The site of Gujarat, where Lord Krishna chose to settle down and established his Kingdom after leaving Mathura (his birth place). As per Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna asked the Sea to give some land for establishing his capital, accordingly the Sea left some area. Then with the help of Vishvkarma, Lord Krishna created the twin city of Dwarka and Bet Dwarka. Bet Dwarka as his residence while Dwarka as his administrative office.
Dwarka may be the most sacred place of Hindus
It is believed that Dwarka is the most sacred place and it seems quite logical. As, this is the only site which is among the Seven ancient holy cities (Saptapuri) and one of the famous Char-Dham as well. Where Chardham and Saptapuri are the most sacred sites in Hindu religion. The Dwarka city is also the home Nageshwar, one of the 12 Jyotirling.
Dwarka means the gateway to salvation, that’s why the city also referred as Mokshapuri, Dwarkamati and Dwarkavati. In the 8th century, Adi Shankaracharya also had established one of his four Peetha here as Sharda Peetha ( Dwarka Peetha).
Being the most sacred place, Dwarka attracts millions of pilgrims. It is also believed that original city of Dwarka, belonging to Lord Krishna swallowed back by the Sea right after the death of Lord Krishna. At this point, it is not easy to say that it is completely mythology or fact.
Underwater study of Dwarka
Many researches have been many carried out to explain the theory of ‘the lost city of Dwarka’. Archaeological study of 1983-1990 state that there was a well built fortified township with so many sectors which was extended up to a mile from the shore.
Some pillars and parts of broken walls dating back to 15th century BC still submerged under water. As per Dwarka’s underwater study by Marine Archaeology Unit, the plan & layout of this submerged town is almost match with the plan mentioned in ancient texts.
As the city of Dwarka belongs to Lord Krishna, it has many notable temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. Among all, Dwarkadhish temple standing on the confluence of Gomti River and Arabian Sea is the main pilgrim center of the town.
It is said that Vajranabh, the great grandson of Lord Krishna had built the very first temple at this location almost 2500 year ago. That original structure of Dwarkadhish temple had been destroyed by Mahmud Begada in 1472. Later Raja Jagat Singh Rathore rebuild and enlarge the complex in 16th century, that’s why it is also called Jagat Mandir.
Dwarkadhish temple build with limestone within a large compound approx. 60×60 meters. It is a five stories temple, its spires touches height of 78 meters and the complete structure supported with 72 decorated pillars. This temple shares the typical style of Chalukaya temples, exterior of the temple and its pillars have intricate carving and sculptures.
Main sanctum of the temple house the four-arm statue of its main deity ‘Dwarkadhish’. It is believed Mirabai, who dedicated his whole life to Lord Krishna had been merged with this idol at this temple.
A big flag is also hoisted on Dwarkadhish temple, which is changed five times a day. Devotee hoist this huge flag through their expenditure, when their wish got fulfilled.
Opening time of Dwarkadhish Temple
The temple opens for devotees from 6.00 am to 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm to 9.30 pm. Everyday, thousands of pilgrim visit this temple and offer their prayer, while on the occasion of Janmasthami the crowd increase manifolds.
Carrying camera/mobile or any leather object is strictly prohibited to the Dwarakadhish temple.
The Dwarkadhish temple lies on northern bank of Gomti river and Sudama Bridge connect the mainland to Dwarka beach. As you cross this bridge suddenly you land to a different zone ( For crossing the bridge you have to take a entry ticket in nominal price).
Here, you will see various option of changing your mood. You can ride on the back of decorated camel or can enjoy the quad-bike.
Dwarka beach is also very beautiful and Sun-set is the main highlight of this place. There are several benches on the way from bridge to beach, where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful sight.
It is very mesmerizing to see Gomti river merging with the Sea near Sumudra Narayan temple. All these elements create a beautiful scene that make your day.
Apart from the main temple, there are many other temples at the Gomti Ghat dedicated to Samudra, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Pilgrim like to take holy dip in the Gomti River before visiting Dwarkadhish temple.
Bet Dwarka & Nageshwar Sightseeing tour
Visit of Dwarka will remain incomplete if you don’t visit Bet Dwarka. This town itself have some provision for a local sightseeing tour to Bet-Dwarka & Nageshwar temple.
There are several tour operators (Govt/private) in Dwarka, who arrange half day tour to Bet-Dwarka at reasonable cost. This half day sightseeing tour package include Bet Dwarka, Rukmani temple, Gopi Talab and Nageshwar Jyotirling in itinerary.
It is very easy to find out such tour, anybody in the market will help you out, or just ask to your hotel guy. Such tour operate twice a day from 8 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 7 PM, and the usual cost to book a seat in Bus is INR 100/-. Almost all such sightseeing tours starts from Teenbatti Circle, Dwarka. I too booked the morning ride with a private tour operator.
The first stopping point was Rukmini temple, dedicated to chief wife of Lord Krishna. This temple belongs to 12th century and located around 2 km from Dwarka.
Outer walls and pillars have richly carved sculptures of human figures, animals and various God-Goddess. This temple also considered equally sacred as Dwarakadish temple but still the area nearby need to be clean and maintained.
It was a halt of around 20 minute, after that we were supposed to back to our shared vehicle for moving to next destination.
After a short ride of approx 20 Km we reached at Nageshwar Jyotirling. According to Shiva Purana ( Ancient Hindu scripture) this area was inhabited by many snakes and demons.
A demon Daaruka was ruling the area of Darukavana, once he imprisoned Supriya, a Shiva devotee along with many others. In a sudden reaction all the prisoner started chanting holy mantra of Shiva. Lord Shiva, appeared thereafter and kill the demon, later Shiva reside here in the form of a Jyotirling as Nageshwar.
There was a big statue of Shiva, more than 70 feet in height build by Late Gulshan Kumar (Founder of T-Series music). In spite of being one of the Jyotirling the temple have modest architecture and size too. Seems like the current structure is not very old. And it was not that much crowded, as I had seen at Babadham, Deoghar or Somnath Temple.
But one thing was very organised here, and that was selling of Puja Thali ranging from INR 200/- to INR 5000/-. And devotee, who purchase the costly Puja thali, move to different queue and can reach up to the Lingam in main sanctum else you have to handover your thali to Pujari. Seeing such a business within the main temple was not very encouraging, but there is always something to remember.
Some mythological scholars believe that original Nageshwar Jyotirling lies in Jageshwar Dham, Almora (Uttrakhand) as Darukavana stands for the forest of Deodar tree that can be found only in Himalayan region.
Then another visiting point to see was Gopi Talab on another 5 Km, but it was just to add one ‘Point to see’ else there is nothing to see in that Talab. It was all dry and Gopi (female friends of Krishna) also had no relation to Dwarka.
Bet Dwarka the residence of Dwarkadhish
Finally we moved towards Bet Dwarka, our last and most important destination of the tour. We reached at Okha, a port town and the last stoppage on Dwarka rail route, around 20 Km from Nageshwar temple.
From there we were supposed to board the ferry for crossing the 2.5 km wide sea span to reach the island of Bet Dwarka. These ferries carries approx 100 person at a time, and sometime you have to struggle for boarding the boat because of heavy crowd.
Somehow I managed to board on one boat, and please don’t expect any sitting arrangement here. I always like boat ride, and the site became more interesting because of presence of lots of fishing boat around, hoisting too many colorful flag. It just took around 10-15 minute to reach on other end.
Bet Dwarka is a small island with an approx area of 10 Sq. Km. This small island which is famous as the ancient residence of Lord Krishna, now having almost 80 % of its population as Muslim.
Dwarakadeesha temple is just 300 meter from the de-boarding point, and this 300 meter path have so many shops on either side. Having glimpse of idol of Lord Krishna and offering of rice is the main purpose of this visit. Rice is the traditional offering here to the deity as it is believed that Sudama offered rice to his childhood friend Krishna.
Many artifacts, earthen pots and a 600 meter submerged protection wall belonging to late Harappan period have been found at Bet Dwarka.
A Temple dedicated to Hanuman’s Son
Apart from the Dwarakadhees temple, there are many other smaller temples belongs too Vishnu Rukmini, Satyabhama and Radha too. As Bet Dwarka is Muslim majority place so it also has many Mosques.
There is another important landmark temple at Bet Dwarka belonging to Son of Hanuman (The monkey God) 5 Km from the Dwarakadeesha temple. It is said that a crocodile had consumed the sweat of Hanuman, then he gave birth to a son named Makardhwaja. The Jethwa Rajput clan of Kshatriyas claims that they are descent of Makardhwaja.
Tips for Dwarka /Bet-Dwarka visitors:
1) The hotel/Guesthouse in the vicinity of Dwarkadhish temple are with very basic amenities and in price ranging from INR 300/- to INR 700/-. So, if you are looking for accommodation in budget better to book directly at hotel after seeing the room. Else you may face disappointment, if book online.
2) Most of the hotels do not have restaurant facility, but there are many Bhojnalaya kind of thing. Where you get an option of Thali, which I find the better option.
3) Don’t worry about ‘How to visit Bet Dwarka & Nageshwar temple’. There are plenty of options available in the same market, even you can see many pamphlet advertising about these trips. Sightseeing tours in Dwarka strictly follow the time guideline 8.00 am to 1.00 pm or 2.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
4) Dwarkadhish Temple at Bet Dwarka remain close for 1 or 2 hour in afternoon. So getting chance to pray, and catching your vehicle at Okha within time frame are quite difficult. We had also missed our trip-bus, then we had to catch an Auto-Rickshaw to reach back to Dwarka, that time he charged INR 40/- for each.
5) All the hotels in Dwarka have 9 am to 9 am as check-in and check-out time, so if you are going for any trip; like morning trip to Bet-Dwarka, must check-out the Hotel else they will ask more money.
How to reach Dwarka
Dwarka itself have a railway station which connected to the Jamnagar-Rajkot rail route. Rajkot is the nearest airport to Dwarka at a distance of 225 km.
Major cities of Gujarat also have a good inter-connectivity via road network. Govt and private agencies operate number of Buses (Sleeper/Seater) connecting to major town like; Somnath, Bhuj etc.
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