Once upon a time, in the midst of sea lay a mystical kingdom. The city was home to 900 palaces, all made of gold. This golden city was supposed to have arisen out of the sea on the command of a person who is very much the heart of Hinduism. The story about the city is as much magical as the story of the man who built it. Legends surrounding this mysterious city fascinated poets and scholars for centuries. Poets have described the radiance cast by the island city as spreading over miles in the sea. The personality ruling over this kingdom was none other than Lord Krishna, the charismatic God ruling over the hearts of millions of devotees. Dwarka as the golden city was called, had many ‘Dwaras’ or ‘Gateways’ that were connected to the mainstream land via bridges.
The story of Krishna as told in the sacred scripture Srimad Bhagavatam, describes the scenario that led to the construction of Dwarka. Once, when Krishna was ruling the city of Mathura, the kingdom was repeatedly attacked by Jarasandha, the tyrant King of Magadha (the present day Bihar), around 17 times. The Monarch lost to Krishna in all 17 battles, and he attacked Mathura the 18th time. At this stage, Krishna decided to build a separate city on an island in the Western coast of India, to save his citizens, his Yadava clan from the trouble of repeated wars. The city was built by the divine architect, Vishwakarma himself. The city soon grew in fame and became the invincible pivot of Lord Krishna’s mission, housing thousands, in around 900 palaces. The city was well fortified and could be reached only by ship. Dwarka soon became a talking point everywhere, and commanded awe and wonder all over the world.
When the Lord decided to unwind his mission, and left for His heavenly abode, the island of Dwarka also sunk, leaving traces of its wonderful existence only in scriptures, until recently when archeologist found an underwater kingdom of the coast of Dwarka town in Gujarat, supposed to be the original Dwarka.
Dwarka was the first archeological site in India, where marine explorations were undertaken, and continued for four decades. Many amazing discoveries by marine archeologists and oceanographic studies over the last three decades point in no uncertain terms to the historicity of Krishna’s kingdom, the original Dwarka of the Mahabharata era.
In 1963, the marine exploration carried out by the Deccan College in Pune and the department of archaeology, Government of Gujarat, unveiled many artifacts and inscriptions, hundreds of centuries old at a supposed Dwarka site.
The greatest exploration happened when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a second round of excavations under the direction of the famous underwater archeologist, S R Rao, leading to the discovery of Krishna’s Dwarka under the sea. The well-fortified city of Dwarka was discovered in between 1984 to 1990, extending more than half mile from the shore. The township was built in six sectors along the banks of a river. The foundation of boulders on which the city’s walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea. What is amazing is that the general layout of the City of Dwarka described in the ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city discovered by the Marine Archaelogical Unit. Many ancient inscriptions were also found. One of the inscriptions refers to Dwarka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and more importantly states that Lord Krishna lived here.
Further, Marine Archeologists found a large number of stone structures, rectangular, semicircular and squared shaped, in water depths. They are randomly scattered over a large area. Moreover, many varieties of stone anchors were also found. These discoveries seem to suggest that Dwarka was once, one of the busiest ports along the western coast of Bharatvarsha (ancient India). Many more areas of original Dwarka may be discovered in near future.
The discovery of the legendary city of Dwarka was an important landmark in the history of India. It dispelled the doubts raised by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and Lord Krishna, and the very existence of Dwarka city. It has extended the history of Indian civilization from the present day to Vedic age.
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