Vrindavana and Mathura are the most important places of pilgrimage for devotees of Krishna. Krishna was born in Mathura and spent His childhood in Vrindavan. There are over 5,000 temples in Vrindavan.
The city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, the nucleus of Brajabhumi, is located 140 km south-east of Delhi and 60 km north-west of Agra. Covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km., Brajabhumi can be divided into two distinct units - the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract with places like 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 (Nandagram).
The land of Braj starts from Kotban near Hodel about 95 km from Delhi and ends at Runakuta which is known specially for its association with the poet Surdas, an ardent Krishna devotee. A long line of picturesque ghats - with their steps leading to the water's edge, arched gateways and temple spires extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna, emphasize the sacred character of the town of Mathura. The birth place of Lord Krishna, Mathura is today an important place of pilgrimage.
Lord Krishna is the most popular person here. Every square foot of Mathura-Vrindavan is wrapped in timeless devotion to Lord Krishna, the eternal hero, the lover of Radha and the cowherd-prince. Mathura without Lord Krishna is like Bethlehem without Jesus. Welcome to Brajabhumi, Krishna's land.
To enable everyone to see the area in a traditional spiritual way, every year in Kartika (Oct/Nov) ISKCON puts on a Braja Mandala parikrama. This one-month walking tour goes to all 12 forests in Vrindavan and visits most of major places in the Braja area including Mathura, Radha Kund, Varsana, Nandagrama, Gokula, Vrindavan, and Govardhana Hill. It is traditional to do this walk barefoot, although shoes are permitted.
The city of Mathura is located in the western part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the north of India. It is a part of the great northern plains and is situated on the west bank of the river Yamuna. Mathura is 140 km south of Delhi and 60 km northwest of Agra. The climate of Mathura is extreme and tropical. Summers are extremely hot and winters are cold and foggy. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains from July to September.
An ancient city whose origins fade into the mists of history, Mathura's strategic location at the cross roads of various trade routes - that went westwards to West Asia and the Roman Empire; northwards, via Taxila, Pushkalavati and Purushapur to Central Asia and the Silk Route and eastwards to China - ensured its position as a center of trade and a meeting point for varied cultures.
By the fifth century BC, during the time of Buddha, it was a major metropolis and the capital of the Surasena kingdom - one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of the period. Mathura saw its `golden age' during the rule of the Kushanas and the able governance of rulers like Kanishka, Huvishka, and Vasishka, when the arts flourished and economic wealth grew. It remained a center of power during the Mauryan period, through the enlightened rule of Emperor Ashoka to the Gupta era (4th century AD).