Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pilgrimage to Dwaraka and Somnath

We (Amma, Vichuathan, Suguna Akka, Maniathan (v.athan's cousin), his wife and I) just got back after a pilgrimage to Dwaraka and Somnath in Gujarat. We had a nice and comfortable and enjoyable trip. The weather particularly was very nice, no rains at all to drench us, no floods to block the roads, just warm and nice and sunny and never hot. The stay was comfortable too. We had good darshan of Lord Dwarakadish, Nageshwar and Somnath.

We left Bombay on the 18th evening by train and reached Dwaraka on the 19th by 3.30pm. We had darshan of Dwarakadish and some more temples and places of interest on that day. On the 20th we went on a conducted tour to Nageshwar in Darukavan (one of the jyothirlingas in Gujarat).This place was a big forest until a few years ago and a new temple has been constructed around the jyothirlinga by Gulshan Kumar of T series fame. There is also a big statue of Siva outside the temple, just like the one we have in Bangalore outside Kempfort on Airport road.

After Darukavan, we visited Gopitalab, where the 16108 gopikas are said to have turned into mud. The sedimentary mud of this tank is used as Gopichandan (which is worn on the forehead).

Next was Bet Dwaraka, which is an island in the Arabian Sea. This is the place where Sudhama met Lord Krishna with avil at his wife's insistence. We reach this place by a mechanized boat. This was the place where Lord Krishna lived. The one which we visited the previous day was his administrative block.

From Bet Dwaraka, we went to Rukmini temple, which was inside a forest, all of which has been cleared now and a temple built. This was the place where Devi Rukmini spent 12 years in isolation due to the curse of Rishi Durvasa.

The next in our itinerary was Somnath. As there were only two buses to Somnath from Dwaraka (which offers a tour of places of importance enroute) at 7.30 and 2.30 pm and the bus which leaves at 2.30 reaches Somanth at 10.30 pm, we decided to spend that evening in Dwaraka and take the bus which leaves at 7.30 am the next day.

The evening was spent in walking around River Gomti behind Dwarkadish temple, where the river meets the Arabian Sea and visiting the temple once again.

On the 21st morning, we left by the 7.30am bus, which left at 8 am. The first stop was at Harshad Matha temple. The Devi here is said to be Varadayini. From there we went to Mooldwarka, which was where Krishna had his residence when he ran away from Mathura with his clan. Later on he shifted to Bet dwarka.
After Mooldwaraka, we stopped at Porbandar to see Sudhama's hut turned palace due to Krishna's blessings. Porbandar is also the birth place of Gandhiji. They also have a big ship breaking yard in Porbandar.

We reached Somnath at 3.30pm and checked into a guest house. After a late lunch and bath we left to go around Somnath. First was the floating lingam in the Arabian sea (Somnath is another jyotirlinga in Gujarat. Somnath is historically very important. This is the place Mohammad Gazni invaded 17 times and destroyed the temple and cut the lingam into pieces and threw in the sea. The pieces that were thrown into the sea grew into full lingams and are still floating in the sea. The local Brahmins brought some pieces and hid them. Later on Ahalyabai Holkar built a temple near the seashore which is the Prachin Somnath temple. Another new temple has been built by the sea shore, which is a national monument.

The place where Lord Krishna was shot by a hunter has been made into a monument. After being shot by the hunter Lord Krishna does Swargarohan at Triveni Sangam, at the confluence of Harini, Kapila and Saraswathi rivers. There is also a cave here, which is said to be the point from where Lord Balrama, the incarnation of Adisesha, returned to his abode at Patalloka.

After these places, we went to the Prachin temple built by Ahalyabai and then to the new temple at the shores of the Arabian Sea. The view of the sea from the precincts of the temple is just beautiful. Just sitting there and watching the sea is BLISS.

On the morning of 22nd, we had a quick darshan of Lord Somnath at the Prachin and new temple and did pooja and abhishek and started on our return journey. We were taking the train from Rajkot, some 350kms away from Somnath. We rented a Tata Sumo, so that we could see some more places en route. We drove thru the famous Gir forest area. We had a short stop at Junagadh, where a lion sanctuary is located. We didn't go inside, as we did not have time. We went to visit the Samadhi of Jalram Bapa, who was a great saint of Maharashtra, where free Prasad is distributed to all visitors. After partaking the Prasad (our lunch), we drove straight to Rajkot station, half an hour before the expected arrival of the train. The train was 15mnts late and we reached Borivili station at 4.45 am.

Krishnamurthy and Srivaths were there to receive us at the station.

Vichu athan had painstakingly taken care of all aspects of the tour schedule to get maximum advantage in the given time to see as many places of interest as possible, at the same time giving enough time for rest and relaxation, so that at the end of the 4 days trip we are least tired. Suguna Akka was always with Vichu Athan in taking care of our comforts at all stages. Along with Mani Athan and Rajam Akka, we had a great time all through.

Details of each visit will follow.