His eyes bore through my soul... They beckoned me closer. His gaze urged me to look... At things beyond the obvious.
The towering idol of Shiva greeted me at the entrance of the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple. His gaze and aura struck me so powerfully that I wondered what the actual linga inside this Shiva Temple in Gujarat would make me feel. What followed were an intriguing and controversial legends enclosed within a strong coat of faith. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Dwarka truly fascinated me.
When it comes to the key Shiva temples in Gujarat, Somnath temple and Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Dwarka top the list. In fact, most visitors to Gujarat tend to have an itinerary that includes both these Shiva temples – largely owing to them being one of the 12 sacred jyotirlingas in India. While the history of Somnath is very clear and well documented, the Nageshwar temple Dwarka has a few holes that are yet to be filled. In fact, that is what adds to its mystique.
Through this tour of the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Dwarka, I will be sharing these controversial stories as well as tips to plan your own visit here. So brace yourself for the mighty tales of Shiva.
A quick note on the Jyotirlingas
“Radiant Linga” – that is what the word Jyotirlinga literally translates to. While Shiva lingas maybe be quite common, there are only 12 jyotirlingas in India. These are considered to be quite sacred. What makes these different and important is a mythological story. As the legend goes, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma had a quarrel on whose creation was the most supreme. Lord Shiva stepped in to put an end to the argument by creating an infinite beam of divine light. The column stretched across the three worlds – the mortal, heaven and hell. He asked the two Gods to find the end of that light.
Lord Vishnu followed the beam upwards while Lord Brahma tried to find its end at the bottom. Lord Vishnu finally conceded defeat. Lord Brahma, however, chose to lie. This angered Lord Shiva who cursed him that despite being the creator of the universe, he would never be worshipped. After this, the column of light cooled down and manifested into small lingams at the various places that it had appeared. These are now worshipped as Jyotirlingas.
It is believed that a true worshipper will still be able to see the column of divine light when he looks at these jyotirlingas. 12 in number, these appear in the Shiva Purana and you can find them at these locations –
- Somnath, Gujarat
- Mahakaleshwar, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
- Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
- Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
- Vaidyanath in Deogarh, Jharkhand
- Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh
- Ghrishneshwara, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
- Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra
- Kedarnath, Uttarakhand
- Bhimashankar in Pune, Maharashtra
- Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka, Gujarat
History of Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple Dwarka
Long long ago, there dwelt a demon couple by the name Daruk and Daruka. Daruka – the wife, was an ardent devotee of Goddess Parvati and had secured herself of a boon that no matter where she went, the forest would follow her. Daruk on the other hand had no such devotion and he used to terrorize people around the forest that came to be known as Darukavan.
At the same time, there lived a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva- a merchant by the name of Supriya. Turns out, he was captured and tortured by Daruk. Through the torture, Supriya kept chanting “Om Namay Shivaya” and the result was that no harm seem to happen to him. On observing the same, Daruka realized that he was a true devotee of the Lord and she feared the wrath of Lord Shiva. To escape the same, she moved the entire set-up to under the ocean, taking the forest with her. Even there, in a prison guarded by sea snakes and monsters, Supriya remained unfazed and kept his chanting going.
Lord Shiva pleased with Supriya’s devotion appeared and destroyed Daruk. When he left, he manifested himself as the Jyotirlinga, ensuring that his protection always remained in Darukavan. The Lord came to be known as Nageshwar and Parvati as Nageshwari. The temple is sometimes, also referred to as the Nagnath temple owing to this.
This is the most popular tale regarding the history of Nageshwar Jyotirlinga that you will hear around. However, there is another version of the Nageshvar Jyotirlinga’s appearance. This one involves the actual linga (phallus) of Lord Shiva. As per this tale, to test the devotion of some dwarf priests, Lord Shiva appeared as a nude hermit – his body covered with snakes. Looking at him, the wives of these sages got attracted to the handsome stranger. This angered the dwarf priests who unknowingly cursed Shiva to lose his lingam. The body part fell onto the earth and the divine power of it started causing an earthquake.
Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to save the earth and take his linga back. Pacified, Lord Shiva did the same but left his presence in the form of the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga.
The temple used to be a smaller structure housing the divine jyotirlinga. It is said that the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb tried to destroy it but failed. Every time his army attacked it, a swarm of bees would drive them away. He ultimately gave up and the Nageshvar Jyotirlinga survived the passage of time.
The present structure was financed by the famous music producer Gulshan Kumar. In fact, today, when you visit the temple, you will see a large portrait of him near the entrance. It is said that when he visited this jyotirlinga as a part of his pilgrimage, he was dismayed at the state of the old temple. He donated money and built the current structure of the Nageshwar temple.
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga controversy
While the stories regarding the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga history are found in the Shiv Purana, there is nothing specific about the location of Darukavan. That is where the famous Nageshwar Jyotirlinga controversy arises. There are three locations that claim to be the mythological Darukavan. Some say that Daarukavan became known as Dwarka and hence the current Jyotirlinga is the original Nagnath temple. However, there is no evidence of a forest around this area.
Darukavan might also refer to the Deodar (Daru) forest that is found near Almora in Uttarkhand. Many say that the Nageshwar jyotirlinga might actually be the one in Jageshwar temple in that town. The third possible location of Daarukavan are the woods of Vindhya in Maharashtra – specifically the Hingoli district. Out there too, there is a linga in the Aundha Nagnath Temple.
There is no way to discern where exactly is the original jyotirlinga but popular faith points to the Nageshwar temple in Gujarat and hence, this is the location counted as the one of the 12 jyotirlingas of India.
Shiva Statue at the Nageshwar Temple Dwarka
Though a recent addition, the 25m high statue of Shiva dominates the Nageshwar temple in Dwarka. It isn’t about the physical presence but the strange spirit that emanates from it. I stood there staring at his serene face feeling vulnerable and protected at the same time. It was as if his eyes were piercing through my soul and at the same time his calm demeanor was keeping me grounded. There was something very magical about this gigantic statue of Shiva at the entrance of the Nageshwar temple.
The area around the statue had a flurry of activity. People clicking selfies, kids chasing pigeons, cows being fed and hawkers selling grains to feed these creatures. And yet, the place seemed quiet under the powerful gaze of Shiva. In some way, this statue reflected the divine power of the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga.
The Sanctum Santorum of Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple
The actual linga resides below the ground level, close to the huge statue of Lord Shiva. Earlier, as I mentioned, the temple around it was smaller and in a dilapidated state. The new modern red and white temple is courtesy Gulshan Kumar of the T series fame. The building has been built around the original linga. Hence, when you do finally enter the building, you will find the Garba Griha or the Sanctum Santorum a few feet below the ground level.
Here are a couple of interesting facts about the Nageshwar temple shrine.
- The Linga faces south while its gomugam (the channel that collects the water and milk poured over the linga) faces east. This is very unusual as typically they both face the same direction. The reason for this is said to lie in the folklore of a devotee called Namdev. As the story goes, Namdev was singing bhajans in front of the linga. Some of the irate devotees asked him to move and not obstruct the view of the linga. One of them went to an extent of moving him to the south of the Linga. To everyone’s surprise, the linga itself turned south towards Namdev while the gomugam remained to the east.
- The Nageshwar linga is termed as tri-mukhi rudraksha. These types of three-faced rudraksha are considered to be very powerful.
- Along with the linga, the shrine also, has a statue of Goddess Nageshwari aka- Parvati.
The shrine and the surrounding area is devoid of any major carvings. There is a lovely statues of Goddess Durga closer to the entrance, facing the main Garba Griha. Again, this is a recent addition made during the renovation of the Nageshwar temple.
Other sights around the Nagnath temple in Dwarka
It was just past dusk and the setting sun cast a magical golden glow over the statue of Goddess Durga. With one last glimpse of her, I hopped out to quickly capture the other sights around Nagnath temple. To be honest, there isn’t much. The two significant things that I spotted were a statue of the entire family of Shiva, beneath a banyan tree and a pond full of fish right behind the temple. There are hawkers that sell food that you can throw to the fish and watch them come to the surface. To be honest, there was something calming in watching people do that.
I could not but help walk to the large Shiva statue – one last time before leaving the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple. That one last gaze of his did make me feel serene and at peace with the world. A quiet prayer and I bid farewell to this powerful Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple.
Whether you believe in the concept of not, there is a certain atmosphere at the Nageshwar temple that makes you feel at ease. And just for that, I am sure you would want to visit it. Go on, pin this and share it around and spread the good vibes of the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple.
How to reach Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple?
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple is close to Dwarka but not within the town. The distance between Nageshwar Jyotirlinga and Dwarka is 15 km. It is actually mid-way between Dwarka and the island Bet Dwarka. The closest railway station to it would be in Dwarka and once here, you can hire any of the local autorickshaws to get you to Nageshwar temple.
Porbandar and Jamnagar are the two closest airports to the Nageshwar temple. From either of the two airports, you can hire a car or climb onto a bus for the temple. In case you are on a road trip, you can follow this route.
Route One – From Jamnagar
Jamnagar Airport – Danta – Khambhalia – Gurgadh – Charakhla – Tupani – Nageshwar
This route will take you around 2 hours 30 minutes. You will not be entering Dwarka if you follow this route. Should you want to head to Dwarka, you can continue straight from Gurgadh to reach the town.
Route Two – From Porbandar
Porbandar Airport -Kuchhadi – Bhogat (via NH 51) – Baradia – Dwarka – Nageshvar
This will take you around 2 hours to reach your destination.
It is pretty common to combine a visit to Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple with Somnath temple. In case you are planning to do so, you can follow this road route to get to this Shiva temple in Gujarat.
Somnath – Godu- Mangrol – Madhavpur – Dharampur – Kuchhadi – Bhogat (via NH 51) – Baradia – Dwarka – Nageshvar
This is a long route that requires four and half hours to cover a distance of 251 km.
When is the best time to visit Nageshwar Jyotirlinga?
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga timings are from 6 am to 9:30 pm. However, it is closed between 12:30 pm to 5 pm everyday. Early mornings will allow you to be a part of the daily abhishekh and morning aarti. There is generally one evening aarti as well.
The best time to visit it would be around February during the festival of Mahashivratri. In terms of season, winter is the best for a visit to Daarukavanam.
Where to stay when visiting Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple?
Your best bet for accommodation around the Nageshwar temple is in Dwarka town. There are numerous hotels around the Dwarkadhish temple. You can book them using the booking resources below.
- Please observe the usual norms of visiting a Hindu temple. You can read this post for the same.
- There are small shops around the temple for basic food and water. There are no major restaurants around this area.
- Booking.com has good listings for hotels in Dwarka. You can use this link to book one for yourself.
- For any of your travel needs or general shopping, consider using Amazon through this link.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
P.S: I visited this temple as a part of my trip organized by the Gujarat Tourism Board
Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.