Mystique of India –19 : Mathura and Vrindavan

Having visited Chand Baori, at Abhaneri we proceeded to our next destination – Agra. The transformation of roadside scenario from one we  had been witnessing  while in Rajasthan and the one we saw as we entered Uttar Pradesh was remarkable, to say the least. All along the road in Rajasthan there were hardly any roadside stalls or residences. Whereas,  as soon as we entered the boundary of Uttar Pradesh the scenario changed drastically. As we didn’t desire to visit any tourist places in Agra , on reaching Agra we rested on that day. Sanjay left us with moist eyes having been our companion for thirteen days and having driven us for more than 2000 kms. We spent the next day visiting Mathura and Vrindavan.  

Mathura

Probably historicity of Mathura is next to Varanasi. It is said that in the 6th BCE Mathura became the capital of Surasena Mahajanapada and later was ruled by Maurya Empire (4th to 2nd BCE). It is suspected that it may have come under the control of Indo-Greeks sometime between 180 BCE and 100 BCE. It then reverted back to the local rule before being conquered by the Indo-Scythians during 1st century BCE. The name of the place was said to be originally Madhuvan, for it was thickly wooded area. Later on it changed into Madhupura and finally to Mathura.

janmabhumi
Sri Krishna Janmabhumi Temple

Art and Culture of Mathura is said to have reached its zenith under Kushan dynasty which had Mathura as one of their capitals, the other being Purushapura (Peshawar).  Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE mentions Mathura as great city. Faxian mentions the city as a center of Budhism about 400CE while his successor Xuanzang who visited the city in 634CE mentions that it contained twenty Budhist monasteries and five Brahminical temples.

Sri.Krishna Janmabhoomi temple is built around the prison cell where Lord Krishna is said to have been born. The temple is said to have been rebuilt 17 times.  Since this temple shares the fort area with a mosque security is very tight and photography is prohibited. We visited this temple. It is maintained fairly well. There is a pictorial description of life Lord Krishna. A cave in which the story of Lord Krishna is tried to be depicted by animated figures and light and sound. At the top is the main temple where one can see the statue of the Lord Krishna. This hall is most of the time filled with people chanting the name of Krishna.

As an outcome of the popularity of Lord Krishna across India, many new temples have been built within Mathura. One among them is Sri. Krishna Janmasthan Temple. Today Mathura is more a temple town with temples for Lord Krishna at every prominent place. It becomes difficult to fathom whether they are more a commercial ventures or an outpouring of devotion!

Vrindavan

Vrindavan is a town located about 11 kms from Mathura. The ancient name of the city Vrindavana comes from its groves of Vrnda – Tulasi with vana meaning a grove or a forest. Two small groves still exist at the Nidhivan and Seva Kuni. It is said that Lord Krishna spent his childhood here. Vrindavan hosts many temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna and is considered sacred by the believers of  Vaishnavism. It is said that the essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is credited with spiritual power derived out of his divine love for Lord Krishna which helped him locating important places of Krishna’s pastimes in and around Vrindavan.

Mira Bai is said to have left her kingdom in Mewar and went on a piligrimage and lived her last 14 years in a temple called Pracheen Meerabai in Vrindavan. Meera Bai is the most famous female Hindu spiritual poet, whose compositions are still popular throughout North India.

isckon
ISKCON temple, Vrindavan

We visited Banke Bihari Temple built in 1862. It is said that the image of Banke Bihari was discovered in Nidhi Vana by Swami Haridas and therefore this temple was built. We also visited ISKON temple. During past decade large number of shops has come-up around this temple and therefore, it has lost its past glory. But the city is full of temples. Vrindavan is also known as city of Widows. Thousands of widows live in hundreds of orphanages spending their last part of life in the devotion of Lord Krishna.

We witnessed in Mathura and Vrindavan deep rooted devotion to the lore of Lord Krishna. However, it also exposed us to our total disregard to importance of hygiene and discipline. These two places deserve far better maintenance and greater facilities to millions of tourist who them. Our devotion should also be sensitized with self-discipline.

Our tour came to an end and we returned to Mysuru via Delhi. At the end it was an exceptionally good tour and we really enjoyed it.

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