Mathura : - Although identified with Lord Krishna today, Mathura was originally a Buddhist monastic centre. At one time, Mathura had 20 Buddhist monasteries attended by some 3000 monks, but the town began to decline in the 8th century as Buddhism gave way to Hinduism throughout the north. The Afgan ghats (riverside steps), an atmospheric bazaar area and several interesting temples make Mathura a must visit for pilgrims and an interesting destination for tourists.
Among the foundations of the Kesava Deo Temple is a small room designed to look like a prison cell. Here pilgrims file past the stone slab on which Krishna is said to have been born 3500 years ago. He was obliged to make his entry into the world in these undignified surroundings because his parents had been imprisoned by the tyrannical King Kansa, Krishna's uncle.
The Gita Mandir temple in Mathura is famous for having the text of the Bhagawat Gita inscribed in its entirety, along the walls of the temple.
The Dwarikadhish Temple built in 1815 by an official of the state of Gwalior, is the most visited temple in Mathura.
On both banks of the River Yamuna there are steps or ghats leading down to the water, where devotees come to bathe in the holy water and pray to the deity. The holiest of the ghats in Mathura is the Vishram ghat where Lord Krishna is believed to have rested after killing his uncle, the tyrant Kansa.
Every evening a prayer ceremony is held at the Vishram Ghat, which concludes with
small diya's or oil lamps being released on the surface of the river. It is a beautiful sight, as the River Yamuna appears to be aglow with numerous twinkling lights.