Madhuvan lies south-west of Mathura, about two-and-a-half miles from Bhuteshwar Mahadev. It is one of Braj's twelve famous forests. In Satya Yug, Bhagvan killed a demon named Madhu here, for which He became known as Madhusudan. Likewise, this forest became known as Madhuvan, because it is as endearing and sweet as the Supreme Lord Shri Madhusudan Himself.
Another name of Madhusudan is Madhav, because He is the beloved (dhav) of Radhika, who is the foremost among all Lakshmis. Shri Madhav is the presiding deity of this forest. While taking bath here or performing achamana one should chant the following mantra – on, hram hrim madhuvana-adhipataye madhavaya namah svaha. Chanting this mantra renders one's parikrama of this forest successful. The present name of Madhuvan is Maholi Grama. On the eastern side of the village of Maholi is Dhruva Tila, where the deities of the child Dhruva and his worshipful four-armed Shri Narayan splendidly reside. Dhruva performed severe austerities here to attract the Supreme Lord, using the mantra Devrishi Narad had given him. Being pleased with his worship, the Lord appeared before Dhruva and awarded him absolute monarchy over the entire Earth for 36,000 years, followed by rulership of Dhruvalok, an imperishable abode of Shri Hari within this material universe.
Story of Madhuvan
Madhuvan in Treta Yug
In Treta Yug, the sages and other residents of Madhuvan were terrified by the atrocities committed by the Madhu demon, who, after performing severe austerities, had obtained a trident from Shankarji. As long as that trident remained in Madhu's hands, no demigod, demon or human being could defeat him. Although Madhu was a prince in the dynasty of the Sungod , he became cruel and devoid of good conduct due to bad association. His father rejected him and banished him from the kingdom. Madhu lived in Madhuvan, where he established a new kingdom in which he harassed the citizens. Mandhata, the highly illustrious king of the sun dynasty, wanted to punish Madhu and therefore he attacked him, but he was slain by Madhu's trident.Before his death, Madhudaitya gave that trident to his son, Lavanasur. He told him that as long as this infallible trident remained in his hands no one would be able to kill him; rather, it would kill all his enemies. Trident in hand, Lavanasur's tyranny was even more cruel than his father's. The great sages of Madhuvan and surrounding areas, distressed by his atrocities, went to Shri Rama in Ayodhya and humbly prayed for protection. They informed Shri Rama of Lavanasur's might and of his infallible trident that rendered him invincible. They explained that killing him would not be possible as long as he had his trident at hand. In Ayodhya, the Supreme Lord Shri Ramchandra coronated His younger brother Shatrughna as the king of Madhuvan. Shatrughna asked Lord Ramachandra for the powerful deity of Shri Varaha, that Ramchandra had brought from Lanka, and his elder brother happily agreed. Shatrughna then went with the sages to the ashrama of Valmiki Rishi and, after receiving his blessings, proceeded to Madhuvan. Bow and arrows in hand, Shatrughna arrived at the entrance of Lavanasur's cave at a time when Lavanasur had gone hunting in the woods, and had left his trident behind in the cave. When the demon returned, carrying dead elephants, deer and other animals, Shatrughna challenged him to battle and a fierce fight ensued. In desperation, Lavanasur tried to get hold of his trident, but Shri Shatrughna, the highly valorous warrior and subduer of his enemies, was able to obstruct him, and with his sharp arrows he succeeded in cutting off his head. Shatrughna then re-established the deserted Madhupuri and installed Lord Varahadev there. This Adi-varahadev is still present at the very same location in present day Mathura, which lies within Madhuvan. Lord Madhava's dear Madhu-kund also lies in Madhuvan, and is now also called Krishna-kund. Nearby is the cave of Lavanasur. A deity of Shri Shatrughna resides in a temple near Krishna-kund.
Madhuvan in Dvapar Yug
Towards the end of Dvapar Yug, Shri Krishna would take hundreds of thousands of cows out to graze, walking behind them and calling out their names: "Dhauli! Dhumri! Kalindi! ..." He would make sounds to instruct them, such as "Hiyo-hiyo! – Come, come!", "Dhiri-dhiri! – Slowly, slowly!" and "Tiri-tiri! – Come to the river-bank to drink!" As He walked with Dau Bhaiya, Krishna played His sweet flute, and laughed and joked, placing His hands on the shoulders of the sakhas. As the boys herded the cows, delightful uproars would break out amongst them. In this way, all of Madhuvan was showered with the sweet nectar (madhu) of prema, which Shri Krishna and Shri Balram relished while grazing the cows. While walking along like this, sometimes Krishna's thirsty eyes would look with sidelong glances at the gopis who were hiding within the kunjas or on the balconies or windows of their palaces. The beautiful young ladies of Braj worshipped Krishna with their loving sidelong glances as He returned from the forest. Krishna would show that He accepted their worship by the movement of His eyes. To the young ladies of Braj, even a second in separation from Krishna would feel like millions of millenniums, and a millennium in His company would seem like a fraction of a second. Krishna's cow herding pastimes in Madhuvan are as sweet as honey (madhu) and beyond description.
Madhuvan in Kali Yug
In Kali Yug, about five hundred fifty years ago, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Braj and came to Madhuvan, where a momentary vision (sphurti) of Shri Krishna's pastimes overwhelmed Him with ecstasy. Each year, many groups of pilgrims stop here to rest. In Madhuvan, Dauji and the sakhas would dance as they relished the sweet nectar of this forest. This is well known. Today, one can also take darshan of the black deity of Dauji here. There is a deep secret behind the black colour of this deity. After leaving Vrindavan and Mathura, Shri Krishna and Baldev resided in Dwarka with Their relatives. When Baldev heard about the restlessness and lamentation of all of Braj in separation from Shri Krishna, He wanted to take Krishna back there, yet because this was somehow delayed, Baldev went there alone. He did His best to console everyone, but when He saw the extent of their state of separation from Krishna, He also felt intense separation from Him. Meditating upon Shyam and His pastimes in Braj, Baldev began to relish Shyama-rasa (or madhura-rasa), and Himself took on a Shyama (blackish-blue) complexion. This shyma-rasa is the only honey that is truly sweet and it is eternally relished by Baldev, who thus remains perpetually immersed in the ecstasy of Krishna-prema.