The ancient city and capital of the Kingdom of Lord Krishna, Dwarka is a popular choice among tourists for its religious history. The tourists keep pouring into the place because of its intimacy with mythology and imperialism.
Dwarka is truly an ancient city and is known to pre-date even the period of Mahabharata. It is located in the western region of the Indian state of Gujarat in the Saurashtra peninsula on the Arabian Sea.
Here are 15 things you can do in Dwarka:
Dwarkadhish Temple Darshan
The most popular thing that attracts people to the city of Dwarka is this temple. The best time to visit the temple is early in the morning for the Aarti at 7:00 am and also in the evening. It has crowds of pilgrims and a spiritual aura around it.
Watch the Flag Change at Dwarkadhish Temple
The flag changing at the Dwarkadheesh temple that takes place in the morning, as well as the evening, is one wonderful sight to watch. The 52-yard flag is brought by the family that is sponsoring it in what seems like a ceremonial procession. There is singing as well as dancing. As the Brahmin climbs the Shikhara of the temple to change the flag, the crowd bursts into happy cheers.
Visit the Rukmini Temple
Dedicated to Krishna’s Chief Queen Rukmini, this temple is inferred to belong to the 12th century. It is another one of Dwarka’s must-see temples.
The meaning of Tulabhar is weighing some things according to your weight to be donated or given to charity. Tulabhar has much importance in the mythology and even the story related to Rukmini. Therefore, as we started walking along the Gomti River, we saw the weighing scales that hung from the ceiling. There was a person sitting on one side of it with grains on the other side.
Upon asking, the priest told us how much money it would cost to do a Tulabhar according to our weights. He talked with precision and professional expertise and then explained to us the significance as well as details of Tulabhar.
It is said that if you donate seven items, the weight of which would be equal to yours, it will grant you Moksha. These seven items include- Desi ghee, Wheat, Urad Daal and Moong Daal, Sugar, Clarified Butter & Oil. This is written in the scriptures, that tulabhar in Dwarka will get you liberation.
The Pandit told us that all this donation went to widows and poor Brahmins if you were curious to know.
Ride a camel on either bank of Gomti River
There are two banks of Gomti where you are allowed to take a camel ride. We saw kids having fun riding it but were a little apprehensive of it ourselves. On one side of Gomti, there are various temples and ghats while there is a small beach on the other side of it. The camel walks close to the river showing wondrous sights.
There are also five wells that one crosses by and it is said that these sweet water wells are supposedly five rivers that were brought to this place by rishis. There are boards that mention this story as well as the names of the rishis and the rivers. There are two temples there as well, one of which contains the footprint of those five rishis who brought the river there. These temples are Laxmi Narayan temple and Ambaji temple. The former has an old cave that also houses footprints of the Pandavas.
The camel ride actually turned out to be quite fun and afterwards, we just sat there on the sandy patch watching others ride, or seeing the camels run occasionally. It was a funny sight.
Sunrise at Sudama Setu on Gomti River
Dwarka is one such place where you can see the view of a lovely sunset that gets imprinted on your mind. Though it is hard to wake up on time and reach Sudama Setu by the time of Sunrise, yet there is no better place for watching the sunrise than here. As the cable bridge(newly built) joins the two edges of the Gomti River, you have to buy a ticket for it. The ticket window is open early in the morning.
All these elements join together, seeing the morning sunshine falling on Gomti in the meeting point with the sea, standing on the bridge, it is an amazing experience to be had.
There are walking paths along with sitting benches across the bridge. We sat down and relaxed for a while, watching the Dwarikadhish temple being reflected in the river Gomti. We saw people taking baths at the ghats and just diving in for a dip. The morning rituals began at the temples and the city slowly came to life. The view of the river (though it is the sea water that flows in the river now), yet the illusion of it is so stunning that we couldn’t quite take our eyes off of it for a long time.
At the edge of Gomti, there is another temple—one of the oldest in the city called the Samudra Narayan temple. Do visit it if you get the time and remember to visit the ghats as well. There are plenty of small temples all around Dwarka city.
Sunset at the Dwarka beach
If the Sudama Setu is the best place for watching the sunrise, the best place for seeing the setting sun would have to be Badkeshwar Mahadev Temple. It is a small and old temple from where you can have an unobstructed and magnificent view of the sunset.
The temple must have been located on an island at some point because the path still gets filled up with water when there are high waves. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case when we were visiting. We also saw a great view of Dwarka city from here and it looked like it sat on top of rocks with waves crashing on the rocks.
We took long walks along the edges of the city, looking at camel rides on one side and beautiful rock formations on the other side of it. There is also a black and white lighthouse that looks glorious standing tall. The sunset adds more beauty to it all and creates a perfect setting for clicking incredible pictures.
One can easily find out the timings of the Arti from visiting the Gomti Temple near the Gomti Ghat. While we were visiting, the aarti happened around 6:30 am. Though the whole thing is not as elaborate or grand like the Ganga Arti in Kashi, Haridwar and Rishikesh, it has a certain charm of its own. And if you are visiting Dwarka, you should stick around to see it.
Visit the presiding deities of Dwarka
Bhadrakali Mandir and Siddheshwar Mahadev Temple – Dwarka
Though it is true, that Dwarikadhish is known to be the foremost presiding deity of the city, there are deities who presided in the city even before Lord Krishna who is the King of Dwarika and is worshipped as such. These deities are Lord Shiva and Ma Bhadrakali who also have temples dedicated to them in the city at present. The temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Ma Bhadrakali are quite small and underwhelming. One will have to ask the locals, in order to reach them. The Siddheshwar Mahadev temple has a beautiful ceremony of lamp lighting every evening, that one should see. Bhadrakali temple, on the other hand, is located on the main road with other temples close by.
Visit the Sharda Peeth
Dwarka houses one of the four Peethas that was set up by Adi Shankaracharya. It is a part of the Dwarikadhish Temple complex and they have some wonderful libraries and a nice temple. It also has many intellectuals and knowledgeable people you can talk to. We picked up a book here telling us about Dwarka city. The students of the Sharda Peeth also do a chanting which is an out-worldly experience in itself.
Visit More Temples in Dwarka
A few other interesting temples in Dwarka city are as below:
- Swaminarayan Temple
- ISCKON Temple
- Gayatri Devi Temple
- Shankaracharya Temple (which is mainly in ruins but still worth it to see the remains of what was once a great ancient temple.)
- Mira Bai Temple (which is in the same temple as Samudra Narayan temple)
There are many birds in Dwarka city, especially around the water bodies. There are some around the bushes as well. We spotted Demoiselle Cranes on our way to the city which remained the highlight of the bird-watching escapade. It was sheer joy to see them.
Ride a Chhakda
These Chhakdas of various colours run all around the city. It is basically a kind of vehicle which is quite unique. The vehicle runs on a motorcycle engine and can carry around 12-14 people in it. Try riding on them. It is quite fun actually.
Visit the Oldest Stone Inscription of Dwarka City
The oldest stone inscription in Dwarka is situated at ASI Dwarika office. It dates back to 2nd BCE and is quite a large stone which is triangular in shape. Though the inscription is hard to head and we didn’t quite get it, it was still good to see.
Buy some Dwarka Souvenirs
Take some souvenirs back for your own memories or some for friends or family. The best thing is, of course, a picture of Dwarikadhish, whether it is a photograph or a glass box.
Chakrashila – These are basically corals from the sea that feel hard like a stone in your hand and have a wheel-like formation on them. Some of these are quite lightweight and even float on water. These can be used for decoration purposes or even as a paperweight. Seeing them float in water outside temples is quite a common sight in Dwarka.
There are conch-shaped seashells as well that you can get or traditional style conch shells, whatever suits you. There is also a type of Chandan, that is basically dried soil from Gopi Talaav and can be bought from almost any souvenir shop in Dwarka. It is called Gopi Chandan.
Best Time to visit:
October to March is the best time to visit.
Somnath Mahadev Fair and Mahashivratri are the two major festivals that are celebrated in Dwarka with much enthusiasm. Janmashtami is also one of the major festivals, that is celebrated in the month of August/ September.
Tip to Remember: In Dwarka, people start their days early and sleep their afternoons away, so plan your travels for the day accordingly.
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