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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :-

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Dwaraka Dham yatra ( Day 6 - Part 6 )

Dwaraka Dham Yatra   ( Day 6 - Part 6 )

O2 March 2016   ( Wednesday )
Dakor Ranchhodraiji

वसुदेवसुतं देवं कंसचाणूरमर्दनम् I
देवकीपरमानन्दं कृष्णं वंदे जगद्गुरुम् ||  
Salutations to Lord Krishna, Who is the spiritual master of the universe, Who is the son of Vasudeva, Who is the Lord, Who killed Kamsa and Chanura and Who is the Bliss of Devaki !!

7;30 am.  Puneeth Dham, Dakor.

People don’t take trips, trips take people. We felt how true is this statement on the morning of
March 02 2016, being the last day of our Dwaraka Dham Yatra.  We vacated the rooms and brought our bags well packed to the courtyard. We were happy to find that we had visited four of the Pancha Dwaraka Kshetras in this pilgrimage viz (1)  Mukhya Dwaraka, (main Dwarka),(2) Bet Dwarka, (3) Moola Dwaraka and (4) Dakor is the fourth Dwaraka.
We also had darshan of two Jyotirlingas and Prabhas Kshetra  from where Lord Krishna left for Vaikuntha.

We started the day well by having darshan at the Lakshmi Narayan temple  in the campus of  Puneeth Dham where we halted overnight.. We were in time to have arati darshan. We then had breakfast in the canteen attached to Punith Dham..Wheat suji upma, poha, a fried item like bonda (tasty), curds  and tea were the items made fresh and served hot.

                                  Dwaraka Dham Yatra  Team

We were eager to listen to Shri. Dasa who narrated the story of Dakor Ranchhodraiji temple.

Legend :-

In times of Mahabharata Dakor was  surrounded by a very dense jungle called the Hidamba Vana’ with streams and rich lakes.  Pandavas had visited this place. Sages found this place useful for performing tapas. Dank Maharishi performed severe tapas and  Lord Shiva, pleased with his devotion, appeared before him. Dank Rishi requested Shiva to stay in his hermitage permanently.  Lord Shiva in response to his wish, left a replica in the form of a Linga (Ban) which got the name as Dank Nath Mahadev. Thus Dakor was known as Dankor after the name of Dank Nath Mahadev. Dakor was also known as Khakhariya owing to dense growth of khakhra or palash trees in this area.

The present Dakor owes its name not to Dank Rishi but to Bodana, a staunch devotee of Krishna. He was a cowherd in his previous birth by name Vijayanand. On one ‘Holi’ day, all the cowherds except Vijayananda worshipped  Sri Krishna. His wife Sudha also worshipped the Lord.  Vijayananda was very proud and stayed at home. Lord Krishna disguised like his friend came to his house and sent him to perform ‘Holi’ puja along with his wife. On return Vijayananda realised that it was Lord Krishna and not his friend who came to his house. Vijayanand fought a battle of colours with Krishna. Krishna lost and fell into the river. Vijayanand went after him. When Lord Krishna revealed his true form to him. Vijayanand
asked for forgiveness. Krishna took pity and granted a boon that he would be born again in Gujarat after 4200 years in Kaliyuga as Vijayanand Bodana in the house of Krishnatreya and his present wife Sudha would be born as Gangabai. Krishna assured him that he would take them to Vaikunta in their next birth.

As the legend would have it, Vijayanand Bodana became a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. He grew a Tulsi plant in an earthen pot and with the Tulsi plant  used to go every six months to Dwarka to worship Sri Krishna with the sacred tulsi leaves. He did this continuously, unfailingly and untiringly till he was 72 years old. He at the ripe old age felt it extremely difficult to pursue the ritual. Krishna, seeing his plight, asked him to bring a bullock cart with him so that the Lord would follow him willingly to Dakor and remain there itself.. Bodana  was very poor to buy a cart. However he went to the market to buy a cart and a pair of bullocks. The merchants drove him away. Finally he got an old and rickety cart and two bullocks which were in the threshold of death (The owner gave them away to save  the cost of their impending  cremation perhaps). The Pandas (Brahmins who performed puja in the temple)  had become greedy as they were earning a good income due to pilgrims visiting in large number for darshan of  Shri Dwarkadheesh ji. Bodana waited for the Pandas to close the temple door.  Lord Krishna escaped from the temple ( Like how he escaped from the prison at Mathura when he was born) late in the night and got into the waiting cart and Bodana started driving. Since Bodana was very old and weak he was very slow. They had not even crossed the border of Dwaraka at the time of sun rise. Lord Krishna exchanged  place, he became the driver (Similar to when He was the Sarathi for Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war). Bodana went to sleep. When he  woke up he found that they were at Umreth a place close to Dakor.

On the way the Lord happened to touch a branch of a neem tree. By the divine transcendental touch the leaves of one branch became sweet though the rest of the branches remained bitter. This bears testimony for the Lord’s travel from Dwarka to Dakor. Even today, a branch of the neem tree is sweet. (‘Limadama ek dal meethe’). The neem tree is found near the temple of Bileshwar Mahadev in Umreth.

In the meanwhile the Pandas found that Dwarkadheesh Ji was missing from the temple and their enquiries  made them doubt Bodana. They came to Dakor in search of their Lord and Bodana. Lord Krishna had  stopped the cart on the way and asked  Bodana to drive further and to hide Him in the Gomti Talab. The Pandas (priests) who were worried about their loss of income  accused Bodana of stealing the Lord.  Bodana met them with a pot of curd and tried to pacify them. One of the Pandas in his anger threw a spear at Bodana which killed him and also poked the idol of the Lord causing the river water to become red.( Even today the mud inside the river  at this spot is red whereas the rest of the mud is brown in colour). They could not lift the idol from the water. They blamed Bodana for creating a trick.  Finally Lord  Krishna told  Gangabai, wife of Bodana, to give  gold  equivalent of the idol’s weight and asked the priests to return to Dwaraka. The priests readily agreed and a large weighing scale was set up on the banks of the R. Gomathi. Gangabai was very poor -  she had only a golden
nose-ring.The idol of Lord Krishna was weighed against the golden nose ring of Gangabai and a Tulsi Patra. Miraculously her true devotion made it  possible for the nose ring to balance the weighing scale. The place  where Lord Krishna was weighed can be seen on the banks of Gomati river  known as ‘Tula ka Sthan”.

The priests were unhappy but the Lord showed mercy to them. He told them that after six months they would find an exact replica of the idol in a well. Unable to resist their curiosity, the priests searched for the idol earlier and found an idol similar to the original one (still growing), but  smaller in size. The smaller idol is currently enshrined at the Dwarka temple. Thus, Lord Krishna stayed permanently at Dakor where he is fondly known as Ranchhodraiji. Sarat purnima after Dasara is the day that Lord Krishna came to Dakor with his devotee Bodana.      ( We were moved  by Shri Dasa’s narration of the story of Bodana ).

Why did Lord Krishna leave the battlefield though it is against Kshatriya Dharma? The readers may remember this question was raised in the earlier part of the yatra. In order to protect his devotees Lord Krishna performed many leelas. In this case the Lord ran away  while fighting Jarasandha. He wanted to protect Sri Rukmini from marrying Shishupala. He went to Dwaraka immediately to read the message from Rukmini’s letter sent through the Brahmin.  He rushed to Vidarbha and abducted Rukmini to marry her first  at Madhavpur and later at Dwaraka.

                                                    Ranchhodraiji Temple, Dakor

10:00 am-  After Shri Dasa completed the narration, from Punit Ashram we took the  autos to reach Ranchhodraiji temple.  It is believed that Ranchhodraiji inspired Gopal Jagannath Ambedkar, a shroff of a Peshwa’s court in Poona to build a vast and magnificent temple in Dakor. The temple was built in 1772 A.D.The temple is located in the market area. We entered through one of the four main gates.There was  the usual security check and no photography is allowed inside the temple. The gates are massive with the images of Sun, Moon and Ganesha embossed on it. We entered a vast courtyard . The temple is right in the middle.  We had to climb a few  marble steps to enter the main hall to have darshan of the Presiding deity. The idol is installed on a raised marble platform  the pillars surrounding this area is covered by gold. In the front  there is a railing ,the ladies stand in front  and the men behind the railing. The place was fairly crowded but we could stand in the front row facing the deity for quite some time. The idol is in black touchstone 1m tall, richly adorned with gold ornaments and expensive clothes  Ranchhodraiji has the form like Lord Vishnu with four hands having the conch,chakra, lotus and mace. The lower right arm shows the abhaya mudra giving protection to his devotees. Some one pointed at the scar on the forehead, though it was not visible clearly from the distance. Here two men stand on top of the platform where the deity is installed and wave two copper vessels from side to side into which we deposited our offerings. There is a dome in the middle of the hall having an intricate mirror work depicting flowers and trellis .The walls have the mural paintings from Lord Krishna’s life.Tulsi leaves are given as prasad here          
We did parikrama around the temple and tasted kesar milk as prasad.  The temple has a well established Goshala.The milk, butter,ghee etc;, from the cows kept here are used in preparing the bhog items which stay good for a few days. With the chanting of  ‘Ranchhodrai ki Jai’. ‘Dwarkadheesh ki Jai’ we came out of the temple.

The temple of Goddess Lakshmi is located outside at a little distance from the main temple.  Every Friday Lord Krishna visits this temple in a grand procession along the lanes of Dakor.
During festival days lakhs of people gather here. Some of the important festivals celebrated in this shrine are  Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Dussehra, Gujarati New year, (coincides with Diwali), Annakoot,Sharad Purnima, Tulsi Vivah.Rath yatra  etc;.

The market area is busy with shops selling puja items and varieties of snacks and sweets. We then went to the  Shiva temple on the banks of Gomti river. We came across a beautiful painting of (1) the cart driven by Lord Krishna with Bodana asleep and (2) also a beautiful image of Lord Krishna.

Lord Driving the cart with the sleeping Bodana     Lord Krishna playing the Flute
                                            Idols in a swing                                                                                      

We also saw at  the ‘Tula ka Sthan’ a large weighing scale in which the idol of Lord Krishna was weighed against Gangabai’s nose ring. We did prokshana with the sacred Gomti water and purified ourselves. In the midst of Gomti talab, a small temple having Lord Krishna’s foot-prints is constructed. This is connected by a bridge with the river bank. We  walked across the bridge and paid homage to the foot -prints of the Lord. Here in Dakor we fed the cows with wheat batter.

    Temple View  from Gomati River                         Bridge over R, Gomathi

                                                   ‘ Chalo‘ Ahmedabad
We returned to Punith Dham  by 11:15 am, loaded our luggage into the bus and embarked on our journey towards  Ahmedabad by the NE-1 Highway. (Rajkot to Ahmedabad).
( 90 km).

We crossed the spot leading to the place of Meeti Neemdi Dal.( Neem Tree  with sweet branch). Due to shortage of time we proceeded without stopping.   We were given the choice of visiting either Galteshwar or Akshardham (Gandhinagar) before reaching  Ahmedabad Airport.. Since Akshardham has a canteen attached, it became the choice of the majority.
Still the name Galteshwar was new to us we wanted to  hear about the importance of that place from Shri Dasa. Galteshwar is 16  kms from Dakor. The ancient Galteshwar Mahadev  temple is situated on the  confluence of the rivers Mahi and Galti. The temple  does not have a proper roof. It is said that Lord Shiva himself constructed  this temple. He didn't want anyone to identify him. So he worked during  nights and left the place in the morning. But he couldn’t accomplish his mission in the stipulated time. Hence the roof is incomplete.  It is also possible after looting the rich Somnath temple  Mahmud Ghazni could have destroyed the roof of this temple. The temple is constructed in such a way that Mahi River flows underneath and a spout from the river sprinkles water on the Shiva Linga. This would have been wonderful to watch and we felt disappointed for not being able to visit this ancient temple. There is a myth that whoever tells a lie or gives  false evidence in this temple will start vomiting !!!

We  saw plenty of  tobacco plants grown in the fields on the way.

2:30 pm- Reached Akshardham at Gandhinagar, Gujarat’s Capital.
We crossed Smart ’ the first smart city ’ in India. We entered the Akshardham premises after a tight security check and went straight to Premvati restaurant which is a food court. We chose our menu, after buying the coupons -  headed to collect the food items from the counters. Most of us ordered the much talked about and the famous ‘Swaminarayan Khichdi’. The portions were large and we shared the food among us as not to waste it. This was the best and tasty lunch we had in this tour save the meals from Bangar Bhavan. We made a quick tour of the main temple. The surrounding is so ethereal having a well manicured garden with wonderful topiaries (plants trimmed into beautiful shapes), water fountains, huge statues and so on.
Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar in Gujarat is a large Hindu temple complex, inspired by Pramukh Swami and built 13 years before. It is built from 6000 metric tonnes of sandstones from Rajasthan. The temple measures 108’ high, 131’ wide and 240’ long.and features 97 carved pillars. No steel or Iron is used anywhere which is in accordance with temple architectural principles.
The mandir’s central chamber houses a 7’ tall gold plated Murti of Swaminarayan who is worshipped as God by his followers. The murti rests on a 3’ pedestal and weighs 1.2 tons. Main murti is flanked by his devotional followers.  The temple is closed on Mondays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
By 4p.m.we bid bye to Akshardham in Gandhinagar and proceeded towards Ahmedabad airport. We collected the dinner packets on the way and reached the  airport early and checked in leisurely.. The Indigo 6E 153 flight took off at scheduled time (8:30 pm) and landed at Bangalore (10:45pm) safely.

We thanked Sri Madhavananda Dasa for making Dwaraka Dham Yatra a grand success. He is quite versatile in arranging religious tours of this nature. He makes the travel very interesting by narrating ‘ Sthala Puranas’  in a lucid style. His singing bhajans is heart rendering. ‘Hare Krishna’ is the catch word he always use while greeting us or before starting the class. Mr.Dasa also thanked us in return for the keen interest we showed every day and at every site.
We ‘16’ boarded the chartered bus from the airport and reached home safely. We had a wonderful and safe trip throughout. Hare Krishna !!

Epilogue :-
The six day tour of Dwaraka was a wonderful experience. We learnt that life is not a matter of milestones but of moments. Happiness is a way of travel and not a destination. Take only the memories and leave the footprints. We also felt that man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore.

We gained new friends during this pilgrimage.  The man who goes alone can start any day . But he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready. The entire team worked as one unit throughout the yatra. A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.
We have shared our joy and experiences by means of this travelogue.  It leaves one speechless while travelling, then it turns into a storyteller. That is why we have strived to remember the yatra and accounted all the details of the yatra in 6 parts.  We wish we can go once in a while to some places, we have never been before. Our happiest moment as tourists always seems to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. This is exactly what happened why we visited Akshardham in Ahmedabad though it was not at all scheduled in the original itinerary. Due to renovation works in some sites, repairs to roads and bridges enroute, we had to make some adjustments in the plan, that is how Akshardham got included, as a pleasant surprise to all of us. We forgot the potholes on the road and enjoyed every stretch of the yatra  proving not all those who wander are lost.  
To quote  Albert Einstein : “ Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving ”.

We are grateful to our Coordinator, Sri. Madhavananda Dasa of Bhaktivedanta Academy for Spiritual Education, Bangalore who had not only made all arrangements in an elaborate and methodical manner but also took care to execute them in a way which pleased everyone.  He guided us in a perfect sense to enjoy the moments of the Dwaraka Dham Yatra.
Our special thanks to the driver and his assistant of Parshwanath Travels who drove the vehicle carefully, maintaining good speed and helping us to reach the respective destinations in time during the course of the yatra.

According to Kabir when the Guru and Govind both are present our salutations are to the guru first who shows us the path to the God.                                                 
                           गुरु गोबिन्द दोउ खडे काके लागूँ पाँय I
             बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोबिन्द दियो बताय II
We are also obliged here in expressing our gratitude in no small a measure to
Mr. Viswanathan and our Guru Mrs. Shantha Viswanathan who had interacted with the Sponsor for planning the Yatra and for its successful outcome. We are also grateful to
Mrs. Kamala Mani  in whose residence  (Kamala Dhama) the Srimad Bhagavatam  classes are being conducted. She does a great service with utmost dedication and it is with proud privilege we make a mention about her in the ending para of this ‘ Dwaraka Dham Travelogue.’

Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us. To travel Is To live. It is good to have an end to a journey.; but it is the journey or yatra that matters at the end.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare !
He Krishna Karuna Sindho, Dheena Bandho Jagat Pate !
Gopala Gopika-kanta, Radha Kanta Namo Stu The !!

“ O, my dear Krishna, ocean of mercy, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation, You are the master of cowherd men and the lover of the gopis, especially
Radharani ; I offer my respectful obeisances unto you !! “  .

Natarajans, Bangalore




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