Junagadh – Gujarat

The friendly town of Junagadh has some interesting sites. The pilgrimage site of Mount Girnar is a popular place to visit. An old wall, much of which is now missing, surrounds the city. Not many foreign visitors come here, and it is a relatively hassle-free place.

Junagadh was the capital of Gujarat under the Kshatrapa rulers from the 2nd to 4th centuries. The Chadva Rajputs ruled from Junagadh from 875 AD. Eventually the city came under the rule of the Muslims. At Independence, the Muslim ruler wanted Junagadh to become part of Pakistan, but the city’s Hindu majority exiled him.

Mount Girnar
Girnar Mountain is about 1100m (3630 ft) high and is an extinct volcano. It is said that Mount Girnar was once a flying mountain. It is 4km east of Junagadh and is the main tourist attraction in the area.

On the plateau about 180m (600 ft) from the top of the hill, is a group ofbeautifully carved Jain temples built between 1128 and 1500.Neminath, the 22nd tirthankara, is said to have died on Mount Girnar after living here for 700 years. There is a special marble temple dedicated to him here, and a black marble statue of him. The Mallinath Temple (1177) is impressive.

On top of the hill is a small Vishnu temple dedicated to Dattatreya. There is also a temple dedicated to the goddess Amba Mata dating back to the 12th century. It is said that a visit to this temple guarantees a happy marriage. There are good views from the top of the mountain.

The steps go down and up again to Gorakhnath Peak at 1100m (3666 ft), where there are footprints of the rishi Gorakhnath. There is another peak where there are footprints of Neminath. Further on is a goddess Kalika shrine.

Visitors must climb 5,500 steps to reach the top of the hill, so it is best to start early in the morning (before 7 am). It is a difficult two-hour climb. Hundreds of people climb this hill every day. There are many stalls selling cold drinks along the way, but none selling bottled water, so bring your own.

You are allowed to wear shoes to walk up the hill. There are buses from downtown (near the post office) or from the local bus stand (hourly, Rs 3, buses #3 and #4) to the foot of the hill. You can take a rickshaw for Rs 35.

Damodara Kund
This kund is about a km before the bottom of Girnar Hill. It is a sacred bathing tank. Close to Damodara Kund is Revati Kund. It is said that Revata left Dwarka and moved near Girnar Hill after his daughter, Revati, married Lord Balarama.
Near Aswatthama Hill, which is north of Damodara Kund, is the Damodarji Temple, said to have been built by Vajranabha, Lord Krishna’s great-grandson.

Uperkot Fort
Uperkot is an impressive fort located on a plateau in the middle of town. It was originally built in 319 BC. It was covered over for 300 years, then rediscovered in 976 AD. It was besieged 16 times over an 800-year period. One siege lasted twelve years, but was not successful.

Visitors enter the fort through a large gate. Some parts of the fort’s walls are 20m high. If, after entering the gate you turn left, you will come toJama Masjid, which was built on top of a Hindu temple. It has 140 pillars supporting its ceiling.
Further down the road are what are believed to be old Buddhist Cavessaid to be 1,500 years old (dating from before 500 AD). They are carved into the rocky hill and have stone carvings and floral work. There are also the Khapra Kodia Caves north of the fort, and the Babupyana Caves south of the fort.

There is a huge, fifteen-foot cannon, which was made in Egypt in 1531. There are also two interesting large step wells (vavs) here. The 11th century Navghan Kuva has a circular stairway that descends over 50m down into the well. The Adi Chadi Vav descends down 170 steps.

There is also a garden up the stairs to your right from the main gate, which is a good place to rest after walking around the fort. Open daily 6 am to 7 pm. Admission Rs 1.

Durbar Hall & Museum
The Durbar Hall and Museum has an interesting collection of weapons, thrones, silver articles, costumes, paintings, tapestries, and palanquins on display. It is not far from the entrance to the fort. Open daily except Wed 9 am to 12:15 pm and 3 to 6 pm. Closed holidays and the 2nd and 4th Sat of each month.

Ashokan Edicts
About 2km east of Junagadh and 6km from the foot of Girnar Hill, between the two places, is an edict of Emperor Ashok inscribed on a rock dating from the 3rd century BC.

The edicts impart moral instructions on dharma, harmony, tolerance, and peace. It is in a small modern building to your right, on the way to Girnar Hill. Open 9 am to noon and 3 to 6 pm.

Mahabat Muqbara
This impressive mausoleum has splendid arches, many domes, and towering minarets. The architecture is detailed and opulently done. It has finely carved silver doors. There is a mosque next to it. It is located on Mahatma Gandhi Rd, near the railway station.

Sakar Bagh
Sakar Bagh is a garden located 4km north of the downtown area of Junagadh. The small Junagadh Zoo at Sakar Bagh has Gir lions, tigers, leopards, and other animals. Open daily 9 am to 6 pm.

There is the Junagadh Museum here containing archeological items, manuscripts, and statues. Open daily except Wed 9 am to 12:15 pm and 3 to 6 pm.

Bus The Central bus stand is just west of Chittakhana Chowk. Buses go to Veraval (Somnath) (2½ hr, every 2 hr), Porbandar (2 hr, every half-hour), Sasan Gir (2 hr, every hour) and Rajkot (2 hr, every half-hour, 6 am to midnight). There are private bus companies along Dhal Rd, with good buses and minivans traveling to locations all over Gujarat.

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