Dwarka is a city and a municipality in Gujarat, India. Dwarkadish temple is one of the finest in India, and it dominates the city's small skyline. Sunset point near the Gomti river and its ghats are exceptionally beautiful at all times of day, though perhaps a little risky late at night. Though the city is challenging for the rare foreign tourist, its attractions more than make up for the difficulties faced if you are happy to spend the time getting there. Though it is a very small city, these attractions, along with city's peaceful feeling and pleasant nearby beaches, mean it is certainly worth a few nights visit.
The original Dwarka is believed to be sunken in the sea. Divers till today are researching, after finding the artifacts from the sea floor. A small island nearby is known as Bet Dwarka; you can hire a boat from Dwarka to go there. Bet Dwarka is a part mud and part sand beach. However, it's the best place for zoologists.
Due to its isolation and relatively limited accessibility by train (booking an overnight train from Ahmedabad is unattractive due to the schedule (as of 2013)), Dwarka is very rarely visited by foreign tourists. It is, however, very popular in the domestic tourist market and has some excellent attractions. Its omission from international guidebooks like Lonely Planet is a serious one.
Dwarka is 450 km from Ahmedabad. Nearby airports are at Rajkot (225 km away) and Jamnagar (121 km away). Both are served by Spicejet and Goair. The railway station is located almost 2 km from the main Temple and has direct trains to Mumbai and other cities in India.
A sleeper bus from Ahmedabad costs ₹450 per head and leaves from the highway on the outskirts of the city. It can be boarded at Patel Tours and Travels, but they may shuttle passengers (ie: an unmarked van) to the other boarding point without providing all of the details about departure times. It departs at 10:30PM and arrives in Dwarka early in the morning.
Local Municipal administration has "Dwarka Darshan" sight seeing non-AC bus facility. Twice a day: 8AM and 2PM. ₹100 per seat. Each trip takes about 5-6 hours. Booking office 1. Near Vegetable market 2. Bhadrakali chowk. This trip covers Nageshwar, Gopi Talab, Bet Dwarka and Rukshmani Temple.
Most importantly, Dwarkadhish mandir sots at the heart of this small city.
There are a lot of places around Dwarka which can be covered in a single day. There are local taxies which are available which would help you to visit them. The major ones covered are:
- Nageshwar Temple - This is also one of the prominent Jyotirlingas and it is at around 8 km from Dwarka.
- Gopi Talav - This is the place where Lord Krishna used to play with his Gopikas. There is a small pond where it is said that Lord Krishna used to play with the Gopika Strees (Gopika Women).
- Hanuman Mandir - This is also in the Bet Dwarka where Hanuman fought with his son Makaradhwaja. To cover this place, it is advised to start as early as 7AM as this is lonely place and a rickshaw has to be hired to visit this place.
- The Light House - Light House is famous place at sea-coast of Dwarka. One can enjoy complete silence sitting at the sea coast. Behind the Light House, there is a huge cave below the coast naturally created by striking of sea water. One can watch fishermen catching fishes in the midst of Ocean in complete silence. There is also a small Ganesh temple behind the Light House.
All these places are at an approximate radius of 80 km from Dwarka and the taxies normally charge ₹600 (per half day) for this. This cost does not cover the boat charges as well as other entry taxes applicable and the visit to Hanuman Temple at Bet Dwarka.
There are few other temples like Gayatri Shakti Peeth, ISKCON, Geeta mandir, Siddeshwar Mahadev, Bhadrakali temple, Bhadkeshwar temple. One can hire an auto for ₹20-30 per seat to see these places which are within 2-3 km radius. Bhadkeshwar temple is a "must see" as this place is almost surrounded by sea.
Panchtirth is on the other side of Gomti river. There are 5 small (2 feet x 3 feet) wells within 500 m range. Water of each well has different taste. Water is not salty though there is sea surrounding this area.
- 1 Dwarkadhish Temple, firstname.lastname@example.org. The over 2000-year-old, 5-storied Hindu temple is the main sight of the holy town. The temple is dedicated to the god Krishna, who is also believed to have been King of Dwarka for 100 years.
- 2 Bet Dwarka. This is supposed to be the place where Krishna lived, met his friend Sudama and blessed him, and there is a Peetha (Seat) where Krishna is said to have met Sudama. The temple also has the main Dwarkadish deity which was believed to have been made by Krishna's chief Queen Rukmini and in which Meera bai is said to have merged and disappeared from the material world. There are boats available from Okha Jetty from where people are ferried to the island which is approximately 30 km from Dwarka.
- 3 Rukmini Mandir. This temple is 8 km from Dwarka. This is in the outskirts of the city and this is a lonely temple and there is an interesting story of Rukmini being cursed by sage Durvasa because of which the temple is outside the city and its because of this curse only that the water in Dwarka city is salty.
- 4 Sudama Setu.
- 5 Shivrajpur Beach, Shivrajpur Beach. 8AM-7PM. Shivrajpur Beach is another notable beach located near Dwarka. It has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag beach certification for its cleanliness and eco-friendly initiatives. The beach is known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine surroundings, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
- Take a plunge into Gomti river, adjacent to Dwarkadhish Temple. Its really refreshing. Salty water? - Don't bother, you can have fresh water bath at nearby private bathing facilities or its good if your lodge is nearby this river.
- Visit the Dwarkadheesh Temple which is also called as the Jagat Mandir. Enter temple through river side which has 52 steps. Electronic items are not allowed inside temple. Join people if you find them chanting "Dwarkadhish ki Jai" "Nand gher anand bhayo, Jai kanhayya lal ki". You may get help from the official guides (wearing ID cards) who will explain the significance of structure and temples. You need not pay them anything.
- Note the dress colour of the main deity. It will be white on Friday, blue on Saturday (7 colours for 7 days of a week) Look for the colour of the flag. Not surprising to see someone changing the flag. It is changed 5 times a day.
- Join the young Brahman students reciting "Shri Vishnu sahashsranama" in the morning. Don't miss the Aarti.
- Hire a boat to cross Gomti River (₹10 per seat). If you are lucky, and its low-tide you can walk and cross river with knee deep water.
Pay ₹25 at the temple counter and buy prasadam which was offered to God.
Decorative items made from marine shells.
Vendors around the temple offer purses/bags, clothes, food items, and items for Deity worship at home. Check quality of items. Usually you should bargain.
The eating options at Dwarka are severely limited. Most hotels serve Gujarati thalis of varying quality and freshness.
Arti Restaurant near Dwarikadheesh Temple serves good food. Sharanam near Bhadrakali chowk is good AC restaurant with reasonable price. Depend on 5-6 small restaurants or Roadside Dhabhas/ eatouts also available.
Kant, in Badrakali Chowk, serves good food in both its upper and lower dining halls. The lower floor is for breakfast (Aloo Parantha along with idlis and dosas) and hot Gujarati Thalis for lunch and dinner. The upper floor is a multi-cuisine restaurant with very friendly staff. Its kitchen was hygienic as of December 2013.
- 1 Amrutras, Jodha Manek Rd, ☏ . Known for its vegetarian Gujarati thalis. While they serve non-Gujarati food too, it is not particularly tasty.
Alcohol is prohibited in Dwarka. Do not expect any place to serve Alcohol here. Drink Hot Milk at Night at Shyam-Sunder Milk Parlor near Dwarikadheesh Temple.
Many small, medium, budget lodges at walking distance from temple. 2-3 Luxury hotels also.
Many Dharmashalas available if you are travelling in group. May charge ₹25-50 per person.
- Hotel Dwarkesh is budget hotel - 5 minutes walk. Telephonic booking in 2-3 days advance.
- Hotel City Palace, Dwarka. 5 minutes walk from Dwarkadheesh temple.
- 1 Dwarkadhish Lords Eco Inn (Near Gayatri Temple), ☏ , email@example.com. The only hotel in Dwarka facing the sea.
To get more information about the Temple, you may contact the Administrator, Shree Dwarkadhish Temple, Dwarka. ☏. Hours: 9AM to 1PM and 3PM to 6:10PM on all the working days except public holidays.
Outside Dwarkadeesh temple, people claiming to be priests (who may or may not bother dressing for the part) may tell foreign tourists that they need to hand over their passports and complete forms to enter the temple and further suggest that they will get VIP treatment if they do so. This is utterly misleading! There are no restrictions on foreigners entering the temple and most certainly no paperwork necessary. The only restriction is the usual shoes and no electronic equipment allowed inside (There is a counter where you can check in electronics. If you try to hide a cell phone and security finds it, you will fined ₹1000.) Presumably if you take outsiders up on the offer for VIP treatment, you will find your passport has disappeared once you leave the temple. As a best case scenario, their holding of your passport will merely give them the upper hand when demanding payment for a mediocre and unnecessary tour.
Don't rely much on state bus. The state bus station officers does not have information on incoming and out going buses. The tea shops outside bus station has much better info.
Sleeper buses operate to Ahmdebad, Vadodara, Surat and Diu and can be booked in advance online or on relatively short notice from the travel agents near Badrakali Chowk. The rail network is more limited, though generally safer, more pleasant and easier to actually sleep on.
Hiring Car from dwarka is the best option if you want to visit near by place like Porbandar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Somnath, Diu, Sasan gir. There is also one train available from Dwaraka if you want to visit Somnath Temple.