik Fest (7-day festival during Govardhan Puja time) and Gaura Purnima. Grand abhishekas are performed for Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra during festivals such as Radhashtami and Janmashtami.
Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Temple: In Vrindavan, the “Lila Sthan” (the place of the divine passion play) of Lord Krishna, lies the temple that is a must visit destination for devotees completing the 84 kosh Vraj Parikrama Yatra. The temple is centuries old and is the first Indian temple that is dedicated to the divine couple and their Ashta Sakhi’s – the eight “companions” of Radha who were intimately involved in her love play with the Lord Krishna. The Ashta Sakhis are mentioned in the ancient texts of Puranas and the Bhagavata Purana. The temple is called Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Mandir and it is home to the divine Rasa Lila of Lord Krishna and Radharani. It is located in close proximity to the Banke Bihari Temple. Legend has it that the Shree Radha Rasa Behari Ashta Sakhi Mandir is one of the two places in Mathura, Vrindavan where the Lord Krishna actually indulges in the Rasa Lila with his beloved Radha and her sakhis. On these nights, devotees have reported hearing the sound of the anklets, beating in tune to a divine melody.
Govind Deo Temple was once a magnificent seven storeyed structure built in the form of a Greek cross. It is said that the Emperor Akbar donated some of the red sandstone that had been brought for the Red Fort at Agra, for the construction of this temple. Built at the astronomical cost of one crore rupees in 1590 by his general Man Singh, the temple combines western, Hindu and Muslim architectural elements in its structure.
Krishna-Balaram Mandir is a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple in the holy city of Vrindavan. It is one of the main ISKCON temples in India and internationally. Krishna-Balaram Mandir was built in 1975 on the orders of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Vishram Ghat is a ghat, a bath and worship place, on the banks of river Yamuna. It is the main ghat of Mathura city and is central to 25 other ghats. The traditional parikrama starts and ends at Vishram Ghat. Lord Krishna is said to have rested at this place after killing Kansa.
Some notable places in Mathura District: