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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.

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.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.

Tourist sites:

Krishnajanmabhoomi
Dwarikadheesh Temple
Kans Kila
Vishram Ghat
Barsana
Nandgaon
Gokul
Vrindavan
Govardhan
Radha Kund

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