Poised on the banks of the holy River Yamuna, the old city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most important religious destinations in India. A labyrinth of lanes lined by temples, ancient ghats and numerous stories of Lord Krishna, who is said to be born here, echoing throughout the streets, Mathura invites devotees from far and wide.


The city is renowned for several temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is one of the most popular and loved incarnations of Lord Vishnu. They give a peek into the era of the divine, depicted in the phases of Lord Krishna's life. Considered as one of the seven sacred cities in the country, Mathura touches the soul with its rich cultural heritage. It is believed that the son of Mata Devaki and Vasudeva, Lord Krishna was born on this holy land around 5,000 years ago in a prison cell.


Mathura finds a mention in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and became a part of the mighty Mauryan empire sometime during the 1st century BC. Under the rule, it flourished, transforming into a primary centre for arts. Stone carving and sculpture-making fall under what is now the Mathura School of Arts, which evolved between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD. King Ashoka, the great Mauryan liege, is credited with building several Buddhist monuments in and around Mathura in the 3rd century BC. In fact, the sculptures and carvings created around this time followed a common theme of Buddhism, with a majority of the artworks inspired by and representing Lord Buddha in some form. As the rule of the Mauryans came to a grinding halt, the influence of Buddhism started to disappear, to be replaced by Hindu temples.