Driving into Junagarh, the hill of Girnar rises massive and wooded, dotted with white temples. The holy hill is about 4 km east of the fortified town with its citadel, Upperkot, sitting on a knoll.
The hill, ascended 7,500 steps, is reputedly covered with medicinal herbs. It holds the shrine of many faiths. There is a mosque at the foot of the hill. 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.
The Nawab's Dogs
Junagarh is a curious m´┐Żlange of the religious and the whimsical. Like many of the former ruling princes, some of the former rulers of this princely state had a preference for follies of great extravagance. The last nawab to rule this state was said to have had more than a hundred dogs: he fled with all of them when his subjects revolted, forcing him to abdicate.
Long before the nawabs came to Junagarh, however, Buddhists had excavated a monastery here. Cut into the rock, is a pillared gallery built around a rain-trapping reservoir. There are signs of ancient bathing platforms with an intricate system of drains and traces of a very hygienic water-borne sanitation system. The many levels are filled with light and air and cooling draughts brought in by cleverly designed shafts. Buddhism's greatest king, Ashoka, also left his mark in this ancient town. On a huge boulder, with a sheltering building to preserve it, Ashoka's edicts exhort all citizens to be kind to animals and women, give generously in charity, and plant healing herbs.
This curious mixture of Indo-Saracenic architecture, with a strong dose of Venetian, is a prime example of the strange tastes of those who once ruled the Indian states.
Adi Chadi Vav
Legend has it that two slave girls, Adi and Chadi, were bricked up inside this beautiful step-well. Their sacrifice, people believe, fortified the well and the ancient town of Junagarh.
The nearest airport is Keshod - 37 km. Ahmedabad is 315 km away.
The nearest railhead is also Keshod (37 km).
There are taxis and buses to Junagarh from Keshod.
Where to Stay
Accomodation is available in the tourist bungalow run by the state tourism department and in a couple of budget hotels.