Now I have decided that whenever I get the chance, I am going to travel places, take photos and write a blog on it. That makes me feel worthy and helps me to keep a log of all the places I visit. Also I could use it as my family travel guide. With such thoughts in mind, I decided to start pursuing this hobby by starting with a sacred town. After a lot of surfing the net, and viewing the pros and cons I zeroed in on Mathura. This is because it enabled me to start with a religious place and I could also visit my grand aunt who lives there. Not only would she be happy but also she would accompany me to the temple as she knows the way around.

So Mathura calling and Shonu lands there in the Rajdhani Express at Delhi. “Well done, Shonu,” I tell myself. The National Highway NO.2 connected me to Mathura from Delhi. It was a two hour ride. Actually I could have visited Mathura when I had been to Agra, but at that point of time, I was busy with other plans. All the same, I reached Mathura after speaking to my friend Darshan who worked with the Government Tourist Department. He had arranged for a hotel in Mathura for me. I did not want to trouble my aunt with staying over as she would then get into a flurry as to what I should eat, how I should rest etc. I didn’t want to trouble her.

When I finished relaxing and felt finally refreshed, it was around 3 in the evening. I decided to go around the place. I saw the vendors selling various food items. I just binged on some and had the very famous Mathura Peda. I bought some for the family. As I walked around, I saw shops selling Lassi or whipped curd. I had one of this, and felt that the milk here was indeed very delicious. There were stalls selling hot milk full of sugar. I didn’t have this, as I thought I would have it the next day. I bought a bottle of thandai and almond syrup.

I then went boating in the River Yamuna, which was fun. On the other side of the river there was the Durvasa Rishi Temple. From here I went to the Hansiya Rani Ghat. Apparently, Rani Hansiya came to have bath here. The ghat was made of red stone and the entire location was very breathtakingly beautiful.

This done, I returned to my hotel and watched the entire place agog, with activity. Vendors selling their wares, tourists doing their stuff, and pilgrims dedicatedly going about with their religious activities.I liked this place and I had already taken a lot of photographs for my blog. Before I went to bed, I took out my laptop and jotted down whatever I had seen that day.

The next day early morning I decided to visit the Krishna Janma Bhoomi. There are two places to see in this place. The first place is a prison where apparently the parents of Lord Sri Krishna were imprisoned. Vasudev and Devaki were put in the prison by Kamsa. This is a very sacred and religious place as this was the place where Lord Krishna was born. So all the devotees of Sri Krishna were seen headed towards this prison. As I entered this place, I actually felt that the place had some kind of spiritual vibration. The other thing to see here was the Radha Krishna temple. I am not an atheist, but I am neither overly spiritual either. But when I entered the temple, I felt a kind of power within me. Believe it or not. The walls here were painted with scenes depicting the life of Lord Krishna. The ceiling too had intricate designs depicting the episodes in Krishna’s life.

Filled with piety and discipline I came out of Krishna Janmabhoomi and then made my way out of the temple. Here there was a canteen which gave food at low cost to the devotees visiting this place. The temple trust runs this canteen and the food here was very tasty. Whether it was my hunger which made me feel that way, I cannot say, but I loved the food here.

Located very near to the Janmabhoomi complex was the Jama Masjid. The mosque with its four minarets looked an imposing structure and the excellence of architecture is seen to be believed. The structure was plastered with mosaic and the charm and magnificence was electrical. I just wished I had come here with a group of friends and could have then heard their collective gasp. I took a lot of photos and came to known from a pamphlet with me that the mosque was built by Nabir Khan. Many many devotees were in the mosque as also innumerable tourists. I came out of this place totally enlightened and impressed with our history.

Mom had told me that the Jain temple was very near this mosque. I went around and reached the place by car. The main temple has the Tirthankar Ajitnath as the presiding deity. The idol is made of white stone and was actually apparently discovered from an excavation work at Gwalior. I had read this before I came to Mathrua. There were 9 more statues in the main temple. There are two statues facing each other. Then I came out of the temple through a main hall. There was a discourse being held there.

I then went to the Dwarkadeesh temple. This temple built in the 18th century, is a very big temple in Mathura. This temple is held with great reverence all over India. My mother had persistently told me not to miss going to this temple. It is located in the centre of the city. As I entered the temple, I was struck by the architecture of the temple. I heard a tourist guide tell his group that this temple was built in the year 1814 and was built by Seth Gokul Das Parikh. I stepped into the temple and was awed by the work in the interior portions. There were many paintings in the walls of temple as also carvings. I was able to make out some of them but really felt I should have come here with a tourist guide who would have told me the background of this temple, its history etc. I looked around for someone who could help and chanced to meet Brijbushan who was apparently a local tourist. He agreed for a small amount and told me “These temples are very historical sir ji. You should see them in the festival time. During Holi, Janmashtami and Dipawali the entire temple is lit up with the hustle and bustle of the devotees who busy themselves with their activities.

I was filled with a lot of enthusiasm after visiting this temple and was really happy I hired Brijbhushan who next took me to the Bankey Bihari Temple . This Brij said was built in the year 1863. Bankey means bent and Bihari means someone who enjoys a lot. Bankey Bihari is a child version of Lord Krishna. Brij added that it is believed that Bankey doesn’t like sound, so there are no conches or bells blown here. There is a constant chant of the name of Radha. Brij told me “Saahab,aapko kuch mangna hai toh maang lo.” Meaning to say I could ask for whatever I want. It is believed that one gets total bliss here.

After this , I thought I would hire a car and go to Govardhan. Govardhan is around 24kms from Mathura and I could reach in 2 hours. It is believed that the name Govardhan is used because there is a hill here by this name and that is the hill I wanted to see. According to Indian mythology, Lord Krishna picked up the hill with one finger. I reached Govardhan Mandir within 2 hours and was curious to know  more. I walked up more, and saw that the hill had the temple of Haridev here. I visited this temple and came down. I asked Brij what the story of Govardhan was. He said that Go means cows and vardhana means nourishment.

Here there is a big puja on the day after Diwali –The Govardhan Puja. It is believed that this is the day that the Lord of Heaven, Indra got defeated by Lord Krishna. I knew this story. My grandfather had told me so many times about how Lord Indra had lot of offerings by the farmers and how Krishna insisted that they need to continue with offering Lord Indra so many things , instead should focus on their farming. Grandpa had told me when I was young about the story of how Indra got angry and flooded the entire village. The villagers got scared and to protect them, Lord Krishna lifted the mountain of Govardhana.

Filled with stories like these, and the visit to the Govardhan Hill, I was completely nostalgic and sentimental. I came back to my hotel and called my mother and spoke to her at length about the trip. I then visited my aunt in Mathura. Loaded with pedas and sweets from Kolkata I visited her and spent the evening talking about stories of childhood. I stayed overnight there and left early next morning to go around Mathura and see whatever else was to be seen.

I called BrijBhusan. Yes, Brij had his own cell phone. He came down and we went round Mathura together. First we went to the Government Museum. This is the biggest museum in whole of Asia, Brij said. We went in and saw the finest collection of Gandhar variety of Indian sculpture. Guptas and Kushans had ruled over Indian in 400BC -1200AD. There were items of those times preserved here in the museum. There were many foreign tourists here and there was a group of students who had come on an exchange program.

We then had breakfast at a local roadside shanty and proceeded to the Jai Gurudev Temple. This temple, Brij said was built by Baba Jaigurudeo. It actually looked like the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t believe it, but it did look like the magnificent wonder of the world. I am non vegetarian. So I wasn’t allowed to donate here. That was the rule of the temple. No offering would be accepted from a non vegetarian. The temple was very unique in its construction and architecture.

I had heard a lot about the Mathura Refinery and I wanted to see this. This has been constantly in the news as it is said that the emissions from here is making the Taj Mahal yellow. I went and had a look at this refinery. Brij went on rambling about the history of this refinery. I said I didn’t want to know about it.

The next place was the Kans Quila. This is a very important historical place in Mathura. It is in ruins here, and is on the banks of River Yamuna. Brij said that Raja Man Singh, the general of Emperor Akbar built this.  Brij said “ There was an observatory built here years back, sahib.” But I could find no trace of it. Today this fort protects Mathura from getting flooded.

“Sahab, abhi ghat par jaatey hain.” Brij said meaning “Let us go to the Ghat.” Yes, I knew, we had to go to Vishram Ghat. I had read about it so many times. This is the place where Lord Krishna rested after killing Kamsa. Pilgrims come here just for this purpose. There were many temples around the ghat. I went around seeing some of them. I went to the Neelkantheshwar temple, and took some photos of the architectural style.  Then there was the Langali Hanuman Temple which was magnificently ancient. We waited here till dusk. Brij had said that in the evening, people set oil lamps floating here in the river. The sight was mesmerizing, and breathtaking. The sight was beautiful and amazingly magical. This is one thing that would always remain in my memories. The whole ambience was electrical and hypnotical.

We stayed over at Brij’s uncle’s place near Vishram Ghat. I didn’t mind as I anyway had my laptop with me. I tried to access the internet there but couldn’t. Towards night we saw the Ramleela here. This was a play that was based on the life of Lord Rama. I had fun fighting with the swords in Ram Barat.

As the sun rose, the next morning, I was reluctant to go back to the hotel as that meant I had to pick my bags and sit on the flight to Kolkata. No! I didn’t want to leave this place but I had to, and I decided very soon I would embark on my next trip. I visited aunt once more, hugged her and came back with a lot of stories to write on this trip.

Shonu log : Mathura is blessed and blesses you if you visit.