The temple of Lord Dwarkadheesha in Kankroli is one of the most interesting place for the Vaishnava devotees who go to Udaipur. The deity is so attractive that it is quite probable that you will forget the outside world and people while seeing His beautiful place. Dwarkadheesha is Lord Krishna as the king of Dwarka.
Kankroli is a must visit if you go to Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. It is just 64 km from the city of Udaipur. Best way to see the temple is to hire a cab, else board a bus. Kankroli, or Rajasmand is a small town with two main attractions – Dwarkadheesha temple and Rajasmand lake.
The town was established by Maharana Raj Singh, the ruler of Mewar, in 1675. The town was founded only when Dwarkadheesha was moved from Mathura to Mewar due to safety reasons.
The temple is well maintained. It is a large artistic structure constructed by the Vaishnava king Maharana Raj Singh. Currently temple is managed by Vallabha Sampradaya, which is also looking after Srinathaji temple at Nathadwara, just 16 km away.
The Story of Dwarkadheesha
The deity is very ancient, even older than the deities of Madana Mohana, Govindadevaji, Gopinatha, Srinathaji and Sakkshi Gopala. The mentioned deities are strongly associated with the history of Gaudiya Sampradaya and all are about 5000 years old.
The deity of Dwarkadheesha was worshiped by king Ambarisha, in Treta Yuga, more than a million years ago. Ambarisha is mentioned in Srimad Bhagvatam as a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, or Krishna, who ruled the globe in early Treta Yuga, much before than Lord Rama.
Lord Vishnu had once sent His divine Sudarashana discus weapon to rescue weapon. Sage Durvasa was trying to harm Ambarisha, as he was offended when the king gave more priority to offering devotional service to Krishna, than serving the sage.
But the sage soon realized that he couldn’t harm the the devotees of Lord Krishna, like Ambarisha, as Lord is always there to save His devotees. The sage had to run for his life when Vishnu’s discus came to protect the king.
No one in the universe could protect Sage Durvasa and he had to seek Ambarisha’s forgiveness, who immediately forgave the sage and asked the divine weapon to go back to Lord Vishnu.
Such was the devotion of Ambarisha. He served the deity of Dwarkadheesha with great love and care. By having the Darshana of the deity we are in a way having the Darshana of Ambarisha’s Bhakti too.
Lord Kapila, the incarnation of Lord as a sage on earth, also had the Darshana of Lord Dwarkadheesh during His pilgrimage. Probably this is the only deity who was present at the times of Ambarisha and Lord Kapila.
To know more about Ambarisha and Kapiladeva, you may consult Srila Prabhupada’s translation of Srimad Bhagvatam or Purnaprajna Prabhu’s condensed version of the same book. You can get these books from your nearest ISKCON or online at krishna.com.
After several hundred thousand years ago the deity disappeared. He was re-discovered only 1700 years in Mathura, where king Vikramaditya built a grand temple for Him. He was worshiped there till 1670 when something very bad took place.
Dwarkadheesh Leaves Mathura
In 1670 the Muslim tryant Aurangzeb attacked Vraja Mandala- Vrindavana and Mathura. He was annoyed when he saw that the temples of Vraja were larger and more magnificant than any mosque. He, with his army, attacked the temples.
He wanted to damage both temples and the deities but Gaudiya Vaishnavas with the help of Vaishnava ruler of Rajasthan, managed to secretly move the deities.
Many deities were moved to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Srinatahji ( Gopala Raya ) and Dwarkadheesha were being taken to Gujarat in south of Rajasthan. But Srinathaji wanted to stay in Nathadwara, a township on the way from Udaipur to Kankroli. So the cart carrying Srinathaji and Dwarkdheesha couldn’t move further.
Maharana Raj Singh, the ruler of that area, took signal and built a temple for Srinathaji at Nathadwara and a temple for Dwarkadheesha at Kankroli.
Note: There is a famous temple of Dwarkadheesha in Vishrama Ghata of Mathura. This temple houses the replica deity of Kankroli Dwarkadheesha and it was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh, the ruler of Jaipur.
Kankroli was a very small village at that time but when Dwarkadheesha deity came there, it was soon developed into a proper town. Raj Singh built the temple and helped the town grow so it is also called Rajasmand.
The Temple Building
Raj Singh has built a wonderful temple for Dwarkadheesha at the banks of Rajasmand lake in downtown of Kankroli. It is built in traditional Rajput style of Rajasthan.
The main gate to the temple is really very grand. It resembles the gate of forts. The wooden door has a number of spikes, which would prtect the temple from attacks. These spikes are specially designed to repel enemy elephants.
You may notice the painting of kings, soldiers, elephants, peacocks and tigers on the temple walls. There are also a large number of paintings related to the pastimes of Lord Krishna. All these paintings belong to traditional style of painting in Rajasthan.
There is an outer courtyard which starts immediately after main gate. It is the place to take out the shoes. Then comes another gate which leads to inner courtyard. Here is the management office of the temple. You may see ladies cutting vegetables here, for the deity.
Then is a door for main room where you can have Darshana of the deity. It is not a very large room and there are too many people. All the people tend to push each other for best view of the deity. The priests here also create conditions for chaos. So it is very tough to get a close view of the deity.
Kankroli can be accessed from Delhi or Mumbai via NH-8 road, or by flight to Udaipur just 65 km away. There are a number of trains for Udaipur. There are many buses and taxis for Kankroli from Udaipur.
Photography is not allowed in inner courtyard and the main part of the temple. It is really a great setback as the temple and the deity are too beautiful.
Temple timings – 7 am to 11 am morning and 4 pm to 7 pm evening
There is no significant hotel or guesthouse in Kankroli so stay at Nathadwara or Udaipur, and the former is just 16 km away. Nathadwara also houses the renowned shrine of Srinathaji, another very important deity of Krishna.
You may also visit Udaipur, Nathadwara, Charbhujaji and Chittorgarh on your trip to Kankroli as all these places are nearby. Do not miss to see Rajasmand lake opposite to Dwarkadheesha temple.