Junagadh, an ancient city, is situated in erstwhile Saurashtra, at the foot of Mount Girnar on the northern fringes of the Gir forest . Through various phases of history, Junagadh is described with equal importance and for many centuries it was the capital of the western region of Gujarat. Stippled with hills, the medieval city of Junagadh derives its name from an old fort called by the same name. Junagadh is a place of pilgrimage and has produced a number of saints in its long histroy. The most famous being the Gujarati saint-poet, Narsimha Mehta. It is also a wonderful nature reserve for various flora and fauna. It is also one of the few places where lions still roam free as, it is the abode of the majestic Asiatic Lion. Junagadh is an ancient city of temples, museums, palaces and caves. Every monument reminds its great history. Best Season to visit Junagadh is between October to April. The 'Bhavnath Fair' is held during the month of January/February at Junagarh.
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Ashokan Rock Edicts , Uperkot Fort , Narsinh Mehtas Choro, Buddhist Caves, Mahabat Maqbara, Sakkarbaug Zoo , Temple of Amba Mata ,Temple of Mallinath, Junagarh Museum, Damodar Kund, Darbar Hall Museum, Ayurvedic College
On the way to Girnar, there is a huge boulder, housed in a small roadside building, on which are fourteen Rock Edicts inscribed by Emperor Ashoka. The inscriptions are written in Brahmi script in Pali language and date back to 250 B.C. The fourteen edicts of Emperor Ashoka are actually moral lectures. The fourteen edicts of Emperor Ashoka are moral lectures. The edicts record the following orders:
- Human beings shall not be sacrificed. Futile festivities and gatherings to be banned.
- Setting up of medical facilities for humans and animals.
- Instructing government servants to perform their duties.
- Elaboration of edict 3.
- Dharma Mahamantris to enforce edicts.
- Unlimited access to the King for all subjects.
- All religions to live in harmony.
- No hunting or pleasure tours; tours being only for Dharma.
- Superstitious rituals being dismissed as trivial and meaningless.
- Saying no to corruption.
- Listing of the dharmic acts that produce great results; what one should do for friends, relatives, and well-wishers.
- All sects to be honoured.
- Dharma is the most important thing in life.
- An epilogue of the preceding 13 edicts, it surveys their compositional features.
These edicts, preserved in the Girnar hills, bear testimony to the benevolent attitude and activities of the Emperor. On the same rock are inscriptions in Sanskrit added around 150 A.D. by Rudradama and in about 450 A.D. by Skandagupta, the last emperor of the Mauryas.
It has a fort, which stands, upon a plateau. It has Jama Masjid, which was built by using the remains of the destroyed Ranakdevi Mahal and Tomb of Nuri Shah. It is known as the Uperkot fort and was built by Chandragupta Maurya in 319 BC. It has an extensively carved and decorated triple gateway and was a stronghold of the Mauryas as well as the Gupta Kings. It has been attacked at least 16 times and one of the times the attack continued for a period of 12 years. It is said to have remained abandoned for about 300 years from the 7th to the 10th century AD. It contains a 'baoli' or stepwell called 'Adi Chadi Vav'. This well has a spiral staircase and 172 steps. Two slave girls had been bricked up as a sacrifice so that the well may continue to supply water. Another stepwell is the Navghan Kuva' It is 52m. deep and was built in the later half of the 11th century. The west wall of the fort has a couple of guns, the larger of which was cast in Egypt in 1531. The smaller is called 'Chudanal' where as the larger is known as ' Nilam'. The Turkish Adminal Sulaiman Pasha left them for the local ruler. He used it to repel the Portuguese. Near the fort lies the 'Buddhist Care Monastery'. They date back to the time of Emperor Ashoka. The cave has a gallery with pillars carved out of the rocks. The ventilation as well as the drainage system is quite advanced. The ventilation has managed to balance the movement of breezes within the monastery and keep it a cool place even during the hot summers.
Narsinh Mehtas Choro
This humble but greatly revered place is said to be the one where the great poet-saint Narsinh Mehta used to hold his assemblies and discourses in the 15th century. There is a small temple of Gophnath and the idol of Shri Damodarraiji and Narsinh Mehta.
The Buddhist Caves form an important rock-cut group of the caves of Junagadh. The caves, scooped in three tiers, are situated on the descent from the Jami Masjid. The central section of the lowest storey has a main hall that is open to the sky. The base, shaft and capital of the carved pillars carry unique designs.
It is mausoleum of one of the nawabs of Junagadh dazzles with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiralling stairways.
The zoo of Junagadh, the oldest zoo in Gujarat, is home to the famous Gir lions, tigers and leopards. This zoo was set up in 1863 AD by the Nawab, to save the Asiatic lion from extinction. Besides lions, there are also tigers, leopards, bears, jackals, wild ass, snakes and birds. An open zoo has also been developed over 500 acres of land.
Temple of Amba Mata
Situated on top of the peak, this is the temple where newly weds go to worship in order to ensure a happy marriage. The Temple is dedicated to Goddess Ambaji. It is situated on the Arasur Hill, and can be approached by raod from Abu Rd. In Rajasthan, as well as from all other important places in Gujarat. Folk drama called 'Bhavai' is performed in the courtyards of the temple. The Kumbhariya Jain temples are located just 3 km from here.
Temple of Mallinath
Erected in 1177 A.D. two brothers, this is the triple temple of Mallinath, the 9th Jain Tirthankara. This temple is a favourite gathering place of sadhus (ascetics) during festivals. A grand fair is held here during the Kartika Purnima festival in Nov-Dec.
At the zoo is a museum, which exhibits rare specimens of art like manuscripts, ancient coins, paintings, archaeological files and a natural history section.
Housed at Sadarbag, in the palace of a former Nawab, is a small museum of Ayurvedic medicine.
Durbar Hall Museum
The museum displays weapons and armour from the days of the Nawabs and many other curios and artifacts. A quick foray into the museum will reveal silver chains, chandeliers, settees, thrones, palanquins, howdahs, cushions, gowns and a large carpet that was woven in the Junagarh jail. This is the hall where the Nawabs of erstwhile Junagadh used to hold their darbars. It has several sections such as picture gallery, palanquin, arms Gallery etc.
This holy and lovely water reservoir has a Kund surrounded by a well-built ghat (bathing deck). It is believed that here Lord Krishna placed a flower garland around the neck of the great poet-saint Narsinh Mehta.
66 kilometres from Junagadh and 23 kilometres from the fishing centre of Veraval, Chorwad is a delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat. The only beach in India where you can live in the timeless splendour of a palace built amidst soft golden sand facing the beach. It was built by the former Nawabs of Junagadh. The nearest Airport is Keshod. An excellent road connects to Junagarh, Girnar, the Gir Forest sanctuary and the famous temple of Somnath.
It is a steep-sided extinct volcano, 4 kms away from Nagadh at the height of over 1,100 m. It is a major pilgrimage centre for both Jains and Hindus and has been considered sacred since before the 3rd century BC. Buses leave from Junagadh's local depot hourly, dropping passengers at the mountain base, from where five thousand irregular steps lead to the summit.
The Jains call it Mt. Neminath. According to traditional history, Siddhas have used it as a retreat to undertake tapasya since ancient times. Girnar was known by different names at different periods-Ujjayant, Manipur, Chandraketupur, Raivat Nagar, Puratanpur, Girivar and Girnar. Of the sever peaks five are important Amba Mata, Gorakhnath, Augadh, Guru Datatreya and Kalika. The pilgrims have to climb 4000 steps to reach the top. There are five important Jain temples, besides several Hindu shrines. The most prominent Jain shrine is the rectangular Neminath temple which was completed between 1128 CE and 1159 CE. Neminath (the 19th Tirthankar) is carved in black marble with jewelled eyes. The courtyard is filled with sculptures. Further up is the Amba temple. Newlyweds who seek Mataji's blessings for a happy married life frequent it. The Mallinath temple dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankar was built in 1231 CE by Vastupal and Tejpal. Neminath is shown in blue colour. The Rishabliadev temple in golden colour has 24 Tirthankars. The Parshwanath temple was built in the 15th century. It is known as Meravasi. The Dattatreya hill is half way down the temple cluster. It is best to start the climb in the morning. Bhavnath Shiv temple is the first shrine on the upward path. Bharitrihari cave, Sorath Mahal, Bhim Kund and Suryakund are the other important places. Gomukkhi Kund has pellucid water fed by a mountain stream. Hanuman Dharaand Kamandal are the other attraction.
Sprawling in an area of 1424 sq. kms, Gir with its dry deciduous forest is a luxuriantly rich ecosystem- endowed with floral and faunal plentitude. Thirty species of mammals, twenty species of reptiles, several species of insects and birds are found here. The forest is the only place in the world, outside Africa, where the lion can be seen in its natural habitat. Gir, the last refuge of the king of the jungle, is one of the largest and most important wildlife sanctuaries in India. The Gir National Park, was established on 18th September, 1965, as a Forest Reserve, primarily to conserve the Asiatic lion. It is located in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, about 65 km south-east of Junagadh city, and 90 km east of Keshod Airport, in the Kathiawar (Saurashtra) Peninsula. Sasan, with a forest rest-house, is the headquarters of the sanctuary. It is a hilly tract with plenty of rivers, and offers the visitor long pleasant drives, through the thick forest cover. It is the only remaining habitat of the Asiatic lion, which has been confined to this forest, since 1884 ( about 239 lions were reported in 1985 ).The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than its African cousin, nevertheless, a large male lion of the Gir is quite a sight to behold. The best way to observe the big cats is, of course, in their natural surroundings, at dawn and dusk, when they are on the prowl. The Forest Department does arrange lion shows every Sunday, where the spectators can watch prides of lions on the hunt. The chinkara, wild boar, striped hyena, jackal, common langur, porcupine, hare, black buck, are the other animals, that can be found in this sanctuary. There are over 200 bird species including the peafowl, grey partridge, Bonelli's eagle, crested serpent eagle, jungle bush quail, painted sandgrouse, common green pigeon and several species of doves. The Gir is also home to the marsh crocodile, which can be sighted easily in its rivers, particularly in the lake of the Kamaleshwar dam. There is also a crocodile breeding farm at Sasan. The Gir is steeped in history and folklore. It boasts of temples of great antiquity, like Kankai Mata and Tulsishyam, a place of pilgrimage with hot springs. The forest is famous for its cattle herders, the Madharis, whose buffaloes form a substantial part of the lions' meals. Extremely hospitable, the Madharis are herders, whose lifestyle has changed little over the years, and their folklore and traditions are a unique record of coexistence of humans with lions. The sanctuary remains closed from June to October and the ideal time to visit is between December and March. The Park is closed during monsoon till mid-October.
Situated in Junagadh, near the port town of Veraval, Somnath is probably one of the best-known pilgrimage centers of Gujarat. It is is famous in the world for its Somnath temple. Best time to visit this place is between November to February. Somnath also known as Prabhas Patan has religious and historical significance.
The Somnath Temple , Bhalka Tirth, Dehotsarg, Rani ahalyabai Temple, Vallabhacharya's Baithak
The Somnath Temple
The Temple has one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or Shiva shrines and is one of the most important pilgrim centres for Hindus. According to legend, Somnath was built by Some, the moon God. Constantly washed by the Arabian sea, the temples of Somnath were destroyed seven times but were rebuilt each time. Relics of old Somnath temple have been preserved in a museum. The Someshwar Mahadev temple stands tall among the temples of India. The construction of the present temple in Junagadh district began in 1950. It is the seventh temple built to commemorate the glory of Lord Somnath. According to legend, Soma, the moon God built the temple in gold, Ravan in silver, Krishna in wood and king Bhimdev of Anhilwad in stone. Soma constructed the temple as a gesture after Lord Shiva cured him of his illness. This illness was caused by his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati's curse. Daksha cursed him to wane as he was infatuated with Rohini and was neglecting the other 26 wives, all 26 of whom were the daughters of Prajapati. It is said that Brahma advised him to build the temple in honour of Shiva. In the first phase of construction the shikhar portion, the sanctum sanctorum and the sabha mandap (assembly hall) were built. The nritya mandap (the dancing hall) was built later. The temple has been constructed in the Solanki style. The pinnacle rides to a height of 155 feet. The kalash atop the shikhar weighs 10 tonnes. The flag- mast is 37 feet long. These details give an idea of the size of the temple.
It has been a reclining statue of Lord Krishna, signifying his death by a arrow of a Bhil hunter,who mistook him for a deer.
Dehotsarg at Triveni Ghat is believed to be the site of Krishna's cremation. The Ahir women of this area wear black, even today.
Vallabhacharya's Baithak is also there at Prabhas Patan.
Rani ahalyabai Temple
Rani Ahalyabai of Indore constructed a temple near the old temple and worship is offered there ever since. The temple is so situated that there is no land from here to the South Pole. An arrow indicates the direction.
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