Located at the foothills of Girnar, the history of Junagadh dates back to Dwapar Yug when reportedly Lord Krishna spent substantial years of his lifespan in Saurashtra. As you scroll down the lanes of Junagadh, you can find signs of two and a half millennia of human civilization, spanning over the periods of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam. The main center of the city, the Uparkot Fort was built by Chandragupta of the Mauryan empire around 320 BC. Undoubtedly very few places across the globe offer you the opportunity to explore the material and the spiritual world of the humans and the wild as Junagadh does. Junagadh offers a number of tourist attractions from the famed Girnar Hills to forts, temples of medieval times, historical places and more.
How to get there:
By road: Junagadh is accessible by State Transport buses from the state capital Ahmedabad, which is 327 kilometers (203 miles) away and also from two other prominent cities, Rajkot, located at a distance of 102 km (63 mi) and Porbandar at 113 km (70 mi) away. It is also connected with other cities of Gujarat via Veraval and Rajkot. The bus is the best means to reach Junagadh.
By rail: Two express trains run on the Ahmedabad-Veraval line, one at night and one in the day. Ahmedabad is 7.5 hours away by train. Junagadh is also on the Rajkot-Veraval line, Rajkot is 2.5 hours away, and Veraval 2 hours.
If you are planning to visit Junagarh, don’t forget this list with the best things to do there.
1. Girnar Hills
Mt. Girnar is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Western India, with 866 Hindu and Jain temples spread over the 5 peaks. The steps begin at Domdar Kund, near the Damodar and Baldvji Temples. You will surpass temples of different cults of Hinduism as you scale the stone path connecting the temples of the 5 peaks. The first one Bhavnath, Shiva Temple, draws a huge crowd on the occasion of Shivaratri when the “naked sadhus” come to perform Puja (worship). After 4,000 steps up, the Jain Temple complex is there on a plateau. Among the 12th to 16th centuries’ temples, there is a site where Neminath, the 22nd tirthankar of Jainism, went to heavenly abode after 700 years of ascetic meditation. The temple of Amba Mata (the Mother Goddess) is 2,000 steps further. Hindus, Jains, and newlyweds visit the temple to seek blessings for a happy marriage. These last 2,000 steps are a bit torturous but are worth scaling to enjoy the amazing views from the top. Then there is a stone track to reach the other peaks. The last peak houses a Kalika Temple, where the Aghora puritans smear themselves with funeral ashes.
I would say this is a not-to-be-missed place of Junagadh, words are not enough to express the feeling one experiences while scaling the peaks. You will experience divine and blissful feelings and above all, the spectacular panoramic views from the summit are mesmerizing. Early morning hours are better for this activity, do carry plenty of water and take breaks during the hot hours of the day. I’d recommend buying a walking stick from one of the many stalls to help with the climb and the descent.
Opening Hours: Early morning hours are best to climb the mountain
Duration: around 7 hours required.
2. The Gir National Park
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The paradise of Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park also known as Sasan Gir is located in Sasan village, 55 km (34 mi) from Junagadh. It’s beautiful, spectacular and a treasure chest for the lovers of flora and fauna. The ecosystem of Gir, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs. The forest area of Gir, which was once the hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Junagadh, was declared as a “protected” area by Nawab Muhammad Rasul Khanji Babi as a result of a drastic drop in the lion population in Gir.
Gir draws huge crowds because, outside of Africa, it is the only place with wild lions. It is around a 2.5 hour safari, for which an online permit is compulsory. You can travel by jeep available there or use your own vehicle, but a guide appointed by authorities is mandatory. During the safari you have to stay in your covered vehicle because you are in the den of lions, leopards, hyenas and crocodiles. You can also spot chausingha, the world’s only 4-horned antelope, one-of-a-kind chinkara, the only gazelle in the world with horns in both males and females, and the fastest of the Indian antelopes, the Blackbuck, who also live in Gir. Try to see the local Maldhari community, who have lived there for generations and mingle beautifully with the wilderness as crucial teachers for a better present and future.
Your chances of spotting wildlife in a few hours are slim, particularly in the middle of the day; to truly experience a wide variety of the diverse wildlife, three or four days is recommended, particularly with a knowledgeable guide. The best time to visit and enjoy wildlife there is in the morning.
The Gir National Park
Address: Sasan Gir, Junagadh, Gujarat 362135
Price: Entry fee for Indians: 4,000 INR (61.07 USD). Entry fee for foreigners: 10000 INR (154 USD). Camera: 100-500 INR (1.53-7.63 USD). Vehicle: INR 50 (0.76 USD).
Opening Hours: 8:00 am - 11:00 am, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Access: Nearest Railway Station is Junagadh
Near by Food: Resturants available
Website: The Gir National Park
3. Uparkot Fort
The 2,300 year old Uparkot Fort, with walls up to 20 m (65 feet) high, has lots of interesting areas to explore including a mosque, step wells, temples, cannons and dusty gardens. Inside the fort there are the emblems of Uparkot’s former rulers and temples of Ganesh, Hanuman and Shakti. The fort also has two medieval cannons named Neelam and Manek. The canons were forged in Cairo and shipped by the Turks who sailed to Saurashtra to help Diu against the Portuguese. The step well is very impressive and the large building is wonderful inside and from the roof.
There is also a 94 m (300 ft) deep trench inside the walls that used to be inhabited by crocodiles, so that if any attacker conquered the high fortifications, they would then either run the risk or facing security men on the upper portion of the fort or fall into the crocodile-infested trench. There are great views across to Girnar Hill and places to sit and relax. Adi-Kadi Vav, Jami Masjid, Buddhist caves and Navghan Kuvo are in the Uparkot precinct.
Price: 5 INR for Indians, 1.53 USD for foreigners
Opening Hours: 7 am to 7 pm
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Near by Food: Street food and snacks in nearby hotels
4. Mahabat Maqbara
The two Mausoleums are the architectural highlights of Junagadh on the way to Sasan Gir. One is very much styled in typical Taj Mahal fashion but much more ornate. Spiral staircases on the outside of the minarets are the most striking feature, the Gothic and European impact can be seen on the other one. The carvings are intricate and detailed. One of the most beautiful monuments you might have ever seen.
This glorious example of Euro-Indo-Islamic architecture has four minarets with spiral staircases and stands next to the beautiful Vazir’s Maqbara and the Jama Masjid.
Address: Mahabat Maqbara, Junagadh
Opening Hours: Open for 8 am to 6 pm everyday.
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Nearby Food: Street food and snacks in nearby hotels
5. Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens
Sakkarbaug is the best zoo in terms of area, variety of animals, and birds. There is a historical museum to explore heritage, an aquarium and safari park. It houses Asiatic Lions, so you can watch lions in their natural habitat (protected area). Apart from this, there are various other wildlife animals.
The best attraction of this place is the cheetah. Reportedly there is only one cheetah in India, and that is in Sakkarbaug. Other than the cheetah you will find a white tiger, white peacock and hyenas. There is a bus ride which charges 25 INR (0.40 USD) per person, which takes you to different sections of the zoo.
Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens
Address: Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens, Junagadh
Opening Hours: 9:00 am - 6:30 pm, all days of the week except Wednesday
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Website: Sakkarbaug Zoological Gardens
6. Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edicts
Around 14 edicts of Ashoka are located on the route to the Mount Girnar Hills. This rock edict is a huge stone and the carvings are in Brahmi script in Pali language. The edicts urge resisting the temptation of greed and animal sacrifice and inculcate the principles of secularism, purity of thought, kindness and gratitude.
Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edicts
Address: On the route to the Mount Girnar Hills, Junagadh
Price: Entry is 5 INR (0.08 USD) for Indians & 100 INR (1.53 USD) for foreigners.
Opening Hours: from 8am-6pm
Duration: around 1 hours required.
Nearby Food: Street food
7. Buddhist Caves
The #Buddhist caves are all a little over 2000 years old, give or take a couple of centuries. The so-called “Buddhist...Posted by Junagadh - Beautiful Tourism Place on Wednesday, 24 February 2016
The over 2,000 year old caves aren’t exactly caves, but rooms carved out of stones which were once used as the headquarters of monks. The 3rd-4th century AD Khapara Kodia caves are the oldest ones.
They were carved into living rock during the reign of Emperor Ashoka and are considered the earliest monastic settlement in the area. Another set of caves, Baba Pyara caves, lie close to the Modhimath, which has four caves in its northern group.
Price: Entry is 5 INR (0.08 USD) for Indians & 100 INR (1.53 USD) for foreigners
Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm.
8. Madhavapur Beach
One of the loveliest sandy beaches on Saurashtra Coast, Madhavapur is located around 72 km (44 mi) on the way from Somnath to Dwarka. On the one side of the road is the beach and on the other side are green fields. A tortoise breeding center is on the beach too. With white sands and broken shells everywhere, Madhavapur Beach is a peaceful and nice place to hang out. Camel rides are also there.
The beach was named after the ruler Madhav Rao. There is also a temple named after him. There is another Haveli Temple nearby that is equally as grand and a must-visit attraction. The best time to visit the beach is in the months of July – March.
Address: 72 km (44 mi) from Junagadh
Access: Located on the way from Somnath to Dwarka, and can be reached by private cab and state bus
Materialism and spirituality
Very few places across the globe offer you the opportunity to explore the material and the spiritual world, the human, and the wild, as Junagadh does. The grandeur of ancient India will leave you just astonished.
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