Junagadh: A diverse heritage
As a destination Junagadh has much to offer to the inveterate traveller. It is a city that takes great pride in in varied historical legacy. Nestled at the foot of Mount Girnar, Junagadh has a history that dates back to two and a half millennia. The mountain is holy to both Hindus and Jains, and a trek up the 9999 steps is considered auspicious by pilgrims. On Shivratri pilgrims take 36 km parikrama of the hills.
The major landmarks in Junagadh include fascinating remnants from Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. The Uperkot Fort, Buddhist Caves, Ashoka’s rock eddicts, Mahabat Maqbara, Durbar Hall Museum, are the major tourist highlights.
The imposing Uperkot Fort was built by Chandragupta Maurya. It was besieged innumerable times through the centuries. The city has in fact derived its name from the fort (Juna – old and Gadh – fort). The Bhutto family traces its roots to this small town. During India’s Independence, the Dewan of Junagadh was Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Mahabat Maqbara Palace, also called the Mausoleum of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai is a palace-mausoleum which is probably the city’s most famous landmark. It is a masterpiece that epitomises Indo-Islamic architecture with evident Gothic influences.
While my visit to Junagadh was an eye-opener in terms of the fascinating cultural and historic legacy of the destination which has such great potential, the lack of upkeep of most monuments and the surrounding areas left much wanting.