Junagadh, an ancient fortified city rich in myth and legend 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 ruled by several dynasties of rulers such as Mauryas, Greeks, Kshtrapas and Guptas. Stippled with hills, the medieval city of Junagadh derives its name from an old fort called by the same name. Apart from being a place of Pilgrimage, it is 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 a place of pilgrimage and has produced a number of saints in its long history. The most famous being the Gujarati saint-poet, Narsimha Mehta. Junagadh is a veritable treasure trove of ancient Temples, Museums, Palaces and Caves. Every Monument will remind you of the grandeur of the Nawabs who once ruled Junagadh. The famous rock edicts of Ashoka and the Girnar Temples are popular attractions.
Rajkot: 99 Kms
Sasangir: 58 Kms
Somnath: 92 Kms
Porbandar: 107 Kms
Palitana: 213 Kms
Jamnagar: 184 Kms
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.
Somnath holds one of the twelve most holy temples in India, the shrines being dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated at around 80 km from Junagadh.
Famous in the bygone times for its virtual inaccessibility, the Upar Kot or the Upper Fort is girdled by a wall that is in some places, over 200 meters high. An ornate entrance gateway leads to the ruins. A mosque still stands in a state of preservation.
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.
Is mausoleum of one of the Nawabs of Junagadh dazzles with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiraling stairways.
Prettily situated on the bank of the Gondli River, this seat of erstwhile State of Gondal is famous for its Naulakha Palace and the Riverside Palace of the erstwhile Maharaja, which have now been made into Heritage Hotels.
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 Junagadh jail.
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.
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.
66 kilometers from Junagadh and 23 kilometers from the fishing centre of Veraval, Chorwad is a delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat. An excellent road connects to Junagadh, Girnar, the Gir Forest sanctuary and the famous temple of Somnath.
Gir wild Sanctuary:
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.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Nearest airport Keshod 37 Kms & Rajkot 99 Kms. Rajkot is connected to Mumbai by Indian Airlines flights.
Rail: train to Ahmedabad connects Junagadh.
Road: G.S.R.T.C. bus services connect Junagadh with Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, Gir, Rajkot, Bhuj, Dwarka, Somnath, Palitana, Surat, Vadodara, and Porandar.
Local Transport: Taxis, Auto-rickshaws, Tongas & City Bus services available.