Prostrating at the feet of Dhivya Dampadhigal and acharyars, adiyen wishes to share our travel to Nava Dwarakas. As usual, adiyen is greatly indebted to Sri Velukudi Swamin for instilling the desire to undertake Sri Krishna Anu Yatirai. As part of our Sri Krishna Anu Yatirai, we set out to Mathura ,the birth place of Lord Sri Krishna-the poornavataaram of Mahavishnu.
We started our pilgrimage from Sri Krishna Janmasthaan at Mathura -the birth place of Lord Sri Krishna who appeared as the eighth child to Devaki and Vasudevar in a prison. From Mathura, we went to Vrindavan after having darshan of the places purified by Lord Krishna in Gokulam, Nandagaon-the place where HE killed Putana, Sakatasuran and other demons, the place where the Lord of the Universe was bound by Mother Yasodha, the many houses from where the Lord stole butter, the various places where the Lord killed many demons without using any weapon and reached Vrindavan. Being Life Member of ISKCON we had booked in advance accomodation in the temple guest house.
The Nava Dwarkas are
1) Mukti Dwarka (Gomti Dwarka) -main temple located in Dwarka in Gujarat
2) Rukmini Dwarka (4 kms from Dwarka)
3) Bhet Dwarka ( in an island 8 kms from Dwarka)
4) Moola Dwaraka (Rajkot-Dwarka route)
5) Sudama Dwarka (Porbandhar)
6) Nathdwara (near Udaipur in Rajasthan)
7) Kankroli Dwarka (near Nathdwara)
8) Prabhasa Theertha (Veravel near Somnath)
9) Dakore Dwarka (near Ahmedabad)
TRAVEL BASE : NATHDWARA / UDAIPUR
LOCATION: Located on Mavli-Udaipur route- 30 kms from Mavli
and 65 kms from Udaipur.
PRESIDING DIETY : SHRI SHRINATHJI
Every day there are 6 sevas to the . The darshan timings at Nathdwara are :-
6.00A.M.-6.15 A.M.(kakada aarthi)
9.00 A.M. TO 9.15 A.M.(Shringar aarthi)
11.30 A.M. TO 11.45 A.M.(raj bhog aarthi)
04.15- 04.30 P.M. (Uthappana aarthi)
06.00- 06.15 P.M. (sandhya aarthi)
08.00-08.15 P.M. ( sayana aarthi)
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
Kankroli Dwaraka (12 kms from Nathdwara)- one of the 9 Dwarakas
Rajsamund Lake : near Kankroli- famous for its dam and architecture
Chathur Bhuj temple: Temple for Vishnu with 4 hands
Ekaling temple: A huge lingam made from a single rock
WHERE TO STAY:- The above places can be visited within a day. We can straight away drive to Nathdwara, checkin in any hotel or ashram for refreshing and finish visiting the above places and go back to Udaipur for boarding train/ flight. Udaipur is well connected to major cities and hence it is advisable to go back to Udaipur.
WHERE TO EAT:- Prashad can be had from Nathdwara and Kankroli temples for a nominal amount of Rs.25/ per thali. Hotel Sankalp Restaurant provides good South Indian food.
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED
STHALAPURANAM:- Nathdwara is considered to be one of the 9 dwarakas and the presiding diety here is SHRI SHRINATHJI . Here the is seen in blackish form with HIS left hand raised upwards with little finger pointing upwards, HIS right hand closed in a fist rests on HIS hip. HIS eyes glance downward affectionately at HIS devotees. Shrinathji is very special and beautiful diety. There is a diamond on the chin of the Lord. This idol is swayambhu (self manifested and not carved by anyone). As the Lord is the combined form of Radharani and Gopala, HE is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”.( “SHRI” indicates Thayar ). The Lord is also known as “Banke Bhihari”. This vigraham was earlier in Vrindavan near Goverdhana giri and is related to one of Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan lifting Goverdhana hill.
LIFTING OF GOVERDHANA HILL:- To briefly recapitulate, Nanda Maharaja after consulting the other elderly gopas, decided to do pooja and give offerings to Indra, the king of devas , as they thought that Indra was responsible for timely rains and good yield of their crops. When the discussion was thus going on, child Sri Krishna , who was only 7 years old , intervened saying that Indra was not responsible for the cattle prosperity and it was Goverdhana giri which was responsible for the same as it provides the necessary grass to cattle, and crops to the gopas. Krishna suggested that they should therefore give their offerings to Goverdhana giri and all the gopas including Nanda Maharaj accepted to this proposal. An auspicious day was selected and all the gopas assembled in front of Goverdhana giri with heaps of offerings. Krishna advised them to close their eyes and everyone obeyed. Then Krishna assumed a huge form and with wide opened mouth, He consumed the entire offering. When it was finished, Krishna resumed HIS original child form and joined the gopis. The gopis were pleased to see that their offerings were accepted and happily returned home. Indra was naturally upset that no offering was made and decided to punish the gopis by sending torrential rains accompanied by thunder storms. Not knowing what to do, all the vraj vasis( gopis) approached Sri Krishna for help with their cattle and children. The child Krishna assured them and to their astonishment, lifted the Goverdhana giri with HIS left hand little finger and all the residents of Vrindavan along with their cattle took shelter under the hill . (recollected Nammazhwar’s pasuram”KUNDRAM ENDHI KULIR MAZHAI KAATHAVAN”) Krishna thus stood in this form for 7 days. Indra thus humbled realized HIS folly and surrendered at Krishna’s feet for forgiveness. Repenting for not realizing who Krishna was, he prayed to Krishna for forgiveness which is known as Govinda Stuthi. Krishna came to be known as “GOVINDA”- the protector of cows. Indra did Govinda abhishekam to Krishna with Kamadhenu , the divine cow and left the place.
SHRINATHJI (GOPALA ) DIETY DETAILS:- To mark this incident, Vajranabha constructed a temple at the foot of the hill. Due to passage of time, this idol disappeared and the whereabouts remained unknown for many years. After many years, appeared as Gopala in Madhavendra Puri’s dream, informed him about HIS whereabouts and a temple was constructed (pl. refer to the notes on Goverdhan Hill for more info). When Aurangzeb invaded Mathura and Vrindavan, the idol disappeared into the hill and could not be traced out. Even today, in Mathura, Vrindavan, we can find many old temples in ruins and the sculptures disfigured by Aurangzeb.
After many years, appeared to Sri Vallabhacharyar in his dream and informed HIS whereabouts. When Sri Vallabacharyar reached Goverdhanagiri, the idol emerged out by itself and was glorified by Vallabhacharyar. Perumal advised Vallabhacharyar, who was a very great devotee to carry Him to Mewar in Rajasthan. Vallabacharyar arranged a cart for Perumal and left for Mewar. Rana Raja Singh of Mewar helped Vallabhacharyar . After 2 months, the cart reached the present Nathdwara enroute to Mewar in the 17thcentury. But on the way to Mewar, the cart sped suddenly at this place and did not move an inch. Vallabacharyar heard a divine voice say that Perumal wished to stay in this place itself as it was the place where HIS dear devotee, Meera bhai stayed. ( The story of Meera bhai is well known to all of us. To briefly recapitulate, Mira bhai was fondly attached to Krishna’s idol given by her father. As a child, she always used to play with the , dress Him up and sing songs in praise of the and considered Krishna to be her spouse. She exhibited bhakti like the gopis of Vrindavan. The king of Mewar impressed with her bhakti married her despite having many queens. Though she was the queen of Mewar, she was totally disinterested in material comforts and always used to be in service of the Lord. In fact with every passing day, her bhakti enhanced and was totally immersed in Krishna Bhakti. She was unmindful of all the hardships and tortures implicated on her by the annoyed king and her co-sisters. They tried to kill her in many ways by even giving her poisoned milk. Mira offered the milk to her Lord and drank it. Krishna’s Thirumeni turned blue as HE consumed the poison but nothing happened to her. The king realized HIS folly and begged for forgiveness . Mira felt that it was not fit for her to remain there and left the palace and stayed in this place. ) The Vallabhacharyar with the help of Mewar king constructed a beautiful temple for the Lord
SRI VALLABHACHARYAR:- Vallabhacharyar, the founder of Pushti sect was born to poor parents in Rajasthan. He was like a burnt log of wood with deformed body at the time of HIS birth. The parents decided to abandon the child .On their way, they happened to pass by a yagnam where fire sacrifice was going on. Suddenly a jyothi appeared from the yagnam and entered into the child’s body . The child was immediately transformed into a beautiful child. Right from his childhood , he developed great bhakti for the Lord. He had a dream in which appeared and ordered him to go to Goverdhana giri and bring back the hidden idol.. Vallabhacharyar obeyed and to everyone’s bewilderment, when he reached Goverdhana giri, an idol sprang out suddenly.
(This reminds me of an incident connected to Melkote Perumal. Melkote is a small village near Mysore on the banks of Kalyani Pushkarini . When Sri Ramanujar arrived here, there was no temple. Perumal appeared in his dream and informed the whereabouts about the moolavar and utsavar. With the help of the local king, the pathway to the hill which was filled with bushes and throns were cleared and a temple was constructed in which the moolavar Thirunarayanan was placed in the sanctum sanctorum according to vedic rituals. As there was no utsavar, Udayavar prayed to Perumal for disclosing HIS whereabouts. Acharyar learnt from the local residents that the utsavar was with Delhi Sultan . The utsava murthi named Sampathkumaran, appeared in Sri Ramanujar’s dream. Sri Ramanujar went to Delhi and requested the king to return the idol.As there were many such idols which the king brought by looting various temples, he asked our acharyar to locate the idol. Ramanujar was taken to a storeroom where many idols were kept. But as none matched with his divine vision of the Lord, acharyar was disheartened. Then he heard that there was an idol with the princess with whom she played with. With the king’s permission, Ramanujar went to the palace to see the vigraham and LO , the vigraham jumped up from the place and suddenly moved towards Sri Ramanujar and sat on his lap. Hence the Lord is known a “CHELLA PILLAI”. As the princess was obsessed with the idol, she secretely followed our acharyar and finally Lord accepted her at HIS thiruvadi. At melkote, the utsava vigraham of Sri Ramanujar has Chella Pillai on his shoulders with the princess near the Lord’s thiruvadi )
As mentioned earlier, Perumal instructed him to take Him away to Mewar and the later developments have already been mentioned above. Vallabhacharyar used to please the Lord with his kirtans which was later followed by his disciples. In a corner of the temple, the photographs of Sri Vallabhacharyar along with his descendants are displayed. Even today, bhog is offered to Perumal on behalf of Sri Vallabhacharyar. 6 sevas are performed daily.
NATHDWARA TEMPLE DETAILS:- Nathdwara is a small town in Mavli-Udiapur route. Situated in the heart of the town, SHRINATHJI temple is the main attraction with hundreds of visitors thronging to the temple daily. This is the second richest temple in India, first being Tirumala temple. Opposite to the temple is the information centre who guide the pilgrims for prashad, timings etc. Near the entrance of the temple, we can find many vendors selling varieties of vegetables and fruits. .
*** There is a unique practice followed in this temple. Devotees can offer milk, varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Milk is to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place.
It is customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it gets fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag which is a hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .
There is a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” hung on a wall and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathura but his attempts became futile because Lord disappeared from that place. In the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radharani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI. The cart which carried the Lord is preserved in a separate room. Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. Once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars.
OUR EXPERIENCE IN SHRINATHJI TEMPLE AT NATHDWARA:-
Boarded Mewar Express at Mathura to reach Udaipur on 22/05/09. While discussing with my co-passenger, Shri.Sharma and his friends who were Rajasthanis, Adiyen disclosed my intention of visiting Nath Dwara and Kankroli Dwaraka. They suggested me to get down at MAVLI station itself as Nathdwara is only 30 kms from MAVLI and 65 kms from Udaipur. They informed us the temple timings ( in Gujarat and Rajasthan, most of the temples would be open for darshan only for short intervals, say 10 to 15 minutes at the time of aarthi and the curtains would be drawn. In case we miss to have darshan at that time, we have to wait till the next darshan.) and suggested that we could take a cab to Nathdwara, check in one of the hotels for refreshing, visit the temple, proceed to Kankroli Dwaraka, visit the temple, go to the famous Rajasmund lake , visit Charbhuj temple, Ekaling temple and return to Udaipur by evening for sight seeing as our train to Ajmer was at 11 P.M. adding that we could buy prashad for lunch for a nominal amount in the temple itself They also got down at Mavli, arranged a car after negotiating on our behalf for Rs.1,000/- to visit the above places. We profusely thanked God for the timely help and thanked them for their intervention , took photograph with them as remembrance, and got into the car.
A 40 minutes drive took us to Nathdwara. Took a room in Lakshmi Lodge, one of the hotels opposite car parking(a big open ground) on the way to temple. For one hour, we paid nominal amount of Rs.100/- for the same. It was 10 A.M. by the time we finished our chores . A five minute walk along the narrow streets led to the temple. This reminded us of Pandirpur Divya Kshetram . As the next darshan was at 11.30 A.M. , we decided to wait in the temple premises.
Usually we find vendors selling coconuts,tulasi and flowers in front of the temple. But here vendors sell varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Purchased 11 varieties of fruits and 11 varieties of vegetables and 2 pots of milk and handed over the same in the kitchen godown. (I wished I could have brought some rice , cereals, sugar , jaggery, dry fruits for the offering.) Milk has to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place. Cows move about freely outside the temple. It was a typical Gokulam scene –serene atmosphere with vendors doing their business as god’s seva without any competition and cows moving around freely inside and outside the temple.
A panda (authorized pujari) offered to sell some prashad (rice,dal, rotis with varieties of vegetables, sweet preparations) for Rs.25/- per plate. Paid money for 2 palates and were advised by him to wait in front of the garbagriham after darshan. Like in Puri, the pandas have hereditary right for their share in temple prashad daily and they in turn sell it to the devotees . Another similarity is like in Jagannath Puri, here many varieties of food are offered to the Lord . Many devotees were waiting to have darshan. There is a separate queue for ladies and gents.
As we were waiting near the entrance, an elderly person came forward and offered to guide us . He gave us information about the temple which we could not get any where .
He took us to the first floor of the temple where kirtan was going on while the temple flag was being changed. He informed that it was customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it was fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag. This is hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .
He then took us to a room where a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” was hung and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathurabut HIS attempts became futile because disappeared from that place. He said that in the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radha rani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”. While circumbulating the temple, he took us to a small room containing a cart. He informed that it was in this cart that Perumal reached this place. The cart is well preserved . Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. We were told that once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars. We offered our obeisances and reached the entrance of the main sannidhi. In front of the sannidhi, the guide showed us a place where sets of 5 coconuts were tied to a string and hung. He said that there is a strong belief that if devotees desiring their wish to be fulfilled pray to the here and tie the coconuts, their wish would be fulfilled.
Adiyen joined the gents queue and my wife and children joined the ladies queue. It was 11.15 A.M. and many devotees were already in front of the closed door. It is a common practice in North India to have darshan of the Lord when the doors are opened and aarthi is given . Hence the rooms in front of the sannidhi are constructed in such a way so as to accommodate few hundreds of devotees at a time. All the devotees can have darshan of the during aarthi and the devotees themselves can offer prasadam- sweets/ dry fruits to the . The darshan would be given only for 15 minutes after aarthi.
As there was 15 minutes left, we started reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam . When we completed , the doors sprang open and devotees rushed inside to have glimpse of the . Unusual thning noticed was the devotees enter horizontally paying darshan and don’t show their back .You have galleries and all move in horizontal lines . The is dressed like a small cowherd boy of 7 years . The aarthi had just begun and shodasa upacharams (16 types of upacharam) were offered to the Lord while chanting slokas and singing songs. The was dressed in “Parrot green coloured “cloth round HIS waist like a typical cowherd boy and was adorned with varieties of flowers. Adiyen recollected Periazwar’s pasurams describing the Lord’s return to HIS home after gazing the cows. Amidst loudly uttering “KANNAIYA LAL KI JAI” and singing of aarthi songs, we could experience the unalloyed vatsalya bhaavam of the devotees present. Like the gopis of Vrindavan , the devotees were not aware of their surroundings and their whole concentration was on the alone. The enchanting divya mangala swaroopam of the cannot be described in words. The is very very attractive with HIS left hand raised up with HIS little finger lifted up and HIS right hand closed in a fist and placed on HIS waist. A small stick is placed in front of Him which is used while gazing cows. We were being squeezed out in the rush but were unmindful of the pushing . Everyone was eager to take darshan standing in the front. Fortunately, we had darshan to our heart’s content. We just couldn’t take our eyes off from the Thirumeni. Every part is so attractive that we felt that one darshan is not enough. As they say, it is NOT THE DARSHAN WHAT WE SEEK, IT IS THE DARSHAN WHAT HE GIVES”. After darshan, we had to come out through another door in front of which there is a small sannidhi where charanamruth (theertham/ holy water) is distributed. Beside this, there is a counter from which the devotees can purchase sweets, laddus etc by paying money. This counter also would be open only for limited time.
As instructed by the panda who offered us prashad, we were sitting in front of the main door recollecting Perumal’s divya mangala swaroopam. After some time, my wife went in search of the Panda, and brought the prashad which was carried by panda’s attendant.. As having prashad in the temple premises is strictly prohibited, the attendant showed us a dharmashaala where we could have the prashad. After giving him Rs.10/, we went inside the dharmashaala and partook the prashad- 2 palates of little rice, 2 types of curries , dhal, payasam,sweets, rotis all kept in mud pots. Though there are many varieties of food offering to the Lord , the pandas are not given all the items. Hence, it is suggested to take prashad from 2 or 3 different pandas so that varieties of prashad can be tasted. We recollected our Puri Yathirai were the maha Prasad was taken in the temple vicinity.
After having prashad, we proceeded to another Dwaraka called Kankroli Dwarka which is about 12 kms from Nathdwara.
KANKROLI DWARAKA:- One of the 9 Dwarakas.
LOCATION:- Kankroli ,the leading exporter of marbles, is 12 kms away from Nathdwara in Rajasthan.The nearest city isUdaipur.
PRESIDING DIETY:- DWARAKADEESH(standing posture with 4 hands holding Sankhu(conch), chakram(disc), gadam(mace) and padmam(lotus)
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
RAJ SAGAR LAKE BESIDE TH TEMPLE, RAJSAMUND LAKE
TRAVEL BASE :- NATHDWARA/UDAIPUR – can be accessed from Nathdwara,not required to stay overnight
WHERE TO EAT:- Temple prashad either at Nathdwara or Kankroli/ Or any good hotel in Nathdwara
Light refreshments (tea/coffee/cool drinks/water/biscuits) available
near the temple
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple
STHALAPURANAM:- Kankroli Dwaraka is considered as one of the nava Dwarakas. Located on the banks of Rajsamund lake, Kankroli is known as “haveli of King of Dwarka”. The haveli (big mansion) and the ghats near the lake are built in Rajashtani style. It attracts pilgrims from all over India and is one of the important temples for Pushti Margi Vallabhacharya Vaishnavas.
A pujari informed that Brahma performed penance and Lord appeared to him at the time of creation of universe at this place in this form. A devotee informed that Krishna visited this place and hence this is considered as one of the Dwarakas. Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Annakoot festivals are celebrated grandly.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT KANKROLI DWARKA:-
DATE OF VISIT: 22/05/09
At the entrance , there is a big arch in Rajasthani style . Few shops selling refreshments, photos are on the way to the temple . On the right side, there is cloak room managed by temple authorities where the devotees are supposed to leave their mobiles, camera, videocam etc. for free of cost. Photography and carrying mobiles inside the temple is strictly prohibited. The temple was closed and the next darshan was only at 4.15 P.M. Hence, we went to the Raj Sagar lake which is beside the temple . Seating arrangements are provided for pilgrims in a nearby waiting hall . Many devotees had already assembled in this hall for having darshan.
AT 04.15 P.M., the temple doors were opened for visitors. A flight of steps led us to the main shrine. Participated in the the afternoon aarthi known as “Uthappana seva” .Perumal’s thirunaamam is Dwarakadeesh. Though the vigraham is small, it is very attractive. Perumal is seen with chathurbhuj(4 hands) holding the divya ayudhangal. (weapons). Two pujaris were offering 16 types of upacharams to the Lord . We had darshan to our heart’s content. Offered the dry fruits which we had brought with us as neivedyam to the Lord. On the left side of the main sannidhi, there is a separate sannidhi where child Krishna is placed on a cradle and the pujaris were performing jhoola seva. In a small vessel filled with water, varieties of scented flowers were kept. Varieties of flowers and fruits were placed in front of the Lord. Purchased some Prasad from a nearby counter and left the place.
As carrying camera was not allowed, we had to satisfy ourselves by taking the photograph of the arch at the entrance .
As per our schedule, we were supposed to proceed to Chathur bhuj temple, Ekaling temple and go to Udaipur. As we did not take any photos at Nathdwara in the morning, we decided to return to Nathdwara instead of visiting the scheduled places . Photography is not allowed inside the temple. So, we had to take the gopuram view from outside. Purchased few Rajasthani dolls for Rs100/- and “2 chains with 6 koormams (tortoise) on each chain as it is considered to be Lakshmi Swaroopam for rs.100/-.
Left for Udaipur at 6.30 P.M. and reached station at 9.00 P.M. Waited patiently for Udaipur-Gwalior express . The schedule departure of the train was at 2220 hours but the train started at 0000 hours. Though it was the starting point, as no clearance was given, the train was delayed which is very common in the northern region .
PLACE :- PUSHKAR
LOCATION :- 12 KMS from AJMER in Rajasthan located on a hill.
HOW TO REACH:- Trains from Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur etc are available. (We traveled from Udaipur to Ajmer but were informed that it is nearer from Delhi compared to Udaipur. Hence, if anyone is following our route, it is suggested to go to Ajmerfirst and then go to Udaipur)
TRAVEL BASE:- AJMER
WHERE TO STAY :- Many hotels available-not required to stay overnight as the trip can be completed within a maximum time of 4 hours
WHERE TO EAT:- To check for pure veg hotel for having food.
IMP.TEMPLES:- Pushkar lake, Brahma Temple, Saraswathi temple, Varahaswamy temple
HOW TO REACH:- From Ajmer railway station vans, cars, autos are available .
Charges for Van Rs. 300/- approximately
Frequent buses available from bus stand for a very nominal fare
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple. Famous for “Gulkhand”
Pushkar is considered as one of the sacred ponds which bestows mukti. It is known as “Teerth Guru” , the foremost of all Theerthams. Every aspiring devotee visits this place to have a holy dip in this theertham. The place is named after this theertham. Jagathpitha (father of all worlds), Brahma was in search of a residence in Bhooloka for performing yaaga. At that time, a petal from the lotus flower which he held fell down at this place and water sprouted out which is the Pushkar lake.
Brahma selected this place to perform sacrifice/yagnam. As the consort is supposed to be present for any pooja, Brahma asked his son, Narada Maharishi to bring his mother, Saraswathi. Saraswathi for some reason was delayed in reaching this place. As the auspicious moment was tripping off, Brahma put some grass in a cow’s mouth (“Ghai” means cow) , uttered some mantras and from the cow’s mouth emerged a lady As she appeared from the mouth of the cow, Brahma named her Gayathri and accepted her as his consort and started the yagnam. She is known as “Vedmatha Gayathri”- , the mother of Vedas. This infuriated Saraswathi who cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped on earth and left the place in a huff . She reached a nearby hillock and started her penance. This is the reason for a separate temple for Saraswathi.
DETAILS:- The most famous temple is that of Brahma and this is the only temple dedicated to Brahma. Other important temples in Pushkar are Varahaswamy temple, Saraswathi temple. The famous tank here is PUSHKAR (as it was formed from the water that dripped from the Lotus flower held by Brahma) and the town is known by this name. There are 52 ghats and a dip in these ghats would absolve us of all sins and bestow moksham. But presently, the water is impure and not fit for bathing. After much persuasion, the government has undertaken renovation work including purification of the holy water and it may take another couple of years for completion. The money collected by the pandas (priests) by performing poojas and rituals is handed over to “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which issues a receipt for the same. The pandas get salary from the Trust.
A 2 minute walk from the Pushkar lake leads us to the world famous Brahma temple. At the entrance on either sides, there are separate sannidhis for Kubera and Indra ,the Dwarapalakas for Brahma. Kubera is on the right side and Indra on the left side. There is a belief to place some coin in front of Kubera and take it back as he is the god of wealth!!!
The four faced Brahma is seen seated on a lotus having 8 hands holding japa maala, Vedas etc. There is no separate sannidhi for his consort, Saraswathi. After completing pradakshinam, devotees are asked to go behind the temple and have a look at Saraswathi’s temple which is situated on a different hillock nearby. Those who are unable to visit that shrine can pay their respects from here itself.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT PUSHKAR:-
DATE OF VISIT :- 23/05/2009
Reached Ajmer at 05.30 A.M. on 23/05/09. As we intended to have holy bath in Pushkar, we decided to visit this place. After refreshing ourselves in the waiting room, we dropped our luggages in the cloak room.
Ajmer in Rajasthan is famous for Pushkar, Muslim dharga (mosque) , Gulkhand and halwa. Got into one of the Maruthi Omnis to take us to Pushkar, Saraswathi for Rs.300. The driver showed us the place where the world famous camel fare would be held every year during jan-feb.
Pushkar is situated on a small hillock and it took nearly 45 minutes for us to go thru the ghat roads. Though the distance to be covered is only 12 kms, because of ghat section, the drivers are supposed not to exceed the prescribed speed.
Adiyen sprinkled some holy water on myself and family and collected in a bottle to give to my relatives .
As usual, we were surrounded by pandas , each offering to guide us. We were advised to be very cautious with the pandas as they take the pilgrims for a ride. After much persuasion, we had to give in to one panda but made it very clear that we were interested in doing only minimal pooja and aware of all the Brahmin rituals. The panda brought a plate consisting of pooja articles, made us do some sankalpam and repeat whatever he said. Bees were buzzing around us for the honey in flowers. This place is famous for Rose petals preparations like Gulkhand. After finishing the rituals, we left the pooja items in the sacred water and as advised by the panda gave dakshinai and donation for temple in a nearby counter and collect official receipt. We were astonished to see this and enquired with the panda about this system which is not prevelant anywhere in North India. The panda replied that they get regular salary from “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which oversees the development of this place.
We then went to Brahma temple which is about 3 minutes walk from the Pushkar pond. As cameras are not allowed, we had to leave the same with our children. Before entering, we were whisked thoroughly by the security and then allowed to climb the steps. The temple is not very big. At the entrance, we find Kubera and Indra’s sannidhi . In the garbagriham, four faced Brahma made of white marble is seen in meditation After we returned, our children went inside for darshan. The car driver informed us that Gulkhand prepared from Rose petals and other flowers , honey which is used as a sweetener in paan/ lassi etc. is famous . Also, Rajashtani “katputli” / bommalattam (dolls which would be made to swing by holding thread ) is cheaper at this place . Purchased 2 bottles of gulkhand for our family and my close friend and bought Rajashthani bride and bridegroom dolls for keeping it in golu during Dassera.
As it was very hot, we decided to skip Saraswathi temple and drove back to Ajmer station by 10.00A.M. The rest of the day was at leisure to chant Lord’ s names thanking for HIS mercy . Presently, there is nothing much to see in Pushkar except the lake and the temple which could be covered within a maximum time of 2 hours.
Our next journey was to Ahmedabad. Though there are 4-5 trains from Ajmer to Ahmedabad including a train at noon, we preferred the night train as we thought it would take the whole day to have holy bath in all the theerthas in Pushkar and visit the various temples. As mentioned earlier, due to the pollution and the scorching heat, we could not do so and returned to station. (It is preferable to take the noon train to Ahmedabad so that we can reach the destination by 10.00P.M. itself. ). Though there are 5 trains, getting accommodation in the train is difficult as Ahmedabad is a trade center and all the trains usually run full. In our case, though we had booked the tickets 2 months in advance, as AC accommodation at that time was not available, we had to compromise traveling in Sleeper Class which was also not confirmed upto 4P.M. on the day of journey. But again due to God’s grace, all our tickets got confirmed by the time we boarded the train. Ala Hazrat express scheduled to arrive at Ajmer at 2030 hours was delayed by 90 minutes. Our patience was really put to test and we can never forget this day for the wastage of time. Luckily there was a Cybercafe in the station itself near the waiting hall and we could spend few hours usefully in corresponding with devotees and well wishers wanting to know about our trip.
DATE OF VISIT : 24th May,2009
TEMPLE VISITED: DAKORE DWARKA -one of the Nava Dwarkas
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH famously known as “RANCHOR RAYA”
LOCATION : Dakore village located in Ahmedabad-Baroda route near
Mehmadabad. Can also be accessed from Nadiad
NEAREST CITY : Ahmedabad (2-3 hours)-84 kms
Baroda ( 1-2 hours from Ahmedabad )
Nadiad (33 kms)- 30 minutes drive
HOW TO REACH : 1) Plenty of trains from Ahmedabad to Nadiad – Intercity express, local trains every 2 hours. .Fare Rs.8/- per head.
To get down at Nadiad and take share- auto for RS.6/-
2) Bus services every half an hour from Ahmedabad bus station to Dakore. The temple is 5 minutes drive from Dakore
bus s. Fare app Rs.51/- per head
3) Cars are also available for rent- charges would be app Rs.2,000/-
WHERE TO STAY : At Ahmedabad or in Baroda in any of the hotels
ISKCON has its guest houses at both the places
WHERE TO EAT:- Hotel Sukh Sagar opp. to Ahmedabad railway station
IRCTC run hotels in station/ any other hotel
WHAT TO SEE : The main temple, River Gomti, small temples near the river bank
Including statue of River Gomti
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple
Don’t miss to taste “Doklas with curd”
During the month of Karthigai, devotees reach this place by foot from far off places and ensure to be present on Pournami. Some
devotees do this every month.
STHALAPURANAM : A pious devotee from Dakore used to visit Dwaraka every year on his bullock cart carrying pots of tulasi plants with him to offer the same to the Lord . He used to take 6 months to reach Dwaraka . He followed this practice even in his advanced age. Like Thirukacchinambigal, this devotee could converse with the Lord. During one such visit, he prayed to Dwarakadeesh that in future he may not be able to visit Dwarka as he was very old. The Lord replied that henceforth he preferred to stay with this pure devotee rather than being in Dwarka where people had turned materialistic and there was no pure bhakti.. The Lord ordered him to be ready with the cart in the night. The devotee accordingly obeyed and waited with the cart for the Lord. As promised, Lord left the temple, got into the cart and HE HIMSELF drove the cart. The Lord who acted as “PARTHASARATHY- Charioteer to Arjuna in the Mahabharata war once again took the reins and drove the chariot).
The Supreme Lord who by His mere glance, controls the entire Cosmic manifestation, made the devotee relax and Himself drove the cart for the sake of His devotee. Overnight they reached Dakore. ( A place near Ahmedabad ) The Brahmin used to take 6 months to drive the cart but the Lord reached the place within 6 hours. From the following morning the Brahmin along with his wife started worship in their hut itself . Meantime, when the temple doors were opened, the priests were shocked to see the idol missing. They guessed that the old Brahmin who was in the temple for a very long time the previous night must be responsible for this . All the residents of Dwarka set out for Dakore. When they saw the Lord in the brahmin’s house, they started abusing the Brahmin and tried to forcibly take the idol. They did not listen to the Brahmin’s pleas .However hard they tried to grab the idol, the idol did not even move an inch. At that time they heard an asareeri say that Lord would be with whoever gives offering equal to the Lord’s weight . Immediately, a balance was brought and the idol was placed on one side of the balance. The residents of Dwarka offered all their possessions which was kept on the other side of the balance. The balance remained as it is. They rushed back to Dwarka and brought back all they had but this also was of no match to the Lord’s weight. Having accepted defeat, they asked the Brahmin to try his turn. The brahmin’s wife a very great devotee, prayed to Lord and placed her nose ring along with little Tulasi on the other side of the balance and immediately both the balances became EQUAL. Thus demonstrated that He is bound by His devotees pure affection and love. To the dejected residents of Dwaraka, Lord informed that very soon a sculptor would approach them who would sculpt a similar vigraham which could be placed in the altar and would continue to bless the devotees by bestowing His powers on the idol. Hence, the original vigraham of the is present in DAKORE DWARAKA now.
At Dwarka, as advised by the Lord , a sculptor approached the priests and offered to make an idol with the condition that no one should disturb him while he was performing his work. The residents agreed and the sculptor locked himself in a room. This went on for 18 days but when no sound was heard, the curious devotees broke open the door and to their astonishment, the sculptor had vanished and the Lord’s vigraham was near completion but for the eyes. As they went back on their words, they were crying pitifully realizing that the sculptor was none other than the Himself. An aakashvaani declared that henceforth, they could consider this vigraham as the Lord Himself and offer pooja to the and whatever happened was as per HIS divine WILL. To this day, this vigraham is being worshipped at Dwaraka which is situated on the western coast near Arabian Sea.
(Similar incident happened at Jagannath Puri which is located on the eastern coast near Bay of Bengal- the other extreme end ofIndia. Before the appearance of Jagannath, the presiding diety was Nila Madhava and hence Puri is also known as “Nilachala”. The king had a dream instructing him to construct a temple for the Lord. The king sent his ministers to find out the whereabouts of the vigraham whose darshan he had in his dream. One minister was finally able to locate it with a fisherman. The fisherman used to go alone to a place far from his hut and return only in the evening. The minister learnt from the fisherman’s daughter that her father goes to offer prayers to Nilamadhava in a secret place and no outsider was allowed to accompany him. So, the minister married the lady and requesed the fisherman to show him the Lord. The fisherman bound the minister’s eyes with a thick cloth and took him to the place of worship. Meanwhile, the smart minister enroute sowed mustard seeds to enable him to identify the route. He went back and informed the king about the whereabouts of the Lord. When the king arrived with his ministers at this place, the vigraham vanished from the place and an akaashvaani was heard instructing the king to carve 3 idols of Krishna , Balarama and Subhadra out of 2 logs of wood which would float on the sea mentioning the date and time of arrival of the logs of wood. The akashvaani further informed that a carpenter would approach them for carving the idols of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra. As per the predicament, the logs appeared and a carpenter offered his services with the condition that he would work in isolation and no one should disturb him till he finishes the work. Accordingly , the carpenter was locked in a room for more than 15 days. When they did not hear any sound , the perplexed queen , out of anxiety for the carpenter’s welfare, opened the door . The carpenter disappeared leaving the idols incomplete. The royal couple cried piteously repenting for their mistake and asked for forgiveness. An akashvaani informed them that it was GOD’S WILL and the idols were fit for worship. That’s why we find the idols with incomplete limbs. )
OUR EXPERIENCE AT DAKORE DWARKA:-
On 24/05/09, we reached Ahmedabad at 08.30 hours. We were planning to take a room in one of the hotels near station but the TT suggested that we could as well go to the AC waiting room. This was the best waiting room which we saw in the recent past with a big well furnished, airconditioned hall with all modern amenities. Ahmedabad station has got all the facilities like refreshment stalls and hotel run by IRCTC, separate waiting rooms for AC and sleeper class, cloak room facility, ATM, Cybercafe . (Outsourcing finally works .).
After refreshing ourselves, we planned to go to Dakore Dwaraka by engaging a car as we had earlier done in the year 2000. While we were thus discussing, the AC waiting hall attendant intervened and suggested that there are Intercity Superfast trains and local trains to Nadiad every 2 hours and Dakore Dwaraka is only 30 minutes drive from Nadiad. It takes about 90 minutes From Ahmedabad to Nadiad in Intercity express and if we take local train it takes 2 hours. He said that from Nadiad, we could either take a bus to Dakore (frequency of bus -every 10 minutes) or take one of the seven-seater autos (share autos) as we may not get cab for such a short distance. We thanked the attendant by giving him the tip he had asked for. Though he suggested us to take the 10.00 A.M. Intercity express, we didn’t want to rush as we had plenty of time left with us and before vacating the waiting room , we had to put the luggage in the cloak room . Purchased ticket to Nadiad for the local train scheduled to leave at noon. Fare Rs.12/- per head. (We remember paying Rs.2,000/ for cab during our first visit)
Went to Hotel Sukh Sagar which is opposite to station which provides all varieties of Vegetarian delicious food. Boarded a local tarin carrying only a small bag containing offerings to the Lord , camera and our camcorder. Reached Nadiad at 1400 hours. With Mercury touching 45 deg., we had to rejuvenate ourselves often. As the share-auto stand is at half a kilometer distance, we took an auto to the stand and got into one of the autos. He charged Rs.8/- per person. Though the drive was only for 30 minutes, we felt as if it took more time because of the noise from the engine. The share autos ss near the Dakore bus s . The temple is about 5 mintues drive from the bus stand. We requested the auto driver to drop us near the temple for which we paid him additional Rs.20/-. By 1445 hours, we were near the entrance of the temple. There were devotees already waiting to have Uthapana darshan at04.15 P.M. Oflate, security has been tightened in all the temples and we were strictly prohibited from carrying camera. Meantime, took photographs of the temple from outside and Gomti river which flows near the temple. Purchased kartal for our daily bhajans from a nearby instrumental shop and requested the shop keeper to keep our belongings.
The temple doors sprang open at 04.15 P.M. and devotees rushed into the temple . There is a rectangular hall in front of the main shrine from where atleast 100-150 devotees can have darshan at a time. There is a separate queue for ladies from the side. The roof of the temple is a domb like structure with beautiful paintings of Krishna’s pastimes . Painting work was going on. Devotees were singing praises in the name of “RANCHOR RAYA”. Here, Dwarakadeesh Perumal is more commonly known as Ranchor Raya (one who fled from battle).
The Lord was dressed in light clothing and was fully adorned with flowers. Devotees were literally pushing to have darshan. On either sides, pots were hung in which hundi offerings were put and was occasionally emptied. We enjoyed the aarthi seva for 10 minutes . Prayed for His mercy on us . After aarthi darshan, near the exit, there is a small room in which the Thulabhaaram (the balance) on which Lord’s weight was measured . A photograph depicting the incident of the brahmin’s wife putting her nose ring is kept. After narrating the incident to the children, we left the place for doing pradakshina. Meanwhile, a panda made our children do some sankalpam uttering few Sanskrit verses and took dakshinai.
Left the temple around 5 P.M. and took an auto to bus s. As the next train to Ahmedabad was at 1830 hours, we decided to go by bus . Superfast Bus fare is Rs.51/- and takes about 90 minutes to reach Ahmedabad. Reached Ahmedabad at 7 P.M. As Ahmedabad is famous for textiles, we wanted to do some shopping but were told that the main bazaar was about half an hour’s drive from station. As we did not want to take any risk, we returned to the waiting room. Had dinner in the restaurant run by IRCTC in the station itself and boarded Somnath express at 2200 hours.
PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL
TEMPLE VISITED:- PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL- one of the 9 Dwarkas
LOCATION : Veraval- last railway station on the western side of Indian Coast.
Somnath is 7 kms away from Veraval.
HOW TO REACH : There are 2 trains from Ahmedabad daily
Night bus available from Ahmedabad- 8 hours journey from Ahmedabad
Local auto can be arranged for visiting the temples in Somnath.
Buses from Veraval to Porbandhar and Dwarka also available .
If one takes a car from Veraval in the morning, all the temples can be visited on the same day and proceed to Dwaraka visiting
Sudama Dwaraka and Moola Dwaraka on the way.
Please contact Mr.Ramji,a great devotee who was more than a Guide to us and charges reasonably. He has his own travels
and has a variety of vehicles His address is:-
Shri.Ramchand Bhagnani(Ramji Kaka)
C/o Sitaram Travels,
Dabhor Road, Bihari Nagar, Block NO. 7,
( Mobile: 99240 22813/ 02876-222591
His sons’ mobile nos: 98251 76457/94261 69501/ 98248 75753)
WHERE TO STAY : Many choultries and hotels are available near Somnath temple.
Sarada Peet has its mutt near Triveni Sangamam.
WHERE TO EAT:- Any good hotel for delicious Gujarati meal.
Don’t forget to drink Tender coconuts
IMP. PLACES TO VISIT IN SOMNATH:-
1) TRIVENI SANGAMAM :-There is a confluence of 3 rivers-Harini, Gomti and .
2) SRINGERI SARADA MUTT :-Located near Triveni Sangamam, where room facilities are available. For refreshing, one can take a room for an hour or so by paying Rs.150/-
3)There is a temple nearby housing shrines for Ganapathi, Narsimhadev, Radha- Krishna.
4) GITA MANDIR:- Here, all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls.
5) SRI LAKSHMI NARAYAN MANDIR :- temple for Vishnu and Lakshmi
6) SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- The place where the last rites for Krishna was performed by Arjuna. Also, there is a small room where Krishna embraced Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when the latter visited this place.
7) BALARAM GUFA:- The disappearance place of Balarama
8) SIVA TEMPLE :- The Siva lingams worshipped by Bheema and Nakula.
(3 TO 6 are located in the same premises)
9) GANAPATHI AND SUBRAMANYA SWAMY TEMPLE :- located near the sea shore . Near this temple, there is a temple for Shiva. At this place, we can find new Shiva lingams emerging from the sea. 12 lingams are supposed to emerge out of which 4 are already visible.
10) BALIKA THEERTH – the place from where the hunter let loose the arrow
11) BALIKA MANDIR :- This is “Mukti Dwarka” from where Sri Krishna ascended to Srivaikuntam
12) SOMNATH MANDIR:- One of the 12 Jyotir lingams of Shiva. There are 2 temples( old and new)- old temple is also known as Ahalya Mandir
En route to Dwarka from Veraval, one can visit Madhavpur (where Krishna humbled Rukma(Rukmini’s brother), Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. This place was earlier known as Sudamapuri (Sudama Dwarka), Moola Dwaraka (where Perumal first arrived),and Ambal temple .
STHALAPURANAM FOR SHAIVITES:- Shiva, the foremost Vaishnava devotee of the Lord, resides in this place as a jyotirlingam. This is one of the 12 jyotirlingas which every Shaivite aspires to visit atleast once.
SOMNATH TEMPLE DETAILS:- There are 2 temples for Someshwarnath. –old temple known as Ahalya temple and the new temple. The original emerald lingam was taken away by Mohd.Ghazini in 17th century thru the sea route and is now in Mecca. Thus , even the most staunch Muslim offers prayers to Shiva unknowingly when he visits Mecca. (The local people say that the original lingam was disfigured by Muslim invaders and thrown into sea as 12 pieces which has started appearing as Shiva lingas along the coast. They say that out of 12 pieces, 5 have emerged now and when the reminaing lingas appear, the world would come to an end. ( We could see the 5 shiva lingams in the sea at various places)
Later, Shiva appeared to Ahalya, a local devotee and instructed to construct a temple for him. Later,a local king constructed a huge temple and fortified it and thus protected it from sea and invasions. The statue of the king riding on a horse can be seen on the way to the temple.
Later, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the “Iron Man of India” took initiative and was responsible for the construction of a new huge temple. In both the temples, the linga form of Shiva is worshipped. Archeological revelations and pictures of the old temple ruins are displayed in the temple premises. This temple is located near the sea shore on a vast area.
STHALAPURANAM ABOUT VAISHNAVA TEMPLES IN SOMNATH:- Veraval also known as Somnath and Prabhas Theertham is located on the western coast in Gujarat. This is the last rail head in this route. This place is important both for Vaishnavites and Shaivites. For Vaishnavites, it is important because it was from this place that Sri Krishna disappeared and ascended to Srivaikuntam as per the request of the devas. It is one of the Nava Dwarakas. To the Shaivites, it is a sacred as Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas .
VAISHNAVA STHALAPURANAM:_ Sri Krishna after satisfying Himself that He had annihilated most of the demons in human form after Mahabharata war, decided to ascend to His eternal abode, Sri Vaikuntam. Due to His presence, the Yadus (people belonging to His clan) became proud and arrogant. Sri Krishna who wanted to reduce the burden of Mother Earth decided to put an end to the Yadavas too and masterminded a plan . As it was Lord’s will, he made Gandhari and the sapta rishis utter the curse of annihilation of Yadavas.
It so happened that Krishna’s son was dressed up like a pregnant woman and along with his friends approached some rishis to find out the gender of the child which would be born to the pregnant woman. The infuriated rishis cursed that the disguised lady would give an iron pestel which would destroy the entire Yadava race which came true. The shocked Yadus ran to Balarama for a solution. Balarama ordered them to powder it into pieces and throw them away in the sea at Dwarka . The yadus acted accordingly and returned to their palace. A big iron piece which could not be powdered was thrown away into the sea which was swallowed by a fish. When this fish was caught and cut open by hunter, Jara, he found a big iron piece which he fixed to his arrow with which he hit Krishna later. Over a period of time, the powder got deposited near the shore of the sea at Prabhasa Theertha and sharp blade type grass grew there. When the Yadus who were fully intoxicated came to this place arguing with each other, they totally lost their mental balance and started hitting each other with the grass and got themselves killed. Balarama , noticing that it was Lord ’s will decided to leave this earthly residence, assumed his original form as Adisesha and walked into the sea and disappeared. The place where he disappeared can be seen even today. Over a period of time, this place has turned into mass of land due to reduction in the water level. Sri Krishna was resting under a banyan tree with right leg placed on left lap. A hunter named Jara (who was Vaali in his previous birth when Krishna incarnated as SriRama) , mistook Perumal’s thiruvadi to be a deer and shot an arrow from a distance of 1 kilometre. The hunter who came in search of his prey was shocked to see the Lord and begged for forgiveness. The Lord convinced that it was as per His plan and narrated his past birth as Vaali when Perumal hit him from behind and thus fulfilled Vali’s desire for revenge. He bestowed moksham to the hunter. This shows Lord’s compassion to persons who try to kill him. In this avatar, he first killed Putana who had come to kill him and gave her moksham and at the end of the incarnation, he blessed Jara by giving him moksham.
At the moment when Krishna was preparing to ascend to Srivaikuntam, all the devas headed by Brahma and Shiva arrived and while they were glorifying the by reciting Purusha Suktam, Krishna left the place in the form of jyoti. (When the jyoti reached Suryamandalam, it transformed into a vigraham and descended on Tirumala Hills . The moment Krishna disappeared, Kali yugam started and to save His devotees from Kali,Lord decided to manifest in Tirumala and save the devotees till the end of Kaliyugam. He proclaimed that the devas as well as humans can have HIS darshan at Tirumala and allotted early morning time for the devas. Even to this day, before closing the temple after Ekanta Seva , the priests at Tirumala temple fill the pancha paathirams with water for Brahma’s aaradhanai which is given as theertham after Suprabhatam. –Similar practice is followed in Badrinath at the time of closure of temple for 6 months during winter. When the Badrinath temple is reopened during April, the lamp which was lit 6 months back still burns and the place would be filled with sweet fragrance of scent.)
The place where the last rites for the mortal remains of the Lord was performed by Arjuna is known as Krishna Padam on the banks of River Hiranya. There are many temples associated with Sri Krishna’s pastimes at this place, the details of which are mentioned below. All these places can be visited within a span of 3-4 hours.
Gita Mandir- in this temple, there is an idol of Sri Krishna in standing posture and all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls of the temple.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:- shrine for Narayanan with His consort,Mahalakshmi Thayar in standing posture
Balaram Gufa (cave):- At the end of Dwapara yugam, Balarama who was an amsam of Adisesha decided to end his incarnation and walked into the sea taking the form of a serpent and disappeared. Due to passage of time, the sea waters reduced and the place where Balrama disappeared is now like a cave.On the wall of the gufa(Cave) 5 headed serpent is sculpted. Kaka who we called our driver affectionately , informed us about the disappearance of Balarama and added that on Naga Panchami every year, thousands of snakes from nowhere appear in this place and the local devotees offer milk. Next day, even a single serpent cannot be spotted.
SIVA LINGAMS:- A 5 minute walk from Balram gufa leads to a small shrine of a small shiva lingam wroshipped by Nakula- one of the Pandavas for one year during their exile. Nearby there is another shrine housing a bigger Shiva lingam worshipped by Bhima . In front of the shrine, there is a tree under which Bhima used to relax after worshipping. WE were informed that at a distance of 12 kms from here , there is a place where Bhima got wedded to Hidambi, whose son was Ghatothgacha. The entire area was once a thick forest.
SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- This is on the banks of River Hiranya. It was here that Arjuna performed the last rituals to Sri Krishna and as per the Lord’s instructions, escorted the elderly yadavas, children and women to Dwarka. Here, there is a Thiruvadi of Perumal with all the auspicious marks on it.
BALIKA THEERTH:- We proceeded to Balika Theerth. It was from this place that Jara, the hunter aimed arrow at Perumal. Presently, there is a small shrine of Radha- Krishna.
BALIKA MANDIR (MUKTI DWARKA):- This is the MUKTI DWARKA mandir as it was from here that Perumal ascended to Sri Vaikuntam after completing HIS incarnation. When Jara, the hunter shot arrow mistaking the Lord’s lotus feet to be deer, the arrow hit the Lord . Jara who came in search of his prey was shocked to see Perumal and repented for his mistake. The convinced him that it was HIS divine plan and informed him about his past birth when he was Vali who was shot by Rama. The Lord added that in this birth, Vaali was born as Jara and Rama as Krishna and fulfilled Vali’s desire.
Amidst recitation of Purusha Suktam by Brahma, Shiva and other devas and rishis and offering rain of flowers, Krishna stepped into an aerial car to ascend to Vaikuntam.Next second, the Lord along with HIS chariot disappeared and took jyoti form. The scriptures mention that when the Lord reached Surya Mandalam, the jyothi turned into an idol and landed at Tirumala to protect the devotees from the evils of kali proclaiming that the would reside at Tirumala (Thiruvengadam) till the end of Kali Yuga . He blessed the devas also to have HIS darshan at Tirumala. “SRIVAIKUNTA VIRAKTHAAYA SWAMI PUSHKARINI THADE….”- has abandoned Srivaikuntam and has chosen to reside on the banks of Swami Pushkarini at Tirumala.
This place is at a distance of 1 km from the place where Jara shot the arrow. Here , Sri Krishna who is very attractive is seen in half reclining,half -sitting posture with His right leg placed on His left leg under a tree. The Lord is clad in 7 yards dhoti (veshti which is bought from Tamilnadu) . In front of the Lord , Jara is seen on his knees seeking forgiveness. On Perumal’s right Thiruvadi ,which we can clearly see facing us,Tulasi leaves are placed. Nearby there is the sacred tree under which Krishna relaxed at the time of completion of HIS incarnation. Daily worship is done to this tree. The temple authorities have placed a net to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. In front of the tree, there is a naagam (Balarama ). In front of the temple, there is a big banyan tree cemented all around. Kaka informed that before departing, Krishna spent time with the gopis who arrived here to have darshan. There is a small temple for Shiva who accompanied by devas offered prayers to the at the time of completion of Lord’s incarnation.
DATE OF VISIT:- 25/05/2009
Reached Veraval from Ahmedabad by Somnath Express at 07.00 A.M on 25th May. Veraval is a small station and is the last one in this route. There were few autos available for local trip. Pilgrims who reach this place directly proceed to Somnath as plenty of rooms are available there. When we were thinking what to do, a young man approached us and asked whether we were interested in engaging a car. We told our plan to visit all the important places and to proceed to Dwarka the same day. After negotiations, the man agreed for Rs.2,500/- towards car hire charges for covering all the important places in Somnath, take us to Porbandhar, Mool Dwarka and drop us at Dwarka. We had some apprehension to travel with him because he was not very appealing to us.
Luckily, the Lord residing as Antharyami had made HIS own plans. The guy had to go somewhere else and he rang up to someone for taking us. Lord sent a devotee named Ramji who was in his fifties as our driver. The guy who acted as mediator informed that the charges what he negotiated was for non-AC car . Being very hot, we were specific for AC and the mediator left it to the driver’s discretion for the extra charges. We agreed to pay Rs.500/- towards AC charges which we felt was very reasonable. The rest of the journey was very peaceful. The driver whom we affectionately addressed as “KAKA” (meaning uncle) was a great devotee and was very cooperative . He shared all his spiritual experiences . We felt comfortable in his company and he took personal interest in taking us to all the important places . A well experienced guide he was, he informed all the details about the places which we visited and made everyone present there chant “BOLO DWARAKADEESH KI JAI HO”/ “RANCHOR RAYA KI JAI HO”. We thanked God profusely for sending such a devotee to us. (We had similar experience in Nepal during our Saalagrama yaathirai – we traveled with a driver who was a devotee of Hanuman for 10 days). Kaka shared his experience of driving great saints like Asharamji Bhaba and other great personalities with whose association he refined himself.
First, we went to Sringeri Sarada Mutt and checked into one of the rooms for refreshing and finishing morning duties. Paid Rs.150/- for the same. Nearby there is a temple
in which there are separate shrines for Ganapathi,Hanuman,Narasimhadev,Radha- Krishna., Triveni Sangamam which is very near to the mutt . This is the confluence of 3 rivers- Gomti, Hiranya and Saraswathi before merging with the sea. Offered milk, puffed rice etc. in the holy waters .
We proceeded to Somnath temple which is app. 4 kms from this place. On the way, he showed us many heavy logs of wood used for construction of boats. Somnath is famous for boat construction . We saw big ships under construction. He said that earlier there was sea route to Mumbai and Okha port from this place and it used to take 3 hours by sea to reach Mumbai.
Pilgrims wearing half pants are not allowed and at the entrance for such devotees, the security provides a dhoti (similar practice is followed in Guruvayoor where men in pants are strictly prohibited from entering the temple) . Monday being very auspicious for Shiva, the temple was crowded with devotees. However, we could have good darshan of the . A very big Shiva lingam is placed in the centre of the garbagriham and continuous abhishekam was going on. Kaka asked us to do pradakshina. He told us that circumbulation has to be done is a semi-circle manner. A small obstruction is placed in the path and one has to return back in the same route. We then visited the new temple wherein a similar size lingam is kept for worship. Followed the same procedure. Photography is strictly prohibited. Ambuja Cements has undertaken the project of beautifying the way leading to the new temple.
On the way had tender coconuts and proceeded to Prabhasa Theertha Kshetra. It is a big area housing Gita Mandir, Balarama Gufa, Shiva lingams, Sri Krishna Paadam, River Hiranya, Sri Lakshmi Narayan mandir. Luckily, we were allowed to carry our camcorder and take photographs of this sacred location at all places except Somnath temple.
We visited Balika Theerth- a small temple enshrining Radha Krishna idols from where Jara shot the arrow and then went to Balika Mandir.
This is the place where Krishna was reclining when the arrow was shot. The sitting in a reclining posture with HIS right leg placed on left , with Jara in knees seeking forgiveness is very attractive. The attractive smile on the ’s thirumugam is beyond expression. We just could not take our eyes off from the Thiruvadi –left thirvadi pointing straight and right thiruvadi on an elevated position as it is kept on left knee. There is a small naagam (balarama) near the holy tree . Kaka informed us that the tree which is hundreds of years old is still alive and is considered very sacred ,special pooja is done to the tree. (This practice is followed at Kurukshetra too. The tree under which did Geeadesham to Arjuna (Bhagavad Gita ) is still existing and a net is placed to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. We were lucky to get a dry leaf from one of the nets in Kurukshetra ) While doing pradakshinam , we tried to collect leaves as in Kurukshetra but in vain as they have constructed a roof . The pujari informed that they get the cloth from Tamilnadu for adorning the Lord. We offered to buy few veshtis and offer it to the Lord. Initially, the pujari did not allow us to take photographs. But after requesting and agreeing to pay him some donation, he gave his consent. We just could not take our eyes off from Lord’s Thirumeni. Remembered all our devotees relatives and prayed on their behalf.
Having visited all the important places in Veravel, our next destination was Porbandhar. On the way we traversed thru Choupad, a small village which is the birthplace of the famous industrialist, Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance fame. Kaka showed us the old building and informed that a palatial building has been constructed in the same village . He also shared with us Ambani’s contribution for development of this village.
After having lunch in one of the Gujarati hotels on the Highway, we passed thru Madhavpur, a small village on the shores of Arabian Sea. Some say that Krishna married Rukmini at this place whereas others believe that Rukma, the brother of Rukmini who fought with Krishna was defeated and humbled at this place. . Went to the sea shore and relaxed for some time. An hour’s drive took us to Porbandhar. On the way, Kaka sped at a roadside temple dedicated to local goddess. He informed that whoever passes by this route should take the blessings of the diety and in case they don’t have time, they should atleast halt for a minute in front of temple. Kaka went inside the temple, offered a coconut and returned whilst we stayed in the car itself.
TEMPLE VISITED: SUDAMA DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-
the hut in which Sudama lived turned into a palatial
building overnight due to the grace of Sri Krishna.
PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Sudama with his wife, Susheela are also seen
LOCATION : PORBANDHAR in Gujarat- the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi.
This is on the way from Veraval to Dwarka
HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval
WHERE TO STAY:- There are hotels in Porbandhar but with keeping Dwarka as
base, we can visit this place.
STHALAPURANAM:- The story of Sudama , also known as Kuchelan is well known even to children .Elders narrate this bedtime story to children and inculcate the habit of offering to God right from childhood.
Kuchelan (Sudama) and Sri Krishna were childhood friends and studied under the same guru, Sandipani. Once when Krishna and Sudama went into the forest for collecting wood, it started raining and they had to take shelter under a tree. At that time , both of them were hungry. Sudama , without offering to Krishna munched puffed rice (Avul in tamil) without sharing with Krishna and when Krishna asked him he denied. When Krishna punched his stomach, he spit the avul. This was a childish prank played at that time. After completion of their studies, both of them parted their ways. Since Sudama did not offer to , in due course, he became poor and having married, was overburdened with 27 children. There was no food to eat. Being a Brahmin he did not even know any other profession and did not make any effort to earn his livelihood. Being a matured devotee, he was only seeking salvation and was not interested in material pursuits. He was constantly thinking of the and was nurturing the desire to see Krishna . His wife, Susheela suggested that he should meet his friend, Krishna who was now the king of Dwarka for financial help as she could no longer see their children starving. Sudama was delighted at the proposal because he could meet his friend after many years but was not interested in asking for material benefits. As stated in scriptures that something has to be offered while meeting a king/elderly/sick person, he wanted to take something with him to be offered to the . Susheela borrowed some puffed rice from the neighbours, tied it in a worn out cloth and gave it to Sudama. It took 2 months for Sudama to reach Dwarka from Porbandhar and 4 months to locate Sri Krishna’s palace. Sudama informed the dwarapalakas that he was Krishna’s friend and wanted to meet him. The dwarapalakas did not believe him and asked him to move out of the place. At that time, Sri Krishna came running and affectionately hugged Sudama and took him to His palace.
Sri Krishna along with His eight principal consorts served Sudama with the best of everything. The of the Universe along with Thayar Rukmini did paada puja(pooja to his feet) to Sudama while the other consorts were helping in offering shodasa upacharams to the great bhakta. After sumptuously feeding Sudama with varieties of food, Krishna asked what he brought for HIM.. Sudama was feeling very shy to offer the avul and was trying to hide the bundle but Sri Krishna snatched it from him and put a fistful of it in His mouth with great relish. When the Lord was trying to take it for the second time, Rukmini Devi refrained Him saying that one fistful was more than sufficient. Sudama did not understand this and returned home. All the way, he was constantly thinking about his friend and contemplating on HIM . When he reached his village, he could not locate his thatched hut and in that place, he found a palatial building. While he was worrying about the whereabouts of his family, a lady bedecked with jewellery and dressed like a queen appeared before him and fell prostrate at his feet. Sudama could not recognize his wife. Susheela narrated how overnight the hut turned into a palace and about the wealth bestowed on them due to Sri Krishna’s grace. He could not recognize his own children who were looking like royal princes. Sudama understood that Krishna showered HIS mercy by eating a handful of puffed rice and bestowed all the riches on him. This incident only enhanced Sudama’s bhakti and with detachment and pure devotion , he attained the Lotus feet of the Lord .
OUR EXPERIENCE:- DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
“SUDAMAPURI” written on an arc in the entrance welcomed us . With trees and plants abundantly planted, it was more like a garden. On the way to the temple, Kaka who accompanied us , showed us a small stone layout with narrow paths and many twisting lanes saying that the way to Dwarka was similar to this . He said that when Sudama set out for Dwarka to meet Sri Krishna, he wandered thru the streets and took 4 months to meet Sri Krishna. He was searching for the entrance and asked DWAAR KAHAN .. which now got corrupted as DWARAKA .An old devotee who was sitting there was doing some kirtan and suggested to pass through the layout. It is customary for visitors to go thru the layout and if they successfully come out , they would achieve their goal of meeting the and their bhakti would be enhanced. Only one foot can be placed in the narrow pathway . Holding the prashad (Dry fruits) above our head and amidst chanting of Hare Krishna Maha mantra (kaka was encouraging us ), all four of us successfully completed the task and came out. The devotee was pleased when we gave some dakshinai to him. He blessed and advised us never ever ignore your Parents and Elders . We then went inside the temple. In the sannidhi, there are small vigrahams of Krishna, Rukmini, Sudama and Susheela. There were photographs of Krishna washing Sudama’s feet, Sudama in search of Sri Krishna, Sudama being flanked by Krishna’s consorts.
After taking few photographs, left the temple and visited Kirti Bhavan, Gandhiji’s residence which is about 5 minutes drive from the temple. Kirti Bhavan is a national monument as it is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. There is a big statue of Gandhiji in the entrance . Inside the 3 storeyed house, cameras are not allowed but photographs can be taken from outside. There are 22 rooms The building is an old one .Being a national monument, government has taken all measures to preserve it . Anyone who violates would be punishable. Government undertakes maintenance work by regularly painting the doors and windows and keeping the huz in good condition.
In the ground floor, there is a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi’s parents. The interesting feature is that of his father’s eyes. Look from any angle and you will feel that Gandhiji’s father is directly staring at you. Gandhiji was the last son to his parents. A very very narrow flight of steps led us to the upper portions of the house. Kasturba Gandhi(wife of Mahatma Gandhi’s wife)’s house which is behind Kirti Bhavan can be seen from the balcony . We were shown a hollow hole in the first floor which was used to keep money from where Gandhiji stole few paisas and was beaten by his father. Had the opportunity to see Gandhiji’s study room in second floor. This incident made him resolve that he would never steal in his life. In the second floor, there is a small room which was used as a study room by Gandhiji .
In the ground floor, outside the old house, there is an extension of the building which was constructed by Gandhiji’s descendants later containing Gandhiji’s memoirs- the books, the utensils, his handwritten letters, his photographs, newspaper clippings , his clothes etc are kept safely here.
From here we continued our journey to Mool Dwaraka and reached the temple at 1900 hours (7.00 p.m.) .
TEMPLE VISITED: MOOL DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-
PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Also separate sannidhis for Gayatri,Savitri, Shiva,Parvathi, Ganapathi, Murugan, Narsimhadev, Hanuman etc
LOCATION : Porbandhar-Dwarka route beyond Rajkot
HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval
STHALAPURANAM:- It is well known that Jarasandha, the father-in-law of the wicked Kamsa wanted to avenge his son-in-law’s death in the hands of Sri Krishna . To pacify his 2 widowed daughters, he marched with his army on Mathura many times where Krishna was residing with his parents.
Every time Jarasandha attacked Mathura, Krishna and Balarama used to defeat his army but let him go without killing as Krishna wanted to reduce the earth’s burden by killing wicked people and Jarasandha was destined to be killed later by Bhima .On one such occasion, Krishna escaped from the battlefield with Balarama and started running away. Jarasandha chased them but could not catch hold of them as they climbed on a mountain and disappeared from his sight. Jarasandha presumed that they had died and returned to his kingdom. In order to protect His citizens from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna arrived at this place and summoned Viswakarma, the deva-loka architect to construct a palace in the sea. The sea –God offered land to Krishna for construction of city. Thus Dwaraka was constructed overnight and all the yadavas were transported safely to this place. With His divine powers, ensured that the sea never crossed its limits and Dwarka was well protected thus ensuring that His people were safe whenever He went for battle. As this was the place where put His foot first, this is known as “MOOLA DWARAKA”. When arrived here, Shiva, Brahma and other devas offered prayers to the here. There is a deep well near the temple where Krishna had His holy bath. Even during severe drought, this well doesn’t get dried up.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT MOOLA DWARKA
DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
We reached the temple at 7.00 P.M.-20 minutes before evening aarthi. Recited Vishnu Sahasranamam and took some photographs. The temple is maintained hereditarily by priests who reside with their families near the temple. It was very calm and serene and best time for meditation. The main diety is Dwarakadeesh and there are small sannidhis for Radha- Krishna, Sita-Rama , Lakshmi-Narayan and demi-gods like Saraswathi,Gayatri, Ganapathi, Subramanya Swami, Dakshinamurthy, Shiva-Parvathi. We participated in the aarthi, offered the prasadam which we took with us . Also bought Prasad for Rs.10/- which was sold by the pujari’s son. Kaka took us to a nearby well saying that Krishna had His holy bath here. A board is displayed describing this incident. A steep flight of steps leads us to the well. As it was dark, we did not get down the steps. There was another sannidhi for Shiva’s family. Cows keep moving about freely.
After praying to the Lord, we left the place. As per our plan, we decided to stay one day in Veraval and reach Dwaraka only on 26thnight. But as finished visiting all the places in and around Veravel and were near Dwarka, we decided to reach Dwaraka on 25th night itself. We tried to contact ISKCON , Dwarka about our preponement but could not do so as there was no response when we called them over phone. We later learnt that their phone was out of order.
Kaka said that it would take 90 mintues for us to reach Dwarka. So, sitting in the car , we started our evening bhajans and kaka also joined us. On the way, he took us to a temple dedicated to Bhavani (Harsiddhi maatha) and narrated the incidents connected with King Krishnadevaraya. As the king’s name is famous for “Vikram-Bhetal stories”(how he used to carry ghost on his back, ghost narrating a story, asking him to reply and used to leave him once he gave the correct answer…… -the stories which we used to read in our childhood days) , out of inquisitiveness, decided to visit this temple. Near the entrance, there are sannidhis for Hanuman and Ganapathi. Few steps led us to the main shrine. Beside the main sannidhi, on the left, there is a jhoola with the diety’ s photo. Kaka said that King Krishnadevaraya meditated at this place on Ambal for 12 years and when Goddess appeared before him and conferred a boon, he asked her to accompany him to Ujjain . Goddess consented to his request and left the place. A replica of the goddess was kept here. Kaka told us that every evening when aarthi is given to the goddess at Ujjain, this jhoola would automatically move to and fro and after this movement ss, aarthi is given to this goddess. Such is the power of this diety. He showed us the place where Krishnadevaraya did penance.
After making some purchases in nearby shop, continued our journey to Dwarka. The roads were dark with no street lights but somehow managed to reach Dwaraka at 10.30 P.M. Locating ISKCON was easy. Luckily, the prabhus were awake and a room was allotted in the first floor. Though the accommodation is free for life members, they said that they would be charging Rs.100/- per day towards building construction. Kaka offered to show the remaining Dwarakas and also other important places in Dwaraka the next day for a nominal amount of R.800/- and we accepted the offer. As the hotels were closed, we had some delicious lassi and retired for the night.
DWARKADEESH KI JAI
TEMPLES VISITED: Gomti Dwaraka (Main temple)- one of the nine Dwarkas
Rukmini Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Bhet Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Nageshwar – one of 12 jyotir lingams
LOCATION : DWARKA
HOW TO REACH:- 1) all Okha Port bound trains from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Puri and other important places s at Dwarka
2) regular bus services from Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Porbandhar, Veraval and other cities in Gujarat
3) car services are also available from Veraval
WHERE TO STAY:- Hotels, choultries, mutts are available
ISKCON has its guest house near the temple
WHERE TO EAT:- Being a famous Vaishnavite pilgrim centre, there are only
Vegetarian hotels offering Gujarati meals
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARAKADEESH (Sri Krishnan)
In order to protect His people from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna summoned Viswakarma and ordered him to construct Dwarka in the Arabian Sea. The Sea God was instructed to give land in the middle of the sea which was always protected by Krishna’s divine power. This is known as Gomti Dwaraka as it is on the banks of River Gomti. Due to divine will, the city was constructed overnight and all the Yadavas were transported from Mathura to Dwarka and lived happily. The palaces were made of gold. It was the wealthiest city as the Goddess of Fortune Herself resided here.
As mentioned earlier, the place where first placed His foot is Moola Dwaraka.
Krishna with His 16,108 consorts lived here like a typical Gruhasta and in many occasions showed how a Gruhasta should behave. Perumal ruled over the Universe from this place. Krishna married Rukmini, Satyabhama, Nappinai, Jambavathi, and so on and these 8 wives are known as Astha Mahishis. By killing Narakasura, Krishna rescued 16,000 captivated girls at whose request HE married them. He took 16000 forms and married all the girls at the same time.
When Draupadi surrendered to Krishna for protection, she addressed Krishna as “Dwarakanilai achyuta”- one who resides in Dwaraka.
When Sage Narada was curious to know how Krishna managed with so many consorts, he was astonished to see the Lord with each of His consort performing various activities at the same time. Everyday, all the forms of Krishna used to leave the respective palaces but while entering the court, all the forms used to get merged with Him.
It was in Dwarka that the exhibited his fondness to Sudama .
It was here that Lord exhibited that the gopis attachment to the was much superior than even His consorts’ devotion.
Thus there are innumerable incidents connected with Sri Krishna’s life here.
ABOUT THE TEMPLE(JAGAT MANDIR):-
Dwarka was to be submerged into the sea within 7 days of Krishna’s departure . Before leaving for Prayag, Krishnaordered the sea to leave 12 yojnas of land from drowning.
The original temple was constructed by Krishna’s great grandson, Vajranabha (son of Aniruddha) with the help of Viswakarma as per Vaastu Shastra . The structure of the temple is like that of Sri Chakram.
The height of the temple known as “Jagat Mandir” is 150 feet. There are 2 entrances to the temple-Swarg Dwar and Mukti Dwar.
The flag on the spire of the temple declares that Dwarkadeesh is the ruler.The flag measures 40 feet -52 gaj (a unit of measurement) . The number 52 signifes the 27 stars, 12 rashis, 9 Navagrahas and the 4 main directions-north, south, east, west. The flag is stitched in a specific design.
As part of their offering , Devotees usually undertake to change the flag when their wish is fulfilled. The flag is changed thrice daily. Morning between 8 A.M. and 11 A.M., second time between 11A.M. AND 12.30 P.M. and in the evening between 5 P.M. and 6.30 P.M. Booking for this has to be done atleast 3 months in advance. The flag would be taken round the temple streets ceremoniously before offering in the temple.
Only authorized persons can go to the of the temple and change the flag. This is hereditary. Being on the sea shore, heavy winds keep blowing but these persons do not wear any safety belt. Dwarkadeesh saves them.
From the cloth used as a flag, the priests and other service providers of the temple stitch shirts.
ABOUT THE DIETY:- Dwarkadeesh is seen holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam and Padmam with an enchanting smile. The temple priest informed that Lord wears wresting belt , has a black snake round HIS waist, Bhakti and Mukti are at HIS feet, wears Kaustabham and Vanamaala. The Lord holds a stick and a flute . The Lord is dressed in various forms-like a child, like a ruler etc.During summer, in the nights, the is dressed with jasmine flowers (like Pulangi seva in Tirumala. Usually in South Indian temples, the Lord is adorned with various types of flower maalas(strung with the thread) and placed round Lord’s shoulder. But here, the dress itself is stitched with flowers artistically. It is difficult to make out that it is a floral dress. It resembles like dress made of pearls.
Chappan bhog (56 items of varieties of food) are offered as Raj Bhog to the Lord . Every day 6 aarthis are performed to the Lord . On Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the Lord is given special aarthi at the stroke of 12 in midnight. Thousands of devotees throng to the temple to have HIS darshan. Inside the garbagriham, we find the utsava murthis of Rukmini and Krishna, Radha and Krishna.
The colours of clothes adorned by the Lord are pre-determined as per the days. On Sunday, the Lord wears Red colour, Monday-Pink, Tuesday-Yellow,Wednesday-Green, Thursday-orange, Frinday-white and Saturday-Blue. All the temple kainkaryakaarars(service providers) including the priests wear the same colour dress.
Exactly opposite to the shrine of Dwarkadeesh is Devaki’s shrine. Near the entrance on the right side, we find a small shrine for Balaraman. Balaraman is in the form of Adiseshan. There are separate shrines for the Ashta mahishis (8 wives) of Krishna, Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy, Madhavji
25 years ago, it was in front of Madhavji temple, Prana prathistha for the idols of Radha-Dwarkadeesh and Srila Prabhupada took place for 5 days. The idols were earlier taken around Dwarka temple before this ritual. The idols were later shifted to ISKCON Dwarka.
On the seventh day after the departure of the Lord to His heavenly abode, Dwarka was submerged into the sea. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated that Sri Krishna propounded Udhava Gita and ordered Uddhava to take the elderly, children and women from Dwarka to Hastinapur as the city would be submerged into the sea. The idol form of Narayana which was worshipped by Krishna Himself was carried by Guru and Vayu and placed at present Guruvayur in Kerala.
Archeological Department of India have found out that few thousands of precious metals lie submerged in the sea. Even today the remains of the palaces can be found in the adjoining Gomti river known as “Gomti Chakram”. This is considered as Lakshmi swaroopam and is treated at par with our Saalagrama shilas.We can also find vendors selling different types of stones (nava rathinams) here.
The temple was first constructed by Krishna’s grandson and later by other kings.
DATE OF VISIT :26/05/2009
Being a life member of ISKCON, we had already booked our room at ISKCON guest house in Dwarka for 3 days from 26th to 28th May. Fortunately, the prabhus were kind enough to allot room on 25th itself. Woke up hearing the sound of cymbals and bells as mangala aarthi at 4 .A.M. started in ISKCON mandir. Joined in their prayers and when the curtains were drawn for the diety’s abhishekam, myself accompanied by my wife went to Dwarakadeesh mandir which is about 7 minutes walk from ISKCON. :- Devotees were lined up in a queue to have darshan of the Lord. Perumal was beautifully dressed up like a typical cowherd boy holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam,Lotus. A small stick used for grazing cows and a flute are also placed. The idol is beautifully carved as it was done by GOD HIMSELF. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi, is the sannidhi of Devaki, mother of Krishna. The sannidhis for the 8 chief consorts of the Lord , sannidhi for Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy , Balaram sannidhi are in the outer precincts of the garbagriham. Pilgrims were singing some Gujarati songs .The devotees were exhibiting their unalloyed bhakti in many ways – by singing, by raising slogans”Ranchor Raya Ki jai” etc. as for our turn, we were reciting few divya prabhandha pasurams which we knew by heart and singing the bhajans “GOVINDA MADHAVA GOPALA KESAVA,…, GOVINDA HARI HARI GOPALA HARI HARI RADHA RAMANA HARI HARI….., we had seva to our heart’s content. Resolved to visit the temple in the evening along with children and participate in night aarthi too. After doing a pradakshinam, we left the temple and reached ISKCON.
On the way back to our guest house, we passed by Gomti river which was already crowded with devotees for having bath and passed by Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir where 24 hours non-s kirtan of SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM is being sung for the past 40 years. We recollected having seen this ashram at Verval near Gita Mandir.
Shringar Aarthi at ISKCON was going on for Radha- Krishna and participated in the same. When we checked up for prashad, they said that it may not be possible because these 2 young priests have to do temple duties along with their regular sadhana. They don’t even have a servant and how these 2 young devotees – a Keralite, Sri Kamalakannan dasa and a Tamilian from tirunelveli maintain the temple attending to all sorts of work is really appreciable . Meanwhile, our children got ready and kaka was also waiting for us in his car .
We drove to Rukmini Dwarka which is about 7-10 kms from the main temple.
TEMPLE VISITED: RUKMINI DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas
LOCATION : 7 KMS from Dwarka- Share autos, cabs are available
PRESIDING DIETY : KRISHNA-RUKMINI, sannidhi for Sage Durvasa
STHALAPURANAM: This happens to be the place where Krishna wedded Rukmini . Rukmini, the chief of 16,108 consorts of Krishna was very devoted to the Lord. Born as a Vidarbha princess , she used to listen to various pastimes of Krishna and developed an intense love for Krishna and decided to marry HIM or else end her life.Though her parents were interested in getting her married to Krishna, her brother, Rukmi was against it and wanted her to marry Sisupalan, Krishna’s cousin and made all arrangements for the same. She communicated Her desire thru a Brahmin to be conveyed to the Lord and requested to be kidnapped from her palace and also mentioned that she would be visiting ambal’s temple before marriage ceremony and it would be easy for Krishna to kidnap her from that place. Krishna also expressed HIS desire to the Brahmin and left for Vidarbha immediately and reached the next morning. When the Brahmin informed Rukmini about Lord’s arrival, she thanked the Brahmin and prostrated at his feet as SHE , the Lokamatha thought that prostration was the only befitting gift to the Brahmin. When Rukmini was returning from Ambal temple, Krishna appeared like a lightning and effortlessly kidnapped Rukmini Devi like a lion which snatches its food amonst wolves. When the assembled kings including Jarasandhan and Sisupalan fought with Krishna, Krishna and Balarama defeated the entire army. Rukmi was humbled by Krishna but was saved due to Balaraman’s intervention. The celestial wedding of Krishnaand Rukmini took place grandly at Dwarka. She was very dedicated and derived immense pleasure in performing all types of services to the Lord like massaging His Holy feet and personally offering various kainkaryams to the Lord . She demonstrated how a devotee irrespective of his/her position should serve the Lord. Gradually, She nurtured a feeling that She was more dearer to the Lord than other consorts.
Whenever a devotee entertains the thought that he is dearer to the Lord and becomes possessive, Perumal immediately enacts some drama and make them realize their folly. (In Vrindavan during Rasakreedai, when the Gopis including Radha Rani, thought that they were dearer to Krishna as He was dancing with them, the immediately disappeared. The gopikas were crying piteously and their outpour for the union with the is the famous “Gopika Geetham”. They were so captivated with the form of Krishna that even when Krishna appeared as Narayana with 4 arms, they were not content. They only wanted their form of Krishna. Krishna appeared and pacified them that they were very dear to them and He disappeared only to increase their Bhakti ) does this out of pure compassion towards the devotee.
In this case, Lord wanted to correct Rukmini and hence created an opportunity to enact His Leela. Krishna accompanied by Rukmini went to sage Durvasar’s hermitage and invited him for lunch. A chariot was brought forth for the sage to be seated. However the sage said that he could not sit in a chariot driven by horses and if it was driven by them ,he was prepared to visit them. The Lord of the Universe unhesitatingly agreed for the same. The Lord along with Rukmini Thayar drove the chariot. Due to the scorching heat and tiresomeness, Rukmini felt thirsty and expressed the desire to quench Her thirst. Krishna pressed HIS toe on the ground and water sprouted out. As she was desperately thirsty, Rukmini forgot the decorum to take the rishi’s permission for quenching HER thirst and drank the water. This infuriated the rishi who cursed Her to live separately from HER Lord Krishna as the pride that She was more dearer to Krishna made her behave in this way. He also cursed that the entire area would be bereft of drinking water. Rukmini realized HER mistake and fell prostrate at the sage’s feet and asked for forgiveness. The rishi said that She has to live separately for 12 years and then join the Lord. (Mother Sita had to live in Rama’s separation for 12 months and Rukmini Devi had to live alone for 12 years). Thus Rukmini’s pride was subdued . However, Krishna assured her that He would visit her daily. As She stayed here for 12 years, this place came to be known as “Rukmini Dwaraka”. (Some say that Rukmini got married toKrishna at this place.) One gets only half the punyam if he visits only Gomti (Main) Dwaraka. Dwaraka yaatrai is deemed to be complete only after visiting Rukmini Dwaraka . Even today , there is no drinkable water around this area and the residents have to get water from far off places by paying Rs.300/ -per barrel. Hence, in this place “jhala dhaanam” (water dhanam) done gives 1000 times benefit.
OUR EXPERIENCE:- It was a pleasant morning. Located in a serene place , with the sea breeze blowing softly, it was the perfect time to meditate in the presence of Thayar as She acts as a mediator between us and Perumal and represents on our behalf. When we reached the temple, curtains were drawn as bhog(neivedyam) was being offered to the Lordship . The assembled devotees were asked to sit in front of the garbagriham and a panda narrated the above incident. Pointing to a big picture on the right side, the panda started narrating the above incident that it gives 1000 times benefit. Thinking of everyone related to us, donated Rs.100/ for each one of them on their behalf. In return, the panda gave us some sweet packet as prashad and a small yellow cloth to be kept in the altar. Gave some money as charity to the disciplined under privlieged (about 50 of them) who share equally amongst themselves whatever is given to them. A great unity among them
TEMPLE VISITED: BHET DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas
LOCATION : 15-20 KMS from Dwarka situated near Okha Port- the last tip of the west coast
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH with separate sannidhis for His consorts and mother Devaki. There are separate sannidhis for Perumal,HIS mother Devaki, His 8 chief consorts, Purushotham, Lakshmi Narayan, Dhauji(Balaraman),Radha_ Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy ,Madhava Perumal, Garuda. .
STHALAPURANAM: “Bhet” in Gujarati means island. As this is situated in an island, it is named so. This was the pleasure spot for the Lord with HIS consorts. Legend says that Krishna used to spend time with HIS consorts in this place. There is a temple situated on of a hillock. This is considered as one of the 9 Dwarakas. As per the locas devotees, this place was part of Krishna’s palace and when the original Dwarka was submerged into the sea, this place remained intact. Thus they claim this to be the original Dwarka.
OUR EXPERIENCE:- From Rukmini Dwaraka, we proceeded to Bhet Dwarka which is situated on an island. Reached Okha port and after parking our vehicle in a nearby place, we proceeded to take a boat. We rememberd our previous visit regarding non-availability of drinking water . After having some fresh buttermilk and purchasing water bottles, we bought tickets for boat ride. Cost Rs.5/- per head one way. We can purchase tickets for return journey here itself. Also purchased some pori (Bhel- puffed rice) as food for fish. The boat in which we travelled was over crowded as it was 11 .A.M. and probably the last trip to the temple for morning darshan. It took nearly 15 minutes for us to reach the other shore. Alighted from the boat and took the narrow path towards the temple. Chanting Mahamantra, we had good darshan of Dwarkadeesh. Similar vigraham like in Dwarka but of a smaller size. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi is Mother Devaki’s sannidhi. In Perumal temples, opposite to the garbagriham, we usually find Peria Thiruvadi(Garudan)’s sannidhi but in Dwaraka, we find Devaki’s sannidhi.
After offering neivedyam and circumbulating the temple , we left the temple at 12 noon to take the return boat to the mainland. Offering dakshina in Dwarka is very important. Donated some money for”Go Samrakshana” protection of cows. From this point, we can clearly see Pakistan border across the sea and the Pakistani navy posted there. Kaka was referring to the recent 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks adding that from the Pakistan border, the terrorists took a boat to Porbandhar which is also a sea coast and then shifted to an Indian ship. He also pointed out to some wrecks stating that it was due to the earthquake which occurred in 2001(Khuj earthquake). We recollected having seen the structures before the quake in 2000. Luckily, we got place to sit in the boat in our return journey. From Bhet Dwarka, we went to Gopi Talab, a very sacred place to Krishna’s devotees.
Other PLACES VISITED: GOPI TALAB , a holy tank and an adjacent temple
LOCATION : Bhet Dwarrka- Dwaraka route via Nageshwar
PRESIDING DIETY : Gopi Talab- the sacred well from where Gopi Chandan is collected (used by ISKCON, Gaudiya and madhava Sampradhaya Vaishnavas), and a small temple dedicated to Radha- Krishna temple
STHALAPURANAM: There are 2 incidents which may be recollected in connection with Gopis.
This refers to one of the pastimes of the Lord when He wanted to prove that the gopika bhakti was superior to that of His consorts. The consorts of Lord Krishna developed superiority complex that they were very dear to the Lord and the best bhaktas of the Lord . In order to check their ago, Lord enacted a drama. He pretended as HE was suffering from severe headache. The best of physicians were called and best treatment was given to the but the headache would not subside. AT that time, Sage Narada arrived in Dwarka to have Perumal’s darshan. The perplexed mahishis (wives) of the told the rishi about ’s illness. Narada who understood Perumal’s play suggested that if some dust from devotee’s feet is rubbed on Perumal’s forehead , the headache would subside. The shocked wives backed out because they felt that it was not proper to place their dust on Perumal’s forehead. The news spread about everywhere. When the gopis of Vrindavan heard this, they immediately rushed to see the Lord and filled up carts full of their paadha dhooli (dust from their feet) to be applied on ’s forehead. They did not even think that they would be committing a serious offence by this petty act. They were only concerned about their Krishna’s well being and so were prepared to even go to hell for the sin they were committing. The moment the paadah dhooli of the gopikas were applied on HIS head, the Lord was relieved from the pain.. Thus the Lord showed that the gopis unalloyed prema bhakti was the best among all. After spending few days with Krishna , the gopis had to leave for Vrindavan.
Unable to bear the pangs of separation from Krishna , on the way, they jumped into a well at this place to end up their lives. They were turned into chandan by Krishna’s grace. Krishna pleased with their devotion declared that the place has become very sacred and Himself would smear the chandan from that place. Hence, this place is considered to be very sacred and whoever visits this place would be bestowed with unalloyed bhakti towards the Lord . Even after thousands of years, we are able to get chandan from this inexhaustible well.
Second incident:- While ascending to Vaikuntam, Krishna ordered Arjuna to take care of all the women folk and children and leave them at Hastinapur. On the way, unable to bear the pangs of separation from Sri Krishna, the gopis jumped into this well and ended their lives.
The fact that the gopis out of separation jumped into this well and thinking of the attained the Highest Bliss –moksham in this place is common in both the incidents. Gopi chandan collected from this place is considered to be very sacred. Even today, most of the devotees of Sri Krishna including Gaudiya Vaishnavas, ISKCON devotees, Pusti Vaishnavas etc . apply this on their forehead.
OUR EXPERIENCE: Reached Gopi Talab and offering prayers in the temple, visited the talab(tank). Some people were collecting the chandan from the inexhaustible talaab. Purchased gopi chandan rolls for personal use and for giving to other devotees. Had water melon and left the place at about 2.30 P.M. Photography and video are not restricted here. Purchased water melons and fed the cows with the same.
TEMPLE VISITED :- NAGESHWAR
LOCATION :- near Dwarka
OUR EXPERIENCE:- Nageshwar, is one of the twelve jyotirlingas and is considered very sacred for devotees of shiva. During our first visit to Dwarka, we did not visit this temple as renovation work was going done. Late Gulshan Kumar, music director, owner of T series had renovated the entire temple by spending few lakhs on the renovation. At the entrance, there is a big statue of Shiva measuring more than 30 feet. There is a big bhajan hall in front of the garbagriham which displays a big photograph of the late musician. Here , abhishkeam for Shiva takes place round the clock. Vendors were selling milk in kalasams and other pooja items in the hall. Devotees can go near the lingam and give their offerings for abhishekam. We joined the queue for darshan. Children were tired and stayed back in the car itself. The temple was flooded with devotees.
Having visited all the important places in Dwarka, we returned to ISKCON guest house after having Gujarati lunch in a nearby hotel. The priest was waiting for us to have prashad. Though they expressed their inability to give us prashad , the priest somehow cooked for us and was waiting without having lunch. We were embarrassed by this kind gesture and apologized for the delay. As we had lunch, we took little prashad and said that we would have the remaining in the night. After settling the dues to the car driver, we bid goodbye to kaka. We relished every moment with him and he too reciprocated with the same feeling. Falling at this elderly person’s feet was that all we could do and was the only way of expressing our gratitude to him. Yes, he was GOD-SENT for us. Relaxed for sometime in the room. We assembled for the evening aarthi. For 2 hours, we were doing kirtans accompanied by the sounds of dol, cymbals and harmonium. Children sang few devotional songs (annamayya , Ramdas keerthanas ). Then listened to Bhagavad Gita and recited important slokas from Bhakti Yoga. After the night aarthi, had prashad, went to a Cybercafe which is about 10 minutes walk from the temple for canceling our Sleeper Class tickets as 2 of our AC berths were confirmed. We were confident that the remaining tickets would also get confirmed. As only 48 hours was left , we decided to cancel the tickets without further delay.
From there, visited “Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir situated opposite to ISKCON where 24 hours non s Rama naama kirtan is performed . This saint is from Bihar and for the past 40 years, non s sankeertan accompanied by musical instruments is going on at Dwarka, Veraval and few other places in Gujarat. After spending about an hour, retired for the night. Thanked Perumal for His abundant grace in making our journey ot Nava Dwarkas the most memorable . We were recollecting a picture of Panduranga carrying His devotees while holding Saint Namdev’s hand. HIS soulabhyam is indescribable.
27/05/2009, 28/05/09:- Having visited all the places, we decided to spend the next 2 days in the holy dham. On 27/05/09, after having holy bath in River Gomati, visited Dwarakadeesh temple along with children through Swarg Dwar. On the way, we came across some devotees who were carrying the flag to be hoisted in the temple singing bhajans and going round the streets around the temple. We decided to make some offering as thanks-giving in ISKCON temple and purchased varieties of fruits, honey, dry fruits (for panchamrutham), and items required for making pongal, bendi vetha kuzhambu and chakkarai pongal . We explained to the pujari about preparation of these dishes . We volunteerd to do some service in the temple like cleaning etc. While thus engaged in temple service, we got news about my daughter’s SSC results and were overwhelmed with Perumal’s grace by making her one of the school pers. Thanked God profusely for His abundant grace . The whole day was full of excitement with relatives calling and congratulating . In the evening we decided to spend some time near seashore and visit Samudraraja temple and other temples nearby. During our first visit to Dwarka, the temple was surrounded by water on all sides but now the place had become dry. This is the place where River Gomti joins the sea . From the sea , we proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple passing by Gomti river. Many vendors were selling eatables for fish and cows which were moving about freely near the ghats. After feeding the cows and fish, we planned to vist the temple through Mukti Dwar. A flight of steps leads us to the temple building. But as we had cameras, we were not allowed to go inside and had to satisfy ourselves by paying our obeisances from here itself. Did some last minute shopping,-buying gifts to my siblings and friends . Had dinner in a hotel run by a family in their house itself. (Forgot one of the gift packs containing dozen of Krishna’s murthis which we wanted to give as gift along with other prasadams and holy waters from various rivers and sea. )
On 28th morning, we decided to have samudra snaanam. We recollected Sowmyanarayanan mama’s words that the sea at Dwarka is known as “Arasethu “ and bath can be had at any time here which is an exception. Usually, samudra snanam has to be done only on specific days but samudra snanam at Sethukarai- Thirupullani(Rameswaram) and Dwarka can be had at any time. So, we had bath in the sea and also at the confluence of the Gomti river with the sea . Took an auto to ISKCON and from there proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple. While returning , we once again went to the bhajan kutir and took few snaps. Finsihed last minute packing etc. Could not locate the Krishna’s idols which we purchased the previous day. After noon aarthi at ISKCON, we decided to have lunch in the same place where we had the previous night. Luckily, the packet was there as it is . On the way back, bought dresses for my brother’s children and IPOD charger. After thanking the ISKCON priests for their wonderful hospitality , we took an auto to Dwarka station to board Okha-Puri Express to reach Ahmedabad. Boarded the train at 1430 hours and reached Ahmedabad at 2300 hours. As retiring room was not available, decided to spend the night in the AC room itself. As mentioned earlier, this is the best AC waiting room with all facilities and hope that all stations have such waiting rooms. The remaining tickets also got confirmed.
ON 29/05/09, after morning rituals, went to Hotel Sukhsagar for having breakfast and packed lunch and dinner for our journey. Thanking Dwarkadeesh profusely, boarded Ahmedabad-Secunderabad Summer Special at 1000 hours . The train was 4 hours late due to some wayside robbery in one of the coaches. Reached Secunderabad on 30/05/09 at 1400 hours.
During our entire trip, we could feel Lord ’s abundant grace flowing on us and with a prayer to the to enhance our bhakti , I end this writeup. I humbly request the devotee-readers to kindly forgive me for my flaws in presentation and enlighten me with more information.
KAZHIYUR VARADA DASAN