Dwarka, on the west coast of Gujarat on the shore of the Arabian
Sea, features in most of the legends surrounding Lord Krishna.
It is from here that the grown Lord Krishna is supposed to have
ruled his kingdom. Dwarka is a significant pilgrimage site for
Dwarka is sanctified as the place where Lord Vishnu slew the
demon Shankhasura. The Puranas mention the 12 Jyotirlingas or
columns of light representing Lord Shiva, which manifested in
different parts of the country. One of these is located in Dwarka
and is known as the Nageshwar Mahadev. The Jagat Mandir or Nij
Mandir forms the sanctum of the Dwarkadish temple and dates
back to 2500 years. Jagat Mandir has its own hall of audience
and a conical spire. The main temple is about five storeys high
and 60 columns support the roof of the hall and. The spire rises
to a height of 157 feet and is richly carved. One of the most
popular temples in Dwarka is that of Rukmini, Krishna's wife,
considered an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of
wealth and beauty. The Sharada Peetha, one of the four Maths
established by Jagatguru Shankaracharya, is also situated here.
History - Dwarka is an important pilgrimage
center. It is steeped in legends, being associated with the
life of Lord Krishna. In Puranic times, present-day Dwarka was
known as Kushasthali or Dwaravati and enjoyed pride of place
as the most important spot on the Saurashtra coast. It is said
that Lord Krishna, after slaying Kansa, left his abode at Mathura
and traveled with the entire Yadava community to the coast of
Saurashtra where he founded a town and named it Swarnadwarika.
Vajranabh, Lord Krishna's successor and great grandson, is
believed to have built the present temple Dwarkanath, also called
Trilok Sundar. Many Hindus fervently believe that the temple
was erected in one night by a supernatural agency, under Vajranabh's
direction. Legend has it that when dying, Lord Krishna asked
his devotees to leave Swarnadwarika so that the sea could engulf
it. Until this day, Lord Krishna's city lies buried under the
sea. Excavations have revealed that the sea swallowed five settlements,
the present-day Dwarka being the sixth in line.
Location and Access
Location : West Coast of Gujrat
Population : 58,740 (1991)
Languages : 52,000
Languages : Gujarati, English, and Urdu
Best Time to Visit : October to March
Related Links : Dwarkadhish Temple
Dwarka is situated in the extreme west of the Indian state of
Gujarat in the Saurashtra peninsula on the Arabian Sea. It lies
on 20?22' north latitude and 69?05' east longitude. The city
is built on the right bank of Gamut creek.
How to Get There
By Air : Jamnagar, 145 kilometres away, is
the nearest airport.
By Rail : Dwarka is on the Western Railway
By Road : State Transport buses, private buses
and taxis and conducted tours run to Dwarka.
To TopPilgrimage Attractions
The temple of Dwarkadheesh, also known as Jagat Mandir, is built
on the north bank of the Gomti Creek. The temple dates back
to 2,500 years. Architecturally the temple is constructed on
the same plan and system as most of the Hindu sacred edifices
of antiquity. Sixty columns support the roof of the audience
hall of the Jagat Mandir. The main temple is five-story high
with the lavishly carved conical spire rising to a height of
157 feet. There is the one-meter tall, four handed black idol
of Ranchhodrai, the ruler of Dwarika. Amongst the large number
of temples belonging to different periods in the history of
Dwarka, the most popular with pilgrims is the temple of Rukmini,
Lord Krishna's wife, who is considered an incarnation of Lakshmi,
the goddess of wealth and beauty. In addition to its temples
and legends, Dwarka is also sanctified as the seat of Adi Shankaracharya,
who established four seats (maths) in four different directions
in the country. Research work in Sanskrit is carried on at the
Shankaracharya's seat known as Sharada Peetha.
Rukmini Devi Temple
This small temple, 1.5km north of town, is an architectural
masterpiece. Rukmini is the most important of Krishna's 16,108
wives. The temple walls are decorated with beautiful paintings
depicting her pastimes with Krishna. This temple is said to
date back to the 12th century. The story behind this temple
is that -- One day, Durvasa Muni, who is easily angered, was
invited by Lord Krishna and his wife, Rukmini, to dinner. When
a person is invited to dinner, etiquette dictates that the host
should not eat until the guest has been satisfied. On the way
to dinner, Rukmini became thirsty and asked Krishna for help.
Krishna then put his foot in the ground and the Ganges waters
flowed forth from the earth while Durvasa was not looking. As
Rukmini was drinking the water, however, Durvasa turned and
saw her drinking without his permission. He became angry and
cursed her to live apart from Lord Krishna. That is why Krishna's
temple is in the town and hers is located outside the town.
Gomati Ghat Temples
Gomati, the descended Ganges, meets the sea at Chakra-tirtha
Ghat. To take bath where the Gomati meets the ocean is said
to offer liberation. If you go out the back entrance of the
Dwarkadish Temple, you can see the Gomati River. The temple
is located almost at the spot where the Gomati meets the ocean.
The Samudra Narayana Temple (Sangam Narayana)
The Samudra Narayana Temple (Sangam Narayana) is an imposing
temple at the confluence of the Gomati and the sea. Panchanada
Tirtha consists of five sweet-water wells surrounded by seawater.
At Chakra Narayana, Lord Vishnu was manifested as a stone marked
with a chakra on the seashore. The Gomatiji Temple has an image
of the Gomati River in it, said to have been brought down from
heaven by Vasistha Muni.
Other Pilgriamge Attractions
Nageswara Mahadeva Temple contains one of the twelve Siva Jyotirlingas
in an underground sanctum. It is located 10km from Dwarka.
Gopi-tallava is the kund (pond) where Lord Krishna met the gopis
when they came to see him at Dwarka. The sacred clay from Gopi-tallava
is known as gopi-candana and is used by devotees of Krishna
to make the tilak marks on their bodies. It is 20km north of
Dwarka on the way to Bet Dwarka.
Bhalka Tirth - The spot where Lord Krishna
was mistaken for a deer and struck by a arrow hile sleeping
in a deerskin. It is said Lord Krishna was cremated at Dehotsarga
at Triveni Ghat.
Closeby lies Somnath with its shrine built by Soma, the Moon
God. The Majestic monument as it stands today is a recent replication
of the earlier construction. It is said that the original temple
built by the Moon God was of gold. After it was razed to the
ground Ravana rebuilt it in silver. When the silver temple was
knocked down it was reconstructed in wood by Krishna. When this
was pulled down an edifice of stone was erected by Bhimdev.
Relics of the old Somnath shrine have been preserved in a museum
housed in a temple. An interesting Sun Temple is also located
in Somnath. Somnath is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or Shiva
shrines in India.
Fairs and Festivals at Dwarka
Janmashtami (birthday of Lord Krishna), celebrated in the month
of August/September, is a major festival of Dwarka.