Dwarka City is ancient and obviously full of stories. Wherever you go, you will find stories talking to each other. As a traveler, there is so much to see in this temple town on the banks of Gomti River.
History of Dwarka pre-dates even the Mahabharat era. It has been a continuously inhabited place for the longest known time. Imagine the layers you can discover as you walk around this Dwarka City – best know known for temple tourism.
I am listing 15 things to do in the city when you are visiting the holy place.
Visit the Dwarkadhish Temple
People visit the city for this temple, so do visit this temple once in the morning and once in the evening.
Read our detailed post on Dwarkadhish Temple
Watch the Flag Change at Dwarkadhish Temple
The 52-yard flag of Dwarkadhish temple is changed 5 times a day – thrice in the morning and twice in the evening. It is a spectacle to watch. The family sponsoring the flag brings the flag in a ceremonial procession – singing and dancing. The Guggali Brahmin climbs the Shikhara of the temple and changes the flag. There is a loud cheer as the fluttering flag come out.
Visit the Rukmini Temple
Rukmini is the reigning queen of Dwarka and Dwarkasdhish. Your visit to the city is not complete till you visit her too.
Read More – Rukmini – the queen of Dwarka & Dwarkadhish
If you have read the Rukmini story, you know the origin of Tulabhar. If not, go read that first. As you walk along the Gomti River lined with many small temples, you would come across the large weighing balances hanging from the ceiling. You might see a person sitting on one scale and the grains on the other. This is Tulabhar – literally meaning weighing the grain for donation according to your weight.
When I entered one such temple, the priest looked at me and told me my exact weight and how much it would cost me to do a Tulabhar. I was stunned, that is some professional expertise. He then went on to explain to me the details of Tulabhar.
Donation of 7 items weighing equivalent to your weight is what gets you Moksha or liberation in Dwarka, as mentioned in the scriptures. The 7 items that are donated are – Wheat, Sugar, Urad Daal, Moong Daal, Desi Ghee or Clarified Butter & Oil.
There are three categories of Tulabhar – Uttam, Madhyam and Sukshma and their respective rates per kg at the time of writing is Rs 120/-, Rs 80/- and Rs 40/- per kg respectively. What changes in these three categories is the mix of 7 items, so the last one may have Desi ghee only as a token?
If you are wondering where this donation goes, the priest told me that it goes to widows living in the city, small temples, and poor brahmins. On a lighter note, at a place like this, Brahmins cannot be poor. This can be your motivation to lose weight too.
Ride a camel on either bank of Gomti River
One bank of Gomti is full of temples and ghats, the other is a sandy patch with a small beach next to it. You can ride a camel on either side of the Gomti.
On the ghat side, the camel walks right next to the river. As I watched small children taking a ride, I was a bit scared but the children seem to be enjoying.
On the other side, there are 5 sweet water wells that are supposed to be the 5 rivers brought here by 5 rishis. The names of the rivers and rishis are mentioned on the small boards next to the wells. These wells may have been the initial reason for this city to be set up here. Right now, all you see are two small temples dedicated to Laxmi Narayan and Ambaji. Laxmi Narayan temple has an old Gufa and a marker saying the footprints of Pandavas or Pandav Charan. There are also the footprints of the 5 Rishis who brought the 5 rivers here.
You will see a bunch of camels resting or walking here. If you are lucky, you may see one running as I did. Go for a camel ride or just sit on the sandy banks lined with piles of stones.
Sunrise at Sudama Setu on Gomti River
This is one place where you can see a lovely sunrise and a stunning sunset – almost at the same place.
For sunrise, there is no better place than standing at Sudama Setu – the cable bridge joining the two edges of Gomti River. This relatively new bridge has been built by the Reliance group. It is ticketed, so you have to wait for the ticket window to open in the morning to use it.
The bridge, the sunrise and the meeting point of Gomti with the sea – all look simply stunning as the morning rays fall on them.
Across the bridge, the river is lined with a walking path punctuated with neat benches to sit. I sat there for some time. On the opposite bank, the Dwarkadhish temple was reflecting in the waters of Gomti. At the ghats, people were taking dips and the rituals were going on in the temples. The river as it meets the sea – I know it is an illusion as the river no longer exists and it is the sea water that fills the river channel. Still, it is a lovely visual, something that would stay with me for a long time.
You can also walk along the Gomti ghat and visit the small temples. Do see the Samudra Narayan temple at the edge of Gomti and the sea. This is one of the oldest temples in the city.
Sunset at the beach
The best place to see the sunset in Dwarka city is at the Badkeshwar Mahadev Temple. This is an ancient and small temple located on what must have been an island at some point in time. You can walk to this temple and have an unobstructed view of the sunset on the sea.
Sunset was beautiful, but when I looked back at the city from here, I could see it on the rocks. Yes, the city is on high rocks against which the sea waves keep hitting. At places, they have made a cave-like way through the rocks. It felt like the city is nibbling the rocks of Dwarka.
I walked along the edge of the city and looked at the rock formation on one side and tourists enjoying camel rides on the other. The black and white lighthouse stands tall at the other edge of the beach. It a perfect place to take pictures with the lighthouse.
Do spend an evening here watching the sunset.
Just like there is Ganga Arti in Kashi, Rishikesh, and Haridwar, there is Gomti Arti here. It is not as elaborate or grand. It is a simple affair that takes less than 10 minutes.
You can go to the small Gomti temple, next to the Gomti Ghat and check out the exact timings of the Arti. In March, it happened around 6:30 PM.
Visit the presiding deities of the city
It is easy to assume that Dwarkadhish is the presiding deity of Dwarka. In a way, he is, but then not really. Krishna is the King of Dwarka and is worshipped in that role. The presiding deities, who existed here even before Krishna decided to make it his new capital are Shiva as Siddheshwar Mahadev and his Shakti as Ma Bhadrakali.
Their temples are small and ordinary today. You may have to ask around to reach them. Siddheshwar Mahadev temple has a lovely lamp lighting ceremony in the evening. There is an old stepwell next to the temple. Bhadrakali temple is on the main road and is surrounded by many other temples.
Visit the Sharda Peeth
The city has the privilege of being home to one of the four Peethas set up by Adi Shankaracharya. As part of Dwarkadhish Temple complex, they have a lovely temple, some beautiful libraries and some very knowledgeable people you can meet. This is where I picked up the book that is my best source of knowledge on the city. I also met the author of the book Prof Jaiprakash Narayan Dwivedi.
You must listen to the chanting done by the students of the Sharda Peetha in the city. It is an experience in itself.
Visit More Temples
Some other interesting temples include:
- Swaminarayan Temple
- ISCKON Temple
- Gayatri Devi Temple
- Shankaracharya Temple – in ruins but you can see the remains of an ancient structure
- Mira Bai Temple in the same temple as Samudra Narayan Temple
Just walk around in the streets of the city and you would find them.
Look for Birds
Wherever you see a patch of water in and around the city, you would see many birds. I could see a lot of small birds in the bushes while driving around.
But my best catch was these Demoiselle Cranes that I found on an estuary on the way to the city. There were so many of them flying around – a sheer joy to see and capture them.
Ride a Chhakda
This is a unique vehicle that runs on the motorcycle engine but can carry 12-15 people. You would see these colorful Chhakdas running around the city. You just cannot miss them. Try riding them based on how confident you are.
Visit the Oldest Stone Inscription
A stone inscription dating back to 2nd BCE can be seen at ASI office. It is a fairly large triangular stone. Though I could not read the inscription, it was good to see the inscription and the conservation work being done by the ASI.
Buy Souvenirs in Dwarka City
Most popular souvenirs are, of course, the image of Dwarkadhish himself. You can have him in a glass box or a photograph.
Chakrashila – Best buy from the city is these stones with a wheel like circular formations on them. These are essentially corals from the sea, but their unique formations make you curious. Some of these are extremely lightweight and can float in water. Outside many temples, you would see a huge rock floating in the water. Some people even end up making offerings to them.
Conch-shaped sea shells were another interesting find. You can always buy the regular conch shells if you like.
Gopi Chandan is a popular souvenir to pick. It is the dried soil from Gopi Talaav. You can find it anywhere in the city souvenir shops.
Travel Tips for Dwarka City
- It is well connected to the rest of the state by railways. This railway station is one of the westernmost railway stations in India.
- The nearest airport is Porbandar that is 100 km from the city
- Bus connectivity is available from most of Gujarat.
- The city starts working early morning and sleeps during the afternoon. Plan your day accordingly.
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