The Panch Kedars and Panch Badris of Uttarakhand are quite well known but the Panch Dwarka’s are not quite as popular. Nevertheless, for devotees of Lord Krishna, they are of supreme importance. The pilgrimage spots included in Panch Dwarka are Kankroli Dwarkadhish, Shrinathji, Dwarka, Dakor and Bet Dwarka in western India. Kankroli is in Rajasthan while the other four are in Gujarat.
You can undertake Panch Dwarka Yatra by train or by road, the latter offering you more chances to visit and stop at places of interest along the way. Either way, the best starting point to the yatra to the panch Dwarka’s is Ahmedabad. The closest temple is the Ranchodrai temple at Dwarka, which should be your first stop. From here you can proceed to the second one, Shrinathji temple at Shamlaji on the Udaipur road. Proceed to Udaipur; spend some time exploring this Venice of the East and drive about 65 km onwards to Kankroli, stopping at Nathdwara along the way for darshan at the famed Nathdwara temple. From here you can drive back to Udaipur, take a diversion to Mount Abu and visit Ambaji temple and then take a long drive to Dwarka, the most important of the Panch Dwarka’s. Bet Dwarka, an island that submerges at high tide is next and last of the spots to visit. Then you can explore the Marine National Park off the cost of Jamnagar and the city itself has some wonderful attractions. Of course, one can go the other way around. Before you set out here is some information on each of the temples that make up the Panch Dwarka’s in India.
Kankroli Dwarkadheesh Temple
Set in the small village of Kankroli next to the Rajsamand Lake you will come across the Vallabhacharya sect created Dwarkadheesh temple. It is said that the idol here was transported from gokuldham to Ahmedabad at the time of Mughal attacks. Maharana Raj Singhji of Udaipur wished for the idol to be relocated and it was installed in a temple at Kankroli. The temple is a fine example of Rajasthani haveli style architecture and remains open between 7 to 11 in the morning and 4 to 7 in the evening.
From here you can go on to Nathdwara, also an important pilgrimage spot for Krishna Bhakts since it is hope to the temple of Shrinathji, an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The idol was previously resident at Mathura but was transported to its present location in 1672 and Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar contributed to construction of the temple. The temple here is in black marble with one arm raised.
Shrinathji – Shamlaji
The Shrinathji temple at Shamlaji in North Gujarat, on the way to Udaipur, is, strictly speaking not included in Panch Dwarka’s but because it is a Krishna dham, it is worth a visit. The temple dates back to the 11th century but it was renovated about 500 years ago. The temple sits beside the Meshwo River and it is built in white sandstone. Bathing in the Surya Lake here is believed to wash away sins. There are other interesting temples such as the Kashi Vishwanath Mahadeo temple; an underground temple with a pyramid shaped roof at ground level and the Harishchandra temple as well as Devni Mori, a Buddhist monastery.
Dwarka and Bet Dwarka
Dwarka is next, located along the coast of Saurashtra and one of the four of the Major Chardham Yatra spots. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the temple has ancient origins and it is mentioned in the Puranas too. One of the 108 divya desam of Lord Vishnu, the temple is a magnificent example of traditional architecture and it comes alive on Janmashtami. From here to Bet Dwarka is a short distance. It is an island off the coast and the temple here is submerged each day so one must time the visit to get a darshan.
The Panch Dwarka tour not only gives you a darshan of Lord Krishna in his different forms but it also gives you a taste of the culture and cuisines of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Saurashtra, a trip you will remember.