If you’re enticed by religious mysticism and mythology, Dwarka is one city in Gujarat that you must visit. Located at the very end of the western side of the Saurashtra Peninsula, this city is one of the four principal holy places (char dham), one of the seven holy towns (sapta puris), and the kingdom of Lord Krishna. Every year during Janmashtami, this place sees thousands, if not lakhs, of devotees coming to the Dwarkadhish Temple.
Beyond the myths and legends that surround the city, there is a place full of beautiful people and a way of life that is the perfect example of old-meets-new (imagine a religious ceremony happening over the phone). Thankfully, initiatives like the HRIDAY Scheme (Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana) are being carried out by the government to develop this city. Read on through our Dwarka travel guide to get the best rundown of the place.
The birthplace of Lord Krishna and a cultural haven, the history and culture of this place are far too wide to be covered in one blog. But we’ve narrowed it down to a nutshell for you. In its mention in the Mahabharata, the first ruler of this area is said to be Ugrasena, who also happened to be Kansa’s father. This same Kansa was uncle to Lord Krishna. Both of them engaged in a fierce battle on these very lands wherein Lord Krishna was the victor and consequent ruler of the area.
Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the original Dwarkadhish temple was built about 2,500 years ago. However, it was destroyed by Mahmud Begada, a ruler of the Gujarat Sultanate, and was rebuilt in the 16th century. After changing hands between a few invaders, one of whom were the Turk Aziz, this area fell into the hands of the Gaekwad of Baroda. Under their rule, a war broke out between the locals and the British. The British colonel in charge of the area at that time, Cil. Donovan, went on to commit atrocities on the people of this area as well as on the historical temples.
A complaint of his atrocities was made to the higher authorities, after which these areas were restored to their Indian rulers. Maharaja Khanderao and Maharaja Gaikwad then restored much of the city. Since 1960, the temple has been looked after by the government of India.
Given the fact that Dwarka is a Hindu pilgrimage dedicated to Lord Krishna, the local culture revolves around the deity and his stories. The people of this city are very proud of their traditions and believe in simple living. You won’t find any non-vegetarian hotels but the local cuisine is diverse and tasty enough to blow your mind. The biggest celebration in this area is Janmashtami, where the entire city dresses up and celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna.
As soon as you enter Dwarka, you’ll realize that the city has protected and preserved a majority of its history in the form of architecture, art, and stories. In fact, legend has it that the city was submerged at one point. There have also been some reports of artifacts that were found submerged underwater near the Gulf of Cambay, giving fuel to the fire started by the legend of the sunken city.
As the supposed birthplace of Lord Krishna, the tradition called ‘dahi-handi’ is celebrated with fervor. Young boys form a human pyramid and the youngest of the bunch dresses up like Krishna, climbs atop the pyramid, and breaks an earthen pot full of butter, recreating the story of Krishna doing the same mischief in his younger days.
Lastly, if you want to carry a souvenir home, the artists and their art do a great job at putting just a little bit of the beauty of this place into the small keepsakes that can be made out of clay, wood, brass, bronze, or can be a beautiful painting on a canvas!
Also Read: 7 things to do in Kutch
Dwarka is in close proximity to cities like Jamnagar and Rajkot. In fact, it’ll only take you around three hours to get from Jamnagar to Dwarka, and about five hours from Rajkot. Both of these are major cities in the state of Gujarat and have national highways passing through or around them.
If you’re coming in from the southern part of the state, NH51 follows the coastline straight into Dwarka. Needless to say, Dwarka is very well connected by road and you can easily navigate your way to the city, regardless of where you start from.
If you aren’t very keen on driving, you can easily find private as well as government-run buses to take you to Dwarka. If you’re getting down at a railway station or airport in the state, you can also avail a cab that will drive you to Dwarka.
The city of Dwarka is pretty well connected to the rest of the country. Of course, if you’re coming from the other end of India, you might have to change a couple of trains to get here. However, if you’re traveling from Delhi, Maharashtra, or Rajasthan, you can find direct trains coming to Dwarka Railway Station.
Moreover, you also have trains coming in from all corners of Gujarat. Cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Surat have frequent trains plying to and from the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
If you’re planning on traveling by air, you have a couple of options as to where you can land, after which you’ll have to either continue by road, or by train. Jamnagar and Porbandar both have domestic airports. However, the one in Jamnagar is much more convenient as it has flights coming in from a lot of major cities in the country.
The airport in Jamnagar is almost three hours from the city but the drive is easy and you have multiple modes of transportation readily available. On the other hand, the airport in Porbandar is closer, only an hour and a half worth of driving, but doesn’t have as many flights coming in.
If you’re planning on visiting Dwarka from outside the country, you’re in for a relatively long but easy journey. Gujarat has two international airports: one in Ahmedabad and one in Surat. The one in Ahmedabad is called Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport and requires you to travel almost 10 hours by road or rail. This is closer than the one in Surat by almost 3 hours.
In our opinion, there are two options to choose from when it comes to the best time to visit this city: monsoons and winters. We recommend you avoid going here in the summers because of the heat and humidity Dwarka experiences. Moreover, it is also when a lot of people hold pilgrimages since schools have their yearly vacations going on. That being said, the Holi celebrations in this city are something else. So, if you’re ready to handle the heat, you should definitely check it out.
Weather-wise, winter would be the best time to go to Dwarka. In the months between November and February, you get to see a Dwarka that is pleasant and cool. The temperature generally swings between 9℃ and 34℃. Moreover, the absence of humidity allows you to explore a lot more of the area without getting tired or sticky.
Lastly, the monsoons in Dwarka are quite an experience. Everything gets cleaned by the showers, the greenery shines out, and since it’s off-season, there are virtually no crowds. The rains do bring humidity along with them but that isn’t much of an issue. Moreover, Janmashtami is celebrated right around the end of the monsoon. So, you get to see this pilgrimage at its liveliest, without the crowds. Also, you get to see a lot of rain, but it doesn’t get crazy enough for you to stay inside the whole time or go back home.
Once you get to the city, you have a great network of government-run as well as private buses taking passengers all over the city. There are a lot of rickshaws plying in the city as well. The easiest way to get around the city of Dwarka is to ask your hotel to arrange for a chauffeur-driven taxi. They will arrange one for a good price and you won’t have to wait at any point while you check the city out.
'There’s nothing other than temples in the city of Dwarka, and you’ll be bored of the place if you aren’t very keen on religion and mythology'
This is a pretty common misconception about Dwarka and is far from the truth. Dwarka is at the very end of the state of Gujarat, directly facing the Arabian Sea. So, there are many spots that serve as beautiful waterfronts. Moreover, the city of Dwarka is a treat in itself as well. Beautiful architecture in the temples and surrounding buildings, some of the sweetest delicacies, and even sweeter people make it a city worth visiting just for that experience.
Also Read: Exploring The Adalaj Stepwell In Gujarat
Bet Dwarka, often called Shankodhar, is a small island that served as the main port in the area until Okha was developed as a port. This island is located at the very beginning of the Gulf of Kutch and is adorned with white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and a few temples.
The mythology revolving around this island states that this is where Lord Krishna lived when he ruled over Dwarka. It is said that he met his friend Sudama on this very island and was gifted bags of rice by Sudama. It is a fairly feel-good story and we recommend listening to it from the locals who are very happy to share the same with you.
The place where the Gomati River meets the ocean is called the Gomati Sangam Ghat. It is right beside the Dwarkadhish Temple and requires you to climb down a set of 56 steps to reach the water. It is a beautiful spot right where the land ends and a lot of pilgrims take a dip in the Sangam before heading to the temple.
There are a lot of different temples around the Gomati Ghat as well. In fact, you can find some dedicated to Krishna’s best friend Sudama, along with Lord Shiva. You can take a small boat ride to these temples and when you do so, make sure to absorb as much of the scenery as you can. They say that the views of the open water, as well as the beautiful city of Dwarka, is something that will blow most people’s minds.
One of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India, Nageshwar is probably the second-most famous place in this city, right after the Dwarkadhish Temple. It is located on the way to Gomti Dwarka from Bet Dwarka and the primary deity is Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is also known as Nageshwar Mahadev, giving the temple its name.
The specialty of this Jyotirlinga is that it faces south, which none of the other Jyotirlingas do. Another specialty is the 80-foot statue of Lord Shiva. The architecture of this temple is Hindu and it is designed on the principles of the Vaastu Shastra. If you’re the kind to marvel at ancient wonders of the world, this place will definitely blow your mind.
Located along the Arabian Sea that flows along the holy city of Dwarka, this beach is a combination of mythology and natural beauty. It is a white-sand beach that is lined with coral reefs and a few temples built in the 1100s and 1200s.
However, you get all the amenities you would look for in a much more urban location as well. From food to souvenirs, you get the whole deal right on this beach. Speaking of beaches, Gujarat has some beautiful ones sprinkled across the state. Check them out here: 8 Amazing Beaches In Gujarat
Why Is Dwarka Famous?
Dwarka is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site in the state of Gujarat. It is adorned with multiple temples that are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. However, you can see some that are dedicated to Sudama as well. Moreover, the architecture and cuisine of this area are an experience in themselves.
Is There Scuba Diving In Dwarka?
Yes. Very recently, the government of India developed facilities for scuba diving in Dwarka. Now you can board a boat that will take you to the sea and provide guided dives to a certain depth.
Did Krishna Leave Dwarka?
No. Krishna was the last king of Dwarka. He was killed in the same area by a hunter who saw a part of Krishna’s foot through some bushes, thought it to be that of a deer, and shot the arrow that killed Krishna. It is said that after his death, he went back to comfort his father Vasudeva, before bidding farewell to the world.
Is Dwaraka under the sea?
The ancient city of Dwarka is said to have sunk under the Arabian Sea. Archaeologists are looking for the foundations or some remains of this mythological city to prove its existence.
Who destroyed Dwarka?
The Sultan of Gujarat, Sultan Mahmud Begada, in 1473 destroyed the city and destroyed the Dwarka Temple. The temple was later rebuilt.
Which is the best time to visit Dwarka?
The winter season (November to February) is the best time to visit Dwarka as the climate is usually cool with a pleasant ambiance, which is considered the best for sightseeing.
How many days are enough to visit Dwarka?
3-4 days are enough to cover all major tourist destinations in Dwarka like Dwarkadish temple, Gomti river, Nageshwar Jyotirling, Bet Dwarka, Rukmani Temple, Porbandar, Somnath temple, Sudama temple, and Junagarh fort.
What is not allowed in Dwarka temple?
Indecent clothes are not allowed in the temple. Other than this car keys, cell phones, cameras, or any other electronic equipment are also not allowed.