The sacred town of Dwarka is one of the four holy pilgrimages of Hindus (Char Dham) in India. One of the main centers of the Krishna legend, Dwarka is located on the western most tip of the Gujarat peninsula, a sentinel overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Dwarka is perhaps the most important place on the Saurashtra coast. It is believed to have been founded by Lord Krishna and was called 'Swarnadwarka' or 'Golden Dwarka'. According to the Krishna legend, it was the adopted home of Lord Krishna after he gave up Mathura. A labyrinth of narrow winding streets cluttered with temples, the town resonates today with the bustle of eager saffron clad pilgrims and the clatter of celebratory drums. Dwarka really comes to life during the major Hindu festivals; the most fervent are shivratri, dedicated to Shiva and Janmashtami, Lord Krishna's birthday. Archaeological excavations show that present day Dwarka is the 6th city on this site, the earlier five having been submerged in the sea. The 5-storey temple is supported by 60 columns and is crowned by a soaring, elaborately carved spire.
Dwarkadheesh Temple (Jagat Mandir):
The temple of Jagat Mandir, with the presiding deity of Shri Krishna known as Dwarkadheesh, is an imposing edifice and a superb architectural monument. Having a plinth area of 1800 square feet, the temple consists of a shrine that is supported by 60 pillars made of granite and sandstone. Jagat Mandir, with the presiding deity of Shri Krishna known as Dwarkadheesh, is an imposing edifice and a superb architectural monument.
Dunny Point, first Eco-tourism site, and promises to be one more feather in Gujarat's cap. Active nature conservation is a vital aspect of government policy, the declaration of new nature reserves enables, on the one hand, species to thrive in protected environment while, on the other, allows visitors to sample nature without despoiling the ecosystem.
Dating to the 12th-13th century, the Rukmini Temple has beautiful carvings, especially on the pillars of the 'Sabha Mandapa'. The temple was built in honour of Rani Rukmani, princess of Vidarbha, who later got married to Lord Krishna.
Nageshwar Mandir is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in an underground chamber.
The visit of Dwarka is not complete without a visit to Beyt Dwarka, an island at a distance of 30 Kms. Off the coast of Okha port, the island is separated by a strip of sea about four Kms wide. It takes about half-an hour to cross this channel in a diesel boat operated by the Port Authority. At Bet, there are temples of Vishnu (in the form of 'matsya'), Radha, Lakshmi, Satyabhama, Jambuvanti and Devaki.
A ferry ride from Dwarka to the island of Bet near Okha makes a pleasant outing.
South of Dwarka, on the western coast, Porbandar is a picturesque old seaport associated with the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. Commemorating this event is the Kirti Mandir Memorial, which contains the little room where the Mahatma was born, a library, a spinning hall, a children's nursery school and a prayer hall. Porbandar has a pleasant beach with beach villas. Its ancient maritime activities such as trade with Arabia, Africa and Persia have given way to a thriving industry of cement and chemical units.
The narrow street leading to the temples is lined on both the sides by vendors selling seashells, local crafts, photos of deities, cassettes, coconuts and other refreshments. The pilgrims engage in bargains after paying obeisance to the deities in an atmosphere of tranquility on this windy island.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Domestic airlines connect Dwarka to Mumbai.
Rail: Dwarka is located on the Western Railway with direct connections with Ahmedabad.
Road: State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centers of Gujarat. Porbandar is 145 Kms from Rajkot.