Mathura, one of Hinduism’s sacred cities, is in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. Famed for being the birthplace of Hindu god Krishna, the city draws in many pilgrims, particularly during Janmashtami, Krishna’s birthday and the Holi, festival of colours.
Mathura is one of the oldest cities in India and mentioned in the ancient Hindu classic Ramayana. However, the region has been inhabited since the 6th century. The city has many temples that lie along the stretch of the Yamuna River, and lined with 25 “ghats”, flights of steps leading down to a river. The temples are best seen at dawn when people take their holy dip, and just after sunset when hundreds of candles are sent floating out onto the river during the evening “aarti”, the Hindu religious ceremony. Some must-see attractions include the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple which is built around the prison cell where Lord Krishna is said to have been born. There are some interesting museums here too, including the Mathura Museum, formerly known as the Curzon Museum of Archaeology.
Delhi is the nearest international airport 147 kilometres away, with domestic airport Kheria in Agra, 49 kilometres away. Taxis are available from both these airports. The city is an important railway junction with many trains between Delhi and Agra stopping here.
Mathura had at one time been a Buddhist centre with 20 monasteries housing 3,000 monks. After the rise of Hinduism and the end of Mughal and Afghan rulers, the only remaining trace of this era is now on display in the Archaeological Museum.