Rising out of the waves, on the western coast of Gujarat, Dwarka is a city of many temples. An ancient pilgrimage centre, it has accumulated temples, ashrams and other shrines over the last 5 millennia. Archaeological remains of a submerged town, harbour and fort are found in the sea around the current island town of Bet-Dwarka. There are many ancient and wonderful murties in the town that have been continually worshiped for 1000s of years.
The town has suffered a lot of destruction during the iconoclastic period of Islamic invasions of India. The western coast was battered on a regualr basis by Arab, Afghan and Turki fighters looking for loot. Sight of Hindu temples seem to enrage muslim armies and they tried their very best to destroy as many temple and icons as they could. Several temple hid their main icons in underground cellars, hidden chambers and (step) wells. The current murti of Dwarkadhishji in the main temple was found in a step well around 500 years ago and enshrined in a renovated temple of Dwarkadhishji.
Over time, Dwaraka has continued to inspire philosophers and sages all over India. There are several famous temples across India that contain relics / icons from Dwarka.
Jaggan-Nath Puri in Orrisa (Odisha) has the bone relics of Shri Krushna
kept within the icon of Lord Jaggan-Nath. After Shri Krushna’s cremation,
his ‘heart’ was deposited in the ocean and it floated to Puri.
Some believe a sage bought the bones of Shri Krushna from Dwarka to Puri.
Some believe the original 'Nila Madhav' worshiped by the tribal people is kept
inside the icons as the 'Brahma Padartha'. A number of legands are
associated with how king Indradyman obtained the Brahama Padartha.
Either way, later King Indradhyuman created wooden icons in tribal style and
worshiped the God as Jagganathji along with the tribal people. They
deposited the Neelamadhava and bones inside the wooden icons here. This is
what gives Lord Jaggan-Nath his divine aura.
Temple at Guru-Vayur in Kerala has an ancient icon of Shri Krushna that came
from Dwarka. Originally this icon was worshiped by the Devas. It was
later worshiped in Dwarka. Once Shri Krushna left earth and Dwarka was
submerged by the ocean, Bruhaspati, guru of the Devas and Vayu, God of wind,
took the sacred city but the icon was saved and brought to South India. With the
help of Parshurama, it was installed in a temple at the present site.
Just off the coast of Kerala, Udupi has an icon that was recovered from clay (gopi-chandan) that came from Dwarka.
Merchants had loaded gopi-chandan (clay from Dwarka) as ballast in their ships. As they travelled south, storms hit them off the coast of Kerala and they were saved by Shri Madhavacharya directing them to safe harbour. In appreciation, of being saved, they offered him anything he wanted from their merchandise. Shri Madhava requested some Gopichandan. Merchants explained that this was just ballast and he should take something of value. But Shri Madhava insisted on taking just the Gopichandan. He added the clay to the main water tank in Udupi so that everyone in the town could have the benefit of bathing in water made sacred by its contact with Gopichandan. When he lowered the clump of Gopichandan in the water, he was amazed to see a murti of Shri Krushna reveal itself from the clay. Over joyed, Shri Madhava installed the murti of Shri Krushna in his main Matt (monastery). This was later enlarged as the Krishna Matt and became the main temple in Udupi.
As the icon was tranfered during the 13th Century, it is more than probable that
this icon is from a temple destroyed during the muslim invasion of Dwaraka.
In the heart of Gujarat is a small town of
icon of Ranchodrai that resides here came from Dwarka around 1156 CE.
Bodanji, a life long devotee of Dwarkadhishji bought the icon from Dwarka to
was most probably brought here to escape the iconoclastic rampage of muslim
armies who regularly destroyed and looted temples across North and West India (8th – 15th century). After a period of quiet existence, Ranchodji
was established as the tutelary deity of Dakor during the reign of the Gayakwads
of Baroda. As his name suggests, Ranchod-rai left Dwarka as a strategic
move to preserve the spiritual integrity of Hinduism rather than stay and be
destroyed by the iconoclasts.
In case of Guru Vayur, Udupi and Dakor, Krishna worship became more popular than Shiva worship in the town and gradually the pilgrimage centre became famous for its icon from Dwarka.
Jagat Mandir - the main temple of Dwarkadhish in Dwarka
Built in Chaulakya style, it has 5 stories and a principle spire that is 78M tall.
It is rare for a temple to have more than 2 or 3 stories and rarer still to have the main deity residing on the 5th floor!
Return to the main Courtyard