Mathura is home to a number of temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, which is only natural since it’s the place of his birth. Among the many temples in Mathura dedicated to him, Keshavdev Temple occupies a special position. Located behind the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, it stands on the site which was once believed to be the prison of Lord Krishna. Devotees throng this place throughout the year, and especially during the festival of Janmashtami.
According to the devotees visiting the temple, getting a Darshan of the long haired Krishna brings about the fulfilment of a wish. As you approach the temple, you cannot but help feel a divine connection, as if the entire place was blessed by the presence of Lord Krishna himself. You are overcome by an array of emotions, and seeing devotees with tears in their eyes is not an unusual sight here.
The temple was constructed several times in history, which only goes to show the special place it occupies in the hearts of Krishna’s devotees. Keshavdev Temple, as it stands today, was inaugurated by Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar, an Indian freedom fighter, philanthropist and litterateur on September 1958. The sight of Lord Krishna’s statue, clothed in bright costumes and reflecting glow and radiance, is a fulfilling sight.
The history of the Keshav Dev Temple is as fascinating as Lord Krishna’s childhood antics, which are so loved by everybody. According to mythological sources, this temple was first built by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Krishna, about 5,000 years back. However, if a particular sanskrit inscription is to be believed, a new temple was built on this very site under the rule of Maharaja Vijayapal Deva. Another source states that it was again rebuilt under the rule of Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta Empire. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the famous Bhakti-era saint and mystic, is said to have visited the temple in the 16th century. The temple underwent further construction under Raja Veer Singh Bundela of Orchha during the rule of Jahangir.
Various sources say that the king spent around 33 lakh rupees in its construction! In 1815 AD, the British East India Company decided to auction the land belonging to the temple. However, even though the land was purchased by Raja Patnimal of Banaras, he was unsuccessful in building the temple. That task was finally taken up by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, a freedom fighter and famous educationist. He received financial assistance from Jugal Kishore Birla, a renowned industrialist of his time. Their combined efforts saw the completion of the temple in February 1982.
After visiting the Keshavdev Temple, there are other things to do and see during your trip to Mathura. Here are some of the places to visit.