Just like the Atlantis, here’s a city that lies submerged beneath the seas… captivating one and all with its legends and mythology! While the Atlantis is known for its Greek gods, the city of Dwarka is closely associated with several legends of Lord Krishna (one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu). Taking you back in time to 1500 BC here’s a city that is linked with ancient Hindu texts like the Puranas and the Gita.

However rebuilt today, Dwarka is a city located on India’s west coasts on the extreme western tip of the Kathiawar peninsula. Originally Kushasthali or Dwaravati of the ancient Puranic times, legends have it that when Lord Krishna was dying he asked his devotees to leave Swarnadwarika so that the seas could engulf it. Until this day, Lord Krishna’s city lies buried under the sea, with excavations revealing that the sea swallowed five settlements, the present-day Dwaraka being the sixth in line.

A search for the lost city by the Archeologists of the Marine Archeology Unit (MAU) jointly by the National Institute of Oceanography and the Archaeological Survey of India in early 1930’s, discovered an immersed township during its underwater explorations, conducted in 1983 – 1990. Also recovered during the excavations were foundations of boulders, copper coins, old constructions, pottery samples, etc. that date back to around 1500 BC.

The Dwarka that lies here today was built in place of the submerged city and is one of the most sacred pilgrim destinations for Hindus in India. Legends talk about the original city of Dwarka being a glorious city. According to Ved Vyas, Dwarka was a city so golden that it cast its radiance on the ocean for miles around it. A city built when according to legends Krishna asked Vishwakarman, the architect of the gods, to build him a city more beautiful than any before it.

One of India’s most sacred cities, Dwarka is of tremendous importance to Hindus, as it is categorised under both the ‘Chardham’ sites and the ‘sapta-puris’ (seven sacred cities). Literally meaning the ‘Gateway to the spiritual union with Brahma’, Dwarka is derived from two words – dwara (door) and ka (Brahma). Many Hindus believe that the Dwarka of today was rebuilt by Lord Krishna’s heir Vajranabh. Interestingly it is said that the Dwarkanath Temple also known as Trilok Sundar was erected overnight, under Vajranabh’s direction.

Dating back 2500 years, the temple of Dwarkadheesh, known also by the name Jagat Mandir, on the north bank of the Gomti Creek, is a magnificent temple built as per ancient Hindu architecture. While the audience hall is supported by sixty columns, the main temple is five-storey high with a generously engraved pointed spire rising to a height of 157 feet. Found here is also an idol of Ranchhodrai, the leader of Dwarika.

An architectural marvel honoring Rukmini, who is according to Hindu mythology  an manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty; and the most important of Krishna’s 16,108 wives is the Rukmini Devi Temple here. One of the most beautiful temples here, it dates back to the 12th century and its walls are filled with paintings depicting Rukhmini’s pastimes with Krishna.

Another must visit here is the Dwarka gomati ghat temples where Gomati (the descended Ganges) converges with the sea at Chakra-tirtha Ghat. It is said to bath at the point where Gomati meets the ocean is said to offer deliverance. Getting out of the rear entrance of the Dwarkadish Temple, one can see the Gomati River.

The Samudra Narayana Temple (Sangam Narayana) is another striking temple at the confluence of the Gomati and the sea. At Chakra Narayana, Lord Vishnu is marked as a stone marked with a chakra on the seashore. The image of the Gomati River in the Gomatiji Temple has an interesting legend to it. It is said to have been brought down from heaven by Vasistha Muni.

Ten km from Dwarka is another attraction of religious significance, the Nageswara Mahadeva Temple, which houses one of the twelve Siva Jyotirlingas in an underground chamber. Gopi-tallava is the kund (pond) where Lord Krishna met the gopis when they came to see him at Dwarka. Another important attraction here include the Bhalka Tirth, the site where Lord Krishna was killed by an arrow when he was mistaken for a deer, whilst sleeping in a deerskin, legends say he was later cremated at Dehotsarga at Triveni Ghat.

Another important site quite close to Dwarka is Somnath that is also home to one of the 12 Jyotirlingas shrines. According to legends, here one can find a shrine built by Soma, the Moon God. While the original shrine was built by the Moon god in Gold, it was razed and rebuilt by Ravana in silver and finally knocked down and reconstructed in wood by Krishna, only later to have an edifice of stone erected in its place by Bhimdev.  Relics of the old Somnath shrine have been preserved in a museum housed in a temple. Also found here is the Sun Temple.

Besides the numerous temples found here, Dwarka is also sanctified as the seat of Adi Shankaracharya, who established four seats (maths) in four different directions in the country. The Sharada Peetha of Dwarka is a famous research centre of Sanskrit language.

Looking at making your pilgrimage here to this holy site? Then Jamnagar, 145 kilometres away, is the nearest airport, by road. Private buses and taxis and conducted tours run to Dwarka. By train, Dwarka and Jamnagar (Gujarat)are well connected by railway lines to other parts of the country.

A city seeped with myth and mythology it comes alive during the months of August/September when Janmashtami (birthday of Lord Krishna), is celebrated here with great fervor.