From Beyt Dwarka you return to the mainland of Dwarka and proceed to the exquisite Rukmini Devi Temple located on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. This is barely 1.5 kms from the Dwarka temple. The temple is an architectural masterpiece with the walls decorated with paintings depicting Rukmini’s life with Lord Krishna. There is supposed to be an ancient idol of Rukmini, made of marble, in the cellar of the temple. Legend has it that Durvasa Muni, a sage easily angered, cursed Rukmini to live apart from Lord Krishna for 12 years for drinking water before he, the guest, had been fed. He also cursed that no vegetation would grow as the soil would be too unwholesome for agriculture and the water too salty for a radius of 12 kms . If you look around, you will notice that there is hardly any vegetation in the vicinity. If you taste the water in any of the hotels, you will agree it is rather salty. Also, you will notice that the Dwarka temple and the Rukmini Devi temple are quite far apart. A video of the temple is at VirtualTourist
From Nageshwar Mahadev Temple, Beyt Dwarka island is 20 kms away. You get on to a steamer and 15 minutes later, you are led through a labyrinth of lanes into the residential portion of Lord Krishna’s life in Dwarka. Plenty of small shops entice you with their trinkets. You are led from one room to another as the priest intones what each idol or room means. Beyt Dwarka is also the site of the slaying of the demon Shankhasura by Vishnu. A video of the steamer ride is here at VirtualTourist.
About 10 kms away from the Dwarka temple is the Nageshwar Mahadev Temple. This is the site of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (columns of light) which are manifestations of Lord Shiva, as mentioned in the Puranas. It is another temple, richly carved with a ‘linga’ in the sanctum sanctorum. By its side is a huge statue of Lord Shiva, built recently. (TIP. In case you wish to pray in the sanctum sanctorum with the help of a ‘pujari’, you will have to wear a ‘dhoti’. You can buy this ‘dhoti’ along with the ‘puja’ offerings or you can borrow one from inside the locker room. You may retain your shirt). A video of the temple is here at VirtualTourist.
You then return to the 56 steps, go down past the small stalls to the river bank. You make your way to the Panchanada Tirtha, i.e., 5 sweet water wells. The ‘pujari’ (priest) there takes you to the main temple (Lakshmi Narayan Temple), tells you the tale of the ‘Ramayana’, how after losing everything, their land, property, kingdom and wife, to the Kauravas, the Pandavas, come to this spot to do penance. Here they are admonished for gambling everything away. However, 5 sages are called to intercede on their behalf to the gods. They sit amongst the sand dunes with each of the Pandavas and they pray. Through their prayers and yogic powers, they draw the waters of 5 rivers, in the form of water wells, to where they are sitting (‘kunds’). The 5 rivers are, Jambuvanti from Gaya at Bhim Kund; Gomti from Lucknow at Arjun Kund; Ushawati from Goa at Nakul Kund; Chandrabhagas from Orissa & Maharashtra at Sahadev Kund; and, Laxmana from Badrinath & Himachal at Yuddhister Kund. That is the reason why the water of each well tastes totally different, one from the other, though they are surrounded by salty sea water on all sides. You are then led to the 5 water wells and offered water from each one by the ‘pujari’. Yes, indeed, the water is potable and it is sweet. (TIP. During low tide, when the water level is too low for the small boats to ply, take your footwear along so that the rocks, stones and pebbles don’t hurt your soles as you wade across to the other side. Else, it can be an excruciatingly painful journey. I should know, I’ve done it!).
Even after the sun has set, there is still some light. So you turn back and take the slippery steps gingerly and reach the meeting point of the two water levels (Chakra-tirtha ghat). You wash your feet, hands and pour some water over your head to symbolise a ritualistic bath to attain liberation from this mortal coil. Then you buy some ‘atta’ (wheat) from the cheeky boys who have been dogging your every step and feed these ‘atta’ balls to the fishes.
You head west towards the setting sun till you come to the Samudra Narayan temple, a short distance away. This temple is perched on the Arabian Sea. The sky turns dull red as the fiery orb sinks into the Arabian Sea. A lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
The Krishna temple of Dwarka is a holy pilgrimage point for Hindus. Most western travelers are unaware of its existence.
Cost to visit the temple is free. Photos are not allowed to be taken inside, you will likely be forced to enter through a metal detector and leave your camera outside in the check-booth.
Foreigners will also likely be requested to sign some paperwork. This is the only temple I have ever visited that I was required to do so, but it may have been coupled with the fact I was visiting on a busy Hindu holiday. The papers are merely an affidavit that state that you either have converted to Hinduism, are a Hindu, or that you are not a Hindu but respect the Hindu faith. Then, sign the guest register with your home address and the temple is yours to visit.
If you would like to do as the locals, you can buy some flowers or small food offerings for ~5 rupees outside the temple and give place them on the offerings stands inside the temple.
I have visited all the notable places in the town and here is what you shouldn’t leave without checking.
The first place to obviously admire is the titular Dwarkadheesh Temple. The sanctum is about 2,500 years old. Stands on 60 pillars which take it 5 storey high. What's very admirable is the loving and human way they tend to all the deity statues here. Each has a bed, blanket and pillow nearby, dressed in warm clothes in winter and lighter ones in summer :-). There is also nap and meal times for them.
If you have been to other Krishna temples in India then it's also fascinating to note the difference of interpretation of the deity here than other places. Try to see it at night also... it sends entirely different vibes.
Rukmani temple - definitely don't miss this. 1.5km from the town, it dates back to the 12th century. The bas-relief here is extraordinary. Sort of unique and covers the full walls. You can see the carvings so weather-beaten and grained yet everything is still so identifiable. There is also a rare elephant relief tucked on the back-wall
Nageshwar temple - for its about 3 storey high statue of lord Shiv
Bhadkeshwar temple - the temple is stretched outwards in the middle of the sea sitting over boulders which the waves thrash. It has an unforgettable feel and panoramic views of the sea.
Best way to see all four places is with a taxi set for about Rs80. The city pretty much lives on tourism but it is certainly off the non-Indian tourist trail.
Again, it is free to visit this temple. And unlike Dwarka's main temple, photos are allowed.
The Shree Nageshwar Temple itself is nothing special. It is fairly modern, rather banal and only takes a few minutes to see.
The large draw here is the large seated statue. I'm not sure the height, but it is quite large, maybe 20m in height from the top of its platform.
During holidays, the entire 16km road from central Dwarka to the temple may be at a standstill of traffic and pilgrims.
Dwarka is one of the major sites of Hindu Pilgrimage, but due to it's somewhat remote location is less busy than many other sites, and virtually unknown amongst western tourists.
As I spent about a month in Gujarat, I was able to take in the temples here which stands proudly by the 'creek' in the town. They are fine examplea in terms of architecture, as the temple complex has very ancient roots.
Amongst them. The temple of Rukmini, Lord Krishna's wife, who is considered an incarnation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty is increasingly popular these days - for rather obvious reasons in modern India.
There are legends in Hindu Mythology about about a great flood in this area, or tidal wave enveloping the place. Underwater archaelogist have now begun to turn up some temples out to sea. I presume this is still very sensitive, but diving one day may form the basis of a more extensive tourist industry.
The rest of the town has little to offer, so a trip out here will really make you feel that you have finally 'shook off' any other westerner for miles around.