Carving in Jaganath
mandir in Dwarka
PRESENT DAY DWARKA
Among India's many different pilgrimage sites, particular
ones are traditionally viewed as being especially holy for a variety of
different mythological reasons. Preeminent among this listing are the Sapta
Puri or Seven Sacred Cities and the four Dhamas or “Divine Abodes” (for more
information on the Dhamas, see the photos and text for Rameshvaram, on this
The Seven Sacred Cities of Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Banaras,
Kanchi, Ujjain and Dwarka are known as Mokshada, meaning ‘Bestower of
Liberation’, and these sites are believed to confer liberation upon all
persons who die within their boundaries.
Dwarka, one of these seven sacred
cities, is also listed among the Four Divine Abodes.
Seldom visited by westerners because of its remote location in the western
state of Gujarat, the fascinating and extremely beautiful Jagatmandir temple
is bordered on one side by the ocean coast and on the other side by the town
One of India's oldest and most venerated pilgrimage sites, Dwarka's archaeological and historical background is shrouded in mystery.
Mythologically, Dwarka - or Dvaravati as it is known in Sanskrit - was the
site chosen by Garuda, the Divine Eagle, who brought Krishna here when he
Krishna founded the beautiful city and lived there the
remaining years of his life until he died (according to legend) in 3102 BC.
Scholars confer that the oldest parts of the Jagatmandir temple may only
date to the reconstructions of the Gupta period in 413 AD.
In the 7th century the sage Shankaracharya established four great
monasteries in the cardinal directions of the country (Sringeri in the
south, Puri in the east, Joshimath in the north, and Dwarka in the west).
This emphasis on Dwarka further increased its importance as a pilgrimage
The original temples were destroyed during the 11th century by
Muslim armies; frequently rebuilt, they continued to be attacked by the
Muslims through the 15th century. The existing temple of Jagatmandir, also
known as Sri Dwarkadish, dates from a 1730 rebuilding. It is 52 meters tall,
and enshrines an idol called Sri Ranchhodrayji. The temple stands five
storeys tall and is built on 72 pillars.
Students of the science of archaeoastronomy will recognize significance in
this number 72, one of the most important numbers in the so-called
‘precessional code’ (re)discovered by the scholars Santillana and von
The astronomical phenomenon of precession concerns the very slow
wobble of the axis of the earth and its effect for earth-bound observers of
a gradual and cyclical slippage of the belt of the zodiac against the rising
point of the sun. This precessional slippage operates at the rate of one
degree every 72 years and means that each constellation houses the sun for
an average of 2160 years. All twelve constellations take 25,920 years to
pass completely through the cycle.
These numbers of 72, 2160, 25,920 and
various permutations of them have been shown by Santillana and von Dechend,
in their book Hamlet’s Mill, to be mysteriously present in ancient myths and
sacred architecture all around the world.
While little archaeoastronomical
study of Jagatmandir temple has so far been conducted, the presence of the
number 72 in so important a part of the temple’s architecture suggests that
future studies will result in many fascinating revelations
The pataka or flag of the temple is changed
three times a day. Pilgrims and devotees vie with one another to pay for the
flag. There are special tailors to stitch it. Before hoisting the flag it is
taken round the temple by the donor. The pilgrims enter the temple by
Swarg Dwar (the gateway of heaven) and leave by Moksh Dwar (the gateway of
The temple has rich carvings. The ancient shrine has been supported by kings
and commoners alike from its inception. It is one of the important moksh
dhams. The Gomti River flows nearby.
The other temples in Dwarka are the Trikamji temple, Kalyanrai temple, the
Patrani temple, Durvas temple, etc.
Sharda Pith set up by Adi Shankaracharya imparts instruction in Sanskrit.
Darukvan in the region is one onheJyotirlingas.
Besides being a Sapta Puri, a Dhama, and a Shankaracharya Mutt, Dwarka is
also visited by large numbers of pilgrims because of its association with
the great bhakti saint Mira Bai.
One of India's most popular saints, Mira Bai renounced her splendid life as the wife of a powerful 16th century king
to dedicate her days to the worship of Lord Krishna. Mira Bai followed the
spiritual path known as Bhakti Yoga, which is characterized by a devotional
love of god.
Much easier to practice (and perhaps more efficient at
producing spiritual enlightenment) than other yogic methods which require
textual study and great discipline, Bhakti Yoga is the primary religious
method of India's teeming masses. The path of the Bhakti yogi is essentially
the practice of invoking the presence of the divine through adoration of a
statue, icon or painting of a deity.
In Mira Bai's case, as with many other
saints in India's long history, this invocation called forth not only the
felt presence of the deity but actually a living, moving form of Krishna.
Similar to the physical apparitions of Mary and Christ to devoted
Christians, Krishna visited Mira Bai to eat, sing, dance and play with her.
Mira Bai lived the final years of her life in Dwarka and there wrote to
Krishna her immortal poems of love.
Krishna, the preeminent devotional deity
in Hinduism is venerated here and legions of bhakti yogis such as Mira Bai
have infused the temple with a power of love. The pilgrimage shrine of
Jagatmandir in Dwarka is thus highly charged with the quality or energy of
devotion and will awaken and amplify that quality in visiting pilgrims.
The 9000 year old city
of Dvaarkaa lies 36 m underwater in the Gulf of Cambay as shown on location map
Ancient legends of Dwarka tell that the holy city was long ago entirely
swept away by a great wave of water. This legend, disregarded by
contemporary historians and archaeologists, has recently been given credence
by findings of the new science of inundation mapping, which produces
accurate models of ancient shorelines at specific dates.
The legend has been
given further support by oceanographic studies which have proven the
existence of submerged temple structures off the coast of Dwarka.
Dwarka (Jamnagar district) in ancient Anarta (Saurashtra)
was the capital of Lord Krishna's terrestrial kingdom. He shifted to
Kusasthali which was the old name of the region to escape the harassing
raids of Kamsa's father-in-law Jarasandha on Mathura after Krishna had
killed Kamsa. Kusasthali was Krishna's ancestral place on his mother's side.
It was founded by Raivata, his Yadava ancestor after he had lost his kingdom
to Punyajanas and migrated to Mathura for safety; then he came back to found
Kusasthali. So Krishna's migration to the Dwarka was in the reverse order.
Dwarka which was known as Suvarna Dwarka (the golden Dwarka) had been very
prosperous and hence got the name. The Dwarkadhish temple honours Krishna
Bhagwan and attracts thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the
country. The Dwarka of Krishna's time lies submerged under the Arabian Sea.
Tradition has itthat Krishna's residence was at Bet Dwarka, a few kms from
the mainland Dwarka.
Other sacred sites associated with Krishna are Mathura, Vrindivana, Gokula,
Barsana, Govardhana and Kuruksetra.