Mathura is a city in northern India and the administrative headquarters of Mathura district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Widely known as birth place of Lord Krishna (one of the most worshipped Hindu God), the city is located on the western bank of river Yamuna and is revered a lot by Hindus. Politically, the city has remained under Maurayas, Sungas, Kushanas, Lodhis, Mughals, Jats, Marathas, Britishers, to name a few, before becoming part of the Indian mainland.
For about 3000 years, it was the hub of culture and civilization and economic activities, as it was located at the junction of important trade routes. It became a center of three cultures: Indian, Indo-Scythian and Hellenstic. Held in sanctity by the Buddhists, Jain and Brahmanical faith alike, it has a long and chequered history. Besides having extensive archaeological remains, the city was visited by the famous Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang and also received a mention from Ptolemy, the great Egyptian writer.
Of all the sacred places in India, none enjoys a greater popularity than the holy city of Mathura, the capital of Braj. For nine months in the year, festival upon festival follows in rapid succession and the ghats and temples are daily thronged by thousands of pilgrims. Around 36 annual fairs are held. Dozens of ghats line the Yamuna as it flows through the city. Some places of cultural and religious significance in the city are Keshav Dev Temple (Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi), Dwaradhish, Vishram Ghat (Bank of River Yamuna), Shri Jagannath Temple Bhuteshwar Mathura, Prem Mandir, Vrindavan Mathura Museum, Birla Mandir, Naam yog Sadhna Mandir (Baba Jai Gurudev Temple), Banke Bihari Temple, Iskcon Temple.
The great school of sculpture known as Mathura School of Art flourished here for 1200 years. Such prolific creativity and gushing devotion to novel Art Forms and experiment in sculptures and clay figurines as found in this school are rare in the annals of Indian Art History. A survey of this glorious School of Art can be made in the Government Museum, Mathura. In addition, practices, like Sanjhee (the colourful art of decorating the ground with flowers); Raaslilas and Rasiya (the tradition of folk-songs that describe the love of the divine couple Radha and Krishna); Charkula (a traditional folk dance of the Braj, where a woman balances a column of deepikas on her head and dances to the accompaniment of Rasiya songs by the menfolk), describe its culture the best.