Unveiling the Secrets of Krishna's Mathura | Travel Guide to Mathura

Today, I'm excited to take you to one of the oldest cities in North India, Mathura. In this episode, we'll delve into the rich history and vibrant legends of Mathura, savor its delectable cuisine, witness traditional wrestling, and explore the unique way this city has given human form to Hindu and Buddhist gods.

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Exploring the secrets of Mathura

Mathura, located on the sacred banks of the Yamuna River, is revered as one of India's holiest cities. This is the third chapter in my 7-episode Sapta Puri series. This time my journey began not from home but from Rajasthan, where I was shooting an ad film in the scorching heat of Kishangarh. After two days in Rajasthan, I boarded a train to Bharatpur and then a taxi to Mathura.

Unveiling Mathura's Ancient Past

Often compared to its more famous cousin Varanasi, Mathura stands as an ancient city in its own right. From archaeological evidence, we know that Mathura dates back to the Painted Grey Ware period, around 2500 years ago. Literary sources from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain texts, including Megasthenes' Indica, also mention Mathura and Gokul.

Mathura witnessed its golden age during the reign of the Maurya, Shunga, Kushan, and Gupta dynasties, with significant advancements in art and architecture, giving rise to the Mathura School of Art.

A Cultural Melting Pot

Mathura's strategic location on historic trade routes made it a cultural melting pot, drawing people from all over the world. However, this also made it a target for invasions, with the city enduring destruction and rebuilding multiple times, notably by Mahmud of Ghaznavi in the 11th century.

Let's shift from history to the present and explore what Mathura has to offer today. Our first stop is Rupa Kachori Wale near Vishram Ghat, renowned for its crispy kachoris served with a flavorful subzi. This delightful snack is a must-try when in Mathura.

Connecting with Shri Krishna

To truly connect with Mathura, one must delve into the stories and legends of Shri Krishna, who spent his childhood in this region, known as Brij Bhoomi. Two significant temples dedicated to Krishna are the Krishna Janmabhoomi and Dwarkadhish Temple. The Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, located on the site of Krishna's birthplace, has a tumultuous history, having been destroyed and rebuilt several times.

A visit to the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple is a deeply spiritual experience. While photography is prohibited inside, the temple's serene atmosphere and the devotion of the worshippers make it a must-visit.

The Dwarkadhish Temple, though not very old, dating back to the 19th century, is another highlight. The temple, dedicated to Krishna as the king of Dwarka, attracts many pilgrims, particularly from Gujarat.

A Glimpse into Vrindavan

No visit to Mathura is complete without exploring Vrindavan. I had the pleasure of staying at the Global Hare Krishna Movement's guesthouse and visiting the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides nutritious mid-day meals to school children.

In Vrindavan, the evening Yamuna Aarti at Kesi Ghat is a peaceful and mesmerizing experience. The Yamuna River is integral to Mathura, with many of Krishna's stories linked to it. An early morning boat ride on the Yamuna offers a unique perspective of the city's ghats and the river's significance.

Mathura's Rich Art History

Mathura's contribution to Indian art history is profound. The Mathura School of Art, flourishing during the Kushan and Gupta periods, was the first to depict Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain gods in human form. A visit to the Mathura Museum, housing many original art pieces, is highly recommended for art enthusiasts.

A Taste of Mathura's Cuisine

Mathura's culinary delights are a treat for food lovers. From savory kachoris to sweet jalebis, the local food is a gastronomic adventure. In the evening, I indulged in a variety of sweets at a popular local shop, with Ras Malai being a standout favorite.

The Tradition of Akhadas

Wrestling, or Akhada, is a tradition deeply rooted in Mathura. Early morning visits to akhadas reveal a vibrant culture where people of all ages practice wrestling, maintaining a tradition that dates back to the times of Krishna.

Celebrating Holi in Brij Bhoomi

Mathura's Holi is a celebration like no other, with its unique forms of Lathmar, Laddu, Flower, and Color Holi. The festival is spread over several weeks, making it an unforgettable experience filled with colors, joy, and local delicacies.

Mathura is a city that blends ancient history with living traditions. From its sacred temples and vibrant festivals to its rich culinary heritage and enduring art, Mathura offers a unique journey through time and culture.

If you enjoyed this story from Mathura, please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more travel adventures. Leave your comments and questions below, and join me next time as we continue our exploration of India's hidden gems. Goodbye for now!