Poised at the tip of the peninsula, at India’s western edge, Dwarka is one of Hinduism’s sacred Charm Dham, or “four abodes,” thanks to its legendary role as Lord Krishna’s capital following his flight from Mathura to the coast. In vivid contrast to the arid expanses further inland, Dwarka is surrounded by fertile wheat, groundnut and cotton fields, while the city itself is a labyrinth of narrow winding streets cluttered with crumbling temples. Today, these still resonate with the bustle of saffron-clad pilgrims and the clatter of celebratory drums. Dwarka really comes to life during the major Hindu festivals, especially Janmashtami (Aug/Sept), marking Krishna’s birthday.
Jagat Mandir, the elaborately carved tower of the sixteenth-century Dwarkadhish Temple, looms 78m over the town, comprising five storeys and 72 pillars while hoisting a giant flag made from more than 46m of cloth. It is believed that the original structure was built 2500 years ago by Vajranabha, Krishna’s grandson, and that it has been destroyed by raging seas and rebuilt no less than six times. Non-Hindus may be required to sign a form declaring respect for the religion before they enter.