Dwarka, on the Western shore of India, was the golden capital of Shri Krshna during His Lifetime. Since than, it has been His spiritual residence in Western India.
After arriving in Mathura, the Lord decided to build a new city, more defensible than Mathura and one that would better reflect His vision of the new world order. The Lord ordered VishwaKarma, the heavenly architect, to create a unique city, made from precious and semi-precious materials.
It was a magnificent city of gold, well designed with well organised residential and commercial zones, wide roads, plazas, palaces and many public utilities. He also imported the heavenly hall called "Sudharma Sabha" - an intelligent hall of public meetings which could expand and contract itself according to the number of people in it - so that it never looks too empty or too full !! To accommodate His growing family, the Lord fashioned over 16108 golden palaces for his wives. Other magnificent palaces were also designed for His friends and family. A special palace was made for Shri Krshna, a santuary of peace and quite from the hubbub of the vast and powerful city of Dwarika.
Various auspicious and wonderful beings and people came to dwell in the city of the Lord. Along with various trees and bushes from the celestial gardens, came the bush of the heavenly parijat flowers; along with numerous divine gems, came the celebrated Kaustbh mani; along with a host of great sages, came the great Narada, Gautama and Durvasa; great dancers and singers like Chitraratha came to perform for the Lord; great demi-gods like the Surya, Agni and Indra came to meet and consult the Lord of Yadavas. All these great beings and things were guarded by the Sudarshan Chakra, Lord Vishnu's own weapon.
When the Lord decided to leave the Earth and return to His divine abode, He ordered all the divine objects to return to heaven and asked the ocean to swallow the city, least anyone tried to misuse the wealth of His Dwarika. All citizens were asked to leave the city and Dwarika was submerged by the sea.
The only area the sea did not submerge, was the private palace of the Lord Shri Dwarikadhish. Even after the Lord left, the power of His association to that sacred place was so strong, that the ocean could not drown the private apartments of the Lord. Later, a temple was created in its place and the icon found there was installed as the most original form of the Lord Shri Dwarikadhishji.
The form of Lord Dwarikadhishji is that of the Lord Vishnu with four arms. As is usual with Lord Vishnu, He bears the conch, lotus, discus and the mace in His hands. The image is around 5 feet tall and made from a very hard black stone. The amazing fact is, those of us who have been fortunate enough to touch the wonderful feet of this deity, have found them to be as soft as any human feet !! The presence of the Lord fills the inner temple and spills out into the temple complex in general.
Tales speak of how the Lord at GuruVayur in Kerala (Southwest India) is another icon rescued from the drowning Dwarika and the Lord at Uddupi (South India) is also an image that arrived there from Dwarika. Shri Adi Shankaracharyaji saw it as an essential centre of spiritual power and founded his Western Math here. A number of other religious orders have founded their offices and temples here.
Shri Vallabhachryaji also saw this as an important pilgrimage site and was very partial to it. Gosaiji also came to it on a regular basis and to reflect this, an important baethak has been founded here. One of the nine Nidhies is called Shri Dwarikadhishji, and many sons of Vallabh-kula are given the name of the Lord of Dwarika as a way of reminding us all of this important association between the Lord and the Vallabh-kula.
The original icon at Dwarika migrated to Dakor in Gujarat in the early part of the 13th Century. With the Lord's order, a new icon was installed at the shrine in Dwarika and so, the original Dwarikadhishji is now known as Ranchodrai of Dakor.
Shri Vallabhacharyaji was a frequent visitor to both, Dwarika and Dakor and the baethak there faces the temple across the main lake. Click here to get a darshan of Shri Ranchodraiji.
The Dwarika of today is very different from the ancient Dwarka. The main temple town is situated on the small island called the Bet Dwaraka. The town on the mainland houses the main body of temples, monasteries, pilgrim houses, hotels and the residents of the town. Located on the banks of the sacred river Gomati, it is a typical pilgrimage town of many temples, ranging from the small house/ shrine on the wayside, to major temples complexes constructed by wealthy institutions through the centuries. Many kings, merchants and monastic orders have built religious edifices to the glory of God in this town.
One of the more important places to visit, apart from the main temple, is a small lake called "Gopi talave". It is said that the Gopies of Vraj came to see their beloved Krshna for the last time at this grove outside the city. Unable to bear the pain of a second separation from their beloved Madhav, the gopies merged with the Lord and the lake near that spot became sacred by their association. Till this day, the clay from that lake is considered to be very sacred and is often used as a holy sacrament.
Video of Shri Dwarikadhishji dressed in his best jewels for an arti during Janmastami.
Please see the Downloads section of the web for videos of other deities including Udupi and GuruVayur.
© Bhagwat Shah
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