Dwaraka, 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. Dwaraka is a significant pilgrimage site for the Hindus.
Dwaraka 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 Dwaraka and is known as the Nageshwar
Mahadev. The Jagat Mandir or Nij Mandir forms the sanctum of the Dwarakadish
temple and dates back to 2500 years. Jagat Mandir has its own hall of audience
and a conical spire. The roof of the hall is supported by 60 columns and the
main temple rises five storeys high. The spire rises to a height of 157 feet and
is richly carved. One of the most popular temples in Dwaraka is that of
Rukmini,Krishna's wife,considered an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi,the goddess
of wealth and beauty. The Sharad Peetha,one of the four Maths established by
Jagatguru Shankaracharya,is also situated here.
Dwaraka 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.
Dwaraka is an important pilgrimage center. It
is steeped in legends,being associated with the life of Lord Krishna. In Puranic
times,present-day Dwaraka 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 Dwarakanath,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 Dwaraka being the sixth in line.
The temple of Dwarakadheesh,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 Dwaraka,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,Dwaraka
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 Sharad 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 Dwarakadish 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)
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 Dwaraka.
Gopi-tallava is the kund (pond) where Lord
Krishna met the gopis when they came to see him at Dwaraka. 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 Dwaraka on the way to Bet Dwaraka.
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 it was
rebuilt by Ravana in silver. When the silver temple was knocked down it was
reconstructed in wood by Krishna and 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
Janmashtami (birthday of Lord
Krishna),celebrated in the month of August/September,is a major festival of Dwaraka.