Mathura, 2011.09.19 (DJ): After the Sept. 6 explosion at the New Delhi high court and another on Saturday at the Jai Hospital in Agra, an effect is being felt in pilgrim and tourist activity in Mathura.
The number of people visiting temples has decreased markedly over the past two days, and especially the Shri Krishna Janma Sthan was unusually quiet yesterday.
Because Mathura is considered a sensitive area, there is an unusually heavy police and military presence in the city, especially at the Janma Sthan. The close proximity of the Shahi Idgah mosque to the Janma Sthan recalls the long history of tensions between Hindus and Muslims, which is the reason for such care. At least three temples on Krishna’s birthplace have been destroyed by Muslim invaders over the centuries.
The heavy security presence is there at all times, but is especially tightened whenever there is an incident such as the ones currently in the news.
After Sunday’s blast, the effects could be clearly seen in the city of Krishna’s birth. Despite the fact that Sunday is a holiday for most people, the town and its religious centers were quiet. It seemed that people were reluctant to leave their houses even to go shopping. The Dwarkadhish temple, Rangeshwar, Bhuteshwar Mahadeva and the Krishna Janma Bhoomi were visited by far less than the usual number of faithful.
The quietness of the streets was a source of despondency to businessmen. “Normally,” said one shopkeeper, “on Sundays we see a great number of visitors from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, but it seems they all decided to stay home today.”
The same phenomenon was observed in Govardhan, where there were less pilgrims that even on ordinary days. Only a few people here and there could be seen doing the Giriraj parikrama. Vrindavan similarly only had about half of its usual influx on Sunday.
In the meantime, the police presence in Mathura was strong after a slow start in the morning. Patrols were carried out in the sensitive areas of town. The high alert meant that vehicles were routinely stopped and checked and suspicious persons searched.
Temples at Krishna’s birthplace and Muslim invaders:
- The legendary Vajranabha is said to have built the first temple at the birthplace of Krishna not long after his disappearance.
- A stone inscription in Brahmi, dating to the 1st century BC, speaks of a man named Vasu who built a temple there during the reign of Kshatrapa Shodasa.
- The Gupta Emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya built a grand temple here in ca. 400 AD. The Afghani invader Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed it in 1017 AD.
- Another temple was built during the reign of Vijay Pal in 1150 by a man named Jajja. It was destroyed by Sikander Lodi (1489-1517) shortly after Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Braj in 1515.
- Raja Veer Singh Bundela of Orchha built a 75m. high temple during the reign of Jahangir (1605-1627). This temple was destroyed by the infamous Aurangzeb in 1669. The Jami mosque is said to have been built with the materials from the Krishna temple.
- The current temple was only completed in 1982.
The Janma Bhoomi-Shahi Idgah masjid complex is covered under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which provides for maintenance of the religious character of a place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947. Many Hindu nationalists still consider the presence of a mosque a reminder of Muslim aggression and intolerance. Others feel the existence of a mosque and temple side by side are a harbinger of intercommunal harmony.