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Mathura

[muht-oo-ruh]

Mathura (IAST )(Hindi: मथुरा) is a holy city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located approximately 50 km north of Agra, and 150 km south of Delhi; about twenty miles from holy Vrindavana. It is the administrative centre of Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient period, this was an economic hub, located at the junction of some relatively important caravan routes.

Mathura is reputed to be the birthplace of Krishna at the centre of Vraja, called Krishnajanmabhoomi, literary 'Krishna's birth place'. The Keshav Dev temple was built in ancient times on the site of Krishna's legendary birthplace (an underground prison). As per epic Mahabharata and per Bhagavata Purana, Mathura was the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, ruled by Kamsa the maternal uncle of Krishna.

Mathura is also famous as one of the first two centres of production for images of the Buddha (the other being Gandhara in present-day Pakistan/Afghanistan). Human images of the Buddha began to appear approximately at the same time (1st Century AD) in both centers but can be distinguished from one another as the Gandharan images are very clearly Greco-Roman in inspiration with the Buddha wearing wavy locks tucked up into a chignon and heavier toga-like robes whereas the Buddha figurines produced in Mathura more closely resemble some of the older male fertility gods and have shorter, curlier hair and lighter, more translucent robes.

Muttra is the location of the plantation where Jonathan Small worked in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Sign of Four". Though Muttra sounds like Mathura it is a fictitious place. Mathura never had indigo plantations around it and Mathura is nowhere near the Northwest Provinces.

History

Mathura has an ancient history. As per the ASI plaque at Mathura museum,the city finds mention in the oldest epic Ramayana. In the epic, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughna, slays a deamon called Lavanasur and claims the land in Aryan fold. The place hence came to be known as Madhuvan as it was thickly wooded, Madhupura and later Mathura. Deeper research shows us that the deamon that Shatrughan killed in Ramayana was Lavanasur who was the progeny of a devout king Madhu who gets Lord Shiva's Trident in a boon in the puranas. The Puranas ascribe the founding of the city to Ayu, the son of Pururuvas and celestrial nymph Urvashi. The city might also have got its name from a famous Yadav king Madhu who reigned in around 1600 BC.

In the 6th century BC Mathura became the capital of the Shursen republic (Surasen). The city was later ruled by the Maurya empire (4th to 2nd centuries BC) and the Sunga dynasty (2nd century BC). It came under the control of Indo-Greeks some time between 180 BC and 100 BC. It then briefly reverted to local rule before being conquered by the Indo-Scythians during the 1st century BC. Archaeological evidence seems to indicate that, by 100 BC, there was a group of Jains living in Mathura [Bowker]. Mathura Art form and cluture reached its Zenith under the Kushan dynasty which had Mathura as one of their capital, the other being Purushpur(Peshawar). The dyanasty had kings with the name of Kadphises, Kanishka, Huvishka and Vasudeva. All the Kushans were patrons of Buddhism except Vasudeo (mentioned on coins as BAZODEO). Kanishka even hosted the third Buddhist council. The first two being hosted by Ajatshatru and Ashoka the Great. The headless statue of Kanishka is placed in Mathura museum and ranks among the most amazing sculptures unearthed.

Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BC, mentions Mathura as a great city under the name Μέθορα (Méthora).

The Indo-Scythians (AKA Sakas or Shakas) conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE. Some of their satraps were Hagamasha and Hagana, who were in turn followed by the Saka Great Satrap Rajuvula.

The Mathura lion capital, an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital in crude style, dated to the 1st century CE, describes in kharoshthi the gift of a stupa with a relic of the Buddha, by Queen Nadasi Kasa, the wife of the Indo-Scythian ruler of Mathura, Rajuvula. The capital also mentions the genealogy of several Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura.

Rajuvula apparently eliminated the last of the Indo-Greek kings, Strato II, around 10 CE, and took his capital city, Sagala.

The coinage of the period, such as that of Rajuvula, tends to become very crude and barbarized in style. It is also very much debased, the silver content becoming lower and lower, in exchange for a higher proportion of bronze, an alloying technique (billon) suggesting less than wealthy finances.

The Mathura Lion Capital inscriptions attest that Mathura fell under the control of the Sakas. The inscriptions contain references to Kharaosta Kamuio and Aiyasi Kamuia. Yuvaraja Kharostes (Kshatrapa) was the son of Arta as is attested by his own coins. Arta is stated to be brother of King Moga or Maues. Princess Aiyasi Kambojaka, also called Kambojika, was the chief queen of Shaka Mahakshatrapa Rajuvula. Kamboja presence in Mathura is also verified from some verses of epic Mahabharata which are believed to have been composed around this period. This may suggest that Sakas and Kambojas may have jointly ruled over Mathura/Uttara Pradesh. It is revealing that Mahabharata verses only attest the Kambojas and Yavanas as the inhabitants of Mathura, but do not make any reference to the Sakas. Probably, the epic has reckoned the Sakas of Mathura among the Kambojas (Dr J. L. Kamboj) or else have addressed them as Yavanas, unless the Mahabharata verses refer to the previous period of invasion occupation by the Yavanas around 150 BCE.

The Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura are sometimes called the "Northern Satraps", in opposition to the "Western Satraps" ruling in Gujarat and Malwa. After Rajuvula, several successors are known to have ruled as vassals to the Kushans, such as the "Great Satrap" Kharapallana and the "Satrap" Vanaspara, who are known from an inscription discovered in Sarnath, and dated to the 3rd year of Kanishka (c 130 CE), in which they were paying allegiance to the Kushans.

Mathura served as one of the Kushan Empire's two capitals from the first to the third centuries. The Mathura Museum has the largest collection of redstone sculptures in Asia, depicting many famous Buddha figurines. Fa Hien mentions the city, as a centre of Buddhism about A.D. 400; while his successor Hsuan Tsang, who visited the city in 634 AD, which he mentions as Mot'ulo, and writes that it contained twenty Buddhist monasteries and five Brahmanical temples . Later, he went east to Thanesar, Jalandhar in eastern Punjab, before climbing up to visit predominantly Theravada monasteries in the Kulu valley and turning southward again to Bairat and then Mathura, on the Yamuna river .

The city was sacked and many of its temples destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1018 and further by Sikandar Lodhi, who earned the epithet of 'But Shikan- The destroyer of idols) The Keshav Dev temple was partially destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who built the city's Jami Masjid (Friday mosque) on the same site, re-using many of the temple's stones. It was won over from the Mughals by the Jat kings of Bharatpur but subsequently the area got passed on to the Marathas.The main Krishna shrine is presently the Dwarkadeesh temple, built in 1815 by Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of Gwalior.

Geography

Location: Mathura (27.28 N, 77.41 E) is a district headquarter in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. It is located 145 km south of the national capital New Delhi and 50 km north of the city of Taj Mahal, Agra. District Aligarh is on the east and the Rajasthan district of Bharatpur is to the west.

Area: Geographical Area: 3329.4 km²

Admnistration:
District Mathura is divided in 3 tehsiles and 10 blocks for administrative purposes.

A: Tehsil: Chatta
1. Nandgaon
2. Chhata
3. Chaumuhan

B: Tehsil: Mathura
4. Goverdhan
5. Mathura
6. Farah
7. Baldeo

C: Tehsil: Mant
8. Mant
9. Naujhil
10. Raya

Mathura is located at . It has an average elevation of 174 metres (570 feet).

Tourism

Tourism is still in a development stage in the city. There are quite a few places to visit in Mathura and its surroundings, most of them linked to the Hindu theology. Major places are listed here.

There is no commercial airport in Mathura. However, Mathura is driving distance from Delhi and Agra, both of which are on India's air map.

Major tourist sites in Mathura

Vishram Ghat central of 25 ghat Vishram Ghat Main Ghat of Mathura. After the Vadh of Kansa Shri Krishna and Balram Vishram (Rest) here so called t SHREI VISHRAM GHAT.MATHUR CHATURVEDI whose THIRTH PUROHIT OF BRIJ 84 KAUS son of SHRI YAMUNAJI.

Educational Institutions

Home to the Uttar Pradesh Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Veterinary University (Uttar Pradesh Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Pashu Chikitsa Vigyan Vishwavidyalaya Evam Go Anusandhan Sansthan). First of its kind in the State and fourth in the Country to be made independent veterinary University, UP Pt. DDUVU was established by Government of Uttar Pradesh vide U. P. Act. No. 27 of 2001 on 25.10.2001 with the College of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry, the erstwhile U.P. College of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry, Mathura as its main constituent College. The University is located on the Mathura-Agra road and is about 5 km from Mathura Junction railway station and 4 km from new bus stand. The main campus of the University is spread over a vast land area of 782.32 acres in Mathura Cantt and about at Madhurikund, about 20 km from the main campus.

180 admission has been done with a survey in Feb. & March 2008 for the year 2008-09. The beneficiaries of the NGO are as under: 50 Craft Training Center for OBC, 50 Craft Training Center for SC, 40 Type & Shorthand for OBC & 40 Type and Shorthand SC. The classes has been commenced in April 2008.

Places of interest around Mathura

Strategic Importance

Mathura is the home for Indian I Corps (Strike Formation) within the Indian Army's Central Command , hosting Strike I Corps headquarters in a large classified area in the outskirts of the city known as Mathura Cantonment (Central Command itself has its headquarters at Lucknow). It hosts Strike Infantry units, Air Defence units, Armoured Divisions, Engineer brigades, Aritillery Units and classified units of Strategic Nuclear Command. Corps I is primarily responsible for western borders of India. In 2007 during Exercise Ashwamedha, it had unleashed its armoured, artillery and infantry divisions in full flow to simulate operational ability of being prepared for high intensity, short duration and 'sudden' battles in an overall NBC (nuclear-chemical-biological) environment.

Industries

Today Mathura is situated on very important Road and Train routes in India. The famous Delhi-Agra highway (NH-2, National Highway -2)crosses Mathura, providing the city great connectivity. Also, the city houses a fairly large and important train station, named Mathura Junction. The city is home to the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai train routes.

Mathura is home to a large, technologically-advanced oil refinery owned by the Indian Oil Corporation. This refinery is one of the largest oil refineries of Asia. On the industrial aspect, Mathura is home to a flourishing Silver polishing industry, textile printing industry involving in Sari-printing and Fabric dyeing. In addition to this, water tap factories are also flourishing in the area.

A very famous twin-city to Mathura is Vrindavan. The small town hosts a lot of temples belonging to various sects of Hinduism preaching Lord Krishna in various forms/avatars. Some of the most famous temples are Banke Bihari Temple, Rang ji Temple, Iskcon Temple.

Art of Mathura

Demographics

As of 2001 India census, Mathura had a population of 298,827. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Mathura has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 67%, and female literacy is 53%. In Mathura, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Notes

References

  • Mathura-The Cultural Heritage. Edited by Doris Meth Srinivasan, published in 1989 by AIIS/Manohar.
  • Bowker, John (2002). The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions, p.60.
  • Konow, Sten. Editor. 1929. Kharoshthī Inscriptions with Exception of those of Asoka. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. II, Part I. Reprint: Indological Book House, Varanasi, 1969.
  • Mukherjee, B. N. 1981. Mathurā and its Society: The Śaka-Pahlava Phase. Firma K. L. M. Private Limited, Calcutta.
  • Sharma, R. C. 1976. Mathura Museum and Art. 2nd revised and enlarged edition. Government Museum, Mathura.
  • Growse, F. S. 1882. " Mathura A District Memoir.
  • Drake-Brockman, D. L. 1911. " Muttra A Gaztteer.

External links

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