temple town in Devbhoomi Dwarka district in the Gujarat state in India
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Dwarka is a city and a municipality of Devbhumi Dwarka district in the state of Gujarat in northwestern India. It is located on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula on the right bank of the Gomti River. In 2011 it had a population of 38,873. Dwarka is one of the Chardhams, four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites, and is one of the Sapta Puri, the seven most ancient religious cities in the country. Dwarka is often identified with the Dwarka Kingdom, the ancient kingdom of Krishna, and is believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat.

Dwarka in a painting of the late 1820s


  • Along with Badrinatha, Jagannatha Puri, and Ramesvaram, Dwaraka is one of India’s four main holy places where, it is said, the spiritual realm overlaps into this material world. It is also said to be one of the Saptapuris, or seven holy places, which also includes Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwara, Kashi (Varanasi), Ujjain, and Kanchipuram. Shankaracharya established one of his four mutts or centers here, and even Ramanujacharya and Madhavacharya came here on pilgrimage. Dwaraka is the remains of Krishna’s capital city, which He established around 3000 B.C.E. It was one of the most developed and advanced cities anywhere. Descriptions of it are found in many Vedic texts, including the Mahabharata, Bhagavat Purana, Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Harivamsha, and in 44 chapters of the Skanda Purana. It is described as having been full of flower gardens and fruit trees, along with beautiful singing birds and peacocks. The lakes were full of swans and lilies and lotus flowers. The buildings were also beautiful and bedecked with jewels. There were temples, assembly halls, residential homes, and as many as 900,000 palaces. While Lord Krishna lived here, the people of the town would often see Him. By local tradition, the present people of Dwaraka are considered to be family descendants of Lord Krishna, or members of the Yadu dynasty.
    • Knapp Stephen, Spiritual India Handbook (2011)
  • When I was repairing the temple of Dwarkadeesh at Dwaraka (on land) I had to demolish a modern building in front of it and I found the 9th Century temple of Vishnu. I got curious and dug further deeper (30 ft) in 1979-80 on land. We found two earlier temples, a whole wall and figures of Vishnu. We dug further and actually found eroded material of a township lying at the bottom. Then arose the question of dating the remains of the township destroyed by the sea. Thermo-luminescence dating revealed a date of 1520 B.C.
    • S.R. Rao, Interview with S. R. Rao at The Hindu, Nov 20 2002.
  • “After some time the Sultan started contemplating the conquest of the port of Jagat which is a place of worship for the Brahmanas… With this resolve he started for the port of Jagat on 16 Zil-Hajja, AH 877 (AD 14 July, 1473). He reached Jagat with great difficulty due to the narrowness of the road and the presence of forests… He destroyed the temple of Jagat…”
    • About Mahmud Begada and Dwarka (Gujarat). Burhan-i-Ma‘sir, in Uttara Taimura Kalina Bharata, Persian texts translated into Hindi by S.A.A. Rizvi, 2 Volumes, Aligarh, 1958-59. Vol. II, p. 218-19
  • “Mahmood Shah’s next effort was against the port of Jugut, with a view of making converts of the infidels, an object from which he had been hitherto deterred by the reports he received of the approaches to it…”“The King, after an arduous march, at length arrived before the fort of Jugut a place filled with infidels, misled by the infernal minded bramins… The army was employed in destroying the temple at Jugut, and in building a mosque in its stead; while measures, which occupied three or four months in completing, were in progress for equipping a fleet to attack the island of Bete…”
    • About Sultan Mahmud Begdha of Gujarat (AD 1458-1511) at Dwarka (Gujarat). Tarikh-i-Firishta by Firishta.
  • “In the same year of AH 877 (AD 1472-73) the Sultãn made up his mind to destroy Jagat… Jagat is a very famous abode of infidelity and idolatry. Its idol is regarded as higher than all other idols in India and it is because of this idol that the place is called Dwãrkã. It is a very big nest of BrãhmaNas too. The idolaters come here from far off places and the great hardships they undergo in order to reach here is regarded by them as earnest worship… There is a fort nearby known as Bait… “…The Sultãn mounted (his horse) in the morning. The people of Jagat also got this information. They shut themselves in the fort along with Rãi Bhîm. After a few days the Sultãn entered Jagat and got its idols broken. He got its canopies pulled down and established the way of Islãm there.”
    • Dwarka (Gujarat) Zafaru’l-Wãlih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlîhi, S.A.A. Rizvi in Uttara Taimûr Kãlîna Bhãrata, Aligarh, 1959, Vol. II, p. 413-18
  • “On 17 Zilhijjã he started towards Jagat and reduced that place after marching continuously. The infidels of Jagat ran away to the island of Sãnkhû. The Sultãn destroyed Jagat and got its palaces dismantled. He got the idols broken…”
    • Sultãn Mahmûd BegDhã of Gujarat (AD 1458-1511)Dwarka (Gujarat) Mir‘ãt-i-Sikandarî in S.A.A. Rizvi in Uttara Taimûr Kãlîna Bhãrata, Aligarh, 1959, Vol. II, p. 318
  • He stopped public worship at the Hindu temple of Dwarka.'
    • Aurangzeb. Mirat-i-Ahmadi by Ali Muhammad Khan, in : Sharma, Sri Ram, Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors, Bombay, 1962., p. 137-138
  • In the year 878 A.H. Sultan Mahmud Begada conquered Dwarkan, and destroyed the temple in the island of Shankhoddar (Beyt) and built a mosque... In the time of the carly Muslim rule the idols dedicated to Krishna, his father, and his mother, were removed from Jagat and placed in the island (Shankhoddar, Beyt), but in the end they were destroyed by Sultan Mahmud Begada.
    [Aurangzeb, on learning of an attack on the Mughal outpost at Dwarka, ordered local officials] “to stop the Hindus from worshipping at this place”.
    • Mirat-i-Ahmadi, 1765: Supplement 1928: 121-122) quoted from Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history.178ff
  • The temple of Dwarica, the most celebrated of all the shrines raised to Crishna [Krishna], is built upon an eminence rising from the sea-shore, and surrounded by a fortified wall, which likewise encircles the town, from which it is, however, separated by a lofty partition-wall, through which it is necessary to pass to see it to advantage. The architectural character of this temple is that to which we are accustomed to give the name of pagoda. It may be said to consist of three parts: the munduff, or hall of congregation; the devachna, or penetralia (also termed gabarra); and the sikra, or spire…the chisel of Islam had been also at work, and defaced every graven image, nor is there enough remaining to disclose the original design: nevertheless, this obliteration has been done with care, so as not to injure the edifice. The basement, or square portion of the temple, from which springs the sikra, was the sanctum in former ages, when Budha-trivicrama was the object of adoration, anterior to the heresy of Crishna, who was himself a worshipper of Budha, whose miniature shrine is still the sanctum-sanctorum of Dwarica, while Crishna is installed in a cella beyond. The sikra, or spire, constructed in the most ancient style, consists of a series of pyramids, each representing a miniature temple, and each diminishing with the contracting spire, which terminates at one hundred and forty feet from the ground. There are seven distinct stories before this pyramidal spire greatly diminishes in diameter; each face of each story is ornamented with open porches, surmounted by a pediment supported by small columns. Each of these stories internally consists of column placed on column, whose enormous architraves increase in bulk in the decreasing ratio of the superimposed mass, and although the majority at the summit are actually broken by their own weight, yet they are retained in their position by the aggregate unity. The capitals of these columns are quite plain, having four cross projections for the architraves to rest on; and by an obtuseness in the Silpi not to be accounted for, several of these architraves do not rest on the columns, but on the projections; and, strange to say, the lapse of centuries has proved their efficiency, though Vitruvius might have regarded the innovation with astonishment. The entire fabric, whose internal dimensions are seventy-eight feet by sixty-six, is built from the rock, which is a sand-stone of various degrees of texture, forming the substratum of the island; – it has a greenish hue, either from its native bed, or from imbibing the saline atmosphere, which, when a strong light strikes upon it, gives the mass a vitreous transparent lustre. Internally it has a curious conker-like appearance. The architraves are, however, an exception, being of the same calcareous marine conglomerate, not unlike travertine, as already described in the temple of Somnat’h.
    • James Tod The temple of Dwarka, James Tod quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter 9
  • The foundation of this shrine must have been laid in the solstice, as its front varies ten points from the meridian line; and as the Silpi, or architect, in these matters, acts under the priest, we may infer that the Surya Siddhanta was little known to the Goorgoocha Brahmins, the ministrants of their times, who took the heliacal rising of those days as the true east point; its breadth is, therefore, from N.N.W. to S.S.E. Contrary to custom, it has its back to the rising sun, and faces the west. Crishna is here adored under his form of Rinchor, when he was driven from his patrimony, Surasena, by the Budhist king of Magadha. A covered colonnaded piazza connects the cella of Crishna with a miniature temple dedicated to Deoki, his mother; and within the ample court are various other shrines, one of which, in the S.E. angle, contains the statue of Budha Tri-vicrama, or, as he is familiarly called, Tricam-Rae and Trimnat’h, which is always crowded with votaries. Opposite to this, or at the S.W. angle of the main temple, is a smaller one, dedicated to another form of Crishna, Madhu Rae, and between these is a passage leading by a flight of steps to the Goomtee, a small rivulet, whose embouchure with the ocean is especially sacred, though is would not wet the instep to cross it. From the grand temple to the sungum, or point of confluence, where there is a small temple to Sungum-Narayn, the course of the Goomtee is studded with the cenotaphs of those pilgrims who were fortunate enough to surrender life at this “dwara of the deity.” Amongst them are four of the five Pandu brothers, countenancing the tradition that the fifth proceeded across the Hemachil, where, being lost sight of, he is said to have perished in its snows, and whither he was accompanied by Baldeo, the Indian Hercules, whose statue is enshrined in the south-west corner of the great munduff, several step under ground. Baldeo is represented on his ascent from patal, or the infernal regions, after some monstrous combat.
    • James Tod The temple of Dwarka, James Tod quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter 9
  • In the ancient cities of Varanasi and Mathura, Ujjain and Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi and Dwarka, not one temple survives whole and intact from the ancient times.
    • Watson F and Hiro D (1979) India: A Concise History, Thames & Hudson, India, p. 96
  • “…When the Sultãn saw that the infidels had gone to that island, he ordered boats from the ports and proceeded to the island with his well-armed soldiers… The infidels did not stint in fighting with swords and guns. In the end the army of Islãm achieved victory. A majority of the infidels were slaughtered. The Musalmãns started giving calls to prayers after mounting on top of the temples. They started destroying the temples and desecrating the idols. The Sultãn offered namãz out of gratefulness of Allãh… He got a Jãmi‘ Masjid raised in that place…”
  • “This victory took place in the year 878, eight hundred and seventy-eight; the island of Sankhodar was never conquered in any age by any king of the past. It is related that the Sultan performed two genuflexions of namaz out of thanksgiving at the time of demolishing the temple and breaking the idols of Jagat. He grew eloquent in recitation of praise out of gratitude to God. The Muslims raised calls to namaz (azan) by loud voice from top of temples… He built a masjid there.”
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