The Only Travel Guide You Need To Plan A Mathura Vrindavan Trip

The Only Travel Guide You Need To Plan A Mathura Vrindavan Trip
The Only Travel Guide You Need To Plan A Mathura Vrindavan Trip

Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir. Photo: Shutterstock

Places to visit in Mathura and Vrindavan for a long weekend getaway

The historic cities of Mathura and Vrindavan, nestled along the serene banks of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh, resonates with spiritual vibrancy. Famed as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism, Mathura and Vrindavan beckon millions of devotees and curious travelers alike, yearning to experience its rich tapestry of myths, legends, and timeless traditions

Regarded as two of the seven holy cities in Hinduism, Mathura and Vrindavan have etched a significant mark on the global landscape. These twin cities are intricately woven into the narratives of the ancient Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, elevating their stature as key spiritual hubs in India. Their allure is most palpable during the vibrant celebrations of Janmashtami, commemorating Lord Krishna’s birth, and Holi, the exuberant festival of colors. The ethereal experience of morning temple bells ringing, the echoing chants of “Hare Krishna Hare Rama” in every alley, the rich tapestry of age-old temples, and the serene ghats paint a magical picture. The aura of this place is bound to envelop you in a spiritual embrace. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the purifying waters of the Yamuna, discovering age-old and contemporary places of worship, capturing the spellbinding evening aarti in your camera, or simply losing yourself in the melodious tunes of a distant flute, Mathura and Vrindavan promise a profound journey for every soul.

What To See

Given the close proximity of the major attractions, it’s possible to explore them within a day. However, if your schedule allows, take your time, and relish each experience. In Vrindavan, highlights include Seva Kunj and Nidhuban, Shahji Temple, Govardhan Hill, and the Banke Bihari Temple. Meanwhile, in Mathura, essential stops include the Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir, Kusum Sarovar, Prem Mandir, Jama Masjid, and Dwarkadhish Temple.

Kusum Sarovar
Kusum Sarovar. Photo: Shutterstock

Exploring the temples of Mathura and Vrindavan

Shri Krishna Janmasthan Temple Mathura: The most significant temple in Mathura, this is believed to be the exact place where Lord Krishna was born. The temple complex includes a prison cell-like chamber representing where Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, were imprisoned by King Kamsa. The Krishna Janmasthan Temple witnesses a surge of visitors during festivals like Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday), Basant Panchami, Holi, and Diwali.

Dwarkadheesh Temple: One of Mathura’s architectural gems, renowned nationwide for its intricate design and murals, is the temple of Lord Dwarkadheesh. This shrine houses a mesmerizing black marble idol of Dwarkanath, a manifestation of Lord Krishna. Exquisite ceiling art narrates episodes from the deity’s life, while the distinct Rajasthani architecture and artistry enhance the temple’s grandeur. As one of Mathura’s prime attractions, it draws thousands daily, who come to pay respect to Lord Krishna.

Shaivite Temples in Mathura: While Mathura is predominantly recognized as Lord Krishna’s domain, it intriguingly also offers a special reverence to Lord Shiva. This city presents an enthralling blend of Vaishnavite and Shaivite places of worship – a fusion that never fails to captivate visitors.

Four esteemed Shaivite temples stand tall in Mathura, believed to be the principal fortresses guarding the city from all four cardinal directions. These include the Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple in the west, the Gokarneshwar Temple in the north, the Rangeshwar Mahadev Temple in the south, and the Pipaleshwar Mahadev Temple to its east.

Birla Mandir: Built by the industrialist Birla family, this temple is another modern addition to Mathura’s rich tapestry of religious sites. The temple’s principal chamber showcases remarkable artistry, adorned with inscriptions from the Bhagavad Gita. At the heart of the sanctum stands a gorgeously detailed idol of Lord Krishna, accompanied by other revered figures like Laxmi Narayan, and Ram with Sita.

Yam Yamuna Temple: Located near Vishram Ghat in Mathura, the ancient Yam-Yamuna Temple (or Yamuna-Dharamraj Temple) stands as a testament to sibling love. A short walk from this temple will lead you to the grand Dwarkadhish Temple. Dedicated to the sibling duo, Yum and Yamuna, the temple narrates a tale of deep affection. Legend says that on Bhaiduj, after inviting her brother Yum for a meal, Yamuna, devoid of worldly desires, wished for a timeless blessing that still lights up her ghats every Bhaiduj.

Prem Mandir
Prem Mandir. Photo: Shutteratock

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In Vrindavan:

Banke Bihari Temple: The Shri Bankey Bihari Temple in Vrindavan stands as a prominent testament to Lord Krishna’s devotion. The term ‘Banke’ denotes a bent posture, while ‘Bihari’ signifies one who revels or enjoys. The deity at this revered temple adopts the ‘tribhanga’ stance, a unique posture marked by three distinct bends. This has led to Lord Krishna being affectionately named “Banke”. Historically, this very idol of Lord Krishna was worshiped at Nidhivan and was referred to as “Kunj-Bihari”, signifying the deity who delights in the groves or ‘kunj’ of Vrindavan.

ISKCON Temple (Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir): A modern temple complex, it’s a fusion of devotion and contemporary facilities. In the sacred town of Vrindavan, which resonates with tales of divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha, stands the majestic Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir, a beacon of devotion and spiritual fervor. established by ISKCON, the temple is dedicated to the divine brothers, Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama

Prem Mandir: Prem Mandir, founded in 2001, is often referred to as the ‘Temple of Divine Love’. Embodied with profound affection, the illustrious Prem Mandir in Vrindavan is solely dedicated to the divine couples Radha-Krishna and Sita-Ram. Like many temples in Vrindavan, its architecture exudes traditional elegance. The edifice, graced with intricate carvings and pristine white marble, elevates its allure. Visitors are captivated by the exquisite statues of Lord Krishna that narrate various episodes of his life, along with those who cherished and revered him.

Things To Do

Every year, the historic cities of Mathura and Vrindavan beckon countless devotees and inquisitive travelers. While the temples are a significant draw, there’s a myriad of unique experiences exclusive to these cities awaiting your discovery. In Mathura, immerse yourself in the enchanting sight of lit diyas floating across the Yamuna River or take a refreshing dip in Kusum Sarovar, traditionally considered the rendezvous point of Radha and Krishna. For those keen on delving into history and culture, the Mathura Government Museum, Jama Masjid, and Kans Quila offer intriguing insights into the region’s storied past.

Mathura ka peda
Mathura ka peda

Where to Eat

Mathura Vrindavan may not boast a plethora of upscale dining establishments, but the few that exist promise satisfying culinary experiences. A notable aspect of dining in this sacred locale is the predominance of vegetarian fare, with only a few places offering non-vegetarian dishes. For those with a penchant for meaty delights, Taj Family Restaurant is a haven, offering a diverse menu of chicken and fish specialties. For delectable vegetarian dishes in a tranquil setting, Dasaprakash and Status restaurants, nestled within prominent city hotels, are top picks. Govinda’s Restaurant is another popular choice. The restaurant is housed at ISKCON temples around the world, including the one in Vrindavan, and serves a buffet as well as an à la carte menu. South Indian cuisine enthusiasts should make a beeline for Dosa Plaza, famed for its extensive variety of dosas. Shankar Mithai Wala has become a beloved choice among locals for bedai and dubki wale aloo, renowned staples of Mathura’s street food scene. Don’t forget to grab a batch of Mathura ka peda from Brijwasi Sweets before you depart.

Where To Stay

Securing accommodation in Vrindavan and Mathura is straightforward with a plethora of options at your disposal, ranging from hotels and homestays to traditional dharamshalas. Given the prominence of temples in the area, many accommodations are conveniently located nearby, offering satisfactory amenities. For a truly enchanting experience, it’s recommended to choose lodgings in Vrindavan. Not only will the ambiance captivate you, but you’ll also find yourself spending a significant portion of your time immersed in the charm of Vrindavan.

Holi in Mathura Vrindavan
Lathmar Holi Celebrations in Mathura Vrindavan. Photo: Shutterstock

Best Time To Visit

  • Winter (October to March): Pleasant temperatures make it the ideal time for sightseeing. Plus, major festivals like Janmashtami and Holi are celebrated during these months.
  • Avoid Summer (April to June): The scorching heat can be discomforting for outdoor activities.
  • During Holi: If there’s a Holi spectacle you must witness once in your life, let it be that of Mathura and Vrindavan.  Boisterous revellers crowd streets, all feasts are topped off with sweets and bhang, and colours run riot for seven days. Every place imbues the festival with a flavour of its own, from Nandgaon and Barsana’s Lathmar Holi to a holi for widowed women in Vrindavan. Lord Krishna’s homeland puts on a show to remember. The Lathmar Holi tradition originated from a tale involving Lord Krishna. Legend says that young Krishna, troubled by his dark complexion compared to Radha’s fairness, was advised by his mother Yashodha to color Radha’s face. Following her advice, Krishna, accompanied by his friends, visited Radha’s village of Barsana and playfully colored Radha and other Gopis. In response, the women began teasingly hitting him with sticks, marking the beginning of the Lathmar Holi tradition.

How To Get There

Mathura is approximately 150 kilometers south of Delhi, while Vrindavan lies around 170 kilometers south of the capital city. Conveniently, you can opt for a drive or hire a cab to reach either destination. Additionally, buses depart for Mathura every 10 or 15 minutes from Delhi’s Interstate bus terminal, providing another accessible mode of transportation.

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