A 4-week trip around Gujarat at Christmas 2012 and the New Year



We rather flew through Junagadh, a town enroute between Diu and Gondal. It looked like it deserved a bit more time.

Uperkot Fort

At the top of the town is the citadel; a fort, an old mosque, some buddhist caves and a couple of step wells. Uperkot Fort has a complex gate and walls up to 20m high. A signed Turkish cannon from 1531 was dragged here from Diu and sits outside the old Jama Masjid (Friday mosque). The Buddhist caves had a few carvings but no paintings and were disappointing.


Adi Kadi stepwell

The step wells were impressive. The Adi Kadi Vav is the famous one, allegedly names after the two girls sacrificed here to ensure the water was found.

It’s a simple slanting shaft driven 40 meters into the sandstone. You walk down worn step past eroded layers.

But round the corner is a better one that the guide books miss out. The Navghan Kuvo is a vertical shaft around which winds the access steps. Dark and dank and impossible to photograph. 52m deep and possibly 1000 years old.

The fort looks north to the Girner Hills, the highest point in Gujarat and another Jain pilgrimage site; taking three times as long as Palitana to reach the top.

The town

We whisked tantalisingly around the upper town. A proper walk would have been rewarding, but it was pretty hot.

Despite being surrounded by India the Nawab of Junagadh decided to accede to Pakistan at the Partition in 1947. Pressure from India and a referendum (when only 91 out of 201,457 voted for Pakistan) meant the family fled across the border and his property transferred to the State. One of the buildings, his darbar hall is now the dusty museum. The visitors book showed a trickle of foreigners – a handful a week – but it was packed with Indians. The main hall contains a mass collection of European chandeliers, some tribute gifts from the British and some enormous silver-covered furniture. There was a room of paintings, including the viceroy and the government agent, some arms, and some textiles including a pearl and gem carpet and a coat given to him by the British for siding against the mutiny. Best of all, but behind a locked grill was around eight silver palaquins. Probably the best I’ve seen in India; they looked in superb condition.

mausoleum-junagadh1Lower down in the town are more walls and gates, a massive palace (now a school) and an extraordinary building, the Mohabbat Maqbara. A mausoleum of one of the Nawebsmausoleum-junagadh2, it’s a confection of Moslem, Hindu and European styles. Some of the carving could have come straight from a gothic cathedral.

Edicts of Ashoka

The Edicts of Ashoka, a 3rd century BC emporer, can be found carved into several pillars and rocks across India. The version at Junagadh is one of the most important, the first to be rediscovered in the 19th century and is the version that is reproduced outside the National Museum in Delhi. The carvings were cut into a 10m black granite boulder sited on the road between Junagadh and Girner Hill.

The edicts are largely about moral principles; respect for animals, kindness to prisoners, and tolerance and understanding between religions.



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