|Facts and Figures|
|Languages||Gujarati, English, and Urdu|
|Best time to visit||October to March|
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.
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.
In this region, the original inhabitants are said to be Kabas, Modas, and Kalas, The Kabas and Modas now seem to be extinct, but the present-day Vaghers are said to have descended from the Kabas.
SITES TO VISIT
The temple of Dwarkadheesh, 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, fourhanded 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.
Thirty-two kilometers from Dwaraka lies Shankhoddar Island. Also known as Bet Dwaraka or Dwarika isle or Ramandip, this island is supposed to be the place where Lord Krishna and his family lived. Dwarika isle is also believed to be the spot where Lord Vishnu slew the demon Sankhasura.
The temple of Ranchhodrai stands on the island, as does the Matsyavatar Temple. Pilgrims are ferried to and from the island in boats manned by boatmen who claim a long lineage. Near the island is the ancient Gopi Lake and further ahead lies Dwarikavan or forest of Dwaraka. In the forest is located the famous Naagnath (Shiva) Temple. It is recorded in the Purana (ancient texts) that 12 jyotirlingas or columns of light representing Lord Shiva manifested themselves in different parts of the country. The jyotirlinga is enshrined in the temple of Naageshwar Mahadev and attracts thousands of pilgrims all through the year.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Janmashtami (birthday of Lord Krishna), celebrated in the month of August/September, is a major festival of Dwaraka.
HOW TO REACH
Dwaraka is a station on the Ahmedabad-Okha broad-gauge railway line, about 137 km from Jamnagar, 217 km from Rajkot and 378 km from Ahmedabad.
A state highway with Jamnagar and Okha also connects it. Nearest airport is Jamnagar, from where flights for Mumbai can be taken. Luxury coaches are available from Dwaraka to other important cities of Gujarat.