Dvaraka Krishna’s house – the gate to heaven and the underwater city

(ORDO NEWS) — The modern city of Dwarka (meaning “Gate to Paradise” in Sanskrit) is located in the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat.

This city is considered one of the most significant Chardhams (four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites) and one of the seven oldest religious sites in the country (the other six are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Banaras, Kanchi and Ujjain).

Holy City of Dvaraka

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The reputation of Dwarka is mainly due to the identification of the modern city with the mythological holy city of Dwarka, believed to have been the first capital of Gujarat.

Dvaraka is mentioned in the Mahabharata, one of the two great epics of ancient India, as well as in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Skanda Purana, Vishnu Purana and Harivamsa.

According to Hindu mythology, Dvaraka was the city where Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu, once lived. It is believed that Krishna was born in Mathura, south of Delhi in what is now the state of Uttar Pradesh.

His uncle, Kansa, was the tyrannical ruler of this city and was eventually killed by Krishna. Kansa’s father-in-law, who was Jarasandha, the king of Magadha, was furious when he learned of Kansa’s murder and tried to avenge his death.

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Yashoda bathing the child Krishna, from a manuscript of the Bhagavata Purana (1500)

Although Mathura was attacked 17 times, she did not fall before Jarasandh. However, his clan, the Yadavas, suffered heavy losses during the protracted conflict. Since Krishna realized that his people could not endure another war with Jarasandha, he decided to leave Mathura with the Yadavas.

Krishna builds Dvaraka

One version of the story says that Krishna was brought by Garuda (mountain of Vishnu) to the coast of Saurashtra in northwestern India. There Krishna founded the city of Dvaraka.

According to another version of the story, Krishna turned to Vishvakarma, the god of construction, when he decided to build his new city.

However, the deity informed him that the task could only be completed if Samudradev, the lord of the sea, provided the land. Krishna bowed to Samudradev, who was pleased and gave him 12 yojanas (773 sq km/298.5 sq mi) of land. Having received the land, Vishwakarma was able to build the city of Dvaraka.

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Lord Krishna in Dvaraka. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper from “Harivamsha” about the life of Krishna. (circa 1600)

City plan of Dvaraka

It is believed that the city of Dvaraka was carefully planned. It is believed that the city was divided into six sectors, which contained residential and commercial areas, wide roads, squares, palaces (700,000 of gold, silver and precious stones), as well as numerous public facilities, including beautiful gardens and lakes.

The place of public meetings was a hall called the sadharma-sabha (“Meeting of True Religion”). Because the city was surrounded by water, it was connected to the mainland by bridges and a port.

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Krishna’s childhood friend Sudama praises Krishna’s golden castle in Dvaraka. (1775-1790)

Seven cities on the site of Dvaraka

Krishna lived the rest of his life in this newly built city. However, after Krishna was accidentally hit by an arrow while meditating under a tree in the Bhalka Tirtha forest, he left this world. After the death of Krishna, the city he founded was swallowed up by a severe flood, as a result of which it was returned to the ocean.

Over the centuries, several civilizations are said to have built their cities on the site where the city of Dvaraka once stood. It is believed that the current city of Dwarka is the seventh of those that were built on this site.

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Wood carving depicting the death of Krishna

A mixture of history and myth

Some believe that Dvaraka and his fate is just a myth. However, there are those who fervently believe that this story has a historical basis.

Archaeological excavations were carried out in front of the famous temple of Dwarkadhish in the modern city (the current building dates from the 16th century AD). The results of these excavations testify to the existence of a ruined proto-historic settlement dating back to the 15th century BC.

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Dwarkadhish temple dedicated to Krishna in Dwarka, India

This discovery was the impetus for archaeologists to conduct marine research. The results of underwater archaeological research have shown that underwater structures do exist directly off the coast of a modern city.

These include stone anchors of various shapes and sizes, dressed stone blocks that were used for construction, and the fortress walls of the ancient city.

There is an assumption that these underwater structures also date back to the 15th century BC. Thus, it is quite possible that the mythological city of Dvaraka, founded by Krishna, has its historical base in this proto-historical settlement, which was submerged under water.


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