Junagadh is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities of Gujarat. So much so, that the Gujarati diaspora across the world associate Junagadh culture, food, and practices with the quintessential spirit of Gujarat. Located in the Saurashtra region, Junagadh is famous for its fort, its markets, the song-dance culture, the spices and pickles, and for the friendly people.
The history of Junagadh dates back many centuries. The Mauryan king Chandragupta Maurya constructed the famous Junagadh Fort here as far back as 319 BC. After seeing some glorious days in the Mauryan period, it became part of the Gupta, and the Solanki empires. The state was later ruled by the Vallabhas, Babi Nawab, Chaudasamas, and the Sultans of Gujarat. The great influences exerted by the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Jains have enriched the composite culture of this state and made it a cosmopolitan one. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Gujarat.
How to Get to Junagadh
Junagadh is the headquarters of the Junagadh District in Gujarat and one of the state’s largest towns. The roadways of Gujarat are very well developed and regular bus services connect Junagadh town with a number of important cities such as Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Jamnagar, Mumbai, and Pune. The city also has a railway junction that offers rail connectivity to almost all parts of western India. Air connectivity is offered by Porbandar Airport (about 86 kilometres away), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport Ahmedabad (about 320 kilometres away), Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai (about 373 kilometres away).
Places of Interest in Junagadh
Uparkot Fort – The Uparkot Fort is the grand attraction of Junagadh town. Located right in the middle of the town, this fort was originally built by the Maurya kings of 3rd century BC but was renovated and added to by the subsequent rulers of the region. It is a heritage monument and a testimony to the glorious history of this kingdom.
Jama Masjid – The Jama Masjid of Junagadh is a very renowned one, quite like the one in Delhi. Built in 1423, it is a masterpiece of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The towering domes and the pillared interiors make it a beautiful structure.
Durbar Hall Museum – The Darbar Hall Museum, built in 1947 is home to a huge collection of almost 3000 paintings, photographs, relics, and other artefacts from Junagadh. Most of the items exhibited here come from the royal families that ruled over the state.
Mahabat Maqbara – Built sometime in the 1890s, the stunning Mahabat Maqbara of Junagadh is the mausoleum of Bahaddudinbhai Hasainbhai, a Nawab of Junagadh. The maqbara is best known for seamlessly blending Hindu, Islamic, and European styles of architecture.
Damodar Kund Reservoir – The Damodar Kund is a natural and beautiful reservoir that marks the fringes of the Girnar. The reservoir is believed to have been frequented by the famous poet Narasinh Mehta many centuries ago.
Asoka’s Rock Edicts – On the way to Girnar Hill from Junagadh town, there is a repository of 14 rock edicts commissioned by Emperor Asoka of the Mauryan dynasty. The edicts speak of Asoka’s learnings (ahimsa and harmony).
Goddess Ambe Temple – The temple dedicated to the Goddess Ambe in Junagadh is a popular one and attracts thousands of devotees during the navratras. The sprawling white temple is a beauty to behold.
Girnar – The Girnar Hill is considered sacred both by the Hindus and Jains alike. Devout Hindus and Jains climb the 9,999 steps leading up to the peak. Somewhere midway is a complex of Jain temples which are places of religious significance but are also known for their beauty and architecture.. Perched right atop the Girnar is a temple dedicated to the Hindu saint-god Dattatreya. The temple is known for its spiritual energy and is frequently visited by ascetics from all over the country.
Sakkarbaug Zoo – The Sakkarbaug Zoo, also called the Junagadh Zoo, is one of the cleanest and best maintained anywhere in the country. The Asiatic lions and the white tigers in the zoo are among its main attractions.
Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary – One of the most famous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in india, Gir is home to the Asiatic Lion – a majestic species that has become extinct in all other habitats in Asia.
Somnath Temple – The Somnath temple near Junagadh is the first among the twelve sacred Shiva shrines called the Jyotirlingas. This temple is believed to have existed since recorded history. Girsomnath, the region in which the temple is recorded was part of Junagadh till 2013 when it was split into a separate district.
Other places to visit in and around Junagadh –
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Junagadh)
Narsinh Mehta’s Choro (Junagadh)
Sarkhadiya Hanuman Temple (Junagadh)
Moti Magh (Junagadh)
Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach
Over the past few year Gujarat has started to focus on attracting tourists and developing its tourist infrastructure.
Gujarat Tourism – Information Bureau
Office of the Tourism Commissioner,
Gandhi Chawk, Vanthali Darwaza,
Phone: +91 285 2651170
Best time to visit
Gujarat tends to become very hot in summers but winters are very cool and pleasant. The best time to visit is between November and February.
What to eat
Gujarat is a colorful and very culturally rich state. Do enjoy the delectable local cuisine. There is a statewide ban on sale of alcohol in Gujarat.
What to buy
Junagadh is known for its clean, colorful, and bustling bazaars. Look out for the colourful tie and dye Bandhani fabric and the mirror work (embroidered) clothes available for sale in these markets. Other things that are popular souvenirs are wall hangings, puja thali items, herbs and spices, perfumed oils and incenses, silver and filigree work items.
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