The Dwarkadhish temple, also known as the Jagat Mandir and occasionally spelled Dwarakadheesh, is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Krishna, who is worshiped here by the name Dwarkadhish, or ‘King of Dwarka’. The temple is located at Dwarka, Gujarat, India. The main shrine of the five storied building, supported by 72 pillars, is known as Jagat Mandir or Nija Mandir, archaeological findings suggest it to be 2,000 – 2,200 years old. The temple was enlarged in the 15th- 16th century. The Dwarkadhish Temple is a Pushtimarg temple, hence it follows the guidelines and rituals created by Vallabhacharya and Vitheleshnath.
According to tradition, the original temple was believed to have been built by Krishna’s grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Krishna’s residential place). The original structure was destroyed by Mahmud Begada in 1472, and subsequently rebuilt in the 15th-16th century. The temple became part of the Char Dham pilgrimage considered sacred by Hindus in India. Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century Hindu theologian and philosopher, visited the shrine. The other three being comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath and Puri. Even today a memorial within the temple is dedicated to his visit. Dwarakadheesh is the 98th Divya Desam of Vishnu on the subcontinent, glorified in the Divya Prabandha sacred texts. it was rebuilt by Raja Jagat Singh Rathore. The temple is at an elevation of 12.19 metres (40.0 ft) above mean sea-level. It faces west. The temple layout consists of a garbhagriha (Nijamandira or Harigraha) and an antarala (an antechamber). It is conjectured that this temple location is 2,500 years old where Krishna had built his city and a temple. However, the existing temple is dated to 16th century.
As per Hindu legend, Dwarka was built on a piece of land by Krishna that was reclaimed from the sea. Sage Durvasa once visited Krishna and his wife Rukmini. The sage wished that the pair took him to their palace. The pair readily agreed and started walking with the sage to their palace. After some distance, Rukmini got tired and she requested some water from Krishna. Krishna dug a mythical hole that brought in river Ganga to the place. Sage Durvasa was furious and cursed Rukmini to remain in the place. The temple where Rukmini’s shrine is found, is believed to the place where she stood.
The town of Dwarka in Gujarat has a history that dates back centuries, and mentioned in the Mahabharat epic as the Dwaraka Kingdom. Situated on the banks of river Gomti, the town is described in legend as the capital of Krishna. Evidence such as a stone block with script, the way the stones were dressed showing that dowels had been used, and an examination of anchors found on the site suggest that the harbour site dates only to historical times, with some of the underwater structure being late Medieval. Coastal erosion was probably the cause of the destruction of what was an ancient port.
Hindus believe that the original temple was constructed by Vajranabh, the great grand son of Krishna, over the residential palace of Krishna. It was destroyed by Sultan Mahmud Begada in 1472.
The current temple in Chaulukya style was constructed in 15-16th century. The temple covers area of 27 metre by 21 metre with east-west length of 29 metre and north-south width of 23 metres. The tallest peak of the temple is 51.8 m high.
Since this site is associated with the ancient city of Dvārakā and the Vedic era Krishna of Mahabharata, it is an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus. It is one of 3 main pilgrimage sites related to “Krishna” circuit, namely 48 kos parikrama of Kurukshetra in Haryana state, Braj Parikarma in Mathura of Uttar Pradesh state and Dwarka Parikrama (Dwarkadish Yatra) at Dwarkadhish Temple in Gujarat state.
The flag atop the temple shows the sun and moon, which is believed to indicate that Krishna would be there till Sun and Moon exist on Earth. The flag is changed up to five times a day, but the symbol remains the same. The temple has a five-story structure built on seventy-two pillars. The temple spire is 78.3 m high. *The temple is constructed of limestone which is still in pristine condition. The temple shows intricate sculptural detailing done by successions of dynasties that ruled the region. The structure was not expanded much by these works.
There are two entrances to the temple. The main entrance (north entrance) is called “Moksha Dwara” (Door to Salvation). This entrance takes one to the main market. The south entrance is called “Swarga Dwara” (Gate to Heaven). Outside this doorway are 56 steps that leads to the Gomati River. The temple is open from 6.00 am to 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm to 9.30 pm. The Krishnajanmastami festival,or Gokulashtami, the birthday of Krishna was commissioned by Vallaba (1473-1531).
According to a legend, Meera Bai, the princess cum saint, a staunch devotee of Krishna merged with the deity at this temple. It is one of the Sapta Puri, the seven holy cities of India.
The temple is also the location of Dvaraka Pitha, one of the four peeths (religious centers) established by Adi Shankaracharya (686-717) who pioneered unification of Hindu religious beliefs in the country. It is a four storied structure representing four peeths established by Shankaracharya in different parts of the country. There are paintings on the walls here depicting the life history of Shankaracharya while the dome has carvings of Shiva in different postures.
It is a five storied edifice built over 72 pillars (sandstone temple with 60 pillars is also mentioned). The original temple had been built by Krishna’s grandson over the Harigraha, the palace of Krishna. The temple has an assembly hall or audience hall. There are two important entrances to the temple, one is the main entry door which is called the Moksha Dwar (meaning “Door to Salvation”) and the exit door which is known as the Swarga Dwar (meaning: “Gate to Heaven”).
The main deity deified in the sanctum is of Dwarkadeesh, which is known as Trivikrama form of Vishnu and is depicted with four arms. On the chamber to the left of the main altar is the deity of Balarama, elder brother of Krishna. The chamber to the right houses the images of Pradyumna and Aniruddha, son and grandson of Krishna. In several shrines surrounding the central shrine there are images of Radha (Krishna’s companion), Jambavati, Satyabhama, Lakshmi, Devaki (Krishna’s mother), Madhav Raoji (another name for Krishna), Rukmini, Jugal Swaroop (name for Krishna), Lakshmi Narayana, and Sita.
The temple spire rises to a height of 78 metres (256 ft) and a very large flag with symbols of Sun and Moon is hoisted on it. The flag, triangular in shape, is of 50 feet (15 m) length. This flag is changed four times a day with a new one and Hindus pay a huge sum of money to hoist it by purchasing a new flag. The money received on this account is credited to the trust fund of the temple to meet the operation and maintenance expenses of the temple.