Narayan Sarovar

About the location: A sprawling lake on the western most edge of India, Narayan Sarovar has great spiritual significance. This is one of the 5 holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Mansarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan, and is considered a coveted place for a holy dip. An adjoining temple built by the wife of Maharao Desalji features shrines of Shri Trikamraiji, Laxminarayan, Govardhannathji, Dwarkanath, Adinarayan, Ranchodraiji and Laxmiji. A short drive from here, the Koteshwar Mahadev Temple is a grand sandstone structure that overlooks a marshy sea. Shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesha are the highlights here.

Brief History: The origin of Narayan Sarovar dates back to the Puranas. It is said that there was a drought in the region, and Lord Vishnu appeared in response to ardent prayers by sages. When he touched the land with his toe, a lake was immediately created, alleviating the locals from their misery. This is one of the holy lakes of Hinduism, along with Manasarovar in Tibet, Pampa in Karnataka, Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa and Pushkar in Rajasthan.


The temples, the chief buildings in the place, are surrounded by a fortified wall, outside of which cluster the villagers’ houses. It was formerly connected with the mainland by a yellow stone causeway, about 3000 feet long and fifteen wide, built in 1863 by a Bhatia of Bombay, named Gokaldas Liladhar Padsha, at a cost of about £2500 (1,00,000 Kutch koris). Now the new causeway is built.

It was in very ancient times famous for its great lake. This, agreeing with the account of the lake found by Alexander, and perhaps lasting till the change of the course of the Indus river (about 1000), was in part renewed by the earthquake of 1819. Beside the lake, there was, from early times, a temple of Adinarayan in the village. For long under priests of the Kanphata sect, the temple was, about 1550 (Samvat 1607), wrested from them by a Sanyasi or Atit named Narangar from Junagadh. Narangar made long and broad embankments about the pool, an oblong sheet of water, 1056 feet by 990, divided by perforated stone walls into a number of bathing places, and furnished on all sides except the east with flights of stone steps, and surrounded by rest-houses.

There are seven stone temples in a paved courtyard of 164 feet by 621⁄2. The temples are approached from the lake by flights of stone steps and surrounded by a strong wall. Vagheli Mahakunvar; the wife of Rao Deshalji I, Rao of Cutch State; displeased with the priests of Dwarka, after taking counsel with her Brahmans, determined to raise Narayansar to be a place of rival sanctity.

Accordingly, in 1734, she first built the temples of Lakshminarayan and Trikamray in the same style as the Dwarka temples, assigning them the revenues of certain villages and the proceeds of certain taxes, and then those of Adinarayan, Govardhannath, Dwarkanath, and Lakshmiji.

The temple of Trikamray, in style and shape resembling that at Koteshwar, 72 feet long 681⁄2 broad and 61 high, stands on a 5 feet 9 inches high platform, and has three side porches with a large one in the centre, all capped with domes resting on twelve feet high pillars. The central porch is 21 feet square, and each of the side porches 9 feet 9 inches. The 1819 earthquake threw down the central dome, but it has since been rebuilt. The space between the central dome and the shrine is paved with white and black marble. In the east screen wall of the shrine is a marble plate with an inscription. The doors are plated with silver. In the shrine, on a silver throne, stands a black marble image of Trikamray. Under the idol throne is a black marble figure of Vishnu’s eagle, Garuda, with clasped hands kneeling on one leg. Over the image of Trikamray are forty gold and silver parasols, the offerings of devotees.

The other five temples built by Vagheli Mahakunvar form, along with the more lately built temple of Kalyanray, a row of six domes supported by fourteen pillars, and forty-eight pilasters, with carving on the bases, shafts, and capitals. The brackets are scrolled volutes and the side pillars of one dome serve to support the lintel of the next, and the corresponding pillars of the next act similarly for the third dome. The temples at the two ends have screen walls under their domes with doors, but the rest have a common verandah with entrances in the fronts the space on the two sides of each entrance being closed with a screen of wooden lattice. Each of the temples has an inscription. Lakshmiji’s temple is without any special feature. Dwarkanath’s or Ranchhodji’s temple has a small shrine opposite to it with a large image of Garuda, holding a weapon whose point impales a cobra. The third shrine, to Govardhannath, is simple. The fourth, to Adinarayan, has a black stone pavement in the gallery. Opposite it is a small lately built shrine of Gopalji. The last, to Lakshminarayan, has silver-plated doors and an idol throne and canopy of silver. In a line with these five temples is the temple of Kalyanray built in 1828 (Samvat 1885) by Rao Deshalji II. The stone and wood frames of the entrance are richly carved, and the doors are plated with silver in which flowers, fruit, leaves, and creepers are carved with much skill. The canopy of the god stands on a pedestal, and is supported on four silver pillars with fine spiral flutes and richly carved friezes, bases, and shafts. The statue is of polished black marble.

Besides these built temples, the soft sandstone near the fort has at various times been hollowed into shrines and caves. They are known as the Ramgupha, Lakshmangupha, and Sheshgupha caves. From the brittleness of the rock they are of no great size.

How to get there

By Road: Dholavira is 250 km from Bhuj and is reached via Bhachau and Rapar. A bus leaves from Bhuj at 14:00 and arrives at Dholavira at 20:30. It leaves at 05:00 the next morning and returns to Bhuj by 11:30. It is also possible to rent a vehicle.

By Air: The nearest airport is Bhuj. Bear in mind that an on-site guest house allows the possibility of a more leisurely experience, rather than a day trip.

    Plan Your Trip To Gujarat