Think weekend getaways and Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to cross your mind. However, with Janmashtami just around the corner, hordes of believers will flock to Krishna’s birthplace, one of the most spiritual sites in India: Mathura.
Located in northern Uttar Pradesh, most travellers head to this culturally rich city to dig into the historic architecture of popular landmarks like the Mathura Government Museum, Kans Quila, Jama Masjid, Keshi Ghat amongst others.
If that isn't quite your beat, fear not! Besides visiting historical temples, attending evening pujas and flocking to the many ghats, there is still plenty to do in Mathura. For those hoping to add some delicious treats and breath-taking experiences to their weekend in this holy hotspot, here are India Food Network's top picks of things to do and eat in Mathura:
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO:
Go for a romantic swim in Kusum Sarovar: Kusum Sarovar is a 60-ft-deep reservoir located close to Radha Ghat in Mathura. As far as the myth goes, Krishna and Radha would meet secretly here, and it is safe to say that this is possibly one of the most romantic places in Mathura. So, dive in with your loved one.
Visit the Elephant Conservation & Care Centre: Uttar Pradesh’s Forest Department joined forces with Wildlife SOS in 2010 with the vision of starting a rehabilitation centre for severely abused captive elephants. While every elephant may have lived a painful past, it is a joy to see them running wild and free at the conservation and care centre. This is a must visit for animal lovers and those who like to take the path less travelled. You can see the elephants eating, walking, running, playing, splashing each other (and sometimes even you) during their bath time. And if you aren’t too afraid you can even feed these majestic giants some watermelon.
Sacred sands of time in Raman Reti: Gokul, a town quite close to Mathura is home to Raman Reti, another haven, which was often frequented by Krishna. Legend has it, that the Hindu deity would engage in divine plays (raman) with his brother Balaram and their friends here. The sand around this region is considered sacred. Raman Reti is also where Krishna met Radha before they embarked together to Vrindavan. Right next to Raman Reti is Karshni Ashram, which houses the ancient Raman Bihariji Temple. Within the temple is an idol of Krishna, which is believed to be closest to his actual likeness. Presently, the sandy milieu stretches in a spacious compound complete with a deer sanctuary.
Shopping at Krishna Nagar Market: You don’t need to be a shopaholic to go to Krishna Nagar Market, though, going here may probably turn you into one. This place has everything from food, idols, posters, baby food, pet food, electronics; this list could go on for a while. However, other than the shopping, this also happens to be one of Mathura’s most posh locales and has some beautiful buildings and architecture.
One-stop shops for foodies at Tilak Dwar: Tilak Dwar is also popularly known as Holy Gate, and if you want a truly local experience, this is where you should head. While the huge market is buzzing and vibrant with the variety of shops that sell art, jewellery, idols, paintings by local artists, among other things, it is safe to say that if you wish to get a taste the local cuisine, this is the place for you. The food stores sprinkled throughout the market will satiate every sweet and savoury craving.
TOP 5 THINGS TO EAT & DRINK
Malai Lassi: Agarwal Ji, situated by the Bankey Bihari Mandir sells some of the most thick and decadent lassi. And considering that Mathura is home to the delightfully notorious Maakhan Chor (or butter thief, as Lord Krishna was affectionately called) this comes as no surprise.
Mathura Peda/Lal Peda: Tilak Dwar is where you should head to for Mathura's most delicious treats. This is also where you will find Shankar Mithaiwala, who is our number one pick for the best Lal Peda we have eaten in Mathura. Coming in at a close second is the Lal Peda served on the streets right outside Hotel Brijwasi Royal.
Pani Puri, Tikiya Chaat: In the bylanes of Chatta Bazaar you will find several stalls that serve some of the most delectable pani puri and chaat. If you are hoping for something more adventurous, try the offerings at the stalls near Vishram Ghat and Kanhaiya Cloth Market.
Matar ki Chaat: Yes, I know I already mentioned chaat, but this is no ordinary chaat. Picture this: piping hot, spicy green peas mashed just right, so fresh that they still have that little sweetness to them, smothered with raw mango, onions, coriander and tomato. Garnished with crispy papdi. That is what dreams are made of and you can get your hands (and mouth) on this mouthwatering treat at Brij Bhoomi, Vrindavan, just a short drive (20-minutes) from Mathura.
Dubki Waale Aaloo aur Dal Kachori: Kachoris are denser, smaller puris, and this one is made and stuffed with lentils. Accompanying hot kachoris are the fluffiest potatoes, cooked in a simple, but exceptionally flavourful curry. Our favourite can be found right outside Mathura’s Hotel Brijwasi Royal at a humble little street stall. Ask around, they will know who you are looking for.