Mathura is a holy town located about 30 miles north of the Taj Mahal city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It's a hub of religious activity, owing to the fact that the Hindu god Krishna was allegedly born here, and most visitors to the city are devout Hindus or tourists stopping by on their way between Delhi and Agra.
While much of Mathura is atmospheric, the most interesting part is the area along the banks of the River Yamuna, where there are myriad temples and around 25 ghats primarily used for religious bathing and ceremonies. Mathura is often visited in conjunction with its twin city of Vrindavan just down the road and is a popular stop on Golden Triangle tours, which also take in major sites in and around Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If you visit Mathura during the Holi festival, wear white clothing that you don’t mind throwing away; you’re bound to get covered with colored powders thrown as part of the celebration.
- Travelers visiting temples should dress modestly, with clothing that covers their shoulders and knees, and be prepared to remove their shoes.
- Mathura is largely a vegetarian city (for religious reasons), so be prepared to abstain from meat during your visit.
How To Get There
Mathura is located just off National Highway 19, which connects Delhi to Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal), a short detour from the faster Taj Express Highway, which also connects the two cities. It takes around three hours to get to Delhi in periods of low traffic, while reaching Agra takes around an hour and a half. By train, it's 45 minutes to an hour to Agra and around two to three hours to Delhi, depending on which train service you opt for.
When To Get There
Like most of North India, the weather in Mathura is best from October through March, when it’s generally cool and dry. April and May can be swelteringly hot, while June through August and into September can bring monsoon rains. The most popular time to visit is during August or September for Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, and during the annual Holi celebrations in early spring, though this can also be the most hectic.
Holi in Mathura
Mathura is associated with Lord Krishna, as is the annual festival of colors, Holi, so it’s no surprise that Holi is a big deal here. While in most parts of North India it’s celebrated for a day or two, the festivities in Mathura and the neighboring city of Vrindavan often go on for days, with lots of colors being thrown about along with evening dance performances, special dinners, and other celebrations.