"Dwarka-Gateway to God" Dwarka by anilpradhanshillong
Dwarka Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 21 photos
There are quite a few reasons for the importance of the Dwarka (‘dwara’=door; ‘ka’=Brahma; therefore, ‘gateway to God’) temple in Hindu religion, situated on the western tip of the Kathiawar peninsular of Gujarat on the Arabian Sea. First, it is one of the four important places of holy pilgrimage in India; second, it is one of the seven ancient cities of India; third, it is one of the sites of the 12 holy jyotrilingas (column of light) of Lord Shiva; and, fourth, it is one of the four maaths established by Jagatguru Shankaracharya. The other three ‘dhams’ in India are, Badrinath, Puri, and Rameshwaram while the other 6 ancient cities are Baranasi, Hardwar, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Oudh and Ujjain. Gandhiji’s ashes were also immersed at Dwarka, resulting in a Gandhighat along the coastal beach.
More importantly than all this, is the fact that Dwarka is inextricable linked with the legend of Lord Krishna and the fact that Lord Krishna set up his capital here after fleeing from Mathura. Dwarka was his office and Beyt Dwarka his residence. Dwarka’s history dates back to the beginning of civilisation and is closely associated with the Hindu epic, the Mahabharat. The city and the temple you see today is the seventh structure, the earlier six having being destroyed at one point of time or another over the centuries. Every year, Lord Krishna’s birth is celebrated during Navratri, with much pomp and gaiety. During the 1965 conflict with Pakistan, though quite a few bombs were levelled, not a single one touched the temple or the town.
A video of the temple is here at VirtualTourist.
In 1960, a 250 kg anchor of a ship, dating back to 1400 BC, was found. Archaeologists also found other evidence of movements of ships suggesting a bustling port in days of yore. Some porcelain pots, discovered in 1979 to the north of Dwarka Temple, are said to belong to the Mahabharata era (1300 BC).
Drinking water is in short supply at Dwarka with the result that hotels make use of saline water. Also, there is a dearth of good hotels in Dwarka. It is safer to buy mineral water here. However, some 20 kms away at Mithapur, there is an excellent Guest House belonging to the Tata Salt Factory.
The Dwarka temple (Jagat mandir) is on a raised platform at the confluence of the Gomati (descended Ganges) river and the Arabian Sea. It is a five-storeyed high structure with two doors facing you. The roof of the main hall is supported by 60 stone columns which are all very intricately carved. The temple spire is 78 m (255 ft.) tall. A flag with the emblems of the sun and of the moon, flutters atop the spire. The present temple was founded by King Jagat Singh Rathore in the 11th century and is also known as Jagat Mandir.
Only Hindus are permitted into the temple. You enter through the ‘swarga dwar’ (heaven gate) and afterwards, exit from the ‘moksha dwark’ (salvation gate). Once you enter the temple, you go past the various idols of the gods and goddesses till you exit the temple. Right in front of you are the 56 steps that lead down to the sliver of water that enters the temple complex at the bottom of the steps, the meeting point of the Gomati River and the Arabian Sea. Every 6 hours this water is replaced by the inflow of more water from the Gomati River. The costume of the deity is changed at regular intervals.
You head west towards the setting sun till you come to the Samudra Narayan temple, a short distance away. This temple is perched on the Arabian Sea. The sky turns dull red as the fiery orb sinks into the Arabian Sea. This is the Sunset Point. A lighthouse, measuring 156 feet high, can be seen in the distance. This was inaugurated in January 1963. Every afternoon, it is opened for visitors for one hour. A video is here at VirtualTourist.
Even after the sun has set, there is still some light. So you turn back and take the slippery steps gingerly and reach the meeting point of the two water levels (Chakra-tirtha ghat). You wash your feet, hands and pour some water over your head to symbolise a ritualistic bath to attain liberation from this mortal coil. Then you buy some ‘atta’ (wheat) from the cheeky boys who have been dogging your every step and feed these ‘atta’ balls to the fishes.
You then return to the 56 steps, go down past the small stalls to the river bank. You make your way to the Panchanada Tirtha, i.e., 5 sweet water wells. The ‘pujari’ (priest) there takes you to the main temple (Lakshmi Narayan Temple), shows you the four-armed wooden diety of Sangam Narayan, tells you the tale of the ‘Ramayana’, how after losing everything, their land, property, kingdom and wife, to the Kauravas, the Pandavas, come to this spot to do penance. Here they are admonished for gambling everything away. However, 5 sages are called to intercede on their behalf to the gods. They sit amongst the sand dunes with each of the Pandavas and they pray.
Through their prayers and yogic powers, they draw the waters of 5 rivers, in the form of water wells, to where they are sitting (‘kunds’). The 5 rivers are, Jambuvanti from Gaya at Bhim Kund; Gomti from Lucknow at Arjun Kund; Ushawati from Goa at Nakul Kund; Chandrabhagas from Orissa & Maharashtra at Sahadev Kund; and, Laxmana from Badrinath & Himachal at Yuddhister Kund. That is the reason why the water of each well tastes totally different, one from the other, though they are surrounded by salty sea water on all sides. You are then led to the 5 water wells and offered water from each one by the ‘pujari’. Yes, indeed, the water is potable and it is sweet. (TIP. During low tide, when the water level is too low for the small boats to ply, take your footwear along so that the rocks, stones and pebbles don’t hurt your soles as you wade across to the other side. Else, it can be an excruciatingly painful journey. I should know, I’ve done it!).
Once you negotiate the river and are back to the base of the 56 steps, you climb up and are told the story of Lord Krishna and his childhood friend, Sudama who came to meet him after many years. Though very poor and diffident, he was accorded a warm reception by Lord Krishna and his lovely wife, Rukmini, who also gave him riches. Lord Krishna set out to instruct Arjun on the battlefield of Kurushetra from Dwarka. This forms the text of the Bhagawat Gita. When Lord Krishna finally abandoned his mortal coil, the city slipped into the sea to be lost forever.
The ‘arati’ in the evening at 7 pm is a truly wondrous and soul-satisfying experience. There is quite a crowd so it is better to go early and get as close to the idol as possible. There are different enclosures for men and for women. For full 30 minutes, the conches sound, the bells clang, the drums resonate, the incense burns, the prayer reverberates, the crowds sway. You are transported to a spiritual haze from which you do not wish to return, so great is the religious fervour. The priest then moves in, smears one and all with a ‘tikka’ on the forehead, gives some flowers and ‘prasad’ and before you know it, you are out from the holy presence.
The next day you return to the temple early for another ‘darshan’ before going out and taking a few photographs (NB. No cameras, no videos, no cell phones are permitted within the temple complex. Also, the temple remains closed between 12.30 pm and 5 pm and again after 9.30 pm).
- Pros:One of the holiest places
- Cons:Lacks tourist infrastructure
- In a nutshell:A deeply soul-stirring experience!
From Beyt Dwarka you return to the mainland of Dwarka and proceed to the exquisite Rukmini Devi Temple located on the... more travel advice
About 10 kms away from the Dwarka temple is the Nageshwar Mahadev Temple. This is the site of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas... more travel advice
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