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Top to bottom: Entrance gate of Dwarka and Dwarkadhish Temple
|• Body||Dwarka Municipality|
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Dwarka (ⓘ) is a town and municipality of Devbhumi Dwarka district in the state of Gujarat. It is located on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula on the right bank of the Gomti river at the mouth of the Gulf of Kutch facing the Arabian Sea.
Dwarka has the Dwarkadhish Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, which is one of four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites called the Chardham, which were founded by Adi Shankaracharya (686–717 CE) at the four corners of the country, was established as a monastic center and it forms part of the Dwarka temple complex. Dwarka is also one of the seven-most-ancient religious cities (Sapta Puri) in India.
Dwarka is part of the "Krishna pilgrimage circuit" which includes Vrindavan, Mathura, Barsana, Gokul, Govardhan, Kurukshetra and Puri. It's one of 12 heritage cities across the country selected under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme of the Government of India to develop civic infrastructure.
Dwarka is considered as the first capital of Gujarat. The name literally means gateway. Dwarka has also been referred to throughout its history as "Mokshapuri", "Dwarkamati", and "Dwarkavati". It is mentioned in the ancient epic period of the Mahabharata. According to legend, Krishna settled here after he defeated and killed his uncle Kamsa at Mathura. This mythological account of Krishna's migration to Dwarka from Mathura is closely associated with the culture of Gujarat. Krishna is also said to have reclaimed 12 yojanas or 96 square kilometres (37 sq mi) of land from the sea to create Dwarka.
Archaeological findings suggest the original temple Dwarkadhish Temple dedicated to Krishna was built in 200 BCE at the earliest. The temple was rebuilt and enlarged in the 15th–16th century. The temple is also the location of Dwaraka maţha, also called Sharada Matha/Peeth and "western peeth",[note 1] one of the four peeths (Sanskrit: "religious center") established by Adi Shankaracharya. As an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus, Dwarka has several notable temples, including Rukmini Devi Temple, Gomti Ghat, and Bet Dwarka. There is also a lighthouse at the land end point of Dwarka.
Archaeological investigations at Dwarka, both on shore and offshore in the Arabian Sea, have been performed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The first investigations carried out on land in 1963 revealed many artefacts. Excavations done at two sites on the seaward side of Dwarka brought to light submerged settlements, a large stone-built jetty, and triangular stone anchors with three holes. The settlements are in the form of exterior and interior walls, and fort bastions. From the typological classification of the anchors it is inferred that Dwarka had flourished as a port during the period of the Middle kingdoms of India. Coastal erosion was probably the cause of the destruction of what was an ancient port.
Dwarka is mentioned in the copper inscription dated 574 CE of Simhaditya, the Maitraka dynasty minister of Vallabhi. He was the son of Varahdas, the king of Dwarka. The nearby Bet Dwarka island is a religious pilgrimage site and an important archaeological site of the Late Harappan period, with one thermoluminescence date of 1570 BC.
An epigraphic reference ascribed to Garulaka Simhaditya, the son of Varahdas, the king of Dwarka, is inscribed on a copper plate dated to 574 CE, found in Palitana. The Greek writer of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea referred to a place called Baraca, which has been interpreted as present-day Dwarka. A reference made in Ptolemy's Geography identified Barake as an island in the Gulf of Kanthils, which has also been inferred to mean Dwarka.
One of the four dhams (religious seats), which were founded by Adi Shankaracharya (686–717 CE) at the four corners of the country, was established as a monastic centre and it forms part of the Dwarka temple complex. In 885 CE, the temple was renovated by Nrushinhaashrma, head of the Shankaracharya pitha (centre).
Middle Ages to present
In 1241, Mohammad Shah invaded Dwarka and damaged the temple. During this battle, five Brahmins (Virajee Thakar, Nathu Thakar, Karasan Thakar, Valjee Thakar, and Devasee Thakar) fought against him, died, and were honoured as martyrs. A shrine was built near the temple in their honour and is known as "Panch Peer", which is a name of Muslim origin.
In 1473 the Gujarat Sultan Mahmud Begada sacked the town and destroyed the temple of Dwarka. The Jagat Mandir or the Dwarakadhisa temple was later rebuilt. Vallabha Acharya retrieved an idol of Dwarkadhish, which was revered by Rukmini. He hid it in a stepwell, known as Savitri vav, during the Muslim invasion, before moving it to Ladva village. In 1551, when Turk Aziz invaded Dwarka, the idol was shifted to the island of Bet Dwarka.
Dwarka, along with the Okhamandal region, was under the rule of Gaekwad of Baroda state during the Indian rebellion of 1857. A war broke out at Okhamandal in 1858 between the local Vaghers and the British. The Vaghers had won the battle and ruled until September 1859. Later, after a joint offensive of the British, the Gaekwads, and other princely state troops, the Vaghers were ousted in 1859. During these operations, led by Colonel Donovan, the temples at Dwarka and Bet Dwarka suffered damage and were looted. A complaint of atrocities by the British was made by the local people of Jamnagar, Porbander, and Kutch, which led to their restoration. In 1861, Dwarakadheesh Temple was renovated by Maharaja Khanderao and the British, who refurbished the shikara. Maharaja Gaikwad of Baroda added a golden pinnacle to the shikara in 1958 during a refurbishment by Shankaracharya of Dwarka. Since 1960, the temple has been maintained by the Government of India.
Geography and climate
Dwarka, at the mouth of the Gulf of Kutch, on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula, is on the right bank of the Gomti River which rises from the Bhavda village at a place known as Mul-Gomti, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the east. It is now under the newly formed district of Devbhoomi Dwarka at the western end of the Saurashtra (Kathiawar) peninsula, facing the Arabian Sea. The Gomti River was a harbour until the 19th century.
According to the Köppen-Geiger classification, Dwarka has a subtropical desert/low-latitude arid hot climate. The Holdridge life zones system of bio-climatic classification identifies Dwarka in or near the subtropical thorn woodland biome. The average annual rainfall is 403 millimetres (15.9 in) spread over a rainy period of 16 days with rainfall limited to the months of June to September; the average maximum temperature is 30 °C (86 °F) with a record high of 42.7 °C (108.9 °F) and an average minimum temperature of 23.6 °C (74.5 °F) with a minimum of 6.1 °C (43.0 °F); the average annual relative humidity is 72%, with a maximum of 80%.
|Climate data for Dwarka (1991–2020, extremes 1901–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||34.0
|Average high °C (°F)||26.4
|Average low °C (°F)||16.5
|Record low °C (°F)||6.1
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||1.0
|Average rainy days||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.0||0.0||2.2||6.6||5.5||2.7||0.5||0.1||0.1||17.9|
|Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST)||53||62||73||77||79||79||83||83||80||72||56||49||70|
|Source: India Meteorological Department|
As of the 2011 Census of India, Dwarka had a population of 38873 (as per Census 2011, the population reported is 38,873). Males constitute 20,306 of the population, and females constitute 18,567. Dwarka has an average literacy rate of 75.94%, lower than the national average of 78.03%; the male literacy rate is 83%, and the female literacy rate is 68.27%. 11.98% of the population is under six years of age.
Most of the revenue of Dwarka is derived from tourism, due to it being a site for pilgrims. It is a producer of agricultural produce such as millets, ghee (clarified butter), oilseeds, and salt, which are transported from its port. A long-term development plan was proposed in 2011 with investment of ₹830 million (US$10 million) to refurbish Dwarka and to build a bridge connecting the town with Okha and Bet Dwarka. A wind farm power generation of 39.2 MW, operated near Dwarka by the AES Saurashtra Windfarms Pvt Ltd (ASW), is now run by Tata Power Renewable Energy Ltd (TPREL). Dwarka's industrial activity mainly centres around cement production. Sharda Peeth Vidya Sabha is an educational society sponsored by the Sharda Peeth, Dwarka which runs an arts college in Dwarka.
Considered a holy city, Dwarka is well known for its temples and as a pilgrimage centre for Hindus. The Dwarakadhisa Temple, also called Jagat Mandir, located in the heart of Dwarka, is a Vaishnava temple. It was built by Raja Jagat Singh Rathore, hence it is called Jagat Mandir. The temple, facing west, is at an elevation of 12.19 metres (40.0 ft) above mean sea-level. It is conjectured that this temple location is 2,500 years old and is where Krishna built his city and a temple. However, the existing temple is dated to the 16th century. It is a five-storied edifice built over 72 pillars (a sandstone temple with 60 pillars is also mentioned). The temple spire rises to a height of 78 metres (256 ft), and a very large flag with symbols of the sun and moon is hoisted on it. The temple layout consists of a garbhagriha (Nijamandira or Harigraha) and an antarala (an antechamber). The main deity deified in the sanctum is Dwarkadeesh, which is known as the Trivikrama form of Vishnu and is depicted with four arms.
The Dwarakadhisa Temple is also the location of Dvaraka Pitha, also called Sharada Matha/Peeth and "western peeth"),[note 1] one of the four peeths (Sanskrit: "religious center") established by Adi Shankaracharya.
Gomti Ghat consists of steps leading to the Gomti River, which is also a holy place for pilgrims to take a dip in the river, before visiting Dwarakadish temple. The ghat has a number of small shrines dedicated to the Samudra (God of the Sea), Saraswati and Lakshmi. Other notable temples in the ghat area include the Samudra Narayana (Sangam Narayana) temple, which is at the confluence of the Gomti River with the sea, the Chakra Narayana temple where there is a stone with an imprint of a chakra as a manifestation of Vishnu, and the Gomati temple, which has an idol of the river goddess Gomati that is said to have been brought to earth by the sage Vasishta.
The Rukmini Devi Temple, dedicated to Rukmini, Krishna's chief queen, is located 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from Dwarka. The temple is said to be 2,500 years old, but in its present form it is estimated to belong to the 12th century. It is a richly carved temple decorated with sculptures of gods and goddesses on the exterior with the sanctum housing the main image of Rukmini. Carved naratharas (human figures) and carved gajatharas (elephants) are depicted in panels at the base of the tower.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poetical illustration The Sacred Shrines of Dwarka., to an engraving of William Purser's painting shown above (painting of the late 1820s), says little of the temples themselves but does advocate and praise religious tolerance. It was published in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837.
Lighthouse and lake
There is a lighthouse at the Dwarka Point on the Dwarka peninsula, which provides a panoramic view of the town. It is a fixed light situated 70 feet (21 m) above the sea level, and the light is visible over a distance of 10 miles (16 km). The lighthouse tower is 40 feet (12 m) in height and is 117 yards (107 m) away from the high water level in the sea. The radio beacon provided on this lighthouse tower is powered by a solar photovoltaic module.
There is a lake or tank called Gopi Talab in the western part of Dwarka.
A similar lake known for Gopi Chandan, meaning "sandal paste from Gopi", is situated in Bet Dwarka; this mud is found in the bed of the lake. This fragrant mud is applied as a sanctity symbol by devout Hindus on their forehead.
Bet Dwarka, an island in the Arabian sea off the coast of Dwarka. Considered the original residence of Krishna, Bet Dwarka was the old port during the ancient times of Krishna before the Okha port was developed in Dwarka. The temple built here is credited to the religious Guru Vallabhacharya of the "Pushtimarg Sampradaya". Rice is the traditional offering here to the deity as it is believed that Sudama offered rice to his childhood friend Krishna. There are also smaller shrines on Bet Dwarka which are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman and Devi. According to a legend, Vishnu killed the demon Shankhasura on this island. There are temples of Vishnu in the incarnation of matsya, or fish. Other shrines here are of Rukmini, Trivikrama, Devaki, Radha, Lakshmi, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Lakshmi Narayan, and many other gods.
Hanuman Dandi temple is another notable temple located in Bet Dwarka, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away from Dhwarkadhish Temple, Bet Dwarka. The temple is deified with many images of Hanuman and his son Makardhwaja. The legend associated with the birth of a son to Hanuman, who is considered celibate, is that the sweat of Hanuman was consumed by a crocodile which then gave birth to a son named Makardhwaja. The Jethwa Rajput clan of Kshatriyas claim their descent from Makardhwaja.
Culture and sports
Janmashtami is the main festival that is celebrated during the months of August and September with great fervor and piety as it is believed to be the abode of Lord Krishna in prehistoric times. The festival is marked by several night long celebrations to mark the birth of Krishna. Bhajans and sermons are part of the festivities. At midnight there is reenactment of Krishna's childhood in the form of Garba and Raas dances. On this occasion, the local boys create a pyramid and a young boy in the costume of Krishna climbs up this pyramid to strike a pot holding butter, an act which Krishna had mischievously performed with the gopis. This is also known as "Dahi Handi" or Utlotsavam.
Sharda Peeth Vidya Sabha is an educational society sponsored by the Sharda Peeth, which runs an arts college in Dwarka. The town is also home to the N.D.H. High School and P.V.M Girls' High School.
Nearest Airport is Jamnagar Airport at 131 km.
- Dvaraka Peeth, located in the west, and Sringeri Sharada Peetham, located in the south, are both called "Sharada Peeth". In the Telugu language, "Sharada" (శారద) is the name for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. The Sharada Matha/Peeth is not to be confused with Sharada Peeth, a temple in Kashmir.
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Dwarka travel guide from Wikivoyage