A spiritual getaway to Mathura

After the year that we have had, we could all use some time off, away from the chaos of our unvarying lives, to some place serene! Probably a soulful trip to connect with our inner self? India has an abundance of such soothing destinations. Today, let’s explore Mathura and its spiritual solace – a rather unlikely getaway for a twenty-something traveler. But bear with us, and we’ll convince you why it’s a must-visit destination, at least once in your lifetime!

A magnificent blend of rich heritage and dynamic culture, the ancient town of Mathura is nestled on the banks of the Yamuna river. It is one of the oldest cities known to mankind. Often referred to as Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi, Mathura is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. 

Mathura

The entire town is dotted with breathtaking temples which narrate the character and life of Lord Krishna, his many aesthetics as well as of his eternal consort, Radha Rani. The musical chorus of temple bells, the mellow chanting of the 108 names of Lord Krishna by his devotees, the pristine atmosphere in temple complexes, the aroma of a thousand incense sticks – the ambience of Mathura is nothing short of magical! In fact, the energy of this pious city is almost magnetic – you’ll fall in love with its art, architecture, culture, cuisine and people!

Best places to see in Mathura

1. Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple

Lathmar Holi celebrations in Mathura
Lathmar Holi celebrations in Mathura

The holiest place in Mathura, the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple is believed to have been built on the prison cell where Devaki gave birth to Lord Krishna. The massive temple complex houses several temples, with the Garbha Griha shrine, Keshavdev Temple and Bhagavata Bhavan being the most significant ones. The walls and ceilings of these temples are decked with stunning frescoes which depict events from Lord Krishna’s life. 

Do not miss: 

  • The grand light and sound show which narrates the story of Lord Krishna’s birth is hosted during the evening.
  • Mathura’s Janmashtami is known to be the best in the world. The celebrations begin at midnight with the chanting of Bhagavad Gita against the sounds of temple bells. Thousands of devotees take turns to rock the cradle with Lord Krishna’s idol whilst others perform the mesmerising Raas Leela.
  • The temple is famous for the unique lathmar holi celebrations during the month of March.

Darshan timings:

  • Winters: 5:30 AM to 12 noon, 3 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Summers: 5 AM to 12 noon, 4 PM to 9:30 PM
  • Morning aarti: 5:30 AM
  • Evening aarti: 6 PM
  • Makhan bhog: 8 AM

Pro tip: Cameras, mobiles and leather are not allowed inside the temple premises. So, carry minimal to be deposited in a locker, or preferably leave them back in your hotel room.

2. Dwarkadhish Temple

Dwarkadhish Temple Mathura

An elegant example of Rajasthani style of architecture and ornate paintings with bright colored walls and intricately carved pillars, the Dwarkadhish Temple is dedicated to Shri Krishna’s adult life when he became the king of Dwarka. You would be marveled at the extravagance of the black stone idol of Lord Krishna and the contrasting white marble idol of Radharani.  

Do not miss: A visit to the Dwarkadhish Temple during the month of Shravan (start of the monsoons) to attend the magnificent swing festival.

3. Vishram Ghat

Vishram Ghat
Yamuna Aarti at Vishram Ghat | Credit: Flickr

The most prominent of the 25 ghats of Mathura, the Vishram Ghat on the banks of Yamuna is believed to be the resting spot of Lord Krishna after he killed his evil uncle Kansa. The best time to visit the ghat is during the evening aarti when you can witness thousands of little oil lamps floating in the river. Also, the panoramic view of the holy Yamuna against the backdrop of the setting sun is bewitching!

Do not miss: Boat ride on the Yamuna to catch a glimpse of the beautiful city of Mathura.

Note: Beware of your belongings as the place is swarming with monkeys infamous for snatching anything which isn’t tightly held.

4. Govardhan Hill

Govardhan Hill
Wall carving of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill

As legend goes, Lord Krishna once lifted the Govardhan Hill on his little finger to shield his devotees from violent floods and thunderstorms. It is also believed that little Krishna and his elder brother Balram spent some happy times roaming around Govardhan Hill. 

The sandstone hill stands 80 feet tall and is located at a distance of 21 km from Vrindavan. Every year, millions of followers of Lord Krishna complete parikrama of the hill by walking from Vrindavan to the hilltop. The view from the top is spectacular, especially during the sunset!

Timing: 7 AM to 7 PM

Do not miss: The 21 km parikrama of the hill during the Govardhan Puja.

5. Kusum Sarovar

Kusum Sarovar

Located on the Govardhan Hill parikrama marg, it is believed to be the place where Radha spent her time with her friends collecting flowers and used to meet Lord Krishna. Kusum Sarovar is a 450 feet long and 60 feet deep kund which offers a serene atmosphere and gorgeous views to its visitors. One can easily spend hours here, enjoying the solitude and beauty of the place. Carry your DSLRs to capture some breathtaking shots during sunrise and sunsets. Also, the artworks on the ceilings and pillars are stunning.

How to reach Mathura

Located in the heart of north India, Mathura is well connected to the major cities of Uttar Pradesh and the national capital by roadways, railways as well as airways. 

By air: The closest airport is that of Agra which is 60 km from Mathura. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International is at a distance of 170 km. You can easily rent a comfortable Savaari from Agra airport to Mathura and reach your destination within 90 minutes.

By rail: A number of interstate as well as intrastate trains ply to and from Mathura. The railway station is located at a distance of 2 km from the city centre. You can easily hire a car or an auto service from the station to your hotel.

By road: Despite the excellent connectivity via the rail, the most preferred mode of transportation to Mathura by the people of Delhi is roadways, for the sheer convenience it provides. Besides, the 3-hour journey makes for a memorable road trip as the Yamuna Expressway is astoundingly picturesque! You can book a Delhi to Mathura cab and enjoy the journey with your loved ones.

Things to do in Mathura

  • While in Mathura, kachori, samosa and bedai, the city’s quintessential breakfast is a must try at any of the roadside food stalls.
  • As Lord Krishna was fond of butter and milk, Mathura is famous for its dairy products. Try Makhan Mishri, lassi and Peda from the confectioners near the Banke Bihari temple. Brijwasi Mithaiwala is known for their delicious laddoos.
  • Shop your knick-knacks and handicrafts which depict the tales from Lord Krishna’s life.
  • Purchase idols of clay, brass, silver and other materials for your home from Radha Madhav Shringar Kendra.
  • For an adventure packed day with family, visit the Dolphin World Water Park for its wide assortment of water and dry rides.

Best time to visit Mathura

Mathura received footfalls of tourists and devotees throughout the year. But the city is scorching hot during summers with temperatures going as high as 45 degrees. The summer months last for three months from April to June.

The climate is pleasant during the winter months, that is from October to March. This time is considered the best for parikramas and the general sightseeing in Mathura. 

About the author

An engineer by degree, a writer by passion, I’m a lover of fiction, classics and Shah Rukh Khan. When I’m not busy challenging the status quo, one word at a time, I fancy reading, shoe-hoarding and petting my cat.

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