We started early for Bhet Dwarka, a little island where Lord Krishna was said to welcome Sudama, a poor man, who came carrying a little rice as a gift.
Read part 1 of our journey so far here https://jeemolunni.com/2022/12/19/on-the-road-ahmedabad-to-somnath/ And part 2 here https://unnilogstravel.wordpress.com/2022/12/20/on-the-road-part-2-somnath-to-dwarka-via-porbandar/
The road from Dwarka to the ferry jetty was in poor condition. The land around was more or less barren. The main vegetation was ‘Ganda Bawal’ or Prosopis juliflora. It is a wild grass spreading rapidly and hence its local name meaning ‘Mad Grass’. This plant was introduced to the Kutch region in 1961 to check the salt water ingress into the desert land. But it grew so rapidly that it took over large tracts of land in Kutch District and other areas of Gujarat.
The road to Bhet Dwarka also led to the Okha Port and we saw a railway line running parallel to the road. Tata Chemicals had a big unit that was manufacturing Tata Salt from the salt pans all around the area. Life around here probably revolved around these tree activities, charcoal making from the Ganda Bawal, salt making at the the salt pans and I the Tata Chemical plant.
We reached the Ferry Jetty. There were private boats which offered an expensive ‘private’ crossing and there was the Ferry Service. We got into the Ferry as it was about to leave, crowded with excited pilgrims from all states of the country. It was the most exciting and entertaining part of our visit. Rajasthani ladies sang folk songs in praise on Lord Krishna in rustic voices. And above us the seagulls thronged excited by the food being thrown to them by the passengers. The ticket collector moved from group to group and had a tough time collecting the fares as it was not clear who was paying for whom!! No amount of words can describe the scene. As an Indian I enjoy chaos and confusion around. It makes me feel at home. We are nurtured to enjoy number of languages and cultures. We surely got a good dose of it today!
We reached the island Bhet Dwarka and the confusion continued. As in the other temples, mobiles and cameras were not allowed. So we deposited our mobiles at a counter. There was no system of collecting the footwear. When we asked a security guard he said just leave your shoes here! Ok, so we did! It is Ram Rajya (a safe haven) or more precisely Krishna Rajya! We left our shoes and proceeded bare feet into the temple premises.
At the temple we were stopped by a Temple priest ‘panda’ just outside the main temple. As the crowds gathered behind us he calmed people down and gave instructions on what to expect, insisting that he was not a guide! When the group ahead of us left the main temple a large group of us were let in. The main temple had the idol of Lord Krishna that the priest said was 5000 years old and the only ancient idol that survived the earthquake of 2001. He seated us in a room which he said was where Lord Krishna met Sudama. Most of the old structures had been destroyed and a new Bhet Dwarka temple was in the making.
We were extremely lucky to have reached before large bus loads and ferry boat loads of people were deposited on the island!! The return crossing by ferry was just as exciting. As everyone’s pilgrimage zeal had been satisfied the excitement was generated by the seagulls hovering over the boat!
Our next pilgrimage was at the Nageswar Jyotirling. This is one of the twelve important jyotirling, symbol of Lord Shiva, around the country. This was the only temple that did not confiscate our mobiles. Here are images of the Nageshwar jyotirling and the massive statue of Lord Shiva outside the temple. Here again we were lucky to reach before the milling crowds reached the gates of the temple.
We visited the Gopi Talav (pond) where Lord Krishna enjoyed the company of his admiring Gopis. The pond and surrounding areas were badly maintained. The highlight of the visit was the informal sector vendors around the pond. We bought some soap apparently made from the mud of the pond which has exceptional cleansing qualities.
We ended the day with a beautiful sunset from sunset point. Dwarka being at the extreme western end of the country the sun set over the Arabian Sea to end our wonderful day of pilgrimage.