Birthplace of Lord Krishna, Mathura is known for its culture and heritage and lies well within the golden triangle of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra. Mathura lies 55 km towards north-west of Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
The region is closely associated with the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Krishna is said to have spent his childhood and adolescence in Braj. Mathura is also sacred as it is believed a pilgrimage to the city guarantees moksha or salvation. According to Garuda Purana, Mathura along with Ayodhya, Avantika, Kasi, Puri, Kanchi and Dwarika are the seven sites which grant moksha.
Though the city is linked mainly with the life of Krishna, it is special even for Jains and Buddhists. Mathura’s holy ghats and serene banks of river Yamuna give a tranquil feel.
The festivals celebrated in the city revolve around the life of Lord Krishna. Janmashtami and Holi are celebrated with great fervor. Barsana, 27 km from Mathura, is renowned for the Lathmaar Holi celebrated in the village.
Mathura has a rich heritage. Mathura’s literature, songs, dance and cultural events revolve around the life of Lord Krishna. The culture of the people of Mathura is known as Braj culture. Rasiya, a tradition of folk songs that describe the bonf of Radha and Krishna, is an integral part of the festive celebration of Mathura. (Information based on talk with one of the Ashram Guru at Vrindavan).
As much as the city of Mathura is dominated by the Dwarkadheesh temple and the mighty river Yamuna, it is also home to the innumerable temples and shrines - many ancient, some others new – all of them together endowing the town with the distinct spiritual flavor that it is known for all over the world.
During the one day that we spent in the town, we managed to visit some of these holy places, in and around Mathura:
1. Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi
2. Vishram Ghat
3. Dwarkadheesh Temple
4. Krishna Balrama Temple
5. Radha Madana-Mohana Temple situated near Kali Ghat
6. Radha Vallabha Temple
7. Seva Kunja
8. Radha Damodara Temple
9. RadhaRamana Temple
10. Govindaji Temple
11. ISKCON Temple
12. Bankey Bihari Temple
* Suresh ke Mangode, Samose [Ghiya Mandi, Opp Bhargava Street] [aftre 5 pm]
* Bhagvan Das ka Bhalla [Ghiya Mandi, Opp Jain Street] [after 5 pm]
* Brijwasi Chat Wala [Near Khadi Ashram, Tilak Dwar] [after 5 pm]
* Om Pahlwan Kachori wala [Near Holi Gate, Opp Brijwasi Mithai wala] [8am -11am]
There are many other chat walas, it depends upon your taste. Peda (Sweet) is famous globally and it's worth a try. Mathura's Lassi (Yogurt-drink) is also well known.
Other Sight Seeing:
Vrindavan, Gokul, Goverdhan, Nand Goan, Barsana
From my own experience I can tell you, no matter how alienated you may feel when you reach there, just jump onto the street, mingle with the crowd and the rest will be taken care of.