Located on the western tip of the Saurashtra peninsula in the vibrant state of Gujarat, Dwarka is an ancient and prosperous city believed to have been the capital of Lord Krishna’s kingdom and is a significant pilgrimage for Hindus from across the world. Known as Devbhoomi Dwarka, it is nestled on the banks of river Gomti and is the only city that is part of both Char Dham and Sapta Puris mentioned in the Hindu texts.
According to the legends, there was once a city here which got engulfed under the sea and the recent excavations have shown that there was indeed once a city here. Translations of the term Dwarka include dwar, which means "door," and ka, which means "moksha," or "the door to salvation." The city is also famous for its maritime history and was a major port in ancient times. Today, it is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over India and the world. In addition to its temples and historical sites, Dwarka is also known for its beautiful beaches. The city has a rich cultural heritage and is an important center of pilgrimage for devotees of Lord Krishna.
History and Culture of Dwarka
Dwarka has a rich history and culture, dating back thousands of years. It is said to have marks of human occupancy since 200 AD. According to Hindu mythology, it was the capital city of Lord Krishna's kingdom, known as Dwaravati. The city is mentioned in several ancient texts, including the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana, and the Harivamsa. It is believed that Lord Krishna lived in Dwarka for many years, and the city was a hub of trade and commerce during his reign.
Dwarka is also known for its maritime history, and it was a major port city in ancient times. The city was an important center for trade and commerce, and ships from all over the world used to dock at its harbor. The city's seafaring heritage is still evident in its cuisine, which includes a variety of seafood dishes. The present-day Dwarkadhish temple is said to have been constructed in the 1500s. However, the region's protohistory makes it clear that Dwarka was once a submerged land that was further excavated to become what it is today. According to reports, the area's Bet/Beyt Dwarka is a major historical site from the Late Harappan era.
The city's culture is deeply influenced by Hinduism, and it is an important center of pilgrimage for devotees of Lord Krishna. The Dwarkadhish Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Krishna, is the most famous temple in the city and attracts thousands of visitors every day. The temple is a prime example of ancient Indian architecture and is renowned for its intricate carvings and sculptures. The people of Dwarka are known for their hospitality and warmth. The city celebrates several festivals throughout the year, including Janmashtami, the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, and Diwali, the festival of lights. These festivals are celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm, and they provide a glimpse into the city's vibrant culture.
Places to Visit
- Dwarkadhish Temple : This temple, which is devoted to Lord Krishna, is thought to have been erected above his home, Harigriha, in historic Dwarka, by his grandson Vajranabha. It is situated on the banks of the river Gomti and is one of the well-known Char Dhams in Hindu mythology.
- ISKCON Temple : The ISKCON temple at Dwarka, which plays a significant role in promoting Krishna awareness and the Bhagawad Gita's holy teachings, is only a 15-minute walk from the train station. The name Sri Rukminidevi Dwarkadhish Dham is another name for it.
- Bet Dwarka : Bet Dwarka, a section of land divided by the sea, is thought to have been the residence of Lord Krishna's family. The journey across the water by boat provides beautiful views of the local wildlife and natural surroundings.
- Sudama Setu : The Sudama Setu, which connects Jagat Mandir on the mainland to Panchkui Tirth on an island, was inaugurated in 2016 and is named after Lord Krishna's childhood buddy Sudama.
- Swaminarayan Temple : The Swaminarayan Temple, a work of art in terms of architecture and a feast for the eyes, is devoted to Sri Swaminarayan, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.
- Gita Temple : The Bhagawad Gita is a significant Hindu holy literature, and the Gita Temple, constructed by the Birlas, strives to preserve, and raise knowledge about it. The distance from the Dwarka railway station is less than ten minutes.
- Bhadkeswar Mahadev Temple : Acharya Jagadguru Shankaracharya constructed the Bhadkeswar Mahadev Temple, which is situated where the holy Ganges and Gomti meet the Arabian Sea.
- Gomti Ghat : The sacred Gomti River, a tributary of the Ganges, is thought to cleanse humans of their mortal sins and aid them in achieving moksha. Due to its location on the banks of the sacred river, Dwarka is considered one of Hinduism's Char Dhams. The Gomti Sangam Ghat is where the river and the sea converge.
- Rukmini Devi Temple : This temple is dedicated to Rukmini, the wife of Lord Krishna. It is located around 2 km from the Dwarkadhish Temple and is known for its beautiful architecture.
- Dhokla : This is a steamed cake made of fermented batter of rice and chickpeas. It is a popular breakfast item in Dwarka and is often served with chutney.
- Khandvi : Khandvi is a popular snack in Gujarat and is made of gram flour and yogurt. It is often flavored with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and grated coconut.
- Fafda-Jalebi : Fafda is a savory snack made of gram flour, and it is often paired with sweet jalebi. It is a popular breakfast item in Dwarka and is often served with chutney.
- Undhiyu : This is a traditional Gujarati dish that is made of mixed vegetables, beans, and spices. It is slowly cooked in a clay pot and is usually served with puri or roti.
- Kachori : Kachori is a deep-fried snack that is stuffed with a spicy filling of lentils, potatoes, and spices. It is a popular street food in Dwarka and is often served with chutney.
- Gujarati Thali : The Gujarati thali is a platter that includes a variety of vegetarian dishes, such as dal, kadhi, vegetables, and rice. It is a popular meal in Dwarka and is usually served with roti or puri.
- Srikhand : Srikhand is a sweet dish made of strained yogurt and sugar. It is flavored with cardamom, saffron, and other spices and is often served as a dessert in Dwarka.
Festivals and Events
- Janmashtami : This is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Dwarka and especially in the Dwarkadhish temple. It celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna and thousands of devotees come to witness the grand procession in the temple.
- Annakut Utsav : It is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu New Year and hundreds of sweets and food items are offered to Lord Krishna during the festival.
- Makar Sankranti : This is celebrated on 14th January every year. People fly kites and prepare delicious meals at home to celebrate the festival.
- Holi : It is a festival of colors celebrated mostly in North India and is celebrated with enthusiasm in places associated with Lord Krishna.
- Rath Yatra : The festival is celebrated in the month of July. An idol of Lord Krishna is placed on a chariot and a long procession takes place where the chariot is taken from one point to another with hundreds of people tagging along.
- Navratri : Navratri is a nine-day festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. The festival is celebrated with great fervor in Dwarka, with people observing fasts and performing puja. Garba and Dandiya Raas, traditional dance forms of Gujarat, are also performed during Navratri.
- Govinda Multi Cuisine Restaurant : It is located near Dwarkadhish temple and serves pure vegetarian food without onion and garlic. But despite that, the food is delicious and elaborate and worth tasting.
- Atithi Restaurant : Also located near Dwarkadhish temple, the restaurant is famous for its variety of snacks and breakfast items with a family-friendly ambiance.
- Shreenath Dining Hall : The restaurant is famous for the variety of dishes and thalis that it serves. Even the side items like pickles, chutneys, buttermilk, etc. are not to be missed and the food is priced reasonably as well.
- Blue Coriander : This restaurant is famous for the different cuisines it serves along with a buffet with pure vegetarian food. The staff is courteous, and prices are reasonable as well.
- Amantran Restaurant : The place serves authentic Gujarati cuisine and Jain food as well. They also serve all-day meals so you can visit any time of the day. If you are vegetarian, then you must visit this restaurant in Dwarka.
- Charmi Restaurant : For a delicious Punjabi meal, head to Charmi Restaurant and enjoy the delectable Punjabi food. They serve all kinds of meals but don’t miss out on their breakfast menu with tasty parathas and lassi.
- Dwarkadhish Restaurant : The restaurant is famous for its delicious Kathyawadi cuisine and other local dishes of Gujarat that you must not miss.
Museums and Art Galleries
- Dwarka Art Museum : This museum showcases a collection of contemporary art and sculptures created by local artists. It is located near the Dwarkadhish Temple and is a great place to explore the city's artistic heritage.
- Bet Dwarka Museum : This museum is located on the island of Bet Dwarka, which is a short boat ride away from Dwarka. It houses a collection of ancient artifacts, including pottery, coins, and stone sculptures, that provide insights into the city's history and culture.
- Rukmini Devi Temple : This museum is located within the Rukmini Devi Temple complex and houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts that depict the life of Lord Krishna and his consort, Rukmini.
- Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple Museum : This museum is located within the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple complex and houses a collection of ancient artifacts related to Lord Shiva and the temple's history.
- Shree Swaminarayan Art Gallery : This art gallery showcases a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks related to the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a Hindu sect that originated in Gujarat.
- Dwarka Bazaar : Dwarka Bazaar is a popular shopping area in Dwarka, located near the Dwarkadhish Temple. The market is known for its handicrafts, jewelry, and traditional clothes. You can find a variety of items such as Kutchi embroidery, Bandhani sarees, and silver jewelry here.
- Khadi Bhandar : Khadi Bhandar is a government-run store located near the Dwarkadhish Temple. The store sells a variety of handloom textiles, including sarees, dhotis, and shawls made of cotton and silk.
- Gomti Ghat Market : Gomti Ghat Market is a street market located near the Gomti River. The market is known for its handicrafts and souvenirs such as seashell jewelry, miniature idols, and other religious items.
- Jagdishchandra Bose Aquarium Market : Jagdishchandra Bose Aquarium Market is a small market located near Dwarka Beach. The market sells a variety of souvenirs and handicrafts such as seashell artifacts, sculptures, and toys.
- Dwarkadhish Temple Souvenir Shop
- Krishna Emporium
- Shree Shakti Handicraft
- Dwarka Misthan Bhandar
- Gujarat Handicrafts
- Mahadev Family Shop
- Swastik Novelty Store
- Rudraksh Gift and Varieties
- Shri Radhey Emporium
- Dwarkadhish Trading
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Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Dwarka, Gujarat is between November and February when the weather is cool and pleasant. During this time, the temperature ranges between 10°C to 30°C, making it an ideal time to explore the town and its temples. The weather during these months is dry, making it comfortable to explore the outdoors without being affected by the heat or humidity.
Summer months in Dwarka, Gujarat, i.e., from March to June, can be extremely hot, with temperatures soaring up to 42°C. The weather can be quite uncomfortable for sightseeing, and it is best to avoid visiting during these months.
How to Reach
- By Air - The nearest airport to Dwarka is Jamnagar Airport, which is located around 131 km away. You can take a taxi or a bus from the airport to reach Dwarka.
- By Train - Dwarka has its own railway station called the Dwarka Railway Station, which is well connected to major cities in Gujarat and other parts of India. You can take a train from cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Mumbai, and Delhi to reach Dwarka.
- By Road - Dwarka is well connected to major cities in Gujarat and other parts of India by state-run and private buses. You can take a bus from cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, and Vadodara to reach Dwarka.