The Holy City of Mathura

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Mathura– a sacred city, the city of temples is situated about 150 kilometers towards Agra, before about 50 kilometers from it. The birth place of Lord Shri Krishna, it is a pilgrimage for Hindu devotees.

History of Mathura

Hindu scriptures recorded that Mathura was the birthplace of Lord Krishna at the centre of Braj or Brij-bhoomi, called Shri Krishna Janma-Bhoomi, literally: ‘Lord Krishna’s birthplace’. The Keshav Dev Temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna’s legendary birthplace (an underground prison). According to the Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana epics, Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kansa the maternal uncle of Shri Krishna.

Ramayana Epic

Mathura has an ancient history with ruler of yadu dynasty. Archaeological Survey of India also accepts that the city has its mention in the  the Ramayana epic. 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.


—If you are interested in reading more about the region—

History of Agra   |    Places of Interests in Agra


Mauryan Empire

In the 6th century Mathura became the capital of the Surasena mahajanapada. The city was later ruled by the rulers of Maurya empire and the Shunga dynasty. It seems to fall 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-Scythiansduring the 1st century BCE.

Mathura, Lord Krishna

The birth place of Lord Krishna in Mathura (Pic: www.chardhambooking.com)

Art and Culture

Mathuran art and culture reached at its peak under the Kushan dynasty. They made Mathura as one of their capitals, the other being Purushapura. Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city.

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  text of these inscriptions are in Brahmi script and were translated as: “In the 116th year of the Greek kings…”

Kushan Empire

The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the “Northern Satraps”, as opposed to the “Western Satraps” ruling in Gujaratand 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.

The city is also mentioned as a centre of Buddhism about 400 while his successor 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 ‘Butt Shikan’, the ‘Destroyer of Hindu deities’. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built the city’s Jami Masjid,The noteworthy fact is that the exact place of birth of Krishna, according to historians, is in the place of worship of the Hindus, though the mosque was built near the birthplace of 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. It was built in 1815 by Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of Gwalior.

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