When underwater settlements are concerned within Indian marine archaeology, the most talked about would be the ancient city of Dwarka. As the legend goes, Krishna, the most powerful personality in Mahabharat, is said to have founded the city, in a place with the same name at the Devbhoomi Dwarka district in Gujarat’s west coast. Dwarka is one of the best-studied underwater sites in India.

My quest for Dwarka had started when I became a student of archaeology. I was blessed with the opportunity to have come across a book on underwater archaeology in India. This book caught my interest and helped build and develop my thirst for marine archaeology in the country.

When one concerns themselves with marine archaeology, the first thing we should understand should be that of what defines it. Though, most commonly because of the word “Marine” the definition sometimes misleads the common minds.

According to ancient Hindu texts, Dwarka was a skirmish ground for Krishna and the evil King Salva. As the Mahabharat says, King Salva attacked Dwarka with a flying machine. It is the description of the battle that draws the attention of the ancient alien theorists, as it seems to suggest it was fought with sophisticated technology and advanced weapons, potentially with a craft attacking from the orbit. The space craft commenced an attack on the city with the use of energy weapons, which to on-lookers resembled lightning.

The attack was so devastating that most of the city lay in ruins.

Lord Krishna counterattacked and fired his weapons on the ship. Mythology describes them as arrows roaring like thunder and shining like the rays of the sun when released. The Indian mythology is replete with accounts of how the original Dwarka looked like.

Mahabharat says that Dwarka had 900,000 royal palaces, all constructed with crystal and silver and decorated with emeralds. The city was connected by an elaborate system of boulevards, roads, market places, assembly houses and temples. These legends have been etched into the Indian minds for so long that their authenticity is not questioned. Luckily, due to the grace of the marine archaeological department of India, the childhood stories have come to be a reality to a great extent.

Marine archaeological explorations have thrown light on a number of structures of different shapes, stone anchors and other artefacts. The exploration has found sandstone walls, a grid of streets and remains of a sea port, some 70 feet beneath the sea. The evidence points to the fact of the existence of a city some 9,000 years ago. Also according to them this was one of the most important and busy ports during historical and medieval periods.

The detailed exploration and excavation of this sunken city was started in 1988 with certain goals and results in mind:

1. The explorations were extended up to the Temple of Samudranarayan (Sea God), in order to trace the extent of the port city and the purpose behind the massive stone walls built on the banks of the ancient Gomati River.

2. Whether the architectural features were in conformity to the ones described in the Mahabharat.

3. To obtain a more corroborative evidence for reclamation referred to in the epic.

4. The nick point where the Gomati River joined the sea had to be determined.

5. The cause of the submergence

Dwarka was supposed to have been built on six blocks, two on the right bank and four on the left. All the six sectors have protective walls built of dressed stones of sandstones. Whatever has been traced so far conforms to the description of Dwarka in the Mahabharat to a large extent. For example, the enclosures may correspond to the Antahpurs (harems) of the texts.

Similarly, the large number of stone anchors is indicative of overseas trade. The large ships were anchored to the sea, whereas the small ones were near to the warehouses on the Gomati, part of which has been submerged.

Marine archaeology has proved that the existence of the Dwarka and its submergence in the IInd millennium B.C referred to in the MahabharatHarivamsaMatsya and Vayu Purans (Sanskrit texts) is a fact and not fiction.

Another crucial evidence is provided by  Mudra (seal) in use of which there is a reference in the Harivamsa.

Dwarka excavations by the archaeological department have demonstrated that the rich underwater cultural heritage of India can be successfully explored, excavated, retrieved and preserved.


Dwarka to Kurushetra. Dr. S. R. Rao. Journal of Marine Archaeology (1995-96).

Underwater Cultural Heritage. A.S Gaur and K. H Vora. Current Science Volume 86 No 9 May 2004.

Further Excavations of the Submerged City of Dwarka. S. R. Rao. Recent Advances in Marine Archaeology

Dwarka Mythical City Found Underwater. Weyland Yutani.

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