India. Gujarat: One of the most ancient and heritage cities in the state of Gujarat, Dwarka is located on the banks of the river Gomati. The city is scarcely populated, quiet, and is home to many temples and shrines. When I visited this place during the pandemic, I found many devotees and travelers like me who came here to explore its rich culture and heritage. Interestingly, not a single case of COVID-19 has been reported yet in Dwarka. Local people still believe that Lord Krishna protects them from all calamities and disasters.
Dwarka has several tales to tell of Lord Krishna and his childhood. Lord Krishna here is called by the name, Dwarkadhish. The city also has an association with Mahabharata.
Due to the presence of the Jyotirlingas, Dwarka is a famous sacred shrine for Hindus. In this article, I am going to tell you about the story, importance, and magnificent architecture of different temples in Dwarka.
Dwarka, an abode of Lord Krishna is famous for its Dwarkadhish temple. After seeing the temple, I was mesmerized by its beauty. It is believed that the temple was built more than 2500 years ago, by Vajranabh, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. The temple is a five-story edifice, which is built using soft limestone and consists of a sanctum, vestibule, and a rectangular hall with porches on three sides. Its exquisitely carved Shikhar, reaching 43 m high and the huge flag made from 52 yards of cloth, can be seen from as far away as 10 km. The flag of the temples is changed five times a day, as it believed to be a ‘Pagdi’ (Turban) of Lord Krishna.
The roof of the temple is 43 m high and carved exquisitely. I was told by a priest that the temple has two gates one which leads to heaven and another which leads to liberation. From swarga dwar (gate to the heavens), pilgrims enter, and moksha dwar (gate to liberation), pilgrims exit. The magnificence of the structure is improved by the flight of 56 steps that leads to the beautiful river Gomati.
While walking down the lane to reach the temple you can find a market, where you can buy many things. This bazaar remains alive all the time, but in the evening the bazaar becomes crowded. Mirror work bags, juttis, puja material, shell decorative pieces, souvenirs and trinkets, sweet shops, you can find anything and everything over here. Some of the most famous of all the trinkets are the Chakrashila, a wheel-like stone found in the sea, the idol of Dwarkadheesh.
Rukmini Mata Temple
More than 2500 years old, the temple of Lord Krishna’s queen, Rukmani is located on the outskirts. The temple was built in the 12th century. Carvings of gods and goddesses embellish the exteriors and the main idol of Rukmini is housed in the sanctum. Carved human figures and elephants feature in the panels at the base of the platform. The temple priest had told me that mantras written in the unique script are engraved in the panels.
Why this temple is built in the outskirts and far from Lord Krishna temple, has an interesting legend. It is said that sage Durvasa requested Krishna and Rukmini to pull a chariot to take him to their house for a meal. On the way, when Rukmini asked for water to quench her thirst, Lord Krishna prodded the ground with his tow, and the River Ganges appeared. Rukmini quenched her thirst but forgot to ask the sage if he wanted a drink of water too. Durvasa felt insulted and cursed her that she would live separately from her husband.
Located around 12 km from Gomti, Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple in Dwarka attracts thousands of devotees all around the year. As soon as you enter the premises of the Nageshwar temple, you will see a huge idol of Shiva in cream color stone. You can see many pigeons flying and cows roaming around the temple premises. A special pigeon house has also been erected there. The revered site is home to one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. The temple is carved with red stones. At the end of a large hall is the main sanctum that has the jyotirlinga. According to a legend associated with the temple, a demon called Daaruka imprisoned a Shiva devotee called Supriya. The chants of ‘Om Namaha Shivay’ by Supriya invoked Lord Shiva who arrived here and vanquished the demon. A self-manifested Shivalinga appeared here and thus the jyotirlinga came into existence.
Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Temple
Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Mandir is on the hillock in the sea. There are several steps through which you can get into the temple. Chandra-Mouliswar Shiva is the presiding deity at the core of the temple. The deity form was found at the confluence of Gomati, Ganga, and the Arabian Sea by Acharya Jagatguru Sankaracharya himself. In addition, there are around 1200 Salgramshilas, 1300 Shiva Lingas, metal forms of 75 Sankaracharyas.