The Submerged city of Dwaraka

Dwarakadish temple on the river Gomati, Dwaraka

Sri Krishna killed cruel Kamsa and made Ugrasen (his maternal grandfather) the king of Mathura. Enraged, the father-in-law of Kamsa, Jarasandh (king of Magadh) with his friend Kalayavan attacked Mathura 17 times. For the safety of the people, Lord Krishna and Yadavas decided to move the capital from Mathura to Dwaraka.

Land was reclaimed from the sea near the western shores of Saurashtra. A city was planned and built here. Dwaraka was a planned city, on the banks of river Gomati. This beautiful city was also known as Dwaramati, Dwarawati and Kushsthali. It had well organized six sectors, residential and commercial zones, wide roads, plazas, palaces and many public utilities. A hall called "Sudharma Sabha" was build to hold public meetings. The city also boasted a good harbour.

Dwaraka is regarded as one of the seven most ancient cities in the country.

Submergence of Dwaraka

After Sri Krishna left for the heavenly abode, and the major Yadava heads were killed in fights among themselves; Arjun went to Dwarka to bring Krishna's grandsons and the Yadava wives to Hastinapur. After Arjun left Dwaraka, it was submerged in the sea. This is the account given by Arjun, in Mahabharat: "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. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. 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 city. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory."

Discovery of Dwaraka

The search for the lost city was going on since 1930's. Marine Archaeology Unit (MAU) of the National Institute of Oceanography, took part in this search in 1983. This search was carried out in the coastal waters of Dwaraka in Gujarat.

Between 1983 to 1990 was discovered, the well-fortified township of Dwaraka, that extended more than half a 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.

Dwaraka extended upto Bet Dwaraka (Sankhodhara) in the north and Okhamadhi in the south. Eastward it extended upto Pindara. The general layout of the city of Dwaraka described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city discovered by MAU. Under Water Dwaraka Museum.

The proposal for the Dwaraka museum, submitted by the MAU, involves laying a submarine acrylic tube through which visitors can view through glass windows the ruins of the city.

The State Goverment of Gujrat and the Travel & Tourism Department of Gujrat are working on this proposal (for over two decades). When completed, it will be the first museum to be built under the sea. If Dwaraka excavations throw a flood of light on the history of the city which was associated with the life events of Krishna, the under-water excavations of Ayodhya situated on the bank of the river Sharayu might yield valuable information about the historicity of Rama, his age and contemporary urban status.

Source: Report about the excavations done by Dr. S.R. Rao of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography of India. Dr. S.R. Rao served the Archaeological Survey of India for over 32 years. He is the discoverer of a large number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal in Gujarat.