It is believed that Lord Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, founded Dwarka after his flight from Mathura, and thus it is considered the legendary capital of Krishna[i]. This history is recorded in various texts, including the Mahabharata, in which Krishna is considered chief of the Yadavas, who followed Krishna in his flight to Dvaraka[ii]—this is the ancient name of present-day Dwarka. Hindus believe that when Krishna chose Dvaraka as the site for his city, he asked the ocean to withdraw from the shore for twelve leagues to give space for the city, and the ocean complied[iii]. However, the city was swallowed up by the sea immediately upon Krishna’s death; in truth, this may have been the result of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, cyclone, or a tidal wave, which may have resulted in a sudden increase in the sea-level[iv].

"The Temple Fort of Dwarka, at the entrance of the Gulf of Kutch," from the Illustrated London News, 1860. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22The_Temple_Fort_of_Dwarka,_at_the_entrance_of_the_Gulf_of_Kutch,%22_from_the_Illustrated_London_News,_1860.jpg

“The Temple Fort of Dwarka, at the entrance of the Gulf of Kutch,” from the Illustrated London News, 1860. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22The_Temple_Fort_of_Dwarka,_at_the_entrance_of_the_Gulf_of_Kutch,%22_from_the_Illustrated_London_News,_1860.jpg

In 2001, the ruins of an ancient city were found off the coast of Dwarka in the Gulf of Kahmbhat; the city, which was five miles long and two miles wide, is thought to date back to 7500 BCE[v]. Archaeologists also believe that there was an ancient port located on this site, which was most likely busy during the historical and medieval times. An ancient jetty has been discovered by archaeologists off the shore of Dwarka, which indicates the presence of a port city here, further evidenced by the large number of stone structures and anchors[vi]. While the ancient flooding story was originally dismissed by historians and archaeologists in recent history, these new scientific findings have given greater credence to the ancient stories, and studies of inundation have indicated that ancient shorelines were most likely located further out than their present location[vii].


Dyan, Emmanuel. "Dwarakadheesh temple in Dwarka - Gujarat, India." https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmanueldyan/5933598087

Dyan, Emmanuel. “Dwarakadheesh temple in Dwarka – Gujarat, India.” https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmanueldyan/5933598087

The Dwarkadhish temple is believed to have been on the site for more than 2500 years, yet the oldest parts of the current temple most likely dates back to the fifteenth or sixteenth century. It is built in the Chalukya style of architecture and is made of limestone. It rises five stories in height and is supported by 72 carved pillars. The main temple, also called Jagatmandir or Sri Dwarkadish[viii], contains an image of Krishna as jet black and four-armed[ix]. The main steeple is a cluster of small towers, built in the nineteenth century[x], which rises high above the rest of the temple and the surrounding town of Dwarka.


Vishnupranay.k. "srikrishna temple at dwrka", https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dwaraka.jpg

Vishnupranay.k. “srikrishna temple at dwrka”, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dwaraka.jpg

Currently, the town is mainly a pilgrimage site, and pilgrims provide the main source of revenue for the town. One pilgrimage route, known as the dhama yatra, is comprised of a pilgrimage to all four char dhams in a clockwise direction and, according to some Hindus, warrants the attainment of salvation[xi]. Many Hindus are also known to retire to one of the seven holy cities to die while surrounded by this sacred atmosphere[xii]. In terms of daily activity at this site, priests perform aarati, utilizing rhythmic bells as a form of worship, as well as other forms of devotion. Bhog (food offering) is offered to the deity at least once an hour[xiii].


"Meera bai.," from Baroda Art Gallery, https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkas:Meerabai_1.jpg

“Meera bai.,” from Baroda Art Gallery, https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkas:Meerabai_1.jpg

Dwarka is also associated with Mira Bai, who was one of the great Bhakti saints. She is believed to have renounced her life as the wife of a king in the sixteenth century in order to devote her life to worship of Lord Krishna. She is thus an exemplar of the Bhakti Yoga, or devotional, path. Supposedly, she lived the final years of her life in Dwarka, where she wrote her immortal love poems to Krishna. Krishna is the preeminent devotional deity in Hinduism, and he is venerated by many bhakti yogis. It is believed that Mira Bai infused the temple at Dwarka with a power of love, and the temple is thus believed to be highly charged with devotional energy and is able to awaken and amplify this energy in visiting pilgrims[xiv].





[i] Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Dwarka.”

[ii] Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 119.

[iii] Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. 55.

[iv] Nayak, B. U., and S. R. Rao. “Existence And Location Of Dvaraka City of Mahãbhãrata Era And Its Subsequent Submergence—A Reality or A Myth?” New Trends in Indian Art and Archaeology, SR Rao’s 70th Birthday Felicitation Volume, New Delhi 2 (1992): 479-90. 480.

[v] Maheshwari, Krishna. “Origins.” Hindupedia. Accessed April 22, 2016. Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia. http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Origins.

[vi] Gaur, A. S., and K. H. Vora. 2007. “Ancient technology of jetties and anchoring points along the west coast of India.” Current Science (00113891) 93, no. 7: 987-991. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).

[vii] Gray, Martin. “Dwarka.” Sacred Sites. Accessed April 22, 2016, https://sacredsites.com/asia/india/dwarka.html.

[viii] Gray, Martin. “Dwarka.”

[ix] Eck, Diana L. India: A Sacred Geography. New York: Harmony Books, 2012. 383.

[x] “Temple Towns of India.” The Financial Express.

[xi] Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. 212-213.

[xii] Klostermaier, Klaus K. Hinduism: A Short History. Oxford: Oneworld, 2000. 18.

[xiii] Rao-Kashi, Anita. “Dwarka – Spirituality by the sea…”

[xiv] Gray, Martin. “Dwarka.”