The discovery of the legendary city of Dwaraka which is said to have been founded by Sri Krishna, is an important landmark in the history of Bharat. It has set to rest the doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dwaraka city. It has greatly narrowed the gap in Indian history by establishing the continuity of the Indian civilization from the Vedic Age to the present day.
Krishna- the protector of Mathura, the lord of Dwaraka and the reciter of the Bhagwad Gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra is one of the most enduring legends of Bharat. Are Krishna and Dwar-aka actual historical entities? For a majority of Indians, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Some archaeologists and historians too are now willing to accept that the common man's faith does have a basis in fact.
Dwaraka has a special importance as one of the major Hindu pilgrim place, known as the capital of Lord Krishna's Kingdom. It was the land of the hunter Ekalavya. Dronacarya had also lived here. Krishna decided to build a new city here and laid the foundation at an auspicious moment. He named the new city Dwaravati. Much later the poet Magha in his Sisupalavadha, sarga2, describes in slokas 31 onwards, the city of Dwaraka, sloka 33 can be translated:
"The yellow glitter of the golden fort of the city in the sea throwing yellow light all round looked as if the flames of vadavagni came out tearing asunder the sea."
Before the legendary city of Dwaraka was discovered some scholars were of the view that the Mahabharata being only a myth it would be futile to look for the remains of Dwaraka and that too in the sea. Others held that the Mahabharata battle was a family feud exaggerated into a war. Excavations done by Dr. S. R. Rao (One of Bharat's most respected archaeologists) at Dwaraka prove that the descriptions as found in these texts are not to be discarded as fanciful but are to be treated as based on actualities as seen by their authors. The architecture of the old Dwaraka of Shri Krishna is majestic and wonderful.
Dwaraka on mainland which was one of the busiest ports of the Mahabharata Period met a sudden end due to the fury of the sea. After the Mahabharata War Krishna lived for 36 years at Dwaraka. At the end, the Vrshnis, Bhojas and Satvatas destroyed themselves in a fratricidal feud at Prabhasa but Krishna did not interfere to save them. The portends of destruction seen by Sri Krishna who advised immediate evacuation of Dwarakaare stated in Bhagavata Purana. Dwaraka abandoned by Hari (Krishna) was swallowed by the sea. The submergence took place immediately after Sri Krishna departed from the world.
"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. Even as they were all looking, Arjuna saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of Krishna. It was soon covered by the sea. 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 beautiful city which had been the favourite haunt of all the Pandavas. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory."
Since 1983 the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography is engaged in the offshore exploration and excavation of the legendary city of Dwaraka in the coastal waters of Dwaraka in Gujarat. The strongest archaeological support comes from the structures discovered under the sea-bed off the coast of Dwaraka in Gujarat by the pioneering team led by Dr S.R. Rao, one of Bharat's most respected archaeologists. Dr. Rao has excavated a large number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal in Gujarat. For instance excavations in Bedsa (near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh) have unearthed the remains of a temple of 300 BC in which Krishna (Vasudeva) and Balarama (Samkarshana) are identified from their flagstaff. Krishna's son Pradyumna, grandson, Aniruddha and another Yadava hero, Satyaki, have also been identified. A more recent historical record, dated 574 AD, occurs in what are called the Palitana plates of Samanta Simhaditya. This inscription ref ers to Dwaraka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and states that Krishna lived here. The foundation of boulders on which the city's walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea about 3,600 years ago. The epic has references to such reclamation activity at Dwaraka.