He arranged the yellow dhoti and then opened the jewelry box. The gold chain with red stones seemed perfect to compliment the Lord's yellow garbs and so, he chose that for the evening. With that, the Lord was ready to see his devotees. The other man in the room slowly opened the door as his senior picked a Pooja thali in one hand and rang the bell with the other. "Jai Sri Krishna" - he roared before he began his rhythmic chants. The crowd repeated in chorus and thus began the evening aarti at Shree Dwarkadhish Temple.
Shree Dwarkadhish Temple or the Jagat Mandir is the main attraction of Dwarka city in Gujarat – one that attracts thousands of tourists to this ancient ruling capital of Lord Krishna. For me, the pull towards this temple was not just its divine vibes but the glorious Dwarkadhish temple history. And then, when I finally visited it, the stunning Dwarkadhish temple architecture and the legendary rituals added another allure to the Dwarka Krishna Mandir. Wait till you read all about it. Pretty sure – believer or not, you would want to add Shree Dwarkadhish temple to your list of Gujarat attractions.
Shree Dwarkadhish Temple History
Before I get into the history of the physical Sri Krishna temple of Dwarka, let me share that part of the mythology that is linked to the temple. Dwarka was the ruling capital of Lord Krishna. When he moved with his Yadava clan from Mathura, he set up this city as his base. This is where he spent most of his adult life and married the famous Rukmini. When it was time for him to depart from his physical form, he moved to Somnath. A hunter mistook his feet to be deer’s ear and shot him to death. Along with his departure, the entire city of Dwarka submerged into the sea – from where it had been initially reclaimed by Sri Krishna.
It was the Lord’s grandson – Vajranabh – who recreated the ruling palace of Lord Krishna in the form of a temple on a small hill by the confluence of River Gomti and the Arabian Sea. Legend has it that this temple was built within a day with the help of the divine architect- Vishvakarma. And this is what the locals believe to be the original Shree Dwarkadhish temple.
The name Dwarkadhish means “King of Dwarka” and the locals believe that Lord Krishna still rules from this temple. Mythologically, the temple is said to be over 2500 years old but archaeologically, the age is determined to be 1200 years. The original temple was destroyed by Mahmud Begada in 1472 but rebuilt and renovated over and over again.
Today, it is an important Hindu pilgrimage center – a part of the Char Dham yatra. It is believed that anyone who visits all four places – Dwarka, Badrinath, Puri and Rameswaram in their lifetime will attain divine enlightenment when they die. Dwarkadhish temple is also, one of the Sapta Puris or seven pilgrimage centers of the Hindus. It is believed that anyone who managed to visit all seven – Ayodhya, Haridwar, Mathura, Varanasi, Ujjain, Dwarka and Kanchipuram will be free from the eternal cycle of life and death.
Thus, now you know, why the divine vibes of the temple make it such an important place to visit in India.
Experience the cultural delight of Varanasi through its ghats. Each ghat has a special story, legend and sometimes rituals attached to it. Some of them are privately owned as well. Check out my post on the Ghats of Varanasi here.
The architecture of Shree Dwarkadhish Mandir
One look at the temple and I got this feeling that one of the graduates of the ancient university of architecture in Pattadakal must have designed this temple. It clearly showcases the Nagara style that I had witnessed at the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal. There were some touches that were similar to the Brihadeeswarar temple of Tanjore and correctly, our guide at the temple mentioned that there was some Chalukyan influence on the temple design.
The main shikhara (spire) is seven stories tall and is almost 80m in height. The seven floors represent the Sapta puris (seven pilgrimage centers as mentioned earlier), with Dwarka being the base.
Right next to it is the mandapa (audience hall) with its 72 carved pillars, five floors and an equally intricate shikhara. Each of the floors has a small temple representing one of the four holy places – the Char Dhams (mentioned in the Shree Dwarkadhish temple history). The fifth floor is dedicated to Chalati Mata. No one is allowed to visit the higher floors.
The entire Dwarka Krishna temple is built out of limestone, which is why it is able to withstand the erosion by the sea breeze.
The layout of Shri Dwarkadheesh Temple
What I have described so far is – just the main temple with the Krishna shrine. Shree Dwarkadhish temple is more of a complex that is shaped to emulate Lord Krishna’s Palace. Each shrine in the temple is like a palace quarter for its resident. Right opposite to the main shrine of Lord Krishna is that of his mother – Devaki. Around the main mandapa are more shrines that belong to other members of the ruling family such as –
- Pradyumna temple – the son of Lord Krishna and Rukmini
- Aniruddha temple – the grandson of the Lord
- Balrama shrine – for his elder brother Balram
- Durvasa shrine – for Sage Durvasa who was the kul guru (clan guru)
- Amba Mata – the kul devi (clan goddess)
- Radha Krishna temple – for his consort Radha
- Beni Mahadev temple – one of Lord Krishna’s names
- Patrani temple – which has several mini shrines of the key wives & beloved consort of Lord Krishna including Jambavati, Radha, Saraswathi, Laxmi, Satyabhama. There is also, a shrine devoted to Bal Gopal (the child avatar of Krishna)
Besides these shrines, there are a few important shrines near the Moksha entrance that relate to the other important deities like Lord Shiva. Prominent among them is the Gayatri Devi Shrine, Kashi Vishwanath mandir, Kuheshwar Mahadev Linga and the Navagraha yantra.
Watch out for the Kolva Bhagat shrine. This one is attached to the unusual legend of an untouchable would was not allowed to meet the Lord. He apparently cut his feet and sat outside the temple. The next day, the Lord himself appeared and blessed him. Since then, there is a small shrine dedicated to him for his devotion to Krishna.
Entrances of the Gujarat Dwarka Temple
There are two entrances to the Dwarka Krishna temple. They have been aptly named Swarg Dwar (Doors to Heaven) and Moksh Dwar(Door to liberation). I had used the Moksh gate (north gate) to enter and exit the temple and this is where most of the shrines are located. The entrance is close to the main market in Dwarka.
The Swarg Dwar can be used from the Gomti Ghats. One has to climb 52 stairs to reach the gate from where you can enter and visit the Dwarkadhish temple in Gujarat.
Adi Shankracharya Math in the Dwarka Krishna Temple
Besides the shrines in the Shree Dwarkadhish temple, you must visit the Sharda Peetha – one of four major Peethas established by the 8th-century philosopher – Adi Shankaracharya. He was one of the key figures to unify various Hindu beliefs. The math is right next to the Patrani temple and is rich with murals depicting the life of Shankaracharya. A small area marked by Shankracharya’s sandals (paduka) represents his samadhi (memorial).
The math rings with the sounds of chanting and mantras at certain times of the day – mostly early morning and early evenings. These are generally from the students who chant the religious verses from the Samaveda – one of the four key vedas and the one associated with Sharda Peetha.
The Krishna Idol in the Gujarat Dwarka Temple
Interestingly, the main idol of Krishna is incomplete. As the story goes, the head priest of the Gujarat Dwarka temple had a dream that there was an idol in a small pond called Savitri Talav. Following that he and the other priests searched the pond and found this particular idol of Lord Krishna. The eyes of the idol are not complete. It is hard to discern the same when once visits the shrine as the idol is always decorated.
There is also, another belief that this idol was not the one that Rukmini (Krishna’s wife) worshiped. The original one was moved to the Krishna temple in Bet Dwarka – an island off the coast of this town. This remains there – away from the plundering hands of the invaders.
Dhwaja Arohan (Flag Changing Ceremony) at Shree Dwarkadhish Temple
Now comes the fascinating part of the Shree Dwarkadhish temple. The rituals! Let me start with the one that I found the most intriguing – The Dhwaja Arohan or the Flag changing ceremony.
Even from far, when you see the Dwarkadhish mandir, you cannot miss the 52 yards of its bright flag. This flag is unique not for its length but for the fact that it is changed every day. And not just once – but five times in a day. The flag according to our guide, represents the pagadi or turban of Lord Krishna. There is a symbol of the sun and moon on the flag to represent the belief that as long as the Sun and Moon are around, Lord Krishna will be there for everyone.
The flag can be of a single or varied colors – each of which symbolize a quality. For example, yellow is for knowledge, green is peace, white is purity, blue is for strength and red is about joy. The flag is chosen by the family who sponsors it. (And there is a queue that goes upto one year for the sponsorship). It is brought to the temple amid a lot of cheers, dancing and singing. It is carried on their head and a pooja is performed once it arrives. The flag is then, taken by one of the Brahmins who climb up and hoist it.
Attached to the main flag are 52 smaller flags that represent 52 sects of Krishna’s Yadava clan. These flags are made by special tailors and have to comply with these rules.
Other rituals at Dwarkadhish Mandir
Since Krishna is said to still rule from here, every ritual in the temple is centered around how he would have led his life. To start with, before he is woken up, a pooja is done in his mother’s shrine – Devaki temple. The temple deliberately faces the main shrine of Dwarkadhish Mandir as it is believed that when Lord Krishna woke up, he liked to visit his mother first. Thus, when the doors of his shrine open after Devaki’s pooja is done.
Lord Krishna’s clothes, jewelry and even the backdrop is changed through the day to represent the various activities he might have been doing. On festival days, he is decked up even more to represent his participation and celebrations. It is pretty fascinating to hear the various scenes that are created to represent his day.
The devotion and affection to the Lord is pretty evident when you visit Dwarkadhish temple. And as I said, it is not just those vibes but the whole place and its history that makes it a must-visit destination of Dwarka. Pin this up for your own visit. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
How to reach Dwarkadhish Temple in Gujarat?
Shree Dwarkadhish temple is located in the city of Dwarka, on the West Coast of Gujarat. The closest airports to this city are in Jamnagar (131 km) or Porbandar (105 km). From these two cities, you can either hire a cab or hop into the many buses to Dwarka.
There is a direct connection to Dwarka by rail as it has its own station. You can even fly to Jamnagar or Porbandar and take a train to Dwarka.
Once in Dwarka, you can hire the local auto-rickshaws to take you to Dwarkadhish temple.
Where to stay in Dwarka?
There are plenty of hotels around the Dwarkadhish temple that you can book online. These are mostly, budget and mid-priced hotels in Dwarka. If you are looking for a luxury hotel in Dwarka, consider staying at Hawthorn Resort – which is where I stayed during my trip. However, the same is located on the outskirts of the city (around 7 km from the Dwarkadhish temple).
What is the best time to visit Shree Dwarkadhish Mandir?
In terms of the season, the best time to visit Shree Dwarkadhish Mandir would be between September to February, when it isn’t too hot. However, there are two festivals that you could plan to attend to get the best of Dwarkadhish temple.
The first is Janmashtami – Krishna’s birthday that generally falls in the month of August or September. It is celebrated with a lot of pomp and gusto at the Dwarkadhish temple. The second festival that is celebrated in a grand manner is Krishna-Rukmini Vivah (marriage) which falls on Ekadashi – usually in March. Besides these, the temple is decked up for Ram Navami (April), Holi (March), Basant Panchami (April), Diwali (October or November) and Sharad Purnima (October-November).
Dwarkadhish temple timings are from 6:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night. The temple closes between 1 pm and 5 pm every day.
When are the Pooja timings at Dwarkadhish temple?
There are various Aartis (worshipping the Lord), Bhogs (offering food to the Lord) and Darshans (allowing the devotees to talk to the Lord) at Dwarkadhish temple. These are available at specific times all through the day. These timings are available on the official temple website. There is no need to prebook the same but depending on the crowd, you might have to wait for your turn in a queue. The evening aartis are generally crowded.
For Bhog and Seva, you can even opt for an online service through the same website. After the money is donated, the service is performed in your name at the Mandir. The temple website also, has live streaming of aartis.
- Photography is strictly prohibited within the Dwarkadhish temple. In fact, no electronic devices including mobiles are allowed within the temple. You will have to deposit them into the lockers at the entrance.
- There is no entry fee for the temple.
- The best capture that you can get of the temple is while on the Gomti Ghats or from across the Sudama Sethu Bridge
- 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.
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P.S: I was invited to visit Gujarat 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.