Mathura, popular as the city of Gods, is located in Uttar Pradesh at a distance of about 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra. Mathura, the birth place of Shree Krishna (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is a major pilgrimage of Hindus. The entire region of Brajbhoomi is divided into two districts- the eastern side of Yamuna comprising of Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna, and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.
There are a number of Buddhist monasteries in Mathura that received considerable patronage from Emperor Ashoka. From the early 11th century (1017) to the end of the 16th century, Mathura witnessed the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist shrines under the rule of Mahmmad Ghazni, Sikander Lodhi, Aurangzeb, Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali etc. Today, the city has numerous Hindu, Buddhist and Shaivite temples. Several monuments and buildings exhibit a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
There are a total of about 25 ghats in Mathura, linked with different episodes of Krishna's life. The most popular one is the Vishram Ghat, where Shree Krishna rested after assassinating Kansa. The traditional Parikrama (circumbulation of all the important religious and cultural places of the city) starts and ends at this particular Ghat. A trip to Mathura is incomplete without a visit to its Kunds. There were 159 ancient Kunds in Mathura, out of which only four survive today. Aartis are held at every ghat in the evening, and little oil lamps are floated over the river. The Government Museum in Mathura exhibits ancient Hindu art patterns.
Shree Krishna Janambhoomi is the most revered holy place in Mathura. As the name suggests, it is a temple with an extensive complex on the site where Lord Krishna was born in the cell of a prison. One can find several big and small temples erected inside the complex. The temple is famous for beautiful pictures of the child Krishna. The stories of Krishna's birth and his childhood are written and illustrated on the walls. The modern temple that stands on the site was made by the industrialist G.D. Birla in 1962. The temple is open from 7 am to 8 pm.
The entire site of the Kusum Sarovar is surrounded by the trees of Kadamb (the favorite tree of Lord Krishna). This 450 feet long and 60 feet deep tank is made amidst a number of Ashrams and Temples. This site is believed to be the place where Gopis or milkmaids used to pick flowers for lord Krishna. The flights of stairs from each side take you to the upper platform. The stairs, platform, and the artistic boundary belongs to the era of Lord Krishna.
Kusum Sarovar is located about a half hour's walk from another famous tank named Radha Kunj. The place is worth visiting because of the unique architectural beauty and its peace and serenity. The main walls have beautifully carved chhatris that are decorated with frescos depicting darbar, hunting scenes, royal processions and wars. Kusum Sarovar is considered the best swimming spot in the Braj region. Evening Aarti is another attraction of the place that is attended by hundreds of devotees.