Mathura is a holy city in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. It is located 50 kilometers north of Agra and 150 kilometers south Delhi. It is the administrative centre of Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. Mathura is reputed to be the birthplace of Krishna, a Hindu god. The keshav Dev temple was built in ancient time on the site of KrishnaÃÂs legendary birth place. The Hindu soldiers guard the gate of the Hindu Temple at Mathura. This is the place where HinduÃÂs believe Krishna was born. Know in place of the temple stands a Holy Muslim Mosque.
Violence in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya escalated Feb. 27 after a Muslim mob firebombed a train carrying Hindus who wanted a temple re-built on a mosque site there. The incident sparked India's worst religious violence in a decade. Residents of Mathura worry that a similar scenario awaits them, because their city, like Ayodhya, is home to a highly significant religious site being fought over by Hindus and Muslims.
Some 3,000 holy places are scattered across India, where hundreds of years ago Muslim rulers are said to have destroyed sacred Hindu temples to build mosques. But Mathura, Ayodhya, and Varanasi are three that were singled out for dispute in the early 1990s by Hindu extremists because of their religious importance.
At the city's heart, not far from the sacred bathing houses that lead down to the Yamuna River, lies the disputed land where Hindu pilgrims flock to find the birthplace of Krishna ÃÂ and, right next door, Muslims regularly turn to face Makkah at a red sandstone mosque.
A series of Muslim invaders ÃÂ concluding with Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century ÃÂ razed the site, and then built a mosque in its place. Now, a more recent Krishna temple also stands cheek by jowl beside it, blaring Hindu hymns across the mosque's cobblestones.
The tension at the site is palpable. To enter the complex, visitors must go through airport-style electronic arches, and then be patted down. A two-story-high, barbed-wire fence circles and divides the temple and mosque. Whereas at the Mosque, security isnÃÂt as tight, Muslim families, goats and bulls live on the grounds.
Some soldiers on the mosqueÃÂs perimeter are blunt about his view on the future. They hate the Muslims. The soldiers want to kill the Muslims. On a sharp contrast, the Muslim cleric in the Mosque continues to preach about living together like brothers and good neighbours always trying to get along.
The government sends 400, 000 rupees (more than $10,000) a day to protect both monuments. The government officials are concerned that if trouble erupts here, it will spread across India and maybe with Pakistan. They believe the future of Mathura will depend on how the Gujarat Muslim against Hindus conflict (in which more than 200 people were killed and over 150 thousand displaced) develops.