Dwaraka has a special importance as one of the major Hindu pilgrim place, known as the capital of Lord Krishna's Kingdom. It is also an important historical monument. The region of the west coast, where Krishna was to settle the Yadavas was full of flowering and fruit-bearing trees. Here grew the nagacampas, grapes, coconut trees and many others. It was the land of the hunter Ekalavya. Dronacarya had also lived here. Krishna decided to built a new city here and laid the foundation at an auspicious moment. He named the new city Dvaravati. Much later the poet Magha in his Sisupalavadha, sarga2, describes in slokas 31 onwards, the city of Dwaraka, sloka 33 can be translated:
"The yellow glitter of the golden fort of the city in the sea throwing yellow light all round looked as if the flames of vadavagni came out tearing asunder the sea."
Dwaraka on mainland which was one of the busiest ports of the Mahabharata Period met a sudden end due to the fury of the sea. After the Mahabharata War Krishna lived for 36 years at Dwaraka. At the end, the Vrshnis, Bhojas and Satvatas destroyed themselves in a fratricidal feud at Prabhasa but Krishna did not interfere to save them. The portends of destruction seen by Sri Krishna who advised immediate evacuation of Dwarakaare stated in Bhagavata Purana. Dwaraka abandoned by Hari (Krishna) was swallowed by the sea. The submergence took place immediately after Sri Krishna departed from the world.
Construction of Dwaraka
Interesting descriptions about its construction are found in Puranas. "Fearing attack from Jarasangh and Kaalayvan on Mathura, Shri Krishna and Yadavas left Mathura and arrived at the coast of Saurashtra. They decided to build their capital in the coastal region and invoke the Vishwakarma the deity of construction. However, Vishwakarma says that the task can be completed only if Samudradev, the Lord of the sea provided some land. Shri Krishna worshipped Samudradev, who was pleased and gave them land measuring 12 yojans and the Lord vishwakarma build Dwaraka, a "city in gold". This beautiful city was also known as Dwaramati, Dwarawati and Kushsthali.
Book X of the Bhagvata Purana says, Krishna used ‘his supernatural yogic powers’, in a crisis of battle, to transfer all his people to Dwaraka where he could protect them from the enemy in ‘a fortress inaccessible to human beings.’
“The Lord caused a fortress constructed in the western sea. In the fortress he got built a city twelve yoganas (96 miles) in area and wonderful in every respect. The building of the city exhibited the expertise in architecture and the skill in masonry of Tvastr, the architect of the gods. The roads, quadrangles, streets and residential areas were constructed in conformity to the prescribed tenets of science of architecture pertaining to city building. In the city, gardens planted with celestial trees and creepers and wonderful parks were laid out. It was built with sky-scraping, gold-towered buildings and balconies of crystals. It had barns built of silver and brass which were adorned with gold pitchers. The houses therein were of gold and big emeralds.”
Destruction of Dwaraka
At the time of the death of Shri Krishna, who was hit by the arrow of a hunter near Somnath at Bhalka Tirth, Dwaraka disappeared under the sea.The information and material secured through underwater excavation off Dwaraka corroborates with the references to the City of Dwaraka, made in the Great Epic Mahabharata and various other Sanskrit literary works. In Mahabharata, there is a specific account about the submerging of Dwaraka, by the sea which reads thus:
"The sea, which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. Even as they were all looking, Arjuna saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of Krishna. It was soon covered by the sea. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the beautiful city which had been the favourite haunt of all the Pandavas. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory."