States of India
Population : 1.67 lakh
Position : Ranging between 20 - 28 deg cel in winters and 28 - 34 deg cel in summers
Languages Spoken : Gujarati, Hindi, English
Junagadh lies at the foot of Girnar Hills and takes its name from the 'Old Fort', which circles the medieval town. The city is a great introduction to princely Gujarat-a former Nawabi capital, filled with palaces, minarets and colonial period buildings. Junagadh offers a tremendous variety of monuments, museums and wildlife, and a unique atmosphere of the Nawabi period like a miniature Hyderabad. Its fun to amble through the town's lively bazaars with a mixture of Buddhist monuments, Hindu Temples, Mosques, bold gothic archways and mansions. Junagadh is a exciting city to explore for anyone with an interest in architecture and a taste for history. The name of Junagadh itself evokes visions of old forts and medieval walls, palaces and tombs. The city is best known for its association with emperor Ashoka who carved inscriptions preaching the Buddhist philosophy of ethical conquest rather than military conquest.
Places of Interest:
Mount Girnar :
It is a steep sided extinct volcano, 4 kms away from Junagadh at the height of over 1,100 m. It is a pilgrimage place for both Jains and Hindus. The best time to visit Girnar is early in the morning. The temple comprises of a vast complex of courtyards, cloisters, lesser shrines, exquisite carving on its pillars and the domed roofs, decorated with unusual colored mosaic. The hill, ascended by 7,500 steps, is reputedly covered with medicinal herbs. Equally important, it holds the shrine of many faiths. There is a Muslim Mosque at the foot of the flight: 4,500 steps up is a Jain temple: a thousand steps further is the temple of Ambaji. and at the very top is the great temple of Guru Dattatraya.
This mousoleum of one of the nawabs of Junagadh dazzles with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiralling stairways. This complex was started in 1878 by Mahabat Khanji and completed by his successor, Bahadur Khanji and enshrined also Rasul Khanji in 1911. Beside the Maqbara is the Jumma mosque, which dates to 1886-97 and has geometric rows of coloured pillars leading to a cool marble minar, and an Islamic religious school.
Ashoka's Rock Eddicts :
One of the major sets of rock eddicts of Ashoka is still legibly inscribed on a rock on the outskirts of Junagadh, on the way to the Girnar Hill Temples. On a huge boulder emperor Ashoka enscribed 14 edicts in around 250 B.C. The inscription is in Pali script. The 16 principals preach virtues like mastery of the senses, purity of thought, gratitute, devotion, self control, secular thinking and kindness, while oposing animal sacrifice and greed. Later sanskrit inscriptions were added around 150 A.D by Rudradama and in about 450 A.D by Skandagupta.
The walled fortress of Uparkot, witnessed every change in the lifestyle of Junagadh from Monastic Buddhism, Aryan Hinduism, Pious Jainism, Islamic invasions, British colonisation, the Nawabi spendour and finally, the victory of democracy. An ornate entrance gateway leads to the ruins. A mosque still stands in a state of preservation. A Nilamtope (canon) was acquired by the Nawab of Junagadh from a Turkish Sultan. There are also two stepwells, Jami Masjid and Buddhist caves monastery in the fort premises.
Darbar Hall Museum :
This is another of Junagadh's half-derelict monuments. The museum has the usual display of weapons and armour from the days of the nawabs, together with their collections of silver chains and chandeliers, and a few cushions and gowns. There's a portrait gallery of the nawabs and petty princes, including photographs of the last nawab with his numerous dogs.
Endowed with beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut trees the town finds mention in scriptures as that of great antiquity, for it is believed that Krishna had married Rukmini at this place, the legend kept alive by the Mer community by holding a fair on Chaitra Sud 12 every year. The Haveli temple of Madhavraiji is the chief attraction.