Dwarka (Gujarat), March 10 (IANS) Though it lies in a state that is witnessing rapid infrastructural development, this ancient Gujarat city where Lord Krishna is believed to have lived seems untouched by Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives.
The ride from the industrial clusters of Jamnagar to Dwarka is not only bumpy and rough, but the deep potholes make the travel risky, say pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh’s Braj area that is associated with the Krishna legend.
“Some areas along the coast and in the Bet Dwarka (island) area across the sea were affected by the devastating earthquake that shook Gujarat years ago, but not much has been done after that. The 35,000 population of Dwarka depends entirely on tourists and pilgrims. Modi’s government should extend his generosity this side too,” Tulsi Das, a tonga driver and guide, told IANS.
Dwarka is estimated to draw about a million pilgrims and tourists every year. But the romance and magic of the Krishna-Radha lore is clearly missing, as is the legendary royal splendour of the Yadav empire of yore.
Padmini, a pilgrim from Agra, rued: “When we came here we had lots of expectations of grandeur and hoped to see the area’s rich culture, but there was none of the milk, dahi, lassi or sweets we Brajwasis are fond of.
“Nor was there the exuberance and glitter of royalty associated with the Yadav dynasty that once ruled here. Except for the main temple (Dwarkadhish Temple), there is only barren wasteland and salt lakes all around. They should have more greenery.”
It is only the iconic Dwarkadhish Temple that stands majestically tall along the sea coast and delivers the glossy promise made on tourism promotional literature.
“They (the pilgrims) come in droves, especially during Janmashtami, Diwali and Holi. Drinking water is a major problem in the town,” Das added.
Many also complain there’s no direct train to connect Mathura with Dwarka even though both attract Lord Krishna devotees. “The two pilgrim centres associated with Lord Krishna must be connected with an overnight train so that there are convenient opportunities for promoting travel,” said hotelier Rakesh Bhai.
Tourism department officials, however, say the state government has provided funds and launched several schemes for the area’s comprehensive development.
A proposed Rs.100-crore package, with central assistance, will promote integrated development of the area which is dotted with temples and historical places, feel locals in Dwarka.
An official in Dwarka says a bridge to connect Bet Dwarka with Okha will accelerate development of the area. The development schemes are being monitored by the Gujarat Yatra Dham Vikas Board.
The state government is planning to build temples of various deities and the queens of Lord Krishna. Rukmani’s Gopi ka Taalab – believed to be the bathing ghat for hundreds of queens of Lord Krishna – stands in need of urgent renovation.
“The state government has plans to develop Okhamadhi as a weekend getaway for tourists,” said a tourism official.
Priests at Dwarka Dham say the main chowk and the sunset point near the Shiva temple will also be taken up for development soon.