Bet Dwarka is an extremely sacred pilgrimage destination which is believed to have been the original home of Lord Krishna during his years spent in Dwarka as a king. The land is located off the coast of Dwarka on Gulf of Kutch. The other name for Bet Dwarka is Bet Shankhodara.
Bet Dwarka is believed to have been the actual residential place of Lord Krishna during his ruling years at Dwarka. It is said the lord resided with his family at Bet Dwarka. The place derived its name from the ‘bet’ or ‘gift’ that Lord Krishna received at this place from his friend Sudama. In our ancient epic, ‘Mahabharata’ we often come across the reference of Bet Dwarka known by the name of ‘Antardvipa’ to which people of the Yadava clan needed to travel by boat. The island is also differently referred to Shankhodhar. The reason is that it is dotted with a huge number and variety of conch shells. Explorations and excavations carried out under the sea revealed the presence of certain settlements whose age can be traced back to the era of the Harappan civilization and that of the Mauryan rule. Inscription of Simhaditya dated 574AD also makes a mention of Dwarka. The region was previously under the administration of the Gaekwad clan of the state of Baroda. During the revolt of 1857, Vaghers attacked the region and captured it. Around 1859 the rebels were overthrown and the region was retrieved by its actual rulers. Post independence, the region became part of the Saurashtra state which later merged with the state of Bombay. When the state of Gujarat was carved out of the Bombay state, Bet Dwarka was included as part of Gujarat’s Jamnagar district.
Bet Dwarka has always stirred the curiosity of archaeologists probably because of the mythical claim that points out that this place actually had been lord Krishna’s original house in the yesteryears. It is also believed that a major part of the bet Dwarka land is now drowned into the sea due to continual coastal erosion. Thus archaeologists have carried out several explorations on the island and into the sea around the island so as to find some clue to the efficacy of these claims. The Marine Archaeology Centre of the National Institute of Oceanography had carried out series of explorations along the Bet Dwarka shore and intertidal zone around 1981-1994. As a result of these explorations, remains of several artifacts such as earthen pots etc were unearthed and these remains seem to belong to the Harappan age. Around the year 1982 a protection wall of length 580 meters was discovered and the wall dates back to as far as 1500BC. The various other artifacts excavated out consist in a seal of the late Harappan era, a jar with inscriptions on it, a sturdy copper fishhook, a coppersmith’s mould. The excavation site also brought to the fore many stone anchors and remains of wrecked ships thereby hinting at well developed trade connections with the Roman Empire. These findings thus reveal that all the mythical claims about Bet Dwarka may not be entirely false after all.
Places of Worship in Bet Dwarka
The main places to worship at Bet Dwarka are-
Sri Keshavrai ji Temple
This is a lord Krishna temple at Bet Dwarka. The temple is believed to have been set up by Vallabhacharya and dates back to nearly 500 years. The temple is said to stand over the exact residence of Lord Krishna at Bet Dwarka and the original idol at the temple is said to have been established by lord Krishna’s wife, Devi Rukmani. The idol has a striking resemblance with the idol at Dwarkadheesh temple. The only difference is that in this temple the idol holds the shankha or conch in an oblique position. The key offering made at this temple is that of ‘rice’ and this is of course a reminiscence of the legendary tale that tells how Sudama; friend of Lord Krishna had brought him ‘rice’ as gift.
Hanuman Dandi temple of Bet Dwarka enshrines idols of Lord Hanuman and that of Makardhwaja; Hanuman’s son. According to myths, a drop of sweat from Hanuman ji’s body was gulped by a fish who later delivered a son known by the name of Makardhwaja.
Abhaya Mata Temple
This is a small shrine located on the southernmost corner of the Bet Dwarka Island and it belongs to the deity goddess, Abhaya Mata.
Other Smaller Shrines
Bet Dwarka has several smaller shrines dedicated to numerous Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon such as Radhika ji, Rukmani, Jambavati, Lakshmi-Narayan, Satyabhama, Lakshmi, Devaki, Trivikrama, Matsya form of lord Vishnu and many more.
The Bet Dwarka region also has two important Dargahs denoting Islamic faith. Sidi bawa peer dargah and Haji Kirmai Dargah are two auspicious pilgrimage centers for Muslims at Bet Dwarka.
Bet Dwarka also has a conglomeration of Jain temples where one could pay tribute to the 24 famed Jain Tirthankaras
The Darshan timings at the temple of Bet Dwarka are as follows-
How to Reach
In order to reach Bet Dwarka you have to reach Dwarka first. You can fly to Jamnagar airport located at a distance of only 45kms from Dwarka and then take a cab to reach Dwarka. Dwarka is well connected to all major cities of Gujarat and even some of the neighboring states through several National and state highways. Regular public and private buses ply on these roads to make you reach Dwarka easily. If you wish to avail the rail route, then you could reach Dwarka easily from any other part of the country through well developed express train networks. Also several local trains run regularly between Dwarka and all other major stations of Gujarat
After you have reached Dwarka, take a cab or a bus from the Dwarka bus depot to make you reach Okha. Okha jetty is about 30kms away from the main Dwarka city. From Okha jetty you can be ferried by boat to the Bet Dwarka Island. This journey by boat takes you only 15minutes and you are charged Rs 10/- per head.
Best Time to Visit
The most suitable time to visit Bet Dwarka is between months October and March. That is the time when the region experiences winters. Winters at Bet Dwarka are not severe; instead the weather remains pleasant enough and thus travel-worthy. Average temperatures during winters hover around 20 degree centigrade to 28 degree centigrade and are very much bearable. Summers and monsoons need to be avoided as the summer months; i.e. April to June are intolerably hot with average temperatures hovering around 40 degree centigrade while the monsoons; i.e. July to August are uncomfortably humid resulting in profuse perspiration.