Until the unearthing of Dwarka, the submerged city, archaeologists believed civilization in India dated back to 3,000 to 6,000 years. But findings from the sunken bed of the Gulf of Cambay push this age back to 9,000 to 15,000 years ago – millenniums before the birth of Christ. This submerged city is one of the dearest mysteries of marine archaeologists around the world, and a fable that verifies the epic of Mahabharata.
Dwarka: Lord Krishna’s mighty kingdom
According to the epic of Mahabharata, Krishna established his mighty kingdom off the coast of Gujarat to escape endless deaths and battles between him and Jarasandh (in Mathura). The city had 900,000 royal palaces made of silver, embedded with emeralds and many crystals. Connected by an elaborate network of boulevards, markets and temples, Dwarka was evolved in its design and architecture unlike any other construction of the age.
In 1988, the Marine Archaeological Unit of India started underwater excavations around the area of Lothal, the port centre of Harappan civilization. The team led by archaeologist S.R. Rao had been finding artifacts and pottery predating the Indus valley civilization around the area. This is why they decided to pursue the search of the sunken city of Dwarka.
The discoveries from 1988 yielded more artifacts, jewelry, and broken structures that were over 3,500 years old. But the most definitive findings were done by accident by a group of students at the Gulf of Cambay. Some 70-feet below sea-level they found sandstone walls, grids of streets, extremely large pieces of rock once part of structures and copper coins dating back to 9,500 years ago.
Discoveries by the Archaeological Survey of India not only proved that the mythic city of Dwarka was real but also contested the age of civilization in India which according to western archaeologists was only 3,500 years old. Dwarka not only adds age to Indian civilization but also proves that Mahabharata was not a fabled story.
So, what happened to Dwarka?
According to research, a catastrophe swallowed the city whole approximately 3,500 years ago. Therefore, sinking it to the bottom of the ocean. Archaeologists gave 3 possible reasons for its destruction:
- A shift in the level of the seabed
- An earthquake or tsunami
- Sudden rise in the sea-level
It was revealed that given the condition in which buildings were discovered, it couldn’t have been a tsunami/earthquake. In the case of the rise of sea-level, it is possible since a similar phenomenon had occurred in Bahrain at the same time. This is supported by the fact that there was a busy network of trade between the coastal town of Lothal (near Dwarka) and Bahrain.
Where is Dwarka?
Dwarka is situated 32km from the iconic Shiva temple, Somnath, in Gujarat – earlier known as Saurashtra.
Dwarkadish Temple: The Sacred Abode of ‘King of Dwarka’
Located in a historical city , the Dwarkadish temple exists to worship the ‘King of Dwarka’. The revered site is a part of the char dham. The Dwarka temple timings for everyone is from 6:30 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 9:30 pm on all days.
Legend: Every curse in Hindu mythology has an interesting story behind it. It is said that Sage Durvasa once visited Krishna and Rukmini and asked to be taken to their palace. On their way, Rukmini asked Krishna for some water and he dug a mythical hole that brought river Ganga to them. Durvasa got angry and cursed Rukmini to remain “imprisoned” in that place. Therefore, it is said that the structure of Rukmini’s shrine in Dwarka is built where she stood after the curse.
Symbolism: The Dwarka Temple is not just ancient but its structure holds a symbolic relevance. The main entrance to the religious site is known as Moksha Dwara (Door to Salvation). The south entrance of the temple is called Swarga Dwara (Gate to Heaven). The flag hoisted on top of the temple shows the sun and moon. It is said that these flags depict Lord Krishna’s presence till the time both the celestial bodies exist on earth.
Iskcon temple Dwarka is dedicated to Krishna and Rukmini Devi. It is a relatively new temple but the structure takes inspiration from ancient architecture. The peaceful and calm ambience and a mesmerizing view of the Arabian sea has turned it into a popular tourist attraction. The Bhakts can visit the temple from 5 am- 12 am and 4 pm- 9 pm.
How to reach Dwarka?
The Ahmedabad Airport is well connected on International and Domestic routes. Tourists can either hire a taxi and embark on a relaxing road trip. There is also an option of booking a self-drive vehicle if a person loves driving. The fastest route is via NH47 AND NH97.
Distance: 450 km
Time: 9 hours
Another option is to fly down to Jamnagar. The Airforce controlled airport only has a travel route established with Mumbai. So, people will have to under any circumstances come to Mumbai. The fastest route is via NH947.
Distance: 127 km
Time: 2.5 hours
Dwarka is well connected via Okhla across India. Express trains from Ahmedabad to long haul routes from Delhi provide a lot of options.
Direct buses to Dwarka are available from Jamnagar and Ahmedabad.
India is filled with fables and stories that walk the fine line between myth and reality. Do you know of such places or stories? Let us know in the comments below.