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First of all, ‘Dwarka’ consists of two words – “Dwar” means Gate and “Ka” means Brahma or Moksh. Lord Krishna went to Dwarka when he left Vrindavan. Dwarka was known as “Swarn Nagari” or “City of Gold”at that time.
After Lord Krishna died, Yadavas ruled the city. They fought among themselves and perished. The city eventually submerged under the sea except for Temples. As per scriptures, the ancient city of Dwarka was well-planned.
The Dwarkadhish Temple is one of the Char Dham pilgrimages in India. A Hindu must visit these places. Another name for the temple is ‘The Jagat Mandir’. Lord Krishna is worshiped in the temple as the “Dwarkadhish” or “King of Dwarka”.
It has five storeys and stands on 72 limestone pillars. Also, it consists of three parts – the Prakashgarh (Nijmandir), Sabahgrah and the Shikhar. The total height of the Shikhar is 157 feet.
Furthermore, there are two Shikhars present in the Temple – the Nij Shikhar and the Ladwa Shikhar. The Nij shikhar is five storeyed. It houses the main deity, Lord Krishna. There are two main gates to the Dwarkadhish Temple – The Moksha Dwaar (entrance for pilgrims) and the Swarg Dwaar (Gate to Heaven).
History of Dwarkadhish Temple
Origin of Dwarka
Lord Krishna’s uncle Kansa was the ruler of Mathura. His father-in-law, Jarasandha influenced him greatly. Also, Kansa terrorized and tortured the people of Mathura. Due to cruelty towards people, Krishna eventually killed him. When kansa died, Jarasandha was furious.
So, he invaded Mathura several times. However, he was unsuccessful in annexing it. But the Yadava clan suffered huge losses and Lord Krishna decided to move them elsewhere.
Further, the story of how Krishna formed the city of Dwarka has two versions. One states that Lord Krishna flew on the Garuda and reached the Saurashtra peninsula. However, in the other version, Lord Krishna invoked Vishwakarma (Lord of Construction). He asked him to build a new city.
Vishwakarma said that the city can only be built if the Samudra Devta (God of Sea) gives them land. Lord Krishna worshiped the Sea God who eventually gave him 12 Yojanas of land. Consequently, Vishwakarma built the city of Dwarka for Lord Krishna.
The legend of Jagannath Temple
According to a legend, during the cremation of Lord Krishna at Dwarka, Balram and Subhadra overcame with grief. So, they took the half-burnt body of Krishna and ran into the ocean. At the same time, King Indradyumna in Puri had a dream. It encouraged him to visit the ocean in search of the remains of Lord Krishna.
Later, he built a gigantic temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is known as the Jagannath temple. There, he established the three wooden idols of Krishna, Balaram, and Subhadra. Also, he placed the ashes of Lord Krishna inside the wooden deity.
According to the Archeological Survey of India, the main shrine of the building is 2000 to 2200 years old. There is an umbrella-like monument in the memory of Lord Krishna to the East of Harimandir.
Renovation and reconstruction
According to Brahmi script, the temple’s first renovation was done around 100 BC. Later, Shri Adi Shankaracharya visited the temple in 800 BC and renovated it. He established the shrine of Adyashakti on the fourth floor of the temple.
Muhammad Shah attacked and destroyed the temple in 1241 AD. Five Brahmins fought with them and were killed. So, the shrines near the Dwarkadhish Temple are dedicated to them. Local merchants and rulers enlarged the temple in 15th-16th century. And in 1965, the Pakistan Navy tried to attack the temple but failed to do so.
Another interesting legend associated with Dwarka is that of the Gopi Lake. According to mythology, after leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna never went back. The Gopis of Mathura came to Dwarka to meet Krishna. After several Ras Leelas with Lord Krishna, they offered their lives to the land. Hence the name of the lake is “Gopi Talav”.
Significance of Dwarkadhish Temple
Dwarka is considered to be one of the Sapta Puris in India. Others are Ayodhya, Mathura, Kanchipuram, Ujjain, Banaras, and Haridwar. Epics like the Mahabharata, Puranas like the Skandapuran, Vishnupuran, and Harivamsha and the holy Bhagavad Gita repeatedly mention the city of Dwarka.
Mahabharata states that the castle of Lord Krishna was built in Gold. The Pandavas played and spent their childhood there. Archaeologists have unearthed copper coins, boulders, pillars and pottery samples from the underwater excavations in Dwarka. Hence, they have concluded that a well-established city existed there in the 2nd Millennium.
Also, explorations between 1983 and 1990 show that the city consisted of six sectors. They were extended about a mile from the shore. Offshore investigations have found evidence of stone slabs, ports and other construction materials dating back to 15th Century. Hence, it supports the existence of an ancient city at the time of Lord Krishna. Further, the layout of the city mentioned in ancient manuscripts matches that of the city unearthed by The Marine Archaeology Unit of India.
According to popular belief, the Dwarkadhish Temple stands over the original place of Hari – Graha, the home of Krishna.
The Dhwajaji – The Mast Flag atop the main Temple is unique and sacred. It is Aadhi Bhoutik in nature. The Dhwaja or the Flag is made of 52 yards of cloth. 52 small flags are woven individually in each yard of cloth. Each Yard symbolizes the entrances to the ancient city of Dwarka.
According to scriptures, 56 administrators ran the administration of Dwarka. Four of them were Lord Krishna, Balram, Pradyuma, and Anirudhji. These 4 are still worshiped in temples that are untouched by the Sea. However, for the rest of the 52 people, the flag acts as a remembrance. The colors of the Dhwajaji are changed every day.
Kusheshwar Mahadev Temple
In the premises of the Dwarkadhish Temple, a small temple called Kusheshwar Mahadev Temple is present. According to a legend, Kush was a demon who lived in Kushasthali. People prayed to Lord Krishna to save them. So, Lord Krishna fought and crushed the demon. Krishna buried him completely into the ground. Hence, he set up a temple of Lord Mahadev there. The Shiva Linga lies almost 20 feet below the ground.
The Dwarka Mutt is one of the four mutts established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The others are Sringeri, Jagannath Puri, and Jyotirmath. Another name for Dwarka Mutt is Shanti Peeth. It is sacred to take a dip at the Gomati Ghat opposite to the Dwarkadhish Temple. Genuine worship at this temple washes away one’s sins.
Dwarkadhish Temple Timings
Dwarkadhish Temple opens at 6:30 am and closes at 9:30 pm. It closes the Darshan from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Mangal Aarti starts at 6:30 AM
Mangal Darshan takes place from 7 AM to 8 AM.
Shringar Aarti takes place at 10:30 AM.
Sandhya Aarti takes place at 7:30 PM to 7:45 PM.
Dwarkadhish Temple Dress Code
One should prefer formal and decent dresses while visiting the Dwarkadhish Temple. Avoid shorts and mini skirts.
Festivals celebrated at Dwarkadhish Temple
Janmashtami – The birth of Krishna is celebrated in a very grand and spiritual way. So, thousands of pilgrims from across the world visit the temple to get blessings. The celebration includes a series of Poojas and rituals. It starts right from Mangal Aarti in the morning to the Parna Rom the next day. They also perform Abhishekams throughout the day with Tulsi and Chandan.
Annakut Utsav – This festival is celebrated on the first day of the Kartik month. It includes preparing and offering a variety of sweets to God.
Tulsi Vivah – This day signifies the marriage of Lord Vishnu with Tulsi Devi. The festival starts on the 11th day of the Kartik month. It contiues for 4 days.
Holi – The festival of colors is the favorite festival of Lord Krishna. Hence, this day is celebrated with great pomp and joy.
Akshaya Tritiya – The third day of the Vaisakh month is celebrated as the Akshaya Tritiya. The day marks the beginning of summer season. The Idol of Lord Krishna is dressed with flowers and Chandan instead of the usual dress. Finally, the festivities end on the 11th day of the month. This day is called Bhima Ekadashi.
Rath Yatra – On the 2nd of the Ashadh month, a representation of Lord Krishna is kept in a chariot. This chariot is then taken around the city. On this day Krishna and Balram departed to Mathura on a chariot sent by Kamsa. Also, on the same day Krishna decided to become the Sarathi (Driver) of Arjuna’s chariot in Mahabharatha.
Dwarkadhish Temple Sevas and Poojas
The temple performs the following daily rituals:
Mangal Aarti – It starts at 7:00 AM. The cleaning (brushing and face wash) of the Lord happens during this time.
Abhishek Snan – The Lord is given a holy bath daily before the darshan. Abhishekam is usually performed behind closed doors. However, the ritual is open to public viewing on Janmashtami and Jalayatra day.
Shringar Aarti – The God is adorned with a Golden color cloth and archanai is done with Basil and Chandan. During the Aarti, the Golden Chhadi is kept near the door of the shrine. The Flute is handed over to the Dwarkadhish.
Uthapan – At 5 PM, The offering of Chandan and Tulsi awakens the Lord. The chanting of Vishnu Sahasranamam takes place. Also, the priest offers a petal of Tulsi for each name of Vishnu.
Offerings include Bhogs like Mangal Bhog, Makhan Bhog, Snan Bhog and Shringar Bhog. It also includes Raj Bhog, Banta Bhog, Sandhya Bhog, Shayan Bhog and Ratri Banta Bhog.
Devotees offer several sevas to the God. These include Mangal Bhog, Palna, Shayan Bhog, Paan Seva, Milk Seva, Vegetable Seva, Flower Seva, Fruit Seva and Misri Seva at nominal rates.
How to reach Dwarkadhish Temple
Air – The nearest airport is Jamnagar, 137 km away.
Rail – Regular trains are available from major cities like Jamnagar, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, and Kochi.
Road – Direct State Buses are available from Jamnagar, Gandhinagar, Porbandar, Rajkot, and Ahmedabad.
Where to stay
The Government runs many guest houses in the city. Some of them are Circuit House, Gayathri Athithi Grah and Birla Dharmshala.
The temple trust runs several dharmashalas. These include Kokila Niraj Dham, Patelwadi Dharamshala, and Jay Ranchhod Dharmashala.
Several private hotels are available to stay in Dwarka.
Where to eat
Several hotels and restaurants are available near the Temple and in other parts. Mainly vegetarian cuisine is available.
Shri Nageshwar Temple – The Nageshwar Temple (Nagnath Temple) is 12 km away from the Dwarkadhish Temple. It is an important Shaivite pilgrimage site. This is because it is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The temple is unique as the Shiva Lingam faces south and the Nandi faces east.
The Rukmini Mandir – It is 2 km away from The Dwarkadhish Temple. The Temple is dedicated to Devi Rukmini, wife of Lord Krishna. The idol of Devi Rukmini has “Chaturbhuj” or four hands. Further, each hand holds a Shanka, Chakra, Gada, and the Padma. This is so because Devi Rukmini was a reincarnation of Goddess Mahalakshmi.
Beyt Dwarka – The Island is located 30 km from Dwarka. Also, it houses a 500-year-old temple built by Sri Vallabhacharya. The white pristine beaches at the Island are very popular for water sports and picnics.
Gomati Sangam Ghat – One can reach the Sangam Ghat by descending 56 steps opposite to Swarga Dwar. Also, this place signifies the junction of River Gomati with the ocean. Also, one can visit several smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna and his friend Sudama.
The Gita Mandir – The Birla family built the temple in 1970 and dedicated it to the teachings of The Bhagavad Gita. The walls of the temple contain hymns from the Bhagwad Gita.