General Information about Junagadh
Junagadh was the capital of the Junagadh state under the Muslim rulers of Babi Nawabs. In Gujarati, “Junagadh” means an ancient fort. The town takes its name from the fort that enclosed the medieval town. It is situated in the Saurashtra region at the foothills of the Mount Girnar and occupies a special place in the history of Gujarat.
The town of Junagadh is beautiful with very wide streets, arches, shopping arcades and cool gardens. Its splendour is more like an English city rather than a city in the remote corner of Gujarat. Various ancient temples, museums, forts and palaces are the major interesting monuments located in Junagadh. History of Junagadh
The history of Junagadh can be known by the rule of the Mauryans, Kashatrapas, Guptas, Vallabhas, Babi Nawab, Chaudasamas, Gujarat Sultans. In the earlier periods, Junagadh was under the influence of four major religions mainly, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Muslims. Both, political powers and religious influences enriched the culture and created fantastic edifices leaving their mark on the architecture of Junagadh.
The Nawab Mahobat Khan II beautified Junagadh and patronized the construction of several buildings and urban projects like Aina Mahal, Circle Chowk with clock tower and Dewan Chowk. Some of the other buildings of the Nawabi period are the Bahauddin College, Manoranjan Guest House, Mahobat Madarsa (Narsi Vidya Mandir) and the maqbaras (mausoleums) of the royal family. All the architectural elements are highly decorative and reminds one of the last phase of architecture of Lucknow.
The 14 rock edicts 256-57 BC of the great Emperor Ashoka, inscription by King Rudradaman and Skandagupta are the proof of importance of Junagadh from the ancient times. This city was also home of one of the great poets of India, Narsinh Mehta.
How to reach Junagadh
The nearest airport is located at Keshod and Porbandar which are about 40 and 113 kms. respectively.
The railway station is located on the Ahmedabad – Junagadh and Rajkot – Junagadh line.
Junagadh is connected with various major cities in Gujarat like Rajkot, Porbandar and Ahmedabad
Tourist Attractions in Junagadh
Mahabat Maqbara is a stunning mausoleum of one of the Nawabs of Junagadh. This mausoleum is one of the Gujarat’s most glorious examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. This mausoleum was built in 1892 and topped with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiraling stairways. This mosque is generally locked.
Narsinh Mehta’s Choro
Narsinh Mehta’s Choro is a great revered place where the great poet and saint Narsinh Mehta used to hold his assemblies, religious discourses and Bhajans in the 15th century. There is a small temple of Gopinath and the idol of Shri Damodar Raiji and Narsinh Mehta. Narsinh Mehta was one of the great poets of India. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and a scholar, philosopher and a social reformer.
Durbar Hall Museum
Durbar Hall Museum houses a large collection of silver chains, chandeliers, thrones, palanquins, weapons and armour from the days of the Nawabs. There is also a portrait gallery of the Nawabs. This museum was once the hall where the Nawabs held their Darbars (assemblies).
Mount Girnar is one of the hill in Ahmedabad which is most sacred to the Jain community. This hill rises to a height of more than 600 m, a climb marked by 10,000 stone-steps. On this hill various Hindu and five Jain temples are located. There is a group of 16 Jain temples on the hill. This sacred hill is visited by millions of Hindus and Jains.
The Amba Mata temple is situated on the top of the hill. The newly weds came here and worship the Amba Mata in order to ensure a happy marriage. One of the largest and the oldest Jain temple, dedicated to the Neminath, the 22nd Jain Tirthankar and the Mallinath, the 19th Jain Tirthankar are situated just below the Amba Mata temple.
There is an image of Neminath in each of the courtyard colonnade’s 70 cells. This temple was built in the 12th century. The corbelled domes, maidens and flying figures as decoration are typical of the Solanki period. A popular fair is also held here during the Kartika Purnima festival in November – December.
Besides this the Bhavnath temple of Hindus is also located on this hill. The Bhavnath temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The Mahashivaratri fair held here is attended by Nagasadhus and pilgrims from all over India. When a traveler to Gujarat, Joss Graham, climbed up the hill for the festival of Shivaratri, he slept there overnight.
He woke up on hearing the praying murmurs of the great mass of devotees, about 100,000 of them in their communities and tribal groups. There is also the temple of Samprati Raja, a fine example of the later period and the Melak Vasahi temple.
Damodar Kund is a holy water reservoir that marks the ascent to the Girnar temples. It is surrounded by a well-built ghat. It is believed that here Lord Krishna placed a flower garland around the neck of the great poet and saint Narsinh Mehta.
Ashoka’s Rock Edicts
Ashoka’s Rock Edicts are located on the route to the Mount Girnar hill. This rock edict is a huge boulder that is housed in a small roadside building. On the rock edicts the fourteen Edicts of Emperor Ashoka are inscribed. The inscriptions carry Brahmi script in Pali language and belongs to 250 BC. On the same rock the inscriptions in the Sanskrit language are also inscribed.
The Ashoka’s Rock Edicts incorporate moral lectures. The emperor Ashoka began the stone written history of Junagadh on this boulder. His 14 edicts in Pali states that he, the Beloved of the Gods, looks after all his subjects.
The Jama Masjid is built inside the Upperkot Fort in Junagadh. This mosque was built from a demolished Hindu temple and has an interior filled with columns. Upperkot Fort Upperkot Fort, also known as the Upper Fort is located on the eastern side of Junagadh.
This fort was built in 319 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, though it has been rebuilt and extended many times over the centuries. During the period, various enemies tried to capture the fort but it can not be captured by any of the king for a longer time. The king of Anhilwad Patan once attacked Junagadh to win the Raja’s wife. He won the battle only because one of the Raja’s ministers betrayed him, but he could not win the wife of the Raja as she committed Sati.
It was the stronghold of the Mauryans and Gupta empire and as such has survived for 16 sieges in the last 1000 years due to its strategic location and difficult access. The entrance to the fort is formed by an ornate triple gateway. This gateway is like the Hindu Toran, leading to flat land dotted with various archeological sites. In some of the places, the walls of this fort are as high as 70 feet.
The fort has many interesting exhibits like the canon guns placed on the western wall and believed to have been cast in Egypt. The two step wells (Adi-Kadi Vav and Navghan Kuvo), a tomb, mosque and some ancient Buddhist caves belonging to 200 BC to 200 AD are located within the fort premises. Now only, some of the ruins of the buildings, Jama Masjid and the Buddhist caves are located within the fort premises.
Adi-Kadi Vav and Navghan Kuvo are the two step wells which are located within the fort. These wells were built by the Chudasama Rajputs and are the unique water structures among the various step wells of Gujarat. Both these wells served as the main sources of drinking water for years and were the essential part of the basic need of the fort. The Adi-Kadi Vav has a long flight of 120 steps which lead to the water and was built in the 15th century.
While the Navghan Kuvo of 1026 AD is built from soft rock and is 52 meter deep, reached by a circular staircase winding around the shaft. The Buddhist caves are fine examples of rock cut architecture. These caves have ornamented pillars, carved entrances, water cisterns, chaitya hall, monastic cells for meditation and chaitya windows.