Dwarka is located on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula on the right bank of the Gomti creek. Dwarka, is one of the foremost Chardham, four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites, and is one of the Sapta Puri, seven most ancient religious cities in the country. Dwarka is often identified with the Dwarka Kingdom, the ancient kingdom of Krishna and is believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat.
The legend of Krishna has been proved partially by scientific marine archaeological investigations conducted by the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography and the Government of Gujarat. The final inference of these marine under water investigations is that “there was really a city which got submerged in Dwarka in 1500 BC and that the “architectural evidence and antiquities such as a seal and inscriptions go to indicate that it was the city of Mahabharata age”.
The Dwarkadhish Temple dedicated to Krishna, located in Dwarka was originally built around 2,500 years ago but was destroyed by the Mughal rulers, and then was rebuilt in the 16th century. The temple is also the location of Sharda Peeth, one of the four peeths (religious centers) established by Adi Shankaracharya. The temple town famous as pilgrimage centre for Hindus has important temples, such as the Rukmini Devi temple, the Gomti Ghat and its temples, and the Beyt Dwarka. There is also a lighthouse at the land end point of Dwarka. Dwaraka has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.
Dwarka is well connected by air, rail and road transport. It is 131 kilometres (81 mi) by a State Highway from Jamnagar where there is an International Airport. Dwarka railway station is on the Broad Gauge railway line that runs from Ahmedabad to Okha at a distance of about 137 kilometres (85 mi) from Jamnagar. Rajkot is 217 kilometres (135 mi) away from Rajkot and 378 kilometres (235 mi) from Ahmedabad. The road link is by the state highway that links with Jamnagar and Okha.
Dwarka literally means the “gateway”. ‘Dwar’ means “gate” and ‘Ka’ means “Brahma” meaning “gateway to heaven”. It is also called as “Mokshapuri”, “Dwarkamati” and “Dwarkavati”. ” It also had a Roman language name “Bari”. Dwarka finds mention in the ancient prehistoric epic period of the Mahabharata.
In this period, it was one of the two ports on the coast of Saurashtra, and Assyrian ships used it as a port of call on way to Iran. According to ancient history of the Mahabharata times, Lord Krishna had settled down here after he defeated and killed his uncle Kansa at Mathura. It is believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat.
According to another version, in the Puranaic era, Dwarka was established as the capital in Saurashtra by the Aryans. The Yadavas, who had migrated from Mathura, established their kingdom here when the town, which was known as Kaushathali, was remodelled and named Dwarka. In the mythical times Lord Krishna migrated from Mathura and settled in Dwarka, which fact is in ingrained in the culture of Gujarat. Dwarka was then also known as the city of gold. A friendly population of Ahirs (who were settlers from the Central Asian region) also prompted Krishna to settle at Dwarka when he was forced by Jarasandha, the king of Magadha to run away from Mathura. The kingdom established by Krishna flourished and extended its domain. It was also known as the Ahir Empire or the Yadav Empire. It is also inferred that Krishna had reclaimed 12 yojanas or 96 kilometres (60 mi) (8 kilometres (5.0 mi) per yojana) of land from the sea to create Dwarka.
It is also said that Krishna used to conduct the administration of his kingdom from Dwarka while he resided with his family in Bet Dwarka.
Archaeological investigations at Dwarka, both on shore and offshore in the Arabian Sea, have been conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India. The first investigations carried out on land in 1963 revealed many artefacts.
The legend of Krishna has been proved partially by scientific marine archaeological investigations. The objective of the investigations conducted by the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography and the Government of Gujarat was to reconstruct the history of maritime trade, ship-building and cultural status of ancient city of Dwarka of the prehistoric times. Excavations done at two sites on the seaward side of Dwarka brought to light submerged settlements, stone-built jetty of large size and triangular stone anchors with three holes. The settlements are in the form of exterior and interior walls, and fort bastions. The final inference of these marine under water investigations is that “there was really a city which got submerged in Dwarka in 1500 BC and that the “architectural evidence and antiquities such as a seal and inscriptions go to indicate that it was the city of Mahabharata age”.
From the Typological classification of the anchors it is inferred that Dwarka had flourished as a useful port resulting in maritime activities in the medieval period. However, the port city, which was also the religious capital, was sub-merged under the sea following the death of Lord Krishna.
The Dwarakadhis temple, located in the heart of Dwarka, is also known as Jagat Mandir (meaning “Temple of the World”). It is a Vaishnava temple. It was built by Raja Jagat Singh Rathore, hence it is called Jagat Mandir. The temple is at an elevation of 12.19 metres (40.0 ft) above sea level. It faces west. The temple layout consists of a garbhagriha (Nijamandira or Harigraha) and an antarala (an antechamber). It is conjectured that this temple location is 2,500 years old where Lord Krishna had built his city and a temple. However, the existing temple is dated to 16th century. It is a five storied edifice built over 72 pillars (sandstone temple with 60 pillars is also mentioned . Krishna’s grandson had built the original temple over the Harigraha, the palace of Krishna. The temple has a main assembly hall. There are two important entrances to the temple, one is the main entry door which is called the Moksha Dwar (meaning “Door to Salvation”) and the exit door which is known as the Swarga Dwar (meaning: “Gate to Heaven”).
The main deity deified in the sanctum is of Dwarkadeesh, which is known as Trivikrama form of Vishnu and is depicted with four arms. On the chamber to the left of the main altar is the deity of Balarama, elder brother of Lord Krishna. The chamber to the right houses the images of Pradyumna and Aniruddha, son and grandson of Krishna. In several shrines surrounding the central shrine there are images of Radha (Krishna’s companion), Jambavati, Satyabhama, Lakshmi, Devaki (Krishna’s mother), Madhav Raoji (another name for Krishna), Rukmini, Jugal Swaroop (name for Krishna), Lakshmi Narayana, and Sita.
The temple spire rises to a height of 78 metres (256 ft) and a very large flag with symbols of Sun and Moon is hoisted on it. The flag, triangular in shape, is of 50 feet (15 m) length. This flag is changed four times a day with a new one and Hindus pay a huge sum of money to hoist it by purchasing a new flag. The money received on this account is credited to the trust fund of the temple to meet the operation and maintenance expenses of the temple.
According to a legend, Meera Bai, the princess cum saint, a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna merged with the deity at this temple. Temple is open only to Hindus. It is one of the Sapta Puri, the seven holy cities of India. The temple is also the location of Sharda Peeth, one of the four peeths (religious centres) established by Adi Shankaracharya (686-717) who pioneered unification of Hindu religious beliefs in the country. It is a four-storied structure representing four peeths established by Shankaracharya in different parts of the country. There are paintings on the walls here depicting the life history of Shankaracharya while the dome has carvings of Lord Shiva in different postures.
Rukmini Devi temple:
The Rukmini Devi temple, dedicated to Rukmini, Krishna’s chief queen, is located 2 kilometres away from Dwarka. The temple is said to be 2,500 years old but in its present form, it is inferred to belong to the 12th century. It is a richly carved temple decorated with sculptures of gods and goddesses on the exterior with the sanctum housing the main image of Rukmini. Carved naratharas (human figures) and carved gajatharas (elephants) are depicted in panels at the base of the tower.
An interesting legend is narrated to justify separate dwelling temples, far away from each other, for Rukmini and her husband Krishna. It is said that at the request of sage Durvasa (who was renowned for his short temper and bestowing curses) Krishna and Rukmini pulled a chariot taking sage Durvasa to their house for dinner. On the way, when Rukmini asked for water to quench her thirst, Krishna drew Ganges water, by prodding the ground with his toe, for her to drink. Rukmini quenched her thirst with the Ganges water. But Durvasa felt insulted as Rukmini did not have the courtesy to offer him water to drink. He, therefore, cursed her that she would live separately from her husband.
Gomati Ghat consists of steps leading to the Gomati creek, which is also a holy place for pilgrims to take a dip in the river to get rid of sins. The Ghat has a number of small shrines dedicated to the Samudra (God of the Sea), Saraswati and Lakshmi. Other notable temples in the Ghat area are: (1) The Samudra Narayana temple (also known as Sangam Narayana temple), which is at the confluence of the Gomati creek with the sea;
(2) The Chakra Narayana temple where there is stone with imprint of a chakra as a manifestation of Vishnu; the Gomati temple which has an idol of the river goddess Gomati said to have been brought to earth by sage Vasishta.
Bet Dwarka, an island to the north of Dwarka, considered the original residence of Krishna, is off the coast of Dwarka. It was the old port during the ancient times of Krishna before the Okha port was developed in Dwarka. The temple built here is credited to the religious Guru Vallabhacharya of the “Pushtimarg Sampradaya”. Rice is a traditional offering here to the deity as it is believed that Lord Krishna offered rice to his childhood friend Sudama. There are also smaller shrines here, which are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman and Devi. According to a legend, Vishnu killed a demon on this island. There are now modern Krishna temples on the island.
Hanuman Dandi Temple:
Hanuman Dandi temple is another notable temple located 6 kilometres away from Dwarka. The temple is deified with many images of Hanuman and his son Makardhwaja. The legend associated with the birth of a son to Hanuman, who is considered celibate, is that a fish consumed the sweat of Hanuman, which then gave birth to a son named as Makardhwaja,.
Nageshwar Mandir is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (meaning radiant sign of The Almighty) is deified here in a subterranean cell.
Where To Stay
Many hotels and guest houses available in Dwarka with different category and budgeet.
How To Get Around
There are no regular flights from other major cities of the country to Dwarka. Nearest airport is Porbandar Airport.
95 km away
Porbandar Airport (PBD), Porbandar, Gujarat
110 km away
Govardhanpur Airport (JGA), Jamnagar, Gujarat
You can easily get regular buses to Dwarka from other major cities of the country.
Bus Station(s): Dwarka.
By Road Rajkot is 230 km and Somnath is 235 km away from Dwarka
Nearest Railway Station is Okha where many train connection available from the other major cities of India.