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Updated 10/17/2014


The Dusty Road from Muttra

Muttra is the former name of Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh state, northern India, on the Yamuna River, northwest of Agra. Mathura is the mythological birth place of Lord Krishna.

The earliest references of Mathura are some 2,500 years old. The Buddha is said to have visited the city and established monasteries here. Mathura became a powerful principality under the Kushan Empire, whose greatest king was Kanishka (78 AD). The Chinese traveler Fa Hien, who visited Mathura around 400 AD, refers to Buddhist monasteries flourishing here. Located on the trade route and being a prosperous state, Mathura fell to the sword of invading armies. Mahmud of Ghazni in 1017, Sikandar Lodi in 1500 and the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb plundered and looted the city. First Buddhist sites, and then Hindu temples and religious sites, were destroyed.

Mathura went into oblivion until the resurgent Hindu movement of the Bhakti cult. Since then, Hindu rulers, chieftains and rich merchants built temples, riverfront ghats and other structures to revive the Krishna legend. Under British rule, the city also got a cantonment called the Civil Lines. Today, Mathura has grown into a crowded town with pilgrim and tourism services as well as small industries.