Stepped in the lore of Lord Krishna, there is a mystic charm to the coastal city of Dwarka and can be best experienced as you hop temples in your journey here.
A city that was submerged many centuries ago, it was the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) excavations that brought the spotlight back on Dwarka. A city established by Krishna that was engulfed by the sea after his death, there is a mystical charm about Dwarka that have piqued both the interest and imagination of tourists as far as the city is concerned. Literally translating to ‘Gateway to Heaven’, Dwarka is one part of the famed Char Dham pilgrimage. Located in Gujarat this is a city that has been rebuilt many times over centuries and what you see today is its seventh version. Steeped in spirituality, the best way to explore the city is to head to its temples where locals will treat you to many tales that will take you back in time.
With its rich spiritual history, visiting the temples of Dwarka is full of legends, myths and stories that will have you regaled. Start your journey at the Dwarkadhish temple that has a towering spire visible from across the city and one of the landmarks here. This is the spot where river Gomti meets the Arabian Sea and is believed to be the site of Krishna’s home. The temple is several thousands of years old and has been built by Lord Krishna’s great-grandson Vajranabh. The ASI is still working on renovating and excavating several parts of this temple. The temple architecture is in the Solanki style and the carved black stone statue of Krishna is seen in the sanctum sanctorum. This is said to be the third statue here, the first one being in the Beyt Dwarka temple and the second one in the Dakor temple. This temple complex has several smaller temples dedicated to Shiva, Devaki (Krishna’s mother) and several Goddesses among others. There are two entrances to the temple called Moksha Dwar and Swarg Dwar. The rituals followed here follow a set timetable in the morning and evening and the flag atop the temple is changed five times a day in an elaborate ceremony. The Rukmini Temple 2 km away from the Dwarkadhish Temple dates back to the 12th century and is characterised by intricate carvings on the outside. The temple priest first tells visitors about the Rukmini and then allows entry inside in batches. The beautiful statue of Rukmini here is surrounded by paintings depicting the legends associated with her. Also visit the Geeta Temple which is a pristine white marble temple dedicated to the Bhagwad Gita and has scriptures from the book engraved on its walls. Another attraction here is the Gopi Talav a small pond covered by yellow hued sand that has been linked to Lord Krishna’s childhood.
An island in the Arabian Sea said to be the original residence of Krishna, Beyt Dwarka was the old port city. A boat ride is the way to reach the place and the sea gulls here are unmissable. In fact you can buy food for the birds and feed them enroute. The temple here is known for the traditional offering of rice as it is believed that Sudama, Krishna’s childhood friend offered rice him rice when he met him after many years. Shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Lakshmi Narayan Trivikrama, Devaki, Radha, Lakshmi and other deities are also part of this temple. The Hanuman Dandi temple and Nageshvara Jyotirlinga Mandir are other temples that are worth a visit in Beyt Dwarka. The boats start operating from 6:00 am until 7:00 p.m. and you could actually book a tour from Dwarka to visit the place.
While Dwarka is essentially all about temples, there is the beautiful white Dwarka beach here with coral reefs and extensive marine life. In fact you can see dolphins and porpoise as well as sea turtles, octopus, star fish and sea urchins here. Located along the Arabian Sea coast do check the natural caves and cracks on the rocks here. Beyt Dwarka is also a scuba diving site courtesy the marine excavations that have happened in the past. The best thing you can see are the remains of old Dwarka that is believed to be as old as between 3000-5000 BC. This apart, live corals and colourful fish in clear waters (these waters are said to be one the clearest in India) make for an incredible experience. The Sudama Setu inaugurated in 2016 is a pedestrian suspension bridge over the Gomti river connects Jagat Mandir in mainland Dwarka and Panchkui Tirth in the southeast part of the island. There are five sweet water wells named after the five Pandava brothers at Panchkui. The bridge is 166 metres long and 2.4 metres wide and can carry upto 30000 people an hour on foot and is an architectural marvel. The Dwarka lighthouse is a 43 metre high black and white structure and is a spot from where you can watch some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Access at the lighthouse is restricted and you will need prior permission to enter the place between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. At the Gomti Ghat on the banks of the river Gomti which is the spot where the river meets the ocean, you can also see a panoramic view of the city of Dwarka. A bath in these waters is believed to have cleansing properties and the sight of little children jumping into the river is good fun too. Shopping in Dwarka especially around the local markets around the temple will mean that you need to have your bargaining skills ready. Dwarka is where you can pick up colourful, multi-hued fabrics, silver jewelry and articles that folk culture of Gujarat. Check out the Patola sarees, Bandhni fabrics, mirrored and sequined clothes, woven footwear and traditional wall art. So the next time you are looking for a location that combines spirituality and tradition head to Dwarka, it’s a journey that will leave you with fond memories much after you have returned from your trip.
Reach: The nearest airports are at Jamnagar (135 km) and Porbandhar (105 km).
Stay: There are many hotels across budgets and the Mercure Dwarka is a good choice especially if you are vegetarian.
- Janmashtami is the main festival that is celebrated here and the city has immersed in festive fervour.
- Best time to visit is between October and March as these are better months in terms of weather. It is usually quite hot through the year in Dwarka.
- Being a religious site, it is advisable to dress modestly here, ensuring you do not hurt anyone’s religious sentiments here.
This story appeared in the June 2018 issue of Go Getter Magazine here: Dwaraka for Bindu