Mathura, Vrindavan 2016.04.18 (VT): Mathura is among the oldest cities in the world, where Lord Krishna is said to have lived over 5000 years ago. The Central Government has selected Mathura for development as a heritage city, on the basis of its connection to Krishna.
Places related to Lord Krishna in Mathura that have been specifically listed as heritage sites are the birth place of Lord Krishna, Potra Kund, Kusum Sarovar at Govardhan, the tomb of Ras Khan in Gokul, along with many other places of historical, archeological or mythological significance.
Apart from that, the Yamuna ghats in Mathura and Vrindavan, the Govind Dev temple, and several other places of historical interest that are a source of pride to the local community. The security and maintenance of many of these places is under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Ancient wealth under the mounds
Here and there in Braj one can see mounds or tilas, which are artificial hills, usually the result of settlements that have continuously existed for many thousands of years. Archeologists look to these sites to dig for treasures that reveal a great deal about the way of life in prehistorical or early historical times.
Records held in the Government Museum say that many more age-old sculptures are likely to be buried under the the tilas (mounds) in the Mathura district. Many have already been found and are held in the Mathura Government Museum as well as in other museums in India and around the world. Most of these date to the time of the Kushan period (0-300 AD), and the Maurya period (300-600), and some may be even older than that. The mounds in Gosana, Kankali and Saunkh are the most important.
The Mathura School of Art
Sculptures from the “Mathura School of Art” adorn the museums of not only India, but abroad as well. They can be found in the museums of Kolkata, Lucknow and Delhi, as well as in those of Japan, Germany, London, Australia and America, as evidence of the glories of ancient India.
The Mathura school flourished especially during the Gupta period (AD 325 to 600). It is a purely indigenous style, using the spotted red sandstone that is also commonly used in building temples, etc. In the earlier time, Mathura was a Buddhist and Jain center, but it seems that depiction of the Buddha in human form was pioneered here. The Buddha and Bodhisattavas were the principal subjects of the Mathura school, in both sitting and standing postures.
The Sarvatobhadrika (“four-sided”) image of four Jinas standing back to back originates with the Mathura school. The standing Buddhas of the Sravasthi Sarnath and Kausambhi are also products of the Mathura style of art.
The sitting Buddha of the Mathura School is in padmasana, and the soles of his feet are decorated with Triratna and Dharmachakra signs. The presence of the two attendants by the side of Buddha who hold chamaras is a feature of the Mathura school and this figure was a source of inspiration for depicting Hindu deities.
More about the Mathura school of art and its relation to the Gandhara here.