Dwarka: The Religious Destination of Vaishanavs
One of the most sacred pilgrimage site for the Hindu, Dwarka, 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 Lord Krishna is believed to have ruled his kingdom.
On the eve of the great battle of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna set out from Dwarka to the site of the battle, to instruct Arjuna, the Pandava, and these instructions form the text of the Bhagavad Gita. There are other legends connected with Dwarka .
It is said that when the Lord finally abandoned his body, the city slipped into the sea and its waves closed over it forever.
It is evident that Dwarka was a popular town with buildings constructed of stone and brick, even before the Christian era. Its archaeological remnants point to a level of prosperity unusual at that time. Throughout the centuries, Dwarka has been visited extensively by people whose names illuminate the pages of history. Among these were Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, the great mystic Narsinh Mehta, Mira, the devout princess from Chitor, and the great saints Kabir and Nanak.
The small town which comes alive every year during Janmashtami, Krishna's birthday, is the location of his Dwarakanath temple. It was supposedly built by one of his renowned devotee, Mira Bai. 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.
Even for those with no inclination towards Krishna or His people, the magic of Dwarka still leaves a lingering glow inside those who visit. The people are warm and friendly, ready to open their homes for a closer look into their lives. It is unlike any other religious town and the only way to feel its radiance is by experiencing it.
Dwarka is an important pilgrimage center. It is steeped in legends, being associated with the life of Lord Krishna. In Puranic times, present-day Dwarka 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.
Dwarka Nath Dham
Dwarka, located 145 kms.from Jamnagar, is at the entrance of Western India. It derives its name from the word 'dwar' which means door.
Legend has it Lord Krishna left Mathura and settled in the Western part of India with his Yadava clan and built a golden city and named it Dwarika.
Dwarkanath, the main temple here, is dedicated to Krishna. Archaeological excavations show that present day Dwarka is the 6th city on this site, the earlier five having been submerged by the sea. The five-storied temple is supported on 60 columns and is crowned by a soaring elaborately carved spire.
Dwarkanath Temple :
The exterior of the temple is supported by 60 columns and is crowned by a soaring, elaborately carved spire. On Janmashtami day (birthday of Lord Krishna) thousands of devotees throng this temple from all around the world.Adi Shankara the renowned reformer saint also established the Sharda Peeth - one of the four seats in the country propagating Hinduism.
After having the 'darshan' of Lord Krishna, the pilgrim should have darshan of river Gomti as the mere glimpse of river Gomti liberates a man from all his sins. The water of Gomti destroys all the sins, evils and fulfills all the desires. The virtues of taking a holy bath at Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse and taking a holy bath in the Gomti are similar. The ancestors who have gone to hell named 'Raurab' or who taken birth as a lowly creature get liberated if the water of Gomti is offered to them.
The five G's i.e. Gomti, Gomay bath, Go-daan (donation of cow), Gopi-chandan and having a 'darshan' of Gopinath are very rare and hence a man must make a donation of cow at the bank of river Gomti, if possible. A man who takes a bath in the Gomti definitely gets the virtues similar to that of Ashwamedha Yagya. His ancestors belonging to three generations go to the abode of Vishnu and his accumulated sins of thousands of years gets destroyed. Having a darshan of Gomti destroys all the sins, which are committed by thoughts, words and deeds.
A man who takes a bath in river Gomti goes to the abode of Lord Vishnu combined with a beautiful 'Vanmala', four hands and divine fragrance and gets freed from the bondage of birth and death.
Near the sea are seen stones and rocks with marks of wheels (chakra) on it the sight of which gives salvation. These rocks with the mark of wheels are worth worshipping. Worship of these rocks give a man the feeling of being in the vicinity of Lord Vishnu himself. All his sins committed by thoughts, words and deeds get destroyed if he takes a bath in the holy water of 'Chakrateertha'.
RUKMINI HRID :
The seven ponds which are collectively known as 'Rukmini Hrid' is considered to be the bestower of salvation and the destroyer of all the sins of a man. It is also known as 'Bhrigu-teertha due to the sage Bhrigu's long association with this place. Taking a bath at Rukmini Hrid makes a man powerful and he does not become a beggar. He is also freed from the cycle of birth and death.
VISHNUPADODBHAVA TEERTHA :
A person who has a darshan of 'Vishnupadodbhava teertha' gets the virtues similar to that of the virtues acquired from taking a bath in the holy Ganges. Remembrance of this pilgrimage and singing devotional songs in its praise destroys all the sins of a man. The 'Ganges' which was manifested by Lord Krishna for Rukmini is known as 'Vishnupada'. Rinsing of one's mouth by its water gets virtues similar to that of 'Ashwamedha Yagya'. Nearby is situated the 'Gopi Sarovar', bathing in which one gets the virtue similar to that of donating a cow. It is believed that Lord Krishna along with other deities took a bath in the month of 'Shraavana'. There is a tradition of making donation of a 'mat' on the twelfth day (dwadashi) of every month.
MAYA SAROVAR :
The great demon 'Maya' is famous in all the three worlds for his illusionary powers. This reservoir was constructed by him and hence it is named after him. The mere touch and sight of this reservoir frees a man from all his bondage. Taking a bath in its holy water fulfills all desires of a man. The performance of 'tarpan' by its water pacifies the ancestors and making donations in the name of Lord Krishna helps a man to go to the abode of Lord Vishnu along with his ancestors.
GOPI SAROVAR :
Once the Gopis requested Lord Krishna to create a pilgrimage site for them so that they too could achieve salvation by meditating on his appearance, singing devotional songs etc by staying there. Lord Krishna agreed to their request. Then pointing towards a reservoir situated near Maya Sarovar he said: "Look at this reservoir whose water is as pure as the heart and mind of a gentleman. This reservoir has been constructed only for you and will become famous by your name."
Again the Gopis requested Lord Krishna to make the reservoir as his abode as all the worlds (Bhur loka, Bhuva loka, Swarga loka), all the austerities, charities are situated in his very abode. According to the Gopis goddess Saraswati and goddess Laxmi have their abodes in his mouth and chest respectively.
A man attains supreme destination by devotionally taking a bath in the Gopi Sarovar and performing 'tarpan' to the ancestors and the deities and giving donations.
If a Shraadh performing man has a desire for getting a son then his desire is fulfilled.
A man who takes a bath in the holy water of Gopi Sarovar attains whatever he desires- heaven or salvation.
BRAHMA KUNDA :
When Lord Krishna unburdened the earth from all the sinners and brought the virtuous people to the path of virtuosity, he came to Dwarka. At Dwarka Indra, Varun, Yama, Kuber, Sun and Moon came to meet him for the accomplishment of their respective works. After that Lord Brahma created a pilgrimage site in his own name which became famous as 'Brahma teertha'. This pilgrimage is the destroyer of all sins.
CHANDRA SAROVAR :
After seeing Lord Brahma creating a pilgrimage in his name, the moon too imitated him and created a pilgrimage, which is also a destroyer of all the sins. All the deities became pleased after seeing this radiant pilgrimage and said whoever takes a bath or performs a tarpan in the holy water of this pilgrimage will become prosperous and free from all the sins.
places to see :
Nageshwar Mahadev and Gopi Talav Tirth :
These are two other sites of religious significance near Dwarka. Nageshwar is 17 kms. and Gopi Talav is 23 kms. from Dwarka.
Bet Dwarka :
A ferry ride from Dwarka to the Island of Bet, near Okha, makes for a good picnic. About 30 km. from Dwarka is the famous pilgrim-centre of Vaishnavas. Here we have Rancchodrai Temple, Devki Temple and Temples of Chief Queens of Krishna, Mahaprabhuji Bethak, Bala Hanuman and Shankh Talav are other attractions. Situated about 35 kms. from Dwarka and 150 kms. from Jamnagar.
Light House :
It offers a panoramic view of Dwarka.