And other temples………………………………….
After a half day stay at Porbandar, we left on a 2-hour journey alongside the western coast of the country to reach Krishna’s land – Dwaraka- which literally means ‘Gateway to Heaven’. For the itinerary in Porbandar do click on the following link https://sojournwithsan.wordpress.com/2019/08/23/following-the-krishna-route-stop-1-porbandar/
This city is regarded as one of the Chardhams or the four sacred pilgrimage sites of Hinduism. Adi Shankaracharya visited the temple sometime in the 8th century and established the Dwarakapeeth here. It is also one of the seven most ancient religious sites of India, the other six being Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Banaras, Kanchi and Ujjain. Dwaraka is the 98th amongst the 108 Divya Desams and Lord Vishnu is known as Dwarkadish. He is here with Lakshmi and Rukmini as his consorts. The Vaishnava Tamil saints or Azhwars who have sung the Lord’s praises are Perialwar, Andal, Tirumazhisai, Tirumangai and Nammalwar. Dwaraka is also amongst the 7 Mukti sthalas.
The Dwarkadish Temple
A quick shower and a change of clothes and we wanted to visit the Dwarakadish Temple as soon as possible. The car dropped us off by the banks of the River Gomti just before the bustling market. We walked up the rest of the way in the bustling alley that lead up to the temple.
I was totally elated as we approached the holy spot, that was home to Lord Krishna. As a child, the first prayer that was taught to me by my father was the following:
“Shanka Chakra Gadha Pane Dwarka Nilaya Achyutha Govindha Pundarikaksha Rakshamam Sharangatham”
I entered the sacred precincts of the ‘Jagat Mandir’that is located in the confluence of Gomti River and the Arabian Sea, reciting this shloka that Draupadi chanted, when she implored the Lord for help when her modesty was being violated in the Kaurava court.
After purchasing the entrance ticket, we go to deposit all our electronic items and bags in a locker for security reasons. This meant that we couldn’t take pictures inside but it gave us an opportunity to savour the darshan of the Lord of Dwarka and the beauty of the temple without any distractions. There are two gateways, the Moksha Dwar, that faces the main market of Dwarka and Swarga Dwar that faces the River Gomti. There are 56 steps taking you down to lead you to the river.
The lines to get darshan are not too long and we could see the Lord’s idol even while waiting for our turn. It is mesmerising to see the Lord carved in shiny black stone in the sanctum sanctorum holding the Shanka (conch), Chakra (discus), Gadha (mace) and Padma (lotus).
There are shrines for Lord Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva and shrines for other family members, namely, Balarama, Subhadra, Rukmini, Jambavati, Revati, and Satyabhama. There are shrines in the honour of the illustrious grandsons of Lord Krishna, Pradyumana and Aniruddha. You also find Veni-Madhav or the form of Krishna holding a flute that we all identify Him; a shrine for Lord Shiva and a shrine for Lakshmi Narayana. The temple is neat and clean and the ambience in the evening was spiritual. A special shrine is devoted to Adi Shankaracharya and there are members of his monastic order looking after it.
After the darshan of all the deities in the temple we just sat in silence to soak in the ambience. In the view is the tallest spire of the temple that is nearly 78 metres in height. Limestone has been used in the construction of the temple. We see that temple has five storeys and rests on 72 pillars that are intricately carved. As we sit, we see the tall spire has a flag flying that can be spotted from a distance. It has emblems representing the sun and moon, that is ritualistically changed every five hours and is a reminder that Krishna will be with us as long as the sun and moon exist. This temple was built around the 16th century in the western Chalukya architecture.
Sudama Setu : After a peaceful darshan, we move out of the temple, and proceed towards the recently constructed pedestrian suspension bridge over the River Gomti. Called the Sudama Setu, this bridge connects the Jagat Mandir with another island called Panchkui Theerth. The bridge was completed in 2016 and was a collaborative effort by Reliance Industries Limited along with Gujarat Tourism Department and Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Vikas Board, and Usha Martin Industries. The sunset from the bridge was a sight to behold, so make sure to be there at that time if you make a trip here. You can also shop for bags and clothes and other handicrafts from Kutch and Saurashtra in the street leading to the temple.
Beyt Dwaraka: The next morning we left early to reach Beyt Dwaraka. This is supposed to be part of the sunken city of Dwaraka that Lord Krishna established, the city that was designed and executed by Vishwakarma. Marine archaeology has recently shown evidence of a sunken city, but the topic is beyond the ambit of this article and I will not go into it.
We reach the Okha Jetty which is 30 kms from Dwaraka from where we are supposed to take a 15-minute boat ride to Beyt Dwaraka. It was disappointing to see the quality of boats and also the lack of any system to ticket passengers. Safety norms are also way below par and there are no life jackets. In most circumstances, we would have never taken a risk but this time we took a chance. Dressed in a saree and I was imagining swimming in it -lest the need arose! Gujarat Tourism needs to rehaul this system urgently.
At the island, the temple surroundings need some upkeep. We paid our obeisance to shrine to the main deity Lord Dwarkanath. There are shrines for Lakshmi Narayana, Trivikrama, Rukmini, Satyabhama and Jambavati. This is where Sudama, Krishna’s childhood friend also gave the Lord the humble gift of beaten rice. Beyt Dwarka is also known as Beyt Shankhodhar as legend says that Krishna slew the demon Shankhasura here.
Hanuman Dandi/Makaradhwaj Temple: On the island, about 5 kilometres from the main temple is another temple devoted to Hanuman and the place is called Hanuman Dandi. We hired an autorickshaw to take us to there. Other than the idol of Hanuman, there is the idol of Makaradhwaj, said to be the son of Hanuman. Legend has it that though Hanuman was a celibate, while crossing a river, a drop of ‘perspiration’ impregnated a fish and hence Makaradhwaj was born. Though this story is not found in Valmiki Ramayana, this is popular folklore in Gujarat. It is believed that the fish was caught by the people of ‘Patala’ or the netherworld ruled by Ahiravana, and a creature that was partly simian and partly a creature of the sea was born when the fish was cut. The Jethwa clan of Kshatriyas, that I had mentioned in my previous blog, claim to be descendants of Makardhwaja.
Rukmini/ Rukshamani Temple:
After we returned to the Okha Jetty, we drove towards the Rukmini Temple that is separated from the Dwarkadish Temple by a few kilometres. The exterior of the temple is breathtakingly beautiful with intricate carvings. A short fleet of steps lead you to the sanctum sanctorum.
The main temple has a white idol of Goddess Rukmini, believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. The temple also has a shrine for Goddess Amba, who was Krishna’s family deity. She was the princess of Vidharbha and the primary consort of Lord Krishna. When we reached the temple, a crowd had collected outside and the priest began narrating the story behind the temple.
It is believed that both Krishna and Rukmini invited Sage Durvasa for a meal. The sage agreed but put forth a strange request that his chariot should be pulled by both Krishna and Rukmini. Both agreed and on a sunny day they began to draw the chariot with Sage Durvasa sitting in it. After a while the physical labour and the sharp sun made Rukmini thirsty and she asked Krishna for some water. Krishna pressed the ground with his big toe and lo and behold, the water of the Ganges appeared and Rukmini was able to quench her thirst. But this did not go well with the angry guest sitting in the chariot. Durvasa took this as an insult and thundered asking how could Rukmini drink water before offering a guest anything? He cursed them by saying that they would be separated for 12 years and the land they were on would always have a scarcity of water. Indeed, the area is water deficient and arid.
The travails of getting cursed, I thought!
Nageshwar Temple: The next stop was the Nageshwara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyothirlings and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.
Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Temple: After a short break to rest after lunch, we set out to see the Sunset Point at Arabian Sea beach at Dwaraka. Close to the beach is the Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Temple. Close to is also the Geeta Mandir which showed Lord Krishna explaining the Geeta to Arjuna. We also caught the sunset at Dwarka Lighthouse which offers a great panoramic view of the sea and land.
Where to stay: We stayed at the Club Mahindra at Dwarka