Popularly known as Vraj Bhumi and Goloka Vaikuntam, this is the most sacred dham spread over 84 kos i.e.168 miles-42 miles on each direction with Mathura as the center. Vraja mandal comprises of Mathura, Goverdhan,Gokulam,Vrindavan and its surrounding 12 forests. The Supreme Lord manifested Himself along with HIS attendants and enacted various pastimes 5,000 years ago in Dwapara yugam. Sri Krishnavataaram is the POORNA AVATARAM of Vishnu. Every inch in this place is sacred because of its association with Sri Krishna’s Thiruvadi (as He walked over all these places). Anyone who visits this sacred place is bestowed with Krishna Bhakti and attains moksham. This is one of the seven mukthi tharum kshetrams, the rest being Ayodhya, Mayapur, Kasi,Kanchi, Puri, Dwarka. Every inch of this place is considered very sacred due to its association with Sri Krishna. Lord eternally resides in this place.
There are 108 Vaishnava divya desams (sacred shrines glorified by the12 Azhwar saints of South India out of which Braj bhoomi comprises of 2 divya desams They are Mathura (Vada Mathura in Tamil meaning Mathura of North) comprising of Mathura, Vrindavan and Goverdhan giri and Thiru aayarpaadi (Gokulam). The devotional outpourings are known as pasurams in Tamil.
Mathura has been glorified by 5 Azhwars with 50 pasurams dedicated to this place., the details of which are given here:-
Periazhwar(16 pasurams), Andal(19 pasurams)-, Thondaradipodi Azhwar (1 pasuram), Thirumangai Azhwar(4 pasurams) and Nammazhwar(10 pasurams)
Likewise Thiruaayarpaadi (Gokulam) has been glorified in 22 pasurams by 3 Azhwars –
Andal,(5 pasurams) Periazhwar (10 pasurams) and Thirumangai Azhwar(7 pasurams).
As per Varaha Puranam, the benefit of visiting 600 million thirthas is attained by visiting the theerthams in Mathura. It also states that circumbulating Mathura bestows the benefit of circumbulating 100 times all the holy places in the world. It also says that even seeing a person who has returned from Mathura will cleanse us of all sins. As per Padma Puranam, residing in Mathura for atleast one day will bestow Hari bhakti.
Anyone who leaves his mortal coils in Mathura will attain moksham.
Mathura also known as Madhuvanam was the dwelling place of Madhu, the demon who was killed by the Lord because of which HE is known as MADHUSUDANAN.
It is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham that in Krita Yugam, Dhruva did penanace at this place Madhuvanam situated on the banks of River Yamuna for six months and had Lord’s darshan. In Treta Yugam, Sri Rama’s brother Shatrugna killed Lavanasuran and ruled this place for 12 years as per Rama’s instructions. In Dwapara yugam, Krishna sanctified this place by appearing here as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
Akbar named this town as Fakirabad and promised the residents that there would be no slaughtering of animals and meat eating would not be allowed in Vraj bhoomi.
LOCATION:- Mathura is 100 kms south of Delhi in Agra-Delhi route and almost all Delhi bound trains stop in this junction for few minutes. It takes about 3-4 hours to reach Mathura from Delhi but since it is an important junction, one can alight at Mathura itself for visiting Krishna’s birthplace.
HOW TO REACH:- The temples in Mathura can be visited by hiring autos/ tangas/ car. There are buses to Vrindavan, Gokulam,Goverdhan (Manasi Ganga) from Mathura station itself. One can hire any vehicle of one’s preference and visit the temples in Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokulam. Mathura and Gokulam are located on either sides of River Yamuna. Vrindavan is beyond Gokulam. Vrindavan is 12 kms from Mathura and Goverdhan is around 10 kms from Mathura (pl. note that the routes are different). Goverdhan is 24 kms from Vrindavan.
STAY FACILITIES:– Many lodges are available at Mathura starting from Rs.300/-onwards. Food can be had at any of the Vegetarian hotels.
IMPORTANT PLACES :- There are about 5000 temples in Vraj Bhumi out of which few important places are mentioned below. It takes about a fortnight to visit all the places in Vraj Bhumi.
TRANSPORT FACILITIES:- There are state run and private buses to Vrindavan and Goverdhan. Share autos are also available. One can also engage auto or car for visiting important places in Mathura, Goverdhan and Brindavan. For sight seeing in Mathura, autos charge approx. Rs.300/-. For directly going to Brindavan without stopping anywhere, they charge around Rs. 150/- and cars charge about Rs.200/-.Share autos charge Rs.10/- to Vrindavan and Rs.20/- to Goverdhan. Buses and autos are available round the clock.
IMPORTANT PLACES IN MATHURA
Sri Krishna Janmasthan
Adi Varaha temple
Samyavan Theerth(Naga Theerth)
SRI KRISHNAJANMASTHAN – birth place of Sri Krishna – 1 km from Mathura railway station- well guarded by security –filming equipments and mobiles not allowed inside. Apart from the sannidhi, there is a small room in which Devaki and Vasudeva were kept under house arrest. It was here that Sri Krishna Paramatma was born. After Ram janma bhoomi conflict, security has been tightened here as there is a mosque beside the temple.
Even today, on Gokulastami, in this temple, thirumanjanam(abhishekam) is performed to Sri Krishna headed by the representatives of Vaishnava sampradayams. The thirumanjanam for the utsavar starts around 9 P.M. and goes on upto midnight and special poojas are performed for the Lord. Thirumanjam with huge quantities of milk, curd, butter, ghee etc are done to the Lord. During that time, curtain is drawn in front of the garbagriham obstructing clear view of the moolavar. At the stroke of 12, the curtain is drawn, and maha aarthi with shodasa upacharam is offered to the along with chappan bhog(56 items of various food items). In all other temples in Braj bhoomi, Thirumanjanam is offered to the utsava murthis of Radha and Krishna except in Sri Krishna Janmasthan where abhishekam is done only to Sri Krishna.
STHALAPURANAM:- Krishna appeared as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva on the 8th day (ashtami) of dark fortnight in the month of Sravana. HIS parents were under house arrest by Kamsa. This was Vishnu’s POORNA AVATAAR” exhibiting all HIS immeasurable divine qualities for the purpose of reducing Mother Earth’s burden from evil people and protecting the pious people. It was here that the Lord first exhibited HIS Vishnu form holding sankhu, chakram, padmam, gadam in HIS four hands, wearing peethambaram, adorning kausthubam sporting Srivatsam on HIS thirumaarbhu to Devaki and Vasudeva and reminded them of their two previous births and added that this would be their last birth and attain moksham.
ü Kothra Kund / pavitra Kund:- This is beside SriKrishna janmabhoomi. Here Krishna’s parents used to wash their clothes. This was part of the prison in those days.
ü Madhuvanam :- Lavanasuran’s gufa which is very dark is located here. Bit difficult to approach the gufa.
Kesavji temple- the temple of Adikesava Perumal whom Krishna’s ancestors worshipped
Dwarkadeesh temple– this 150 year old huge temple was constructed by the devote Marwadi who constructed Rangaji mandir in Vrindavan. In this temple, Krishna is seen with Rukmini and Satyabhama. In the month of Sravana, utsavam is performed. Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated grandly. The temple follows Vallabhacharyar Vaishnava Sampradayam.
Visram Ghat:- where Lord rested after killing Kamsa. While going to Sandipa muni’s ashram for pursuing studies, Krishna left HIS kreetam(crown) at this place. This is the most important of the 24 theerthas in Mathura. Having bath on Sukla paksha Dvidityiyai (2nd day after Amavasya) in the month of Karthigai is very auspicious as it is the appearance day of River Yamuna. The pithrus get redeemed and reach Vaikuntam.
Usually, people start Braj bhoomi parikrama from this place. This ghat is on the way to Vrindavan.
Dhruva Tila:- The place where Dhruva performed austerities. Kamsa was cremated at this place. As there is no proper path to reach this place, it is suggested to offer respects from Vishram Ghat
Ranga Bhoomi(Yuddha bhoomi) :- Krishna fought with 2 wrestlers, Mushtikan and Chanuran at this place.
Kamsa Tila:- Kamsa was killed by Krishna at this place
Adi Varaha temple:- The diety was installed by Kapila Muni in Krita Yugam who later handed it over to Indra. Indra gifted this archa-vigraha to Ishvaku kings at Ayodhya. When Shatrugna was ruling Mathura, he brought this archa-vigraha from Ayodhya to Mathura for worship.
Talavanam:- Denukasuran was killed by Balarama at this place. Earlier this place was full of jackfruit trees but now there is only one tree. All other trees fell on the asura whereas this tree on which Krishna was leaning was not uprooted.
Kumudavanam:- This place is full of kumuda flowers and lotus with which Krishna used to dress up the gopis.
Samyavan Theerth(Naga Theerth):- This is on the banks of Yamuna and is the place from where carrying Krishna in a basket, Vasudeva crossed Yamuna to reach Gokulam