Dwarka: The Lost City of Mahabharata Found Under The Sea


The ancient Indian city of Dwarka is of historical as well as archeological importance. Situated on the banks of river Gomti, it is believed to have sunk beneath the Arabian Sea (the Gomti river flows and meets the Arabian Sea) about 3500 years ago.  

Dwarka today is swarmed each year by thousands of pilgrims worshipping Krishna. Historians and archeologists are exploring underwater to find evidence proving the existence of the majestic kingdom of Krishna.  

According to the Ancient Texts

There are numerous legends about the lost city of Dwarka (a.k.a. Dvaraka), the most prominent one is found in the ancient epic of Mahabharata. Similar to Atlantis, the story says that Dwarka sank beneath the sea at some point in the ancient past. 

However, unlike Atlantis whose remains have never been found, the remnants of this ancient kingdom may very well be present in the depths.  

The Mahabharat was written by Ved Vyasa in Dvapara yuga, over 3000years ago. Krishna makes his first appearance in Mahabharata as the king of Dwarka. According to the ancient text, Dwarka was built by Krishna near a place called Kushasthali. 

It gives many detailed descriptions of the ancient glorious city spread across almost 84km as a fortified kingdom where the Gomti River and the Arabian Sea meet.  

The 23rd and 34th stanzas of the Mahabharata indicate that the city was flooded and submerged by the Arabian Sea on the same day that Krishna left the Earth to join the spiritual world after 125 years and that is when the age of Kali began.

The deity of the ocean took back the land, submerging the whole of Dwarka, sparing Lord Krishna's palace. 


Searching for India’s Atlantis 

The first excavations began nearly 100 years ago in the 1930s, around the island of Bet Dwarka which is approx. 30km north of the modern-day Dwarka in the Jamnagar district of Gujarat. More excavations were conducted in the 1960s but yielded no conclusive results. 

In the second half of the last century, archaeologists made attempts to find physical evidence of the sunken city off the coast of the modern-day Dwarka so that they can prove its existence beyond doubt. The first excavation was conducted in the 60s by The Deccan College, Puna led by the archeologist Hasmukh Sankalia.

 In 1979, the Archeological Survey of India carried out another excavation, where the excavator found some pottery that he felt belonged to the second millennium BC. Between 1983 and 1990 the archaeologists came across a structure that looked like a fortified foundation on which the ancient city walls must have been built along the river banks. Stone blocks used for the construction, pillars, and irrigation systems were found, however, the exact age of these findings is still being debated. 


Mr. Alok Tripathi, former ADG Archeological Survey of India, remarks that exploration in and around Dwarka has revealed a variety of archeological remains such as polychromes and michromes where many colors are used. More than 500 antiquities were recovered from there. Some samples and dating materials firmly establish the cultural sequence of 2000 years.  

The work of underwater exploration started with the excavation near the present Dwarkadhish temple recalls Dr. Rajiv Nigam- former chief scientist- CSIR-NIO (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- National institute of oceanography). The temple itself dates between the 13th and the 15th centuries BCE. 

Dr. S R Rao a famous Indian archeologist carried out an offshore survey to investigate the presence of any evidence of the sunken city and later on in 2007 a detailed excavation was carried out, of which Alok Tripathi was the director.

He outlined that the location of Dwarka on the westernmost tip of India, in present-day Gujarat matches with one that is provided in the written literature. 

One theory says that the city of Dwarka was built on reclaimed land around 3500 years back and was submerged in water when the sea levels started rising.

Scientific investigations have shown that the sea level in the area has risen and fallen many times, reaching its present-day levels in1000 CE. The reasons for these dynamic sea levels could be anything from tectonic disturbances to coastal erosion. 

A large number of anchors was found in this area, thus establishing that Dwarka was an ancient port and must have had a place in the trading relations between Indian and Arabic regions during the 15th to 18th centuries, and the harbor area was used for anchoring boats in the past.

In Sanskrit, the word ‘Dwarka’ means ‘gateway’ or ‘door’ implying that this ancient port city could have been an entryway for foreign sailors arriving in India. 

Where Is the Lost City of Dwarka Today?

Some of the more recent works done in this area have called into question, Rao’s identification of the underwater remains. 

They argue that Krishna’s kingdom was not on the banks of river Gomti rather it was located around the area of the Bay of Cambay also known as the Gulf of Khambat and the remnants belong to the Middle Ages and not to a period between 3000 to 1500 years BC.  

Whatever may be the case, the tales of Krishna and his lost city of Dwarka were long thought to be a mythical legend, but who knows, the ongoing archeological discoveries might prove otherwise. 

Written by - Priyanshi Deolal

Edited by - Akanksha Sharma