Gujarat Tour Day 4 (Dwarka – Beyt Dwarka – Somnath)
Briefly, Day 4 was Dwarka, Beyt Dwarka, Somnath and Stay at Gir
Started off by 6:45 AM from Club Mahindra, Dwarka and went again to Dwarkadish temple to have another round of dharshan and it was a very pleasant dharshan, again.
We then started off to Beyt Dwarka and on the way, we visited Rukmani Temple, an exclusive small, single shrine temple for Shri Rukamani devi, consort of Bhagwan Krishna. In front of the temple, a group of 70-80 Sadhus were sitting and chanting bhajans together. When devotees offer anything to the head of the group, they will later share within themselves. Upon receiving the offerings, the whole group together bless the devotees with some blessing mantras which was very nice. The buttermilk with butter floating on it was being sold at the entrance of the temple and I had several rounds of it.
While Dwarka is Krishna’s temple, Beyt Dwarka is a small island (left out after the submersion of the whole Dwarka) that was part of Krishna’s kingdom. Bhagwan Krishna asked Mother Earth to swallow the entire kingdom area leaving out just a small territory as a remembrance for His devotees to come and have an imagination of His life at His kingdom, as they wish. It’s where He lived with all His family and friends and enacted all the childhood plays. The temple is said to stand over the exact residence of Lord Krishna and the original moorthy at the temple is said to have been established by Bhagwan Krishna’s consort, Devi Rukmani Herself. The key offering being made at this temple is that of ‘rice’ and it is a reminiscence of the legend that Sudhama, a poor Brahmin and the closest friend of Bhagwan Krishna, brought ‘rice’ as gift to Bhagwan, that too got from his neighbours because he was so poor. The place derived its name from the ‘beyt’ or ‘gift’ that Bhagwan Krishna received from Sudhama at this place.
Since it’s an island, we have to go in jetty. The jetty owners are majority Muslims and the entire area of the Ferry point was so dirty and nasty. There was absolutely no rules and regulation, no limit on the no of persons per vessel, no tickets (only fare collection), and no safety protective gears for anyone. We have to travel only in Bhagwan Krishna’s grace! However, there is an indication of a road bridge coming up to connect Dwarka and Beyt Dwarka but it looks like not before 2-3 years. Hungry Seabirds in plenty fly above our heads in the morning hours to catch the food that’s being sold in the boat itself. It’s a delight to watch the birds catch the food in the air when thrown up.
The main place of interest is the vast Shri Beyt Dwarkadhish Temple which has plenty of shrines for Krishna’s close family, friends and devotees. The temple complex is very old without good maintenance, keeping its ancientness and gives an actual feeling that we have gone back in time machine and come to the original place of Bhagwan Krishna’s era.
A Pandit took all the devotees to a small hall and explained about the legend of the place. I didn’t know Hindi and so I was a little restless towards the end of 15+ minutes since we had a very busy schedule that day but later what I heard as translation from my wife made me very guilty. The Pandits here are only about 30% and the rest are all Muslims. These 30% Pandits don’t even cross the sea to see Dwarka Krishna temple. We people throng Dwarka from every part of the world but these people, so close, don’t even cross the island to see Dwarka! Their life and death are inside Beyt Dwarka and they live only with what the devotees offer to them. So, the current pandits’ family living in Beyt Dwarka should be the direct descendants from Bhagwan Krishna’s era! I understood why the whole place once should have been glittering with Lakshmi’s Aishwaryam is now so poor and dirty. I felt very guilty and shameful of not offering anything big to them but then I didn’t understand the ABCD of what he said for so long also.
We were running short of time because we didn’t take into account the boat riding (to and fro) time and so we had to rush to our next temple – Nageshwara Jyothirlingam on our way to Dwaraka. It’s one of the 12 Jyothirlinga temples across India. The temple was literally empty and so we had a very peaceful dharshan. It’s a vast temple and like Dwarka and Somnath, the sanctum is such that you can have peaceful dharshan of the Bhagwan Shiva on any day however crowded it is.
It was our bad planning that made us miss some of the very important places and sacred temples. Two days preferably or at the bare minimum of one full day is needed for the entire coverage of Dwarka and Beyt Dwarka. We missed a holy dip in Gomti river, Gopi Talav, Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shri Shardapeetam etc.,
After completing Beyt Dwarka we said Goodbye to Dwarka and started off by 1 PM for Somnath and Gir
Dwarka to Somnath:
Took Kathiyawadi Gujarati Thali lunch at Hotel Amidhara (Hotel Shivshakthi Group, Rajkot) on the highway at Kuranga, just after 20-30 minutes of drive from Dwarka. It was one of the best food on our tour.
Dwarka to Somnath is a straight highway along the coast which was being laid with 60-70% completion at that time. In places where the work was going on we could not go beyond 30 kms speed and in one 15+ kms stretch it was very awful. So you can expect a wonderful drive as time pass by and I guess it would be fully ready by the end of 2020.
Passed through Porbhandar, the birth place of Gandhi but none of us had any interest to visit. Atleast, I wanted to visit the temple for Sudhama, Bhagwan Krishna’s best friend, the only temple in the world for him but no one showed any interest and so skipped it also.
Though the highway comes along the coast all the way from Dwarka to Somnath, the beach is visible from the highway only at Madhavpur. It was 5:30 PM then and the sunset time also. This beach is one of the beautiful sandy beaches in Gujarat. People stop over there for refreshment, camel ride and beach visit. We also spent some time there and resumed. The drive for next few kilometers was beautiful along the beach.
2 kms away from Madhavpur is a place called Madhuvan. This is the place where Bhagavan Vishnu killed a demon named Madhu. Lord Krishna married Rukmini at this place. (we came to know of this place only after the tour)
Sri Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu, who lived in 15th century, was the founder of six major schools of Vaishnava Hinduism. Bethak or ‘seat’, is a site considered sacred by the followers of the Pushtimarg tradition. He established 84 Bethaks, right from Rameshwaram to Badrinath (South to North) and from Narayan Sarovar and Bet Dwarka to Puri (West to East). Baithaks are also located in the regions highly associated with Krishna such as in Braj (now roughly corresponding to Mathura district of U.P) and in Dwarka in Gujarat. The 66th of the 84 bethaks is located adjacent to Madhuvan
We passed through a town called Chorwad, the native place of Dhirubhai Ambani. His ancestral house, situated on the main road itself, remains open to public. It was around 7 PM already and so just passed through.
Reached Somnath temple by 7:40 PM.
Somnath is another one of the 12 Jyothirlingas. It is a Triveni sangam, the confluence of three rivers: Kapila, Hiran and Sarasvati. Soma, the Moon God, is believed to have lost his luster due to a curse, and he bathed in the Saraswati River here to regain it.
History of the temple:
The period of the first Shiva temple at Somnath is unknown but the second temple is said to have been rebuilt at the same site around 649 CE. Then from 725 CE onwards, till 1701, destruction & plundering by various Moghul rulers and also reconstruction by the Hindu Kings continued. The most devastating of all was, of course, by Mahmud Ghazni. More than 50,000 devotees were killed in the process. In 1701 Aurangzeb, the master destructor, ordered the destruction of the temple in such a way that it can’t be rebuilt again (this is just one of the 60,000+ temples he alone destructed during his time). So, the temple was destroyed and a mosque was built in its place in 1706.
Only after Independence, only after 250 years, the reconstruction was again started under the orders of the then Home Minister of India Sri Vallabhbhai Patel and completed in May 1951, after his death. In May 1951, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, at the installation ceremony for the temple said “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction.”
History should never be forgotten and we, Hindus, should be vigilant so that WE OURSELVES don’t give space for destruction of another Hindu temple!
Architecture of the present temple:
The present temple is built in the Chaulukya style of temple architecture. The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line from Somnath till Antarctica. The inscription in Sanskrit that is found on the Bāṇa stambha (arrow pillar) erected on the sea-protection wall mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the South to North pole direction at that particular longitude.
It took about 45 minutes for our dharshan and another 30 minutes for the dinner. The temple is located in a vast area (and so you have to walk a long distance) and like Dwarka, this temple was also glittering in light at night with a large saffron flag atop. Like Dwarka, here also you don’t have to worry about the crowd because there is no VIP queue, no ticket dharshan etc., Lord Shiva is very large (in terms of circumference) and He is visible from a very long distance itself. So after finishing the dharshan from a close distance through the queue you can still stand at a distance for as long as you wish. This is one important aspect that I like with respect to both Dwarka and Somnath.
Though there are many other sacred temples and places of interest like Bhalka Thirth, Triveni Sangam, Geeta mandir, Veraval Chopati beach we couldn’t visit any of them due to the tight timing.
It was already 9 PM when we left Somnath and it was a little scary since we had to go through forest route to Gir. Finally, it was a sigh of relief when we reached Club Mahindra, by 10:15 PM!
See you in Day 5…