Dwarka, a legendary and holy city in the state of Gujarat is steeped in a spiritual aura that dates back to the ancient times. It is well known for the famous Jagat Mandir or Dwarkadheesh temple which has Lord Krishna as its presiding deity. During the festival of Janmashtami, this remote pilgrimage destination bursts to almost breaking point due to the huge crowd of pilgrims who gather here to catch a glimpse of the ‘Dwarkadheesh’ or ‘King of Dwarka’, Lord Krishna in his royal ensembles. The temple of Dwarka presents Lord Krishna not as an innocent Bal Krishna (child lord) or as a prank-loving cowherd but as a glorious king in his mature years. This royal avatar of the lord is Lord Vishnu’s 8th avatar. Apart from Dwarakadheesh temple, Dwarka also has many other visitable places associated with the life of Lord Krishna such as Beyt Dwarka temple, Rukmini temple, Gopi Talav. Just like the melodious flute of the lord enchants the Gopis, in the same way the royal splendor of the Dwarkadheesh enchants the pilgrims.
The temple of Dwarka is a venerated pilgrimage destination for all Hindu pilgrims as it is one of Chardham or monasteries of Hinduism set up by Adi Shankaracharya. Dwarka is also one of the ‘Sapta Puris’ or seven holy pilgrimage destinations of Hinduism. A Darshan of Dwarkadheesh at the temple is said to lead one onto the paths of Moksha or salvation. Also, the mythological significance of the temple is quite high. It is believed that the temple stands over the place where Lord Krishna resided many centuries back in time.
History and Legends
The temple of Dwarka has a hefty long history of approximately 2500 years. The archaeological exploration made on the town as well as temple suggest the original Dwarka temple is as old as 2200 years roughly. The temple in the course of time was destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times. Archaeologists confer that the temple was once reconstructed during the ruling periods of the Gupta dynasty and thus some of the oldest temple parts date back to Gupta period; i.e. around 413 AD. It is also suggested that the temple was again demolished by Muslim forces around 11th century and these Muslim forces kept on attacking the temple several times until the 15th century and during this period the temple was rebuilt again and again. During the 16th century, the temple was renovated and enlarged as per the archaeological studies and the current temple dates back to the reconstructions of 1730.
Legend has it that after Lord Krishna left Mathura to escape the wrath and revenge of Kansa’s father-in-law Jarasandha, Garuda, the celestial eagle transported him to Dwarka where Lord Krishna settled down for the rest of his life until he left this world around 3102 BC. Dwarka had been the kingdom of Lord Krishna and his grandson, Vajranabha is said to have built the temple of Dwarkadheesh temple over the ‘Hari Griha’ or the residential location of Lord Krishna.