The Dwarakadheesh temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is worshipped here by the name Dwarkadhish, or 'King of Dwarka
'. It is situated at Dwarka, Gujarat
, which is believed to have been built after the historic Dvarka city, the Kingdom of Krishna which submerged in to the ocean after the Mahabharata war. The main shrine of the 5-storied building, supported by 72 pillars, is known as Jagat Mandir
or Nija Mandir, and is believed to be 2,500 years old. The Dwarkadhish Temple is a Pushtimarg temple, hence it follows the guidelines and rituals created by Shree Vallabhacharya and Shree Vitheleshnathji.
The present temple was built in 16th century CE, while the original temple was believed to have been built by Krishna's grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Lord Krishna's residential place). The temple became part of the Char Dham pilgrimage considered sacred by Hindus in India
, after Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century reformer and philosopher, visited the shrine. Even today a memorial within the temple is dedicated to his visit. Dwarakadheesh is the 108th Divya Desam of Lord Vishnu on the subcontinent, glorified in the Divya Prabandha sacred texts.
A temple was built at the site around 400 BC by Vajranabhji, the great grandson of Lord Krishna, however the present structure was built during the 16th century in a typical Chalukyan style of architecture. The beautiful temple rises up to a height of 51.8 meters. Also known as the Jagat Mandir, the temple has two Sikhara. The Nij shikhar (The longer sikhar) denotes where the deity of Lord Dwarkadhish is installed. The huge temple consists of 60 exquisitely carved pillars and a number of sculptures that depict the influence of various dynasties such as the Guptas, Pallavas and Chavdas (referring to Chavda Kingdom) that ruled Dwarka over the years.
The entrance to the temple is from the north, also known as the Moksha Dwaar, while the entrance from the south is the Swarg Dwaar from where a series of steps leads down to the banks of river Gomti. According to legend, the temple was constructed in a single day by Vishwakarma, the lord of construction. The deity of Lord Dwarkadhish is made of shiny black stone and is about 2.25 ft in height.
The four hands of the deity carry a conch, the Sudarshana Chakra, a mace and a lotus, and this image is popularly known as 'Shankh Chakra Gada Padma Chaturbhuj'. It is said that the idol was hidden for years to protect it from invaders while another idol was brought from the Rukmini temple and installed in its absence. The original idol was reinstalled during the 16th century after the construction of the new temple.
The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism established by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer. The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair.
There are four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas. The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams. The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime. Traditionally the trip starts are the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circuambulation in Hindu temples.