Dakor is situated in Kheda District of Gujarat State and is well known for the temple of Sri Ranchhodraiji (Spelt as Ranchhod Rai Ji). Dakor is approximately eighty four kilometers south-east of Ahmedabad and easily be reached by the road transport. It is one of the major pilgrimage centers in Gujarat and is one among the Pancha Dwarkas.
The temple of Ranchhodraiji stands 120 feet tall in the center of the city of Dakor. It has a unique architecture unlike the other temples. Flag on the temple’s pole is seen from far reminding one the presence of the Lord’s temple. There are four gates of this temple. The doors are covered with silver. This temple was inaugurated in 1824 and the Deity of Sri Ranchora Rai was moved to this temple in 1828. It was constructed by a devotee named Gopal Nayak. Prior to this temple, another devotee named Nand Das Seth had constructed a small temple for the Lord.
The origin of Dakor
Earlier to Dakor, this small city was known as Dankapuri due to the presence of Lord Shiva’s temple known as Dankanath Mahadev.
Once in the assembly of great sages at Prayag, Danka Muni expressed his desire to please Lord Shiva by performance of penances and have his darshan. All the sages present in that assembly, blessed him to accomplish his desire. Danka Muni handed over his hermitage at Dandakavana to his brother Kandu Muni and left to Khakariya forest to perform the penances. In that forest, on the bank of a lake, he observed penances, fasting from food and water. Khakariya forest was the dwelling of tribes named Bhil, Kirat, Vasava, Sabar, Bhavara, etc. The tribal men had great respect and worshipful attitude towards Danka Muni. They guarded him from ferocious animals while he was engaged in the worship. Lord Shiva is known as Ashutosha, one who can be pleased easily. Thus he was pleased by the austerities of Danka Muni and appeared before him.
He asked Danka Muni to ask for a boon to which Danka Muni replied, “O Lord, you are the knower of everything. You very well know my desire.”
Lord Shiva said, “Your desire of having my darshan has already been fulfilled. If you desire anything else, please ask.”
Danka Muni said, “My spiritual master has told me that there is no one else in this whole universe who can grant a boon like you. You are known to satisfy the performer of the austerity. I therefore request you to stay here so that I can have your darshan, worship you and remember you constantly.”
Lord Shiva agreed and touched his trident to the Earth. From that place manifested an effulgent shiva-linga. Lord Shiva instructed Danka Muni to install the shiva-linga and worship it. He also ensured Danka Muni that whenever he would remember him, Lord Shiva would appear immediately.
After being blessed by Lord Shiva, Danka Muni invited Kandu Muni, Devala Muni and the other sages and installed the shiva-linga. Soon devotees of Lord Shiva came there and made their dwellings nearby, forming a village. The village was named as Dankapur. Other sages like Galav, Angira, Sura Muni, Naishedh, Nilakanth, Khalaka, etc came there and established the temples nearby. Thus this place is also known as Pancha Tirtha.
In the East of Dankapur, Galav Muni established his hermitage. He established the shiva-linga named as Galaveshwar and summoned Ganga for the worship of Lord Shiva. The Ganga was known as Galavi Ganga. In the West direction, Khalaka Muni established Lord Nilakantha Mahadev and worshiped him. In the North-west direction Sura Muni established Sri Sureshwar Shankar and the village came to be known as Surapura. In the East, little further to Galaveshwar, Nilakantha Muni established Sri Ranamukteshwar Shankar and the village came to be known as Rakshapura. In the South-east direction Naishedh Muni named the forest as Naishedh and established the temple of Lord Hanuman.
Earlier the name of Dakor was Khakhriyun because of the abundant growth of Khakhra trees. Since Danka Muni established Dankanath Mahadev, the place was known as Dankapur. However with the passage of time, Dankapur came to be known as Dakor. It is believed that this place is known as Dakor since the time when Lord Krishna came to Dwarka.
Krishna promises to live in Dakor forever
Now let us travel back to five thousand and five hundred years, till Dwapara-yuga to know why Lord Krishna promised to live in Dakor forever.
In Hastinapura, a grand upanayana (thread ceremony) was organized for Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna. Lord Krishna was invited to this ceremony thus making it more auspicious. After the celebrations were ended, it was the time to bid farewell. Lord Krishna also got ready to return to Dwarka. Bhima took the responsibility of accompanying Lord Krishna till Dwarka. When their chariot approached the Dandaka forest, Lord Krishna remembered an incident from Treta-yuga and smiled. Looking at the smile on Lord’s face, Bhima enquired the reason.
The Supreme Lord replied, “Dear Bhima, this place is very auspicious and sacred. Lord Rama along with His brother Lakshmana, and Shiva along with his consort Sati have walked on this land and purified it. I just remembered one conversation between Lord Shiva and Parvati and thus smiled.”
Bhima grew inquisitive to know more about this conversation and requested Lord Krishna to narrate it while their chariot moved towards the hermitage of Kandu Muni in Dandaka forest. On the repeated request of Bhima, Lord Krishna finally narrated the incident as follows:
Once Sati asked Lord Shiva, “O Lord, whom did you glorify with the words Saciddananda Paramdhama. You are worshiped by the entire world. I am surprised to see you glorify someone else.”
Lord Shiva replied, “I glorified Lord Rama.”
Sati was surprised, “That prince? Who is searching his wife?”
She did not believe Lord Shiva and wanted to test Lord Rama, the young prince. She disguised herself as Sita devi and went in front of Lord Rama. Looking at mother Parvati disguised as Sita, Lord Rama asked, “O Bhavani! O Jagadamba! Why have you come alone? Why Lord Shiva has not come with you?”
And Sati made a fool of herself by trying to test Lord Rama.
“Bhima, I just remembered that incident and smiled,” Krishna said.
In the meantime they reached near the hermitage of Kandu Muni. Kandu Muni welcomed both of them and took them to his hermitage.
He expressed, “Lord, in Treta-yuga, Lord Ramachandra and Lakshmana had visited this forest. Now You have come and purified this hermitage. I consider myself very fortunate.”
He then worshiped Lord Krishna and washed His lotus feet.
Kandu Muni said to the Lord, “My god-brother has pleased Lord Shiva and received his darshana in the Khakhariya forest. Lord Shiva has granted him a boon that Lord Shiva would stay there always and hence a Shiva-linga known as Dankeshwar Mahadev is installed. Many sages have gone there and made their hermitages as well.”
Kandu Muni requested the Lord to make a visit there. Lord Krishna immediately started to Khakhariya. It was afternoon and the heat was intolerable. Bhima became thirsty and wanted to drink water. Lord Krishna told him to wait for some time. Soon they reached a lake near Danka Muni’s hermitage and stopped to drink water. Danka Muni’s disciples who were taking bath in the lake, immediately informed Danka Muni about the arrival of the Lord.
As soon as Danka Muni heard this, he became very happy and came to receive Krishna and Bhima. Looking at the Lord, he offered obeisance, touched His feet and in a blissful tone invited Lord to visit his hermitage. He considered himself very fortunate to have darshan of Lord Krishna.
After getting a warm reception, Lord Krishna spoke, “O great sage, due to your austerity, Lord Shiva has awarded you his darshan. I have come here to have darshan of Lord Shiva and worship him.”
In the evening, Lord Krishna went to the temple of Dankeshwar Mahadev to perform the worship. Bhima took on the bell, Danka Muni took the conch and disciples took the other instruments while Lord Krishna sang the glories of Lord Shiva. Lord Krishna lit the pancha-arati and started performing the arati of Lord Shiva. All the directions started reverberating with the sacred sounds. Pleased with the arati, Lord Shiva appeared there and offered obeisance to Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna spoke to Danka Muni, “O sage, today I have been blessed with the darshan of Lord Shiva. It is due to your austerity. In return please ask Me for a boon.”
Danka Muni asked, “Lord, your darshan itself is a great blessing for me. How can my heart be satiated by your darshan?”
Krishna replied, “Please tell me what will satisfy you.”
Danka Muni asked Lord Krishna to promise first that He would give whatever is asked for and Lord Krishna agreed to do so.
Then Danka Muni requested the Lord, “Just like Lord Shiva has agreed to stay here forever, I request You also to stay in this place so that my desire of Your darshan is fulfilled.” Lord Shiva agreed to this proposal too and then returned to his abode.
To this Lord Krishna replied, “On your request, I am staying here today and tomorrow I shall leave after performing the puja in the auspicious brahma-muhurta.”
Requesting pardon from the Lord, Danka Muni told, “I have requested You to stay here forever. And You have also made me a promise. Please do not break Your promise.”
Lord Krishna replied, “Yes, I have promised you but now I cannot stay here as I have descended Myself to give protection to the sages and to annihilate the demons. After completing this mission, I shall come back and reside here. This is My second promise to you.”
Danka Muni asked, “May I know when will You come Lord?”
Lord Krishna replied, “In the beginning of Kali-yuga; after living 4222 years in Dwarka, I shall come and live here.”
Danka Muni surprisingly asked, “How can I stay alive for such a long time. I am a mere human being.”
Lord Krishna answered, “Till I come here, you will continue to live.”
No one realized how the time passed and it became night. In the morning Lord Krishna told Bhima to be ready to manifest Gomti from Dwarka for the satisfaction of Danka Muni and then expressed His wish to take bath in its waters. Hearing Lord’s decision, everyone became happy. Bhima stuck the Earth and broke the dam of the existing lake. He then stuck it twice, this time Gomti gushed out of Earth from Dwarka. Everyone was surprised to look at this. Lord Krishna and Bhima took bath in the Gomti river and then slowly water started flowing peacefully.
Lord Krishna performed the abhisheka of Shiva-linga with the water of Gomti river followed by the arati ceremony. The Lord then started to depart to Dwarka. The sages followed the Lord to bid Him farewell and finally requested the Lord to fulfill His promise.
How Krishna returned to Dakor
In the year 1212, Vijay Singh mostly known as Bodana was born to Veer Singh and Ratan Bai in Dakor. By caste they were Kshatriya Bodana. Although poor, they were great devotees of Lord Dwarkadhisha. They were always engaged in remembering the lotus feet of the Lord. This devotional quality was also imbibed in Bodana. Right from the childhood, he would engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord. Bodana’s wife was Ganga Bai, who was also a great devotee of the Lord. Both husband and wife would together serve the Supreme Lord.
When Bodana was twenty years old, he accompanied a sage to Dwarka to have darshan of Sri Ranchora Rai. He was enamored by the beauty of the Lord. After the first visit, both husband and wife started visiting Dwarka twice in a year to have darshan of Sri Ranchora Rai. They would carry a tulsi garland and would walk till Dwarka from Dakor. After reaching Dwarka, they would have darshan of the Lord and offer the tulasi garland to the Lord. This continued for sixty years until Bodana was eighty years old and his old age became an obstacle to have darshan of the Lord.
He offered his prayers to Lord Ranchora Rai as follows, “Dear Lord, please lift us from this material world and give us Your shelter. It will also be nice if You come to Dakor so that we can have Your darshan every day.”
Lord Ranchora Rai was happy by the devotional service performed by Bodana and his wife Ganga Bai and He agreed to come to Dakor. He instructed Bodana to get a bullock cart next time when he came to Dwarka. As instructed, Bodana reached Dwarka on a bullock cart. Then Lord Ranchora Rai performed His most wonderful pastime of travelling from Dwarka to Dakor. Under the influence of the Lord’s yoga-maya potency, the guards at the temple were asleep. Lord instructed Bodana to lift the Deity from the altar and keep in the bullock cart. Lord told Bodana to sleep and thus started riding the bullock cart Himself. By morning, the cart reached the province of Dakor.
When the residents of Dakor got to know that Bodana has brought Lord Dwarkadhisha from Dwarka, they came to the outskirts and welcomed the Lord. It was then decided that the Lord should go to the house of Bodana. In the meantime, news spreaded in Dwarka, that the Deity of Lord Dwarkadhisha was stolen from the temple. They somehow got to know that the Deity was taken by Bodana. Immediately, the then King, along with his soldiers and the pujaris of the temple came to Dakor. As instructed by Dwarkadhisha, Bodana hid the Deity in the Gomti River and came to welcome the King with curds and jaggery. As soon as he reached, a soldier shouted, “He is the thief of Deity” and killed Bodana.
As soon as the residents of Dakor got to know this, there was a big fight between them and the soldiers of the king. Seeing this fierce battle, Ganga Bai intervened and the situation turned peaceful. Ganga Bai told the king that the Deity of the Lord is in Gomti and he could take the Deity. The soldiers went to lift the Deity but could not shake even an inch. They endeavored a lot to remove the Deity but they failed.
Lord Dwarkadhisha appeared in the dream of the king and told him to do justice and work peacefully. The king requested Danka Muni to find a solution to this problem.
Danka Muni meditated and told, “Lord Dwarkadhisha wants to stay here. In return you may accept gold equivalent to Deity’s weight and return to Dwarka. The Lord has also instructed Ganga Bai to remove the Deity from Gomti. Lord has told that the Deity from the Savitri Kunda should be taken to Dwarka and installed in the temple.”
Slowly the Deity was removed from water and was kept in the weighing machine on one side. On the other side Ganga Bai’s golden earring, along with a tulsi leaf was kept. King returned with the replica of Lord Ranchora Rai. Slowly the weight was balanced. This is how Lord Dwarkadhish left Dwarka and started residing in Dakor as per His promise made to Danka Muni.
Festivals celebrated in the temple of Sri Ranchhodraiji in Dakor
This temple is the hub of regular festivities. Some of the prominent festivals celebrated in this temple are:
This is a very important and the grand festival because Ranchora Raya was brought from Dwarka to Dakor on this day in the year 1212. On this day, the Deity is given panchamrita abhisheka and thereby adorned with clothes with white jari and a big precious stones studded crown. After dressing, tilaka is applied on Lord’s forehead and then the food offering is made. Devotees can have darshana of this shringar only till shayana-arati. Many devotees throng the temple on this day to have darshana of the Lord.
This festival is celebrated from Ekadashi till Dhuleti. Lakhs of devotees from all over Gujarat throng the temple to have darshan of Sri Ranchora Raya. Devotees even come by walk from various places. Devotees dance on the tunes of bhajans accompanied by mridanga, table, kartala, bugle, harmonium, etc. The whole hall resonates with ‘Jay Ranchor, Makhan Chor’. Close to 1 ton of gulal is aired on devotees. The twelve colored water; water mixed with saffron from the shringar bhoga of the Lord, is sprinkled on the devotees using pichkari. Dhani and khajur are used in the bhoga of the Lord.
On this day, after the rajbhog, Lord is anointed with sandal wood pulp mixed with saffron and other herbs. This goes on till the purnima. A Jal-yatra is celebrated on the purnima. Lord Ranchor takes bath with saffron mixed water and other fragrant herbs. Ripened mangoes are one of the offerings of Lord Ranchor.
Sri Krishna Janmashtami
The birthday of Lord Sri Krishna is celebrated with great pomp. Lord is given panchamrita abhisheka throughout the day. In the night Lord is given bath with sandal paste and amla. For thirteen days the Lord is kept in the swing. Throughout the festival, Lord is adorned with the clothes of different colors and also the weapons.
This festival is celebrated for five days. On the day of Ekadashi Lord wears black clothes, Dwadashi – yellow jari clothes, Trayodashi – green clothes, Chaturdashi – red clothes and finally on Diwali – white clothes. Lord receives the grandest shringar with 250 jewelries and a crown worth rupees fifty lakh. Eight hundred lamps are lit in the temple. Annakuta is also celebrated in a grand way.
Other festivals are Rama-navami, Chaitra-punam, Ratha-yatra, Shravani-purnima, Dusshera, Sharad-purnima, Tulsi-shaligrama vivaha, vasanta Panchami
Lord Ranchhodraiji gives eight darshan during the day:
Mangala Darshan – 06:45 AM
Bal Bhog Darshan – 08:30 AM
Shringar Bhog Darshan – 09:30 AM
Gwal Bhog Darshan – 10:15 AM
Rajbhog Darshan – 11:30 AM
Utthapan Darshan – 04:15 PM
Shayan Darshan – 05:25 PM
Sakdi Bhog Darshan – 07:00 PM
Live Darshan of Sri Ranchhodraiji
For live darshan of the Lord visit the official website of Sri Ranchhodraiji.
Other places to visit in Dakor
The temple of Mahalakshmi is situated a kilometer far away from the temple in the northern direction of the temple. One has to walk to reach this temple.
House of Bodana
Opposite to the temple of Mahalakshmi is the house of Bodana and Ganga Bai. Lord Ranchhodraiji was worshiped in this house before the Deity was moved to the current temple. Inside the house is a place where the Deity was hidden and was worshiped by Bodana’s wife.
This sacred pond is situated right opposite to the entrance of Sri Ranchhodraiji temple. The Deity was hidden in this pond by Bodana. It is a very beautiful pond surrounded by twelve ghats. The place where the Deity of Ranchora Rai was hidden is in the middle called Padmachinha. The place where the Deity was weighed is known as Tula Ovara (ghat).
Dankanath Mahadev Temple
This temple which was made by Dankamuni is very old and is near the Eshwar Ovara. The shiva-linga is installed below the Earth.
Important tips while visiting Dakor
- Dakor is famous for the prasadam of Sri Ranchhodraiji. One can buy prasadam at cheaper rates. This prasadam is available in the parikrama marg of the altar. There are varieties of sweets and savories available. You can purchase even pickle offered to Ranchhodraiji.
- Slipper stand is within the temple immediately after entering the gate.
- There are separate queues for men and women. Women are allowed closer darshan of the Lord.
- Vehicles are not allowed in the temple vicinity – the buses, etc. There is no parking near the temple. You have to park the vehicle a kilometer away from Dakor and enter the city by walk or the local autos.
- There is a vast market surrounding the temple. For shoppers it is a haven. The market is quite cheap.
- There are toilet facilities within the temple. However they are not very clean. The public toilets are even dirtier.
- How to reach Dakor
Dakor can be reached from Ahmedabad by road easily. There are regular government buses from the city bus stand. One can also book a taxi or cab or an auto to reach the temple.
Tirth Dham Dakor by Sastum Pustak Bhandar.
Artists hold the copyrights of their sketches.4