Wednesday, 1 April 2020

At Bapu's Home - Dwarka, Dwarkadhish & Porbandar

The Great Gujarat Road Odyssey – Day 10 

Chapter 1 – Dwarkadhish Temple

Early morning you are at the Gomti River banks. The Kund or the River has the cleanest waters you have seen. You can actually see the sediment at the bottom and these tiny fishes. On the left is the Sudama Setu, a pedestrian bridge which takes you to the other side of the river. A perfect place to be in the evening to see the sun set the temple aglow in the golden light. You walk through the town lanes when you see the Brahma Kund. It looks like a renovated masonry tank where it is said Brahma came to meet Krishna.

Dwarkadhish Temple on the banks of River Gomti

After the darshan come out back to the banks of River Gomti and watch the life at ghats. Crystal clear blue waters of the river meet the Arabian Sea ahead. The Sudama Setu will take you to the other side where in the evening you can watch the temple aglow as the sun sets in Ranchhod’s kingdom.

River Gomti at Dwarka

You are at the majestic Dwarkadhish Temple with a regular procession of devotees walking in. At the entrance, beside the security checkpoint, you can see the remains of a temple. Was this the original temple that was demolished in 15th Century? You have darshan of Lord Krishna. Coming eye to eye with the deity, is like the devotee completing the voyage from Mathura to Dwarka, just like the Lord did, and then meeting Him. Inside, devotees sing and dance. A chart indicates a 71 generation Krishna’s family tree that includes a family called ‘Singh’ – are we related?

Dhwaj Arohan at Dwarkadhish Temple

Dwarka: Dhwaj Arohan at Dwarkadhish Temple

Just looking at the men on top of the amalak of the spire of the Dwarkadheesh Temple is giving you a vertigo. Standing outside the temple the ground feels wobbly. Three men have climbed the top of the temple to hoist flags. As far as you can see they don’t have any safety harnesses. Reportedly the flags are changed five times a day. The ceremony is called Dhwaj Aarohan. Devotees pay upto ten thousand rupees to have their flag hoisted on the stambh that towers over the temple. Slots are booked three years in advance. The devotees arriving in processions with accompanying drum beating and dancing are here for their own Dhwaj Aarohan ceremonies. Today, they are hoisting two flags one after the another for some reason. Is it because they want to welcome someone from their Lord’s own native place?

You are not sure if flags are hoisted for devotees at other Dhams too.

Dwarka: Streets of the Old Town

Dwarka: Brahma Kund - Brahma came to meet Krishna here

On the way back to the car, you lose yourself in the lanes of the temple town for some street photography.


The Journey Continues


Chapter 2 – Miyani

Harsiddhi Temple on one side and Miyani on the other

You are driving south now along the sea. In these few years, you would have driven practically all along the Arabian Sea from Lakhpat to Kochi. Oh yes, the Goa to Mangalore stretch was on a passenger train – back and forth. Hope to do Kochi to Kanya Kumari stretch soon.

Harshad Mata Temple, Dwarka, Gujarat

Halfway between Dwarka and Porbandar, you are crossing the bridge into Miyani from the village Gandhvi. Gandhvi has the Koyla Dungar hill-top temple of Harshiddhi Mata Temple, built by Krishna where He worshipped the ‘Happy Mother’ another name for Durga. You will give the temple a miss and go see the temple in Miyani, where it is said Devi descended down to.

Temple Complex, Miyani, Gujarat

Miyani - 13th Century Shiv Temple, Miyani, Gujarat

Miyani doesn’t seem to have many people. A stone gateway with walls welcome you to the complex of three temples apparently under ASI care. Maybe one time the entire town was fortified. Now only few stretches of the walls survive. Out of the three temples, the 13th century Shiv temple is the most ornamented; and decaying with the shikhar enveloped in plant growth. The sanctum doorway and antaral pillars are lavishly sculpted. Wish they would spruce up the temple. Is the Harshad Mata Temple one of these – you are not sure but the sign on the stone gateway does indicate this is the Harsiddhi Temple Complex.

Chapter 3 – Visavada

Okay so there are several candidates for Mool Dwarka or the original Dwarka. It is believed before constructing the capital in Bet Dwarka, Krishna established the Mul Dwarka. You come across this Mool Dwarka in the town of Visavada in Porbandar district.

A pit stop before entering Visavada, Porbandar

Mool Dwarka, Visavada, Porbandar
The temple complex looks interesting with some whitewashed temples. A sign here says that Vishnupad pilgrim centre was famous as Visavada in the Puranic times. And since there is a group of Vishnu Temples here, it was named Mul Dwarka.

Ranchhodji Temple, Mul Dwarka, Porbandar

Mul Dwarka: 16th century Shiv Temple, Visavada

The Mool Dwarka Panchayatan group of temples were built in 16th Century. Out of the two main temples, the east facing is dedicated to Shiv and the west facing is dedicated to Ranchhodji. Each is surrounded by smaller temples effectively making a saptayatan and a panchayatan on a single platform. The mandaps have pyramidal roofs and the sanctums have nagara shikhars.

The 13th Century L Shaped Vav in Visavada, Gujarat
The interesting part of the complex is the 13th Century L-shaped Vav here that is locally known as Jnanavapi. The vav has pyramidal mandaps at the entrance with seats and backrests, there are kutas which are pavilion towers, and images of Surya, Vishnu and Brahma.


As you close in on the Porbandar city, you see a congregation of birds around a water body. The birds look beautiful and look lady like. You have no idea who they are. Couple of months later, you will make your way to Khichan in Rajasthan to meet the birds again. They are the Demoiselle Cranes from Siberia who have made Khichan their winter home and where they are looked after by the village community.

Here is the link to the story:


Chapter 4 - Porbandar

Much before you knew about Porbandar as the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, you knew Porbandar as one of the places mother grew up in during her days of cross country living as child of army family. We have grown up on her glowing and fond accounts of the city and its friendly people.

Porbandar - Sudama Mandir

Does the maze here convey how we are trapped in our lives?

Sudama Mandir in Porbandar, Gujarat

On the way to see Bapu in Kirti Mandir, it is time to stop by Sudama Mandir, the temple dedicated to Krishna’s friend from Mathura. Built by Jethwas in early 1900s, the complex has few things of interest.

Sartanjino Choro in Sudama Mandir, Porbandar

In the back is the Sartanjino Choro, a concert pavilion built by King Sartanji (1757-1813). The wooden ceiling has floral carvings while musicians decorate the stone pillars.

Manek Chowk in Porbandar, Gujarat

Manek Chowk, Porbandar

Walk through the Manek Chowk to get to Kirti Mandir, Porbandar, Gujarat

Gandhiji's statue in the middle of Manik Chowk, Porbandar, Gujarat

Leaving behind the car, you walk through the Manek Chowk, a vibrant and atmospheric plaza in the old city.  This is the walled city of the Jethwas who ruled over this part of Gujarat and were probably descendents of earlier Saindhavas. You enter the chowk through a gateway surmounted with a balcony built of stone and wooden roof. Gandhiji’s statue stands in the middle of the chowk. Another gateway with a similar pavilion on top leads you to the Kirti Mandir.

Entrance to Kirti Mandir - the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi in Porbandar
Mahatma Gandhi's Birthplace in Porbandar

Kirti Mandir in Porbandar, Gujarat

Kirti Mandir is a quiet complex in the vibrant Old City with a vibe that you associate with every place that has connection with Gandhiji across the country. In the south-west corner of the complex is the house where Gandhiji was born. Originally, a single-storey house, it grew into a three-storey house as each generation of family added a storey and rooms. You make your way up the rooms, through passages decorated with paintings climbing narrow wooden stairs. 

Room where Mahatma Gandhi was born - Kirti Mandir, Porbandar

A sign indicates the room where Gandhiji was born. The rooms, the windows in the passages opening out to the courtyard below, the walls; everything here has those echoes of a world when ordinary humans were born and who went out to do great deeds. You felt the same way when you went around Lokmanya Tilak's house in Ratnagiri and Tagore's thakurbari in Kolkata. And then they stopped making people like that. Now, people born ordinary, aspire to evolve into low lifes, just like some low life virus, they go virulent and infect lowlifes around them.  

Kasturba Gandhi's parental house in Porbandar, Gujarat

Out in the back, you walk the lane that leads to Kasturba’s parental house, again a pretty place with wall paintings and decorated wooden door frames.

Kirti Mandir, Porbandar

Back in Kirti Mandir, you spend some time looking at the photos and walking around the complex and again realising how blessed we are to have him as our Father of the Nation. There are a few more places you have in mind to visit – Dandi Beach, Wardha and maybe Champaran some day.

Ibis being fed on Porbandar Chowpatty

Heuglin's or Siberian Gull perched against the Arabian Sea

A Black Ibis among a group of Black Headed Ibis - Porbandar Chowpatty

An Egret outlined against the Porbandar Chowpatty skyline

A Black Headed Ibis at Porbandar Chowpatty

Now it is over to the sun, sea and the boats:

Porbandar Beach

Before you look for a hotel, the worst job of of the day while road tripping, it is time to enjoy another sunset; this time at the Porbandar Chowpatty. Instead of sand, the shore is all rock shaped into a miniature skycraper city. And then you see all these Ibises flocking as a local feeds them grain. You have never seen so many different birds on a beach before. This is another surprise after seeing those Demoiselle Cranes. For the next hour, you will catch the changing moods of the skies, and the sea and the birds as they hop around posing for you.

Life on the road continues.

Day's Stats
  • Route Taken – Travel south on NH 51 as the road hugs the sea on some stretches
  • Distance covered today – 110 kms
  • Total Distance covered so far - 2652 kms 


Day 1 - Viratnagar
Day 2 - 
Day 3 - 
Day 4 – Siddhpur
Day 5 - Dholavira
Day 6 - Lakhpat
Day 7 - Narayan Sarovar
Day 8 – Jamnagar
Day 9 – Bet Dwarka

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