Worshiped as the 8th incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, Krishna is believed to have been born sometime between 1500 and 700 BC in Mathura, just south of Delhi in the modern state of Uttar Pradesh. There Krishna killed the oppressive king Kansa, angering his father-in-law Jarasandh.
Jarasandh attacked Krishna's kingdom 17 times in a lengthy war as he tried to avenge the death of his son-in-law. The people of Mathura, the Yadavs, suffered heavy casualties. Krishna knew that his people would not be able to survive another war with Jarasandh, as the ongoing conflict was not only taking lives but also impacting trade and farming.
So as to avert any further casualty, Krishna left the battle grounds and began to be known as Ranchhodji (one who leaves the battle grounds).
Krishna, along with the Yadav dynasty, crossed Gomantak (Girnar Mountain), and arrived at the coast of Saurashtra at a distance of 32 km from Somnath. According to some references, he arrived near the present day Okha and established his kingdom on Beyt Dwarka.
It is believed that Samudradev, the lord of the sea, blessed Krishna with a land measuring twelve yojanas (773 square km) and Vishwakarma, the celestial architect in Hinduism, granted Krishna's wishes and built him his new kingdom.
This new capital flourished with such wealth and oppulence that it was called the City of Gold and Krishna came to be known as Dwarkadheesh (King of Dwarka).
Krishna's life goal was to re-establish a kingdom based on the principal of Sat Dharma or 'true religion'. Dwarka, also known as Dwaravati, comes from the words dwara, meaning 'door,' and ka, meaning 'Brahma.' Thus the name refers to the place as a door to union with Brahma, the indescribable ground of all reality, in other words a gateway to spiritual liberation.
Dwarka was reportedly a thoroughly planned city, which had six well-organized sectors, residential and commercial zones, wide roads, plazas, palaces and many public utilities. Public meetings were held in a hall called sudharma sabha (meeting of true religion). In ancient times its flourishing port was considered to be the gateway to the mainland. The city had 700,000 palaces made of gold, silver and other precious stones, as well as beautiful gardens and lakes. The entire city was surrounded by water and connected with the mainland through well-constructed bridges.
After returning from the historic Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna found that the Yadav dynasty had declined to a state of deplorable behavior, quarrels and negligency. Slowly the dynasty receded into infighting, and their own self-inflicted demise. Unable to end the bloodshed, Krishna departed to the forest, where he was accidentally shot by an arrow at Bhalka Tirtha and finally left his body in Dehotsargh, where he was cremated by Arjun.
The death of Krishna symbolized the beginning of the Kali-yuga, an age of strife, discord and quarrel. Dwarka submerged into the sea after Sri Krishna left for the heavenly abode and the important Yadava kings were killed in fights among themselves. Arjun brought Krishna's grandsons and the Yadava wives to Hastinapur. Soon after Arjun left, the waves covered the city. Arjun has given this account in the Mahabharata it is believed that the city was submerged by the ocean and rebuilt six times by different civilizations. The modern day Dwarka is the 7th such city to be built in the area.
There are various theories suggesting the exact location of the original Dwarka. But there are also some archaeological signs to support the belief that the ancient Dwarka lies buried under the present Dwarka and extended up to Beyt Dwarka in the north, Okhamadhi in the south, and Pindara in the east.
The search for the lost city of Dwarka began as early as in 1930's. Marine Archaeology Unit (MAU) of the National Institute of Oceanography took part in this search in 1983. The search was carried out in the coastal waters of Dwarka in Gujarat. The well-fortified township of Dwarkathat extended more than half a mile from the shore was discovered from 1983 to 1990.
The township was built in six sectors along the banks of a river. The understructure of boulders on which the walls of the city were erected suggested that the land was reclaimed from the sea. Dwarka extended up to Bet Dwarka (Sankhodhara) in the north, Okhamadhi in the south and up to Pindara in the east. The general layout of the discovered city of Dwarka is similar to the one described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city discovered by MAU.
The seven islands mentioned in the Mahabharata have been discovered submerged in the Arabian Sea. The antiquity of the pottery established by thermoluminiscence tests to be almost 3,528 years old and carries inscriptions in late Indus Valley civilization script.
The iron stakes and triangular three-holed anchors discovered here also find mention in the Mahabharata. Among several objects unearthed that further bear witness of Dwarka's association with the epic is a seal engraved with the image of a three-headed animal.
The epic mentions that such a seal was given to the citizens of Dwarka as an identification proof when King Jarasandha of the Magadh kingdom threatened the city. Dr Rao of the National Institute of Oceanography and instrumental in conducting much of the underwater excavations said, "The findings in Dwarka and archeological evidence found compatible with the Mahabharata tradition remove the lingering doubt about the historicity of the Mahabharata that was. We would say Krishna definitely existed."
These evidences prove beyond doubt that Kusasthali, a pre-Dwarka settlement did exist in Bet, Dwarka. Archeologists have reached the conclusion that this early settlement of Kusasthali was first occupied and fortified during the Mahabharata period and was named Dwarka. When they realized that the narrow terraces were not sufficient for the increasing population, a new town was built a few years later at the mouth of the river Gomati. This planned port city was also named Dwarka, further giving credibility to the fact that the Mahabharata was not a myth but an important source of history.