The abode of Lord Krishna, The Gateway of Heaven, The Lost City, and The Sunken City of India, Dwarka is known by many names. A city in Gujarat, Dwarka is among the revered pilgrimage sites in India for Hindus as it is the ancient capital of Lord Krishna’s kingdom and is one of the greater Chardham sites. Thousands of pilgrims visit Dwarka to seek blessings from Krishna, who is also called Dwarkadhish or ‘King of Dwarka’.
Many legends and myths have been associated with this city and people till date have not been able to find out what really happened to Dwarka.
But what we do know is that Dwarka has been through turmoil over decades of attacks by different Hindu and Mughal rulers. Many marine archaeological explorations offshore and onshore in the Arabian Sea have also brought a number of findings to light, which we will discuss in this blog.
Keep reading to discover the legends, early to modern-day history, and archaeological findings at Dwarka ancient city.
The Yadava Clan
Lord Krishna held his kingdom in Dwarka Gujarat, which in ancient times was called “Anarta”. It had islands Antar dwipa, Dwarka Island, and the mainland of Dwarka. The Yadava clan (to which Lord Krishna belonged) ruled over this place for many years. The main leaders of the Yadava Clan were Lord Krishna, Balram, Kritavarma, Akrura, Satyaki, Uddhava, and Ugrasena.
Yadavas’ capital city and neighboring states, like Vrishnis, Andhakas, and Bhojas, have also been mentioned in Mahabharata.
Lord Krishna Built Dwarka
A popular tale about Dwarka says that Krishna moved to Kushasthali, which was the ancient name of Dwarka. He did so to distract Jarasandha, the king of the Magadha empire at the time, who was continuously attacking Mathura.
Jarasandha was the father-in-law of Kans, the earlier ruler of Mathura, and uncle of Krishna, who Krishna killed. Jarasandha wanted to avenge the death of Kans.
In addition, Kusasthali was the ancestral home of Krishna’s maternal side. The city was established by Raivata, a Yadava ancestor of Lord Krishna, who lost his kingdom to Punyajanas and then fled to Mathura to save himself and his clan members.
After years, Raivata came back to reestablish Kushasthali. The tale says that Lord Krishna shifting from Mathura to Dwarka happened in reverse.
After Krishna returned to Dwarka with his Yadava clan members, he requested Lord Vishwakarma to build a city for his kingdom. Lord Vishwakarma said the building was only possible if Lord Samudradev gave them some land. Krishna did as he was told, and in response to his prayers, Lord Samudradev gave Him land up to 12 Yojna, on which Lord Vishwakarma constructed the divine Dwarka Nagri.
Dwarka was made of jewels, emeralds, and gold and thus was also called ‘Suvarna Dwarka’.
Bet Dwarka, which is an island, is believed to be the original home of Lord Krishna from where he ruled the Dwarka Kingdom. Further, it adds that the lord left his mortal body, and Samudradeva took back what he had given; thus, Dwarka sank.
Keep reading to know the scientific explanations of why Dwarka sank.
2,500 Years Old Dwarkadhish Temple
Believed to have been set up by the grandson of Lord Krishna, Vajranabha, to pay tribute to the lord, Dwarkadhish Temple is a revered site and has an interesting story.
Local beliefs say that Lord Krishna’s great-grandson Vajranabha constructed Dwarkadhish Temple, which is now more than 2,500 years old. The original temple was in an umbrella-like shape with an idol of the lord.
Another tale says it was built overnight with superpowers under the direction of Vajranabha. Only god knows what actually happened, right?
In 800 AD, Adi Shankaraya, a big philosopher and theologian, renovated the Dwarkadhish Temple. A memorial of Adi Shankaraya is present in the temple complex.
Also, the temple has been renovated many times as Dwarkadhish or Ranchhod (name of Lord Krishna) was a revered deity in Gujarat, and renovations symbolized devotion. Many kings who ruled Dwarka also contributed to the renovations to gain acceptance among the general public.
Destruction and Reconstruction Of Dwarkadhish Temple
In 1472, Dwarkadhish Temple faced huge destruction by Mahmud Begada. The temple people visit today for blessings was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Chalukya style and differed from the former structure.
A legend says that in the 16th century, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, poet Meera Bai, merged with the idol at this temple and was never seen again.
Early History Of Dwarka
In 200 AD, King Vasudeva II ruled Dwarka and lost the kingdom to Mahakshatriya Rudradama, a Vaishnava follower who worshiped Lord Krishna. After he died, Queen Dheeradevi invited Pulumavi for guidance regarding ruling Dwarka. Later, the successor of Rudradama, Vajranabha, built a Chhatri (cenotaph) and enshrined the idol of Lord Krishna inside.
Also, to revive Hinduism, Adi Guru Shankaracharya, founded the Chardham (Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri, and Rameswaram). A monastic center of Hindu was set up where Dwarka Temple is located today.
Dwarka Under Attack
Mohammad Shah attacked Dwarka in 1241. During his attacks, he demolished the Dwarkadhish Temple, and five Brahmins who tried to stop Mohammad Shah got killed and became martyrs. Near the temple, there’s a shrine honoring the heroism of these Brahmins, called ‘Panch Peer’.
Later, Mahmud Begada, ruling Gujarat in 1473, ransacked Dwarka. He destroyed the rebuilt temple again.
Years later, Turk Aziz invaded Dwarka in 1551, and the idol of Lord Krishna was shifted to Bet Dwarka (an island) to protect it.
Further, the Okhamandal region plus Dwarka were under the rule of Gaekwad of Baroda during the revolt of 1857. As 1859 came by, a battle took place between British forces and the Vaghers natives. Vaghers won and ruled the region till 1859.
But in 1859, the joint forces of Gaekwads, British, and other troops of adjoining princely states attacked and defeated Vaghers, taking back the control of Dwarka.
This time too, the Dwarkadhish Temple and Bet Dwarka were damaged.
Locals reported about the Britishers atrocities, and that led to the restoration of the temples once again.
And in this process, Dwarka got another temple by Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda, Shikhara Temple, with a golden pinnacle around 1958. The Government of India has been responsible for the maintenance of this temple since 1960.
Why Did Dwarka Sank?
If you’ve been searching for “what happened to Dwarka?”, hope this section will answer it.
Scientifically, a rise in the sea level is the answer. Many studies conducted on the city have proved that the sea rose, which led to the submerging of Dwarka.
An important work of Sanskrit literature, Harivamsa, describes Dwarka’s submerging. Krishna said to Arjun, who was visiting Dwarka during that time, to evacuate the residents of the city as the sea was going to flood the city. Krishna said, “On the 7th day, as the last of the residents were leaving Dwarka, the sea came rushing to the streets of Dwarka.”
Many experts have come up with three possible reasons for “why the sea entered Dwarka?”.
First, the seabed level changed. (But if it did, there should be some tearing-off action on the shore that would be visible, which is absent.)
Second, a massive earthquake hit the city. (Earthquakes were out of the question when colliding buildings did not happen.)
Third, there was a sudden increase in sea water level.
They believed third is the most reasonable answer to this. Why? A similar phenomenon happened on the shores of Bahrain around the same time, which tells many findings.
Findings At The Dwarka Excavation Site
Dwarka is one of the ancient cities of India and, therefore, has been on the radar of many archeologists around the world. Also, it has been associated with Mahabharata and has many legends that fascinate the world. Keeping these in mind, many explorations and excavations have taken place onshore and offshore Dwarka undersea, which will be discussed in this blog section.
The very first excavations that happened in Dwarka were around 1963. It brought many ancient artifacts to the forefront. The excavations on the seaward side of the city have unearthed many things like triangular three-holed stone anchors, stone jetties, and submerged settlements, which were in the shapes of fort bastions, outer and inner walls, and more.
Varahdas ruled Dwarka once, and his son, Simhaditya, mentioned Dwarka in his copper inscriptions dating back to 574 AD.
There have been other Dwarka underwater archaeology excavations near Bet Dwarka through which one thermoluminescence has been discovered of the Harappan period, dating back to 1570 BC.
Marine archeologists have made findings off Dwarka that brought to light numerous stone structures in different shapes. Many seals, inscriptions, etc., have been found that date back to 1500 BC, along with pottery dated to 3528 BC.
Dwarka has been a land of myths, but these findings on land and underwater are clear signs that Dwarka, the abode of Lord Krishna, was more than just a legend. Do you agree?
If you wish to immerse yourself in the spiritual aura of beautiful temples like Dwarkadhish Temple, the Jyotirlinga Nageshwar Temple, and other famous temples in Dwarka, plan a pilgrimage tour with Dwarka tour packages by Indian Holiday, which you can customize as per your requirements.
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