Junagadh district is located on the Kathiawar peninsula in western Gujarat, with the city of Junagadh as its headquarters. The district is surrounded by Rajkot District on North, Porbandar District on North-West, Amreli District on East, Arabian Sea on South and West . The district had a population of 2,448,173 of which 29.06% were urban as of 2001.
The city is a former Nawabi capital, filled with palaces, minarets and colonial period buildings. A short distance from Girnar, Junagadh was the historic capital of the Mauryan and Gupta dynasties upto the 5th century AD, the Chudasama Rajputs in the 9th-15th century, the governors of Sorath appointed by the Mughal empire in the 17th century, and finally the Babi Nawab dynasty upto 1947.
SOMNATH: The Somnath Temple, a major Hindu pilgrimage centre, is said to have been built out of gold by Soma, the Moon God (and subsequently in silver, wood and stone). In keeping with the legend the stone facade appears golden at sunset. Mahmud of Ghazni plundered it and removed the gates in 1024. Destroyed by successive Muslim invaders, it was rebuilt each time on the same spot. The final reconstruction did not take place until 1950 and is still going on. Unfortunately, it lacks character but it has been built to traditional patterns with a strong 50 m high tower that rises in clusters. Dedicated to Siva, it has one on the 12 sacred jyotirlingas.
Uparkot Fort: Famous in by gone times for its virtual inaccessibility, the Upar Kot or Upper Fort is girdled by a wall that is, in some places, over 20m high. 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, Jama Masjid and Buddhist caves in the fort premises.
Chorwad Beach: 66 Kms. from Junagadh and 23 Kms. from the fishing centre of Veraval, Chorwad is a delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat. The only beach in India where you can live in the timeless splendour of a palace built amidst soft golden sand facing the beach. It was built by the former Nawabs of Junagadh. It is 400 kms south west of Ahmedabad and 66 kms from Junagadh. The nearest Airport is Keshod. And an excellent road connects it to Junagadh, Girnar, the Gir Forest Sanctuary and the famous temple of Somnath.
Sasan Gir Forest & Sanctuary: It is situated 65 Kms. from Junagadh via Keshod (where there is an aiport). It is connected both by Rail as well as Road. Sasan Gir Sanctuary provides refuge to that rare species-the Asiatic Lion. The sanctuary covers an area of 500 sq. miles of dry, open scrubland where the lions roam freely. They can be seen on guided jeep tours through the jungles.
Ahmadpur Mandvi: Close by the sea, with an option to entertaining oneself lazing on the beach, swimming or enjoying water sports facilities, Ahmedapur Mandvi is one of the finest beaches of the country.
Damodar Kund: A sacred tank marks the ascent to the Girnar temples.
Ashoka's Rock Edicts: One of the major sets of rock eddicts of Ashoka is still legibly inscribed on a rock on the outskirts of Junagadh, and protected by an archaelogical survey of India building. The inscriptions were reported in 1822 by Todd, but really came to light only in 1837 when Rev. Dr John Wilson copied them and in 1843 when the Royal Asiatic society published them in the Bombay branch journal. The 16 principals preach virtues like matery of the senses, purity of thought, gratitute, devotion, self control, secular thinking and kindness, while oposing animal sacrifice and greed. They speak of his repentance for death and destruction caused during wars waged by him, his pilgrimages and his attempts to send people around the realm to preach the principles of non violence.
MAQBARA: The older complex of maqbaras (mausoleoms) of the Nawabs of Junagadh, located near Chitkana chowk offer some remarkable 18th century architecture with vertical columns, delicate carved arches, cornices and domes in a range of sizes, the whole accentuated by a wealth of brilliant stone carvings. The newer complex, near the town gates, is even more impressive and attractive, besides being better maintained. The naya Maqbara complex was started by Mahabat Khanji in 1878, completed in 1892 by his successor, Bahadur Khanji, and enshrined also Rasul Khanji in 1911 ADThe complex includes the mausoleom of Baha-ud-din, minster of Nawab Rasul Khanji, which has an almost funfairish flamboyance-4 minarets with pirouetting spiral staircases, a facade rich in stone carvings, beautiful silver doors and large sized domes mark the architecture of this tomb of the great minister in the Nawabi court, titled Vazir-e-azam. Beside the maqbaras is the Jumma mosque, dated to 1886-97 which has geometric rows of coloured pillars leading to a cool marble minbar, and an Islamic religious school.
Tulsi Shyam Hot Spring: In the heart of the Gir Forest 165 Kms. from Junagadh is the scenic spot of Tulsi Shyam with its hot spring.
The Temple of Girnar: The foundation stone for this temple was laid in 1612 during the rule of His Highness Jam Jasaji - I and completed in the year 1620. Surrounding this temple 52 'Deri' (a very small temple) were built in 1622.
Mount Girnar: Spread over large area, the Mount Girnar stands all of like a yogi in the Saurashtra peninsula. At the foot of the hill lies Ashoka Rock Edict, chiselled on a boulder, measuring 20X30 ft. Emperor Ashoka's inscription are in Pali script whereas that of Rudradaman and Skandgupta -which are believed to be of a later date, 150 to 456 AD - are in Brahmi script. They give the message of peace, non-violence and love for the humanity.
The town Junagadh derives its name from the old fortress situated in the UPARKOT (citadel). The Uparkot forms the ancient Junagadh, which was named Mustafabad by, Mahmud Begada, This name, however, did not survive the death of its founder. The citadel withstood several attacks between 1350 AD and 1572 AD. The ancient archway at the entrance of the Uparkot, within the outer gate, is a fine specimen of the old Hindu Toran arch.
The Uparkot also contains a BUDDHIST CAVE MONASTERY constructed in about 300 AD. The outstanding feature of the structure is a hall, connected by a winding staircase to an upper chamber, which seems to have served as a refractory. There are two step-wells, one of which, the ADI KADI VAV named after two maid servants of Ra'Navghan and completed by his son Ra'Khengar in the 11th century cut to a great depth out of soft stone has an imposing circular staircase.
The main entrance to the hill is in front of the Uparkot, which is a fortified place, containing Jain temples. Standing in a quadrangular courtyard, the main temple of neminath is surrounded by pillared cloisters containing 70 cells. A mandap with a colonnade of 22 pillars forms aisles with image of Neminath. Of the 16 temples that cluster around, the triple temple built in 1177 by Tejpal and Vastupal have an image of Mallinath, the 19th tirthankar.
In the adjoining hill of DATAR there is a Muslim shrine dedicated to the saint Jamial Sha Datar who is said to have come from Sind at the behest of his spiritual mentor Pir patta. The saint's blessings are invoked for curing leprosy.
Whereas for devout Hindus, the visit to Girnar has a special significance because of DAMODAR KUND, named after Krishna, whose water is said to be sacred due to its property of dissolving bones of dead brought for the immersion. Nearby there is Shri Mahaprabhuji's Bethak. Bhavnath Mahadev is 3 kms. from here and at another 3 kms. the ascent for Girnar begins. The ascent, which is as exhilarating for the pilgrims as it is for the tourist for its varied attractions.
SAKKARBAGH: Junagadh museum in Sakkarbagh, has a memorable collection of of pre-historic and proto-historic implements made from stone and bone, stone sculpture including a 9th century Vishnu, bronze sculpture of the medival period, copper inscriptions and manuscripts, consorting with an average collection of silverware, glass, porcelain, wood carvings, traditional textiles, folk art and unimpressive miniature paintings.
Narsinh Mehta's Choro: The circular platform, from where the great poet, philosopher, devotee and social reformer sang bhajans that started the transformation of medieval Hindu society, is the place devoid of glamour full of subtlety. It is situated on the eastern side of the city near the Majewadi Gate. There is a small temple with images of Damodarraiji and narsin Mehta.
Darbar Hall Museum: It is the hall where erstwhile Nawabs of Junagadh used to hold court. It has several sections, like Picture Gallery, Palanquin, Textile, Arms Gallery etc.
Kutiyana: The town is visited by a large number of Muslim pilgrims during Urs, which is held on the 13th, 14th and 15th day of Hijri month of Sabaan, the lamps are burnt not with oil but with the water of the step-well. It is believed that the blessings of Pir Miskinsha are instrumental for this miracle.
Madhavpur: 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.