Mathura and Vrindavan are the famous twin cities known to glorify the life of Lord Krishna. Mathura is the birthplace and Vrindavan, the place where Krishna spent most of his early life. Thus these two locations are of great significance to the Lord's devotees. A visit to Mathura is usually accompanied by a trip to Vrindavan, as both of these are important religious pilgrimage centers. According to the holy text, Bhagvata Purana, emphasis was laid on the life and devotional preaching of Lord Krishna. Mathura and Vridavan served as the backdrop of his sermons. Even several centuries later, these twin cities continue to hold its religious and spiritual importance. Both of these places have a number of temples that are dedicated to Lord Krishna. During the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, these two cities are bursting with euphoria. Mathura and Vrindavan are considered the heart of 'Vaishnavism' and one of the holiest places in the country. The following sections below give you interesting details.
Mathura is said to be the origin of the epic story, Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Prince Shatrughna destroyed a demon called Lavanasura and seized his land that is now called Mathura. Vrindhavan, on the other hand, was a dense forest land and held no importance until the birth of Lord Krishna.
During the rule of the Kushan dynasty, Mathura was the capital of the Empire. Vasudeva who was Krishna's father was a descendent of this clan. So, after the death of Kansa he became the heir to the throne of Mathura, under the reign of King Ugrasena.
Although he was born in Mathura, it was in Vrindavan that Lord Krishna spent his childhood. The 'Bhagvata' states that the forest was his playground. In many other sacred texts, it was the place is where he stole butter, danced with the gopis and killed demons. Thus, from a religious point of view, Vrindavan is highly significant.
During the Mughal invasion, the town of Vrindhavan lost its importance but it was later revived when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the place in 1515. As an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, he wandered across the town and spread the preaching of Krishna.
Mathura and Vrindhavan have innumerable shrines and holy sites within its vicinity. Mathura is known for the Dwarikadheesh Temple, which is a 19th century shrine built by the Seth Gokuldas Parekh. Shri Krishna Janmabhumi Temple is supposed to be the exact spot where Lord Krishna was born. The temple chambers comprise of a small prison where his parents lived. Next is, Ranghbhumi, which was the wrestling pitch where Krishna and Kansa fought. In the vicinity is also the Vishram Ghat which is the place where Krishna rested, after he killed Kansa.
Vrindhavan is popularly known as the 'City of Temples'. The Madan Mohan Temple is an ancient structure that was built by Kapur Ram Das. It has been said the shrine was visited by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself. However, the main idol was shifted to Rajasthan in fear of being destroyed by the Mughals. Built by, Swami Haridas, the Banke Bihari Mandir is another evidence for the great devotion to Lord Krishna. Again, the idol was moved in 1864. Govind Deo is a magnificent red-sand structure by Raja Man Singh. Despite being destroyed by Aurangzeb, the place continues to hold architectural influences of both Mughal and Hindu design. In 1851, the Rangaji Temple was established in 1851 and dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is seen to be resting on the Sesha Nag. This shrine is famous for its annual, Jal Vihar and the 10 day long Brahmotsdav festivities. Lastly, the Sri Krishna-Balaram Mandir was constructed in 1975 by the Krishna Consciousness Organization. It is dedicated to Krishna, Balarama and Radha.
How to Get There
Mathura is one of the most important cities in Uttar Pradesh that is frequently visited by tourists. Vrindavan is about 11km away from Mathura.
By Air: There is no airport in Mathura but there are plans of getting it connected, by air, to Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi and other important destinations.
The national highway connecting the states is commutable. So, if you plan to reach the place by road then you can travel by the NH-11, NH-3 and NH-93, accessible from Ajmer, Mumbai and Agra.
Mathura has around four railway stations but Mathura Junction is said to be the largest in the city. It connect cities from the North to the Southern part of India.
Mathura and Vrindhavan are two famous pilgrimage centers in the country that take you back to the Bhakti movement in India. These places continue to practice the method of expressing love and devotion without any added emphasis on the complexities of orthodox rituals.