- See Dwarka for the modern city. Not to be confused with the historical Dvaravati kingdom of Thailand.
Dvaraka, also known as Dvāravatī (Sanskrit द्वारका "the many-gated [city]") is a sacred city in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The name Dvaraka is said to have been given to the place by the Hindu god Krishna. Dvaraka is one of the Sapta Puri (seven sacred cities) of Hinduism.
In the Mahabharata, it was a city located in what is now Dwarka, formerly called Kushasthali, the fort of which had to be repaired by the Yadavas. In this epic, the city is described as a capital of the Anarta Kingdom. According to the Harivamsa the city was located in the region of the Sindhu Kingdom.
In the Hindu epics and the Vaishnava Puranas, Dvaraka is called Dvaravati and is one of seven Tirtha (pilgrimage) sites for spiritual liberation. The other six are Mathura, Ayodhya, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Avantika (Ujjain) and Puri.
Description in the Harivamsa
- In Harivamsa, Dvaraka is described as largely built on "submerged land", "released by the ocean" (2.55.118 and 2.58.34).
- The city was the former "sporting ground of the King Raivataka" called "Dvāravāti", which "was squared like a chess board" (2.56.29).
- Nearby was the mountain range Raivataka (2.56.27), "the living place of the gods" (2.55.111).
- The city was measured by Brahmins; the foundations of the houses were laid and at least some of the houses were built by the Yadavas (2.58.9 - 15).
- It was built by Vishwakarman in one day (2.58.40) "mentally" (2.58.41 and 44).
- It had surrounding walls (2.58.48 and 53) with four main gates (2.58.16).
- Its houses were arranged in lines (2.58.41) and the city had "high buildings" (2.58.50 and 54) "made in gold" (2.58.53), which "almost touched the sky" (2.58.50) and "could be seen everywhere like clouds" (2.58.48).
- It had a temple area with a palace for Krishna himself, which had a separate bathroom (2.58.43).
- It was a very rich city (2.58.47 - 66) and "the only city on earth which was studded with gems" (2.58.49).
Dvaraka in the Mahabharata
The following description of Dvaraka during Krishna’s presence there appears in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.69.1-12) in connection with the sage Narada’s visit.
The City was filled with the sounds of birds and bees flying about the parks and pleasure gardens, while its lakes, crowded with blooming indivara, ambhoja, kahlara, kumuda, and utpala lotuses, resounded with the calls of swans and cranes.
Dvaraka boasted 900,000 royal palaces, all constructed with crystal and silver and splendorously decorated with huge emeralds. Inside these palaces, the furnishings were bedecked with gold and jewels.
Traffic moved along a well laid-out system of boulevards, roads, intersections, and marketplaces, and many assembly houses and temples of demigods graced the charming city. The roads, courtyards, commercial streets, and residential patios were all sprinkled with water and shaded from the sun’s heat by banners waving from flagpoles.
In the city of Dvaraka was a beautiful private quarter worshiped by the planetary rulers. This district, where the demigod Vishvakarma had shown all his divine skill, was the residential area of Lord Hari [Krishna], and thus it was gorgeously decorated by the sixteen thousand palaces of Lord Krishna’s queens. Narada Muni entered one of these immense palaces.
Supporting the palace were coral pillars decoratively inlaid with vaidurya gems. Sapphires bedecked the walls, and the floors glowed with perpetual brilliance. In that palace Tvashta had arranged canopies with hanging strands of pearls; there were also seats and beds fashioned of ivory and precious jewels. In attendance were many well-dressed maidservants bearing lockets on their necks, and also armor-clad guards with turbans, fine uniforms, and jeweled earrings.
The glow of numerous jewel-studded lamps dispelled all darkness in the palace. My dear king, on the ornate ridges of the roof danced loudly crying peacocks, who saw the fragrant aguru incense escaping through the holes of the latticed windows and mistook it for a cloud.
- Pandu's sons lived in Dwaraka during their exile to woods. Their servants headed by Indrasena lived there for one year (the 13th year) (4,72).
- Bala Rama mentioned about a sacrificial fire of Dwaraka, before he set for his pilgrimage over Sarasvati River (9,35).
- One should proceed with subdued senses and regulated diet to Dwaravati, where by bathing in "the holy place called Pindaraka", one obtaineth the fruit of the gift of gold in abundance (3,82).
- King Nriga, in consequence of a single fault of his, had to dwell for a long time at Dwaravati, and Krishna became the cause of his rescue from that miserable plight.(13,72).
- Sage Durvasa resided at Dwaravati for a long time (13,160).
- Arjuna visited Dwaravati during his military campaign after the Kurukshetra War (14,83).
- When the Pandavas retire from the world they visit the place where Dvaraka once used to be and see the city submerged under water.
|“||The sea, which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city. Dvaraka was just a name; just a memory.||”|
|— Mausala Parva of Mahabharata|
During 1983-1990, the Marine Archaeology Unit of India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) carried out underwater excavations at Dwarka and Bet Dwarka. These excavacations confirm the existence of a now-submerged city state and its two satellite towns. The submerged site has been dated to 1500 BCE using thermoluminescence dating. According to the excavation team leader S. R. Rao, it is reasonable to conclude that this submerged city is the Dvaraka described in the Mahabharata.
- Manmatha Nath Dutt, Vishnu Purana, Harivamsa (1896), pages 283-286
- Mani, Vettam (2010). Puranic Encyclopaedia (2nd ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 89. ISBN 978-8120805972.
- Rajendran, Abhilash. "Saptapuri — Seven Holy Cities in Hinduism". Hindu-Blog.com. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Dutt, M.N., translator (2004). Sharma, Dr. Ishwar Chandra; Bimali, O.N., eds. Mahabharata: Sanskrit Text and English Translation. New Delhi: Parimal Publications. ASIN B0042LUAO4.
- 2.56.22–30; Nagar, Shanti Lal, ed. (2012). Harivamsa Purana. p. 555. ISBN 978-8178542188.
- Jean Holm; John Bowker (2001). Sacred Place. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-62356-623-4.
- Srimad Bhagavatam 11.1.12 (Text); Pindaraka entry on Encyclopedia Indica
- Diana L. Eck (26 March 2013). India: A Sacred Geography. Three Rivers Press. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-385-53192-4.
- S. R. Rao 1991, p. 51.
- S. R. Rao 1991, p. 59.
- S. R. Rao (1991). "Further excavations of the submerged city of Dwarka". Recent Advances in Marine Archaeology: Proceedings of the second Indian Conference on Marine Archaeology of Indian Ocean Countries, January 1990. Marine Archaeology. National Institute Of Oceanography. pp. 51–59.
- Shikaripur Ranganatha Rao (1999). The lost city of Dvārakā. Aditya Prakashan.