Kesava Deo Temple
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It was built in Mathura over the prison which was believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. In contemporary memory, it was built by Raja Vir Sinh Bundela of Orchaa, in the reign of Jehangir. The Rajput prince enjoyed a special favour with the Mughal on account of his support to Jehangir in his succession.
The site has been a deeply religious one for the Hindus. It is said that the first temple here was constructed almost 5,000 years ago by Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. The next big temple was constructed here during the time of the Gupta Emperor Chandragupta II around 400 AD. This temple was so grand that it was said that neither painting nor description could describe it. Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed the temple in 1017 AD along with several other Hindu and Buddhist temples in the holy city of Mathura.
Another temple was built here in 1150. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this temple. It was destroyed in the 16th century during the reign of Sikander Lodi.
Aurangzeb : Destruction of the Temple
The great temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir’s time at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have ‘darshan’ of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Aurangzeb’s orders in October 1666.
During British rule in India, the area came under direct rule of British India. In 1815, the East India Company auctioned the area of Katra Keshavadeva, which was purchased by the then Raja Patnimal of Banaras. Although, the Raja of Benares wanted to build a temple there his wish remained unfulfilled and the family had fight several legal battle for ownership of land with Muslim community of Mathura, in which, the court finally ordered that the land belongs to present heirs of Raja of Benaras. In 1944, Madan Mohan Malviya was distressed at plight of the site and arranged for purchase of land from Raja Krishna Das of Benaras, who sold the land only at cost of Rs. 13,000/- recovering just the cost of fighting court battles. Meanwhile, Malviyaji without seeing the temple work begin. Then Jugal Kishore Birla of Birla group decided to take the leading role to fulfill the wishes of Malviyaji and formed a private trust in 1951 to which the rights of land were later transferred. Jaidayal Dalmia of Dalmia Group was another leading personality, who took untiring efforts and the temple was finally constructed over the site. The trust which runs the temple has a glorious list of Trustees besides Birla and Dalmia family members like Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Anantashayanam Iyengar, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, Swami Vamdevji Maharaj. The present head of temple is Mahant Nrityagopal Das. The construction of the temple was completed in 1965 at a cost Rs 15 million.
Next to the temple, within the complex is a small room that looks like a prison cell, where it is said that Lord Krishna was born. The excavation of this site began in 1953 under the chairmanship of Swami Akhandanada, when the volunteers started clearing the debris and work continued for several decades later under supervision of Babulal Bajaj and Phool Chand Khandelwal, till the prison complex was completed in 1982.
The objective behind the action of Aurangzeb in building a mosque near the birthplace of Lord Krishna seems to have been the need to weaken Hindu belief which was rising in the form of the Maratha Empire.
Other temples with similar names
The name Kesava Deo Temple has been taken up by many other temples in and around Mathura.
- There is one temple beside the main Krishna Janmasthan complex which is gaining popularity among local people ever since the heavy security cover over the main Krishna Janmasthan complex.
- Keshav Dev Temple: Around the main Krishna Janmabhoomi complex there is another temple with the same name. Next to the Keshava Deo Temple is the room where it is said that Lord Krishna appeared.
- There is a temple near this one that claims to be the real appearance place of Krishna. It is about 250 m away, to the north of Potra Kunda. At this temple, there are deities of Vasudeva, Devaki, and four-armed Krishna. Darshan is from 8 am to 8 pm at this temple. This temple has gained popularity after the Krishna Janma Bhoomi complex was put under great security cover after incidents in Ayodhya 1990 and 1992.
See also↑Jump back a section
-  Mathura & Vrindavan History
-  Mathura temple
- Sarkar, J.N. "Temple Destruction by Arangzeb (Proof Documents)". Aurangzeb, Vol III. p. 189. Retrieved taken from URL - not checked. "In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum...the accomplishment of this seemingly impossible work was an instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith."
- "Shri Krishna Janmasthan". Shri Krishna Janmasthan Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
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