Dwarkadeesh reigned 5000 years or so back, but his presence is felt even today.
From Jamnagar Oil Refinery...
We reached Dwarka taking the road from Jamnagar Oil Refinery. Eager to meet Sri Dwarikadheesh, we were in high spirits. On the way here, green pastures, wind mills, backwaters and grazing cattle passed us by, and the morning breeze was intoxicating.
From a distance
While still a few kilometres away we could see the temple's flag - Dhawajaji or the the kirti pataka. Soon the temple's huge dome could also be seen. This is where Shree Dwarkadeesh reigned 5000 years or so back, but his presence is felt even today.
A bit of history
Six times the city of Dwarka has been claimed by the sea, and this is the seventh one. Sri Dwarikadheesh temple is a five storied structure built on 60 columns, crowned by a soaring elaborately carved spire. There are two gates or dwar to the temple. The North gate is called Moksha dwar - the way to salvation. The South gate is called Swarga dwar - the gate to heaven.
The temple complex has several shrines. The main deity is Sri Krishna, also known as Dwarikadheesh or Ranchor ji. The basement has an ancient Shivalinga, while Ma Amba, Aniruddha, Pradyumn, Rukmani, Satyabhama, Jamvanti and Laxmi are also worshipped.
As we enter the city, with a view of the Arabian Sea and River Gomti emptying itself into it, it is impossible to miss the pilgrims bathing at this spot. A flight of steps lead down to the waters where river-worship, bathing and feeding the fish is an ongoing activity. We opted for manasik snan this time, instead of actually taking a dip.
Snapshots of life next to Dwarikadheesh temple
The air smells of salt and incense. Chants of Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaay, Om Namah Shivaay and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra sound through the backdrop of bathers, shoppers and the colourful bazaar. These chants are recorded into a gadget with a deity's picture. One of these can easily be hung up at home to remind the listener continuously of the deity.
This place below the temple is known as Chakra tirth. Shell like stones, mostly white in colour which are available only at Dwarka, are sold here. This chakra is a sacred object, bestowing purity and salvation. Gopi chandan, which is very dear to Lord Krishna, Dwarikadheesh is also sold here.
From Gomti we rushed for darshan of Sri Dwarkadheesh. Climbing the 56 steps up to meet the lord feels like upliftment in sadhna...like each step, each effort made to please and reach the lord - the Creator and beloved.
We were in time for the Shringar darshan. We were blessed by his gracious darshan. Dwarikadheesh was sporting red jama and churidar with an orange dupatta. The head gear was deep pink, decorated with a white feather kilangi and strings of pearls. The ornaments were golden. The presiding pujari bhitariya ji was kind enough to offer Dwarikadheesh the peacock feather and lotus flowers that we had taken as an offering.
Vaishnav devotees have a special tradition of Manoraths to serve the deity. While we were in the temple, there was this huge group of Vaishnavs singing, dancing and offering a flag at the temple. This manorath is a token of thanks when a Vaishnav's wish is fulfilled. This flag, the Dhwajaji is changed approximately three times a day with advance booking for a year or so.
The Darshan schedule here is as in all Vaishnav temples - Mangala, Shringar, Rajbhog, Utthapan, Sandhya Aarti and Shayan aarti darshan. We waited for Rajbhog arti darshan and prasad before taking our leave of Dwarikadheesh. This is the lunch hour. After Raj bhog arti, the darshan opens only for Utthapan in the evening. Special bhog preparations are offered to the lord, eight times a day. Some of the bhog items include, makhan misri, thor, fruit, kesar sharbet, dry fruit, etc. The bhog items vary as per season and time of the day.
Close to Dwarikadheesh
17 km from Dwarka is Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, a Shiva temple. I think this signifies that Hari and Har (Vishnu and Shiva) are together every where. On travelling further to Okha, which is about 30 km away, it is time to take a ferry across the sea to a temple on the island, which is known as Bhet Dwarka. This island has a temple where Dwarkadheesh, Rukmani, Stayabhama, Jamvanti.
The festivals of Janamashtami, Holi, Dushehra and Akshay tritiya, to name a few, are celebrated on a grand scale at Dwarka and Bhet Dwarka.
Dwarkadheesh Travel guide
Dwarkadheesh location map
Dwarka-Jamnagar: 148 km
Dwarka-Ahemedabad: 438 km
Dwarka-Mumbai: 929 km
Dwarka-Rajkot: 234 km
Dwarka-Okha: 32 km
Dwarka-Nageshwar: 17 km
Dwarka-Gopi talab: 23 km
Dwarka-Somnath: 249 km