This ancient city of Junagadh is a famous tourism and pilgrimage centre in Gujarat. It was once the capital of the Nawabs of Junagadh. About 105 km east of Porbandar in Saurashtra peninsula, Junagadh means old fort and is also known as ‘Sorath’ (the name of a princely state). Located at the foothill of the Girnar range, it is the seventh largest city in Gujarat.
Places to visit in Junagadh:
Uparkot:- An impressive fort, Uperkot, located on a plateau in the middle of town, was originally built during the Mauryan dynasty by Chandragupta in 319 BC. This very old fort, from which the city derives its name (jirna means old) stands on the eastern side of Junagadh and has been rebuilt and extended many times centuries. In places, the walls are 20m high and a ornate triple gateway.
Jama Masjid:- Jama Mosque was originally a palace of Ranakdevi, and was converted into a mosque by Muhammad Begada to commemorate his victory over Junagadh in 1470 AD. Another interesting artefact from the past is the ‘Nilam’ canon, brought to Diu from Egypt to fight against the Portuguese. The soft rock on which Junagadh is built encouraged the construction of caves and wells, and there are other caves in Junagadh, including some thought to date back to the time of Ashoka.
Mahabat Maqbara:– Construction was started in AD.1878, by the sixth Nawab “Mohammad Mahabat Khanji II” andcompleted in AD. 1892 by the sevent Nawab “Mohammad Bahadur Khanji III”. This stunning mausoleum of one of the nawabs of Junagadh is resplendent with silver doors and intricate architecture, including minarets encircled by spiralling stairways.
Ashokan Edicts:- The Ashokan rock edicts in Junagadh were first discovered by James Todd in 1822. The boulders bearing the inscriptions are perched on the slopes of Girinagara Hills, which is also known as Urjayata. On the eastern side of the hill, you can find 14 rock edicts. The 14 edicts are moral lectures, while the other inscriptions refer mainly to recurring foods destroying the embankments of a nearby lake, the Sudershan, which no longer exists. The boulder is actually housed in a small roadside building, on the write if you are heading towards Girnar.
Girnar Hill:- The climb up the 10,000 stone steps to the summit of Girnar is best made early in the morning, preferably at dawn. The steps are well build and maintained and were constructed between 1889 and 1908 from the process of lottery.
Other Attractions If you are unable to visit the Gir Forest, Junagadh zoo at Sakar Bagh, 3.5km from the centre of town on the Rajkot road, has Gir lions. The zoo was set up by the nawab in 1863 specifically to save the lion from extinction and is surprisingly good with lions, tigers and leopards being the main attraction.