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JUNAGADH TOURS

JUNAGADH TOURS

JUNAGADH, WHICH MEANS “Old Fort”, takes its name from the ancient fort of Uparkot, built in the 4th century on a plateau at the eastern edge of the town. The fort is surrounded by massive walls, over 20 m (66 ft) high in places, and a 90-m (295-ft) deep moat inside the walls. This once teemed with crocodiles that were fed on criminals and political enemies. An ornate, triple-arched gateway marks the entrance to the fort. Inside, a cobbled path leads past Hindu temples to the now deserted Jami Masjid at the top of the plateau. Its carved stonework and pillars show that it was constructed on the remains of a destroyed Hindu temple. Nearby are a cluster of Buddhist caves dating to the 2nd century. The fort also has two fine 11th-century stepwells, the Navghan Kuan and the Adi Charan Vav.

In the mid-19th century, the nawabs of Junagadh moved down from the old fort into new colonial-style palaces in the city. The Durbar Hall of the City Palace, built in 1870, houses a museum with the typical trappings of royalty – palanquins, silver thrones and old armour. A complex of royal mausoleums can he seen near the city’s railway station, the most notable of which is the Mahabat Maqbara with splendid silver doors. Junagadh’s main attraction, however, is iirnar Hill, 6 km (4 miles) east of the city. An extinct volcano, this has been a holy site for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus since the 3rd century BC. Over 4,000 steps lead to the top of the 1,080-m (3,543-ft) high hill. En route is an Ashokan Rock Edict, dating to 250 BC  that conveys Emperor Ashoka’s message of non-violence and peace. Halfway up the hill are a cluster of beautiful Jain temples, Most notable among them is the Neminath Temple, enshrining a black marble image of the 22nd Jain tirthankara  who is believed to have died here. The 12th-century Amba Mata Temple, at the summit, is very popular with newlyweds, who come seeking blessings for conjugal bliss.

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