Located around 55 kms away from Agra, Mathura is regarded as the birth place of Lord Krishna and is a most sacred pilgrimage destination in India for Hindus. It is an ancient city of India known for its various monasteries of the Hindu religion and various pilgrim spots and temples. The city is one of the oldest in India and is mentioned in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana. The region however was inhabited since the 6th century BC and came under various historical and mythological dynasties of India.
Like most cities in Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is also one of the ancient cities that have been mentioned in the holy Hindu scriptures. Along with Mathura, Vrindavan is described as one of the twin holy cities. The name Vrindavan refers to an ancient forest that existed here, of which two smaller groves still exist. Being the place where Lord Krishna is considered to have spent his childhood Vrindavan is a major pilgrim spot for the Hindus.
In and Around
Places to See in Mathura
Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir
“Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir” is known to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna who was the 8th incarnation of the deity Lord Vishnu. The God king was said to be born in a prison cell and the exact location of the prison cell is now occupied by a temple that is frequented by thousands of tourists each year. The best time to visit is during the festival of Janmashtami and Holi when the festivities are at their prime.
The Islamic mosque was built in 1662 AD by the governor of the Mughals, Abd-un-Nabi. Jama Masjid in Mathura is one of the major historical monuments in Uttar Pradesh. The mosque houses the tomb of the Mughal governor and is located close to the aforementioned Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir.
A fairly new temple in the ancient city of Mathura, the Dwarkadhish Temple was established around 150 years ago by a devotee of Lord Krishna. The temple is known for its amazing swing festival at the start of the monsoons in this region. The Lord Krishna depicted in the idol here is in his “King of Dwarka’ form and is depicted without the peacock feather and the flute.
Located near Radha Kunj, Kusum Sarovar is 450 feet long and 60 feet deep. The reservoir got its name from Krishna’s famous consorts Radha, who was said to meet Lord Krishna near the tank. The reservoir has a calm and serene environment and can be used by visitors for a swim. The major attraction here is the evening Aarti which is not to be missed and is commonly photographed by the shutterbugs.
The town is considered to be a major pilgrim spot for the Vaishnavites in India and is known to be the place where Lord Krishna slew a Demon Bull. The pool of the Radha Kund is said to be formed by Lord Krishna who struck the earth and the water emerged at this spot. the pool is considered to be the most sacred and the various pilgrims frequent the place in thousands of numbers.
Also known as Kans Fort, the Kans Qila is named after Lord Krishna’s maternal uncle and was built by Raja Mansingh I of Jaipur. Raja Mansingh was one of the Navratnas of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The fort is built in a unique Hindu and Mughal styled architecture near the banks the the Yamuna River.
Vishram Ghat is a bath and worship place on the banks of the Yamuna River in Mathura. Vishram means rest and Lord Krishna is said to have rested at this place after killing Kansa.
Formerly known as Curzon Museum of Archeology, the Mathura Museum was constructed in the year 1874. The museum due to its unique architecture and the important artifacts housed here has also appeared on postage stamps issued by the government of India. The museum houses various ancient archeological findings dating back to the Kushana and the Gupta Empire.
Govardhan Hill is located near the Vrindavan and is one of the major pilgrim spots for the Vaishnavites. The hill is mentioned in the ancient texts of the Hindus and was once lifted by lord Krishna to defeat Indra the god of Rain and thunder in Hindu Mythology. The story related to the legend of this pilgrim spot is pretty interesting and will lead you to explore more about the Hindu myths and legends.
Shopping in Mathura
Mathura Peda and other sweets made of milk are extremely popular. However they need to be consumed within two days of being purchased. Apart from that, a few finely embroidered textiles and delicately designed silver ornaments can be worth taking back home.
Places to see in Vrindavan
Govind Dev Temple
For unknown reasons the Govind Dev Temple is often referred to as being the Govind Dev Temple of Mathura instead of Vrindavan. It is one of the most important temples in Vrindavan and the main deity here is Govind Dev or Lord Krishna. The Idol was brought to this temple by the Rajput king of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II.
Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple
A temple by the ISKCON society, the Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple is one of the major temples in Vrindavan. The temple is one of the most peaceful places one can visit and is best visited during Janmashtami.
Located at the banks of the River Yamuna, the Keshi Ghat is one of the most important Ghats in Vrindavan. The magnificent Madanmohan temple at the back drop and the Yamuna River provides one of the most spiritually content Ghats in Vrindavan. The Keshi ghat was the place where Lord Krishna took a bath after he slew the demon Keshi and is considered a revered pilgrim spot.
Bankey Bihari Temple
The temple was built by the great Indian music guru Swami Haridas who was also the guru of the famous Tansen, a famous musician in Akbar’s court. The temple was built in 1862 by Swami Haridas as he wanted to house an old idol of Lord Krishna in his enjoyer or ‘Bankey Bihari’ posture and keep it from getting into the hands of the Mughals. One of the major and most famous temples in Vrindavan is not to be missed.
Built by Shah Kundan Lal who was a famous jeweler in Lucknow, the temple was named Shahji Temple. The temple is famous for its distinctive neo-Dravidian architecture and stone carvings. The Darbar Kamra is a hall that is decorated with grand chandeliers and wall paintings. The twelve marble carved spiral columns are a marvel to behold.
The temple was built in a distinctive Dravidian style and was completed in 1851 and is dedicated to Lord Ranganath a name for Lord Vishnu. The temple sports a majestic gopuram which can be seen from far. The temple is famous for its amazing temple complex and the fine architectural asthetics.
Shopping in Vrindavan
Loi Bazaar is the main shopping area in Vrindavan. Shops here sell handicrafts, fruits, incense, clothes at reasonable prices. Being a pilgrimage place, you will find a treasure of antiques and wood works from the region. Brass items are also reasonably priced in Vrindavan. Visit the Khadi Bhavan as it offers a wide range of Khadi fabrics and dress materials. Tourists will find numerous sculptures, portraits, paintings, finger rings and necklaces with the image of Lord Krishna engraved on them. Loi Bazaar is closed on Wednesdays.
Mathura and Vrindavan can be best explored in the month of November to March.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is at Agra which is around 50 kilometers away. Regular flights connect it from Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi, and Mumbai. The Delhi International Airport is the nearest airport for international flights and other destinations in the country. All major airlines connect Delhi.
Vrindavan has a railway station, though it does not have too many connections. Mathura is the closest big station and connected to all the major cities.
This small town is 150 kilometers from Delhi and 50 kilometers from Agra. As it falls on the Golden Triangle circuit of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra it has excellent roads connecting it. There are regular buses and taxis from Delhi. UP roadways and Haryana roadways buses also connect it to Mathura and other towns. The main bus stop in Vrindavan is near the ISKCON temple. However, within the city, rickshaws are the preferred mode of transportation. The streets are narrow and it is best to walk to the temples in the market.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
There are a few budget and mid-range hotels in Mathura. Apart from hotels and lodges, dharamshalas also offer facilities for stay at extremely nominal rates in Mathura.
Vrindavan does not have high quality hotels. However, it has nearly 200 dharamsalas (simple accommodation for pilgrims) that are clean and affordable. ISKCON Guesthouse and MVT are the main and best accommodation places provided by ISKCON.
Where to Eat
Mathura is famous for its chaat and Mathura Peda. These and other tasty local delicacies are available near Chowk Bazaar. A few restaurants near Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi serve delicious vegetarian food.
Taj Family restaurant
Daresi Road, Manoharpura, Manoharpura,
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281001
Bansal Foods Restaurant
Bhuteshwar Road, Krishna Nagar,
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281001
The Govindas Restaurant in the premise of Krishna-Balaram Mandir (ISKCON) offers very good vegetarian food. It serves many cuisines including Indian, Italian, Chinese and South Indian. Do try the delicious Lassi (thick, sweet buttermilk) and the Jal Jeera drink as both are specialities of the region and can be found at every street corner.