Junagarh, Somnath & Dwarka

Junagadh

The most famous attraction of Junagarh is the Gir National Park, home to rare Asiatic Lions. The Gir Lion is tawnier and bulkier but smaller than its African cousin.

girr

Lion Safari takes you to their natural habitat and the National Park is also home to Panthers, Leopards, Monitor Lizards, Pythons, crested Hawk Eagle, Great Horned Owl and many other mammals and birds.

You can enjoy a walk along the Hiran River (Deer) and the watch-tower overlooking a waterfall. In the forest there is Tulsishyam Hot Springs and Kankai Mata Temple, dedicated to Bhima, the most brawniest of Pandav brothers. The Crocodile Rearing Centre also attracts tourists.stayoption

Stay Options at Gir

Budget Hotels, Gir

1. Sinh Sadan Lodge: 575-1000 INR
2. Hotel Umang: 1000-1500 INR
3. Shaan-e-Gir: Located amidst the jungle, this place is ideal for those who want to experience the jungle feel. Tranquil environment with verdant greenery makes it an ideal place to stay. Tariff: 3500 INR and adventure tents for 2800 INR (includes all meals). This Property is Eco-Friendly so
No Airconditioned & No T.V

Mid-Range Hotels, Gir:

1. Anil Farm House: Gir Jungle Resort (also known as Hotel Anil Farmhouse) is located on the Bank of Hiran River and surrounded by the meadow of Gir Forest. This eco-friendly resort having 24 AC Luxury Rooms in three different categories like RIVER VIEW, MOUNTAIN VIEW and GARDEN VIEW and is owned and managed by Mr. Samsudinbhai Jariya. Tariff: 3700 INR for Double Bedroom and River View Rooms for 5500 INR

2. Maneland Jungle Lodge: is designed to match the aesthetics of the area & stylized using local material & construction techniques. The lodge nestling in small hills offers a perfect blend of the wild, exciting & even romantic experience of the forest. Tariff: 4200 INR for NOn Ac/AC rooms and 9600 INR for Bungalow (2 bedroom 1 Hall)

3. Sukh Sagar Resort: Feel the pleasant vibes of jungle and live amidst nature. A mid-range resort offering all the luxury you need! Tariff: 6300-7250 INR for cottages.

Luxury Hotel/Resorts, Gir:

1. Lion Safari Camp: It is a luxury jungle safari camp that is located in a private mango orchard overlooking the Hiran River. The accommodation consists of 12 luxury tents that feature bathrooms with bathtub and shower, open-air river-facing restaurant, a lounge bar on the machan, indoor games, pool table, library, TV room and a souvenir shop.  Tariff: 12000 INR (includes all meals and taxes).

2. Vanvaso Resort: Located on the bank of Hiran River, it is a delightful & luxury stay option offering a peaceful environment. It has well-maintained cottages with high-end facilities for all your luxury needs. They also have a baby-sitting service! Tariff: starts at 10793 INR and goes to 30000 INR for cottages

But besides the Gir national Park, Junagarh has numerous monuments, ancient caves and the famous pilgrimage site of Mount Girnar. So it is suggested you keep aside 2 days at hand to take in the beautiful monuments and temples. Most of the archaeological sites (Except Girnar Hill and Ashokan Edicts) are very close to the railway station and bus stand and are at walkable distance.

City Autos regularly ply between Girnar Taleti and Bus stand and the Ashokan Edicts fall on the way.

The Mahabat Maqbara
The Mahabat Maqbara

The Monumental Mount Girnar is an extinct volcanic site that has over 9000 steps leading to many religious temples of both Jain and Hindu significance (866 temples). Now you might wonder who climbs up 9000 steps and back in one day? It is very challenging, but the spirit of seeing so many people doing it gives you an extra zeal.

Mount Girnar, Junagarh
Mount Girnar, Junagarh

The climb takes about 5-6 Hours and it is believed that climbing the holy mountain earns you place in heaven (well it is definitely a lifetime experience). There are porters for elderly and kids and also wooden carriers (if you want to be carried on a wooden seat) – charges are per weight!.

Jain Temple
Jain Temple

The Jain Temple complex has 16 shrines; each elaborately carved offers a tranquil atmosphere amidst the sound of bells.

There is also a small but tight formation of rocks and those who can cross through the narrow gap (enter a small cave and out) gets released from all his sins.

Shri Dattatraya Maharaj Temple
Shri Dattatraya Maharaj Temple

At the top, the scenic view of the entire city is stunning. Here the highest peak is of Shri Dattatraya Maharaj Temple. The Mount Girnar site dates back to Pre-Harappan era. It gets crowded so start early and there are refreshments available along the way up.

Damodar Kund, Junagarh
Damodar Kund, Junagarh

Damodar Kund, a sacred lake is situated at the start of the Girnar Temple trek and is often used by many to immerse the ashes of the dead to help them find Moksha. It is believed that here Lord Krishna placed a flower garland around the neck of the great poet and saint Narsinh Mehta who worshiped him with all his heart and Soul. Revati Kund and Mrigi Kund are other sacred lakes preferred for bathing before and after the Girnar pilgrim. Damodar Kund is among one of the monuments protected by the state government of Gujarat.

For Detailed History of Junagadh & Girnar Click Here 

On your way to the Mount Girnar, you may also stop to look at the Ashoka’s Rock Edicts (250 BC), a huge boulder housed in a small roadside building and has fourteen Edicts by Emperor Ashoka. The inscriptions are written in Brahmi script in Pali language and also has some verses written in Sanskrit language.

 

Another attraction is the Junagarh Upperkot Fort, originally built by Chandragupta Maurya  in 319 BC and then re-built during the Rajput rulers.

Upperkot Fort, Junagarh
Upperkot Fort, Junagarh

Inside the fort premises Adi-Kadi Vav (long flight of 120 steps lead to the water and was built in the 15th century) and Naghavan Kuvo (built in 1026 AD) is an ancient step well that is 170 feet under the sea level and is off religious importance.

Navaghan Kuvo (water Storage Well inside the Upperkot Fort
Navaghan Kuvo (water Storage Well inside the Upperkot Fort
Steps to Adi Chadi Vav, Junagadh
Steps to Adi Chadi Vav, Junagadh

The Jumma Masjid building (originally build by Chudasama ruler) but after the victory of Junagadh, Mohammad Beg converted it into Masjid, but the work remained unfinished and there are traces of Hindu influence seen in the carved pillars.

Jumma Masjid-in-Upperkot Fort
Jumma Masjid-in-Upperkot Fort

Carvings on the walls inside Jama Masjid

The Mehrab on wall is beautifully engraved on marble along with some really interesting structures.

Beyond the fort moat, some Buddhist caves belonging to 200 BC to 200 AD are located. Each has ornamented pillars, carved entrances, water cisterns, chaitya hall, monastic cells for meditation along with chaitya windows.

Buddhist Caves inside the Uperkot Fort
Buddhist Caves inside the Uperkot Fort

Try and attend the Light & Sound show every evening at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm

stayoptionStay Options in Junagarh

Lotus Hotel is a great option to stay while in Junagarh. Located close to the railway station, the hotel has 20 rooms and features amenities like travel desk, car rental, laundry service, Internet connectivity and foreign exchange. The other similar hotels are Platinum Hotel in Platinum Arcade, Jayshree Road, Kalwa Chowk and Indralok Hotel.

If you are planning to climb Mount Girnar then Hotel Bhagyoday Palace is a decent option.

Somnath

From Junagadh, another must visit place, is the scared Somnath Temple (88 kms). It is the first among the 12 jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and also the sacred soil from where Lord Krishna, took his last journey to Neejdham.

Somnath Temple, Junagarh-Gujarat
Somnath Temple, Junagarh-Gujarat

The temple is located at the shore of the Arabian Sea at Veraval Port in Saurashtra, Gujarat and is one of the oldest temples that find a reference in holy books like Skandpuran, Shreemad Bhagvat Gita and Shivpuran.

insideSomnath

However, the temple trust (Shree Somnath Trust) has recently made a decision that non-Hindus will have to take prior permission from the office of general manager, before entering into Somnath Temple for darshan. This mandatory to all non-Hindu pilgrims, so please plan your trip accordingly.

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Eating Options at Somnath

Travellers usually opt to eat at the Somnath Trust Run Prasadam Hotel and Bhabha Hotel near the temple. Lilavathi Bhojanalya and Bhojanalaya near temple are also run by the Trust and are good options.

For Multi-Cuisine options you may eat at Hotel Sukh Sagar Restuarant and Valino of Hotel Sun Plaza.

Veraval Beach - Somnath
Veraval Beach – Somnath

Once you visit and seek blessings at Somnath, it is recommended that you visit the beautiful Veraval Beach located nearby. It’s a clean unspoilt beach that offers you a chance to relax after a tiring trip and the long sandy stretch with its green surroundings simply destresses you.

Fishing Boats seen at Veraval Beach, Somnath
Fishing Boats seen at Veraval Beach, Somnath

You may also get to enjoy some water activities specially during the pilgrim season. Do also visit the fishing port, where thousands of country crafts and boats can be seen unloading their catch of the day!

Dwarka

Now your journey to Junagadh or for that matter, Gujarat cannot be completed without visiting the legendary last kingdom of Dwarka (Gateway to Heaven), built by Lord Krishna 3500 – 5000 years ago.

Dwakadhish Temple
Dwakadhish Temple

Dwarka is a spiritual journey and the original temple of Lord Krishna is believed to be constructed by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Lord Krishna in 400 B.C. and according to Brahmi Script, the 1st floor of Harimandir (less than 1/3 of today’s Ladva mandir) dates back to 100 B.C.  Click HERE for complete History.

The black stone idol of Dwarkadhish is beautiful and is said to inspire peace and calm. Apart from the main deity’s shrine, there are a number of smaller shrines dedicated to a number of gods. There is also a seat that belonged to Adi Shankaracharya that is worshipped here.

The temple of Dwarkadhish is famous for its flag worship. The flag or Dhwaja is considered to be of paramount importance in the temple and is changed four times a day. The flag, stitched out of 52 yards of cloth, is a spiritual icon and bears the images of the sun and the moon – symbols of the universe and Divine presence. Having been allotted a time by the temple administration, devotees making a trip to the Dwarkadhish temple, buy a new flag for hoisting. The new flag is carried on the devotees head amidst much chanting and cheering. This flag is then hoisted with appropriate rituals.

On ground, the 7 storeyed Dwarkadhish Temple is located at the confluence of River Gomati and Arabian Sea and dates back to 13th Century AD, while the subsequent enlargement in the form of an assembly hall known ‘Ladwa Mandap’ and the awe-inspiring ‘Sikhara’, dates back to the 15th Century AD. Within the enclosure of the Dwarkadhish temple complex shrines dedicated to Pradyumnaji, Devakiji, Purushottamji, Kuseshvar Mahadev and also the Sharda Peeth established by Adi Shankra Charya in the 9th century can be seen. The Dwarkadhish temple is also known as ‘Trilokya Sunder Jagat Mandir’ and consists of Garbhagriha, Antarala, Mandapa and Ardhamandapa. The temple complex has two main gates for entrance. The one on the southern side is known as ‘Swargadwar’ (accessible by 56 steps) from Gomati creek, whereas the northern gate is known as ‘Mokshadwar’.

gomti ghatt

Gomti Ghat consists of steps leading to the Gomti River and it is considered holy for pilgrims to take a dip in the river, which cleanses them of their sins.

There are a number of small shrines dedicated to the Samudra (God of the Sea), Saraswati and Lakshmi, along with notable temples in dedicated to Samudra Narayana (Sangam Narayana temple) at the confluence of the Gomti River with the sea, the Chakra Narayana temple where there is a stone with an imprint of a chakra as a manifestation of Vishnu and the Gomati temple that has an idol of River Goddess Gomati, whom  Sage Vasishta asked to come on land.

Rukmini Devi Temple at Dwarka
Rukmini Devi Temple at Dwarka

The Rukmini Devi Temple (8 kms from Dwarkadhish Temple) is dedicated to Rukmini, Krishna’s chief queen. The temple is said to be 2,500 years old, but in its present form it is estimated to belong to the 12th century. It is a richly carved temple decorated with sculptures of gods and goddesses on the exterior with the sanctum housing the main image of Rukmini. Carved Naratharas (human figures) and carved Gajatharas (elephants) are depicted in panels at the base of the tower. Rukmini was cursed by Sage Durvasa and that’s why her temples located far away from her lord.

Nageshwar Temple, Dwarka
Nageshwar Temple, Dwarka

Another notable temple of importance is Nageshwar Mandir (8 Kms from Dwarka), dedicated to Shiva and one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (a radiant sign of ‘The Almighty]) is deified here in a subterranean cell.

Bet Dwarka is a small island located some 30 Kms away from Dwarka and to be the original abode of Lord Krishna and his wife Rukmani.

Bet-Dwarka-Gujarat

 

Bet was a port before Okha came into existence. In order to get to Bet Dwarka from Dwarka, one needs to first get to Okha Port Jetty (32 km), by either rail or road and then take a ferry or small boat (Rs.5/-) and reach Bet Dwarka, which is 5 km away.

At Bet Dwarka, Shri Krishna temple has the main Dwarkadish deity, believed to have been made by Rukmini and legend states that it is here that Meera Bai merged and disappeared from the material world.

Another interesting temple is Hanuman Dandi temple (located 6 kilometres away from Dwarka).

DandiHanumanTempleThe temple is deified with many images of Hanuman and his son ‘Makardhwaja’.

The legend associated with the birth of a son to Hanuman, who is considered celibate, is that the sweat of Hanuman was consumed by a fish which then gave birth to a son named Makardhwaja. Legend also says that during the famous war of Lanka, Ravana kidnapped and kept both Lord Ram and Laxman in Patal (the world underneath the earth).

Hanuman chose this place to enter Patal and had to fight Makardhwaja, who was guarding it and this is where they met and recognized each other as father and son.

The Old city of Dwarka got submerged in the sea and the city that stands today has been built more than 7 times. In Vrindavan, Lord Krishna lived as a simple cowherd boy, but in Dwarka He lived as a wealthy prince. The Old Dwarka was the Administrative Kingdom of Lord Krishna while his main place of Stay was at Bet Dwarka. The kingdom got submerged in the sea, presumably after a tsunami or an equivalent natural disaster that struck the town right after lord Krishna disappeared after the great war between the Yadav clan.

Dwarkaruinsunderwater

It was also the end of third and final ice Age (Treta Yug). Science dates the city to 1443 B.C however, ancient manuscripts and Vedic sages state that Lord Krishna disappeared just before the advent of Kaliyug (3102 B.C.), so both ways Dwarka is more than 5000 years old. Dwarka is also the place where Lord Krishna kidnapped Rukmani to marry her, as her father did not consent to their marriage. (Click Here to read about Lord Krishna’s 8 Wives (Ashta-Bharyas) and about the legend of him having 16,108 wives!)

In recent years, many research, excavations and sightings have been done in and around the city of Dwarka, including numerous oceanographic findings of wall structures, fort bastions, utility vessels, temple structures etc. being found under the sea and research is still.

Before leaving Lord Krishna himself stated that “No one will be able to save you or this city after I leave” and same has also been quoted by Arjun in the Mahabharata as “The Sea waves, hitting the shores till now, suddenly overtook his natural boundary and the sea water rushed into the beautiful city streets, covering up the entire city area within seconds. And within few minutes, all the magnificent palaces, places, all submerged in the sea waves, leaving no trace of this beautiful city and Dwarka became just a name, just a memory”.

There are official guides available and it is recommended you take one, as they’ll share interesting stories and show you the right and most important points. And yes, not sure but you can pay them as per your wish, as in the case with all Krishna lovers and organisations.

The route to Dwarka from Somnath is along the sea and the drive is one to remember. Enroute you can also stop at Porbander, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. The road is fanstastic and incase you don’t want to drive the distance of approx. 230 kms you can opt for luxury or state run buses that take aorund 7 hours to reach.

After Porbander there is a place called Mool Dwarka, which is the first place Lord Krishna came after killing King Kansa (his maternal uncle). It is also the place that was first visited by Lord Krishna and Balram after killing Kaalyavan and Jarasandha. The temple is really nice and worth a visit.

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If you are interested in Marine life, then Narara (122 Kms from Dwarka and 60 kms from Jamnagar) is the place to go. Narara is a Marine National Park & Sanctuary and attracts many to its wonderful sandy beaches, mangroves, exotic corals, crabs, jelly fish, puffer fish, octopus and other marine life.

NararaMarine

But it’s sad to find that people touch, walk over the almost endangered marine life and no one really cares. To get a glimpse on what’s there at the Marine park, please visit:

www.jamnagar.org/mnp.htm

www.goabirder.blogspot.in/2012/04/enchanting-narara.html

stayoptionStay Options at Dwarka

Goverdhan Green Resort: is located on the highway but offers a good accomodation with spacious rooms.Tariff: 3500-4500 INR
http://www.goverdhangreens.com

City Palace Hotel: Located at Teen Batti chowk, it is easily accessible from the main temple. Tariff: 1000-1800 INR

The Dwarika Hotel: Rooms with good standards and comfortable stay. Tariff: 1400-3000 INR

There are plenty of other budget hotels like Dwarkesh Hotel (500-2500 INR), Gomti Hotel (1200-1700 INR), Dwarka Residency Hotel (1000-2200 INR) and Devang Hotel (800-1200 INR). Bookings can be done via Holiday IQrestaurant-logo-150x150

Eating Options at Dwarka, Gujarat

Most hotels and restaurants serve thali ( in 2 options Gujarati and Rajasthani) and are reasonably priced. Recommended to try out a Hot Milk at Shyam-Sunder Milk Parlor near Dwarikadheesh Temple.how-to-reach-hooly-dham

By Road:

  • Bhuj to Junagarh: 334 kms
  • Junagarh to Somnath: 91 kms
  • Somnath to Dwarkadhish Temple, Dwarka: 233 kms (4 hours)
  • Junagarh to Dwarkadhish Temple, Dwarka via Porbander: 207 kms (3-4 hours)
  • Junagarh to Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple Via Somnath: 330 kms
  • Ahmedabad to Dwarkadhish Temple: 378 kms
  • Rajkot to Dwarkadhish Temple: 217 kms

 By Rail: Nearest Railway Station is OKHA , which is 131 kms from Jamnagar (State Highway 947) and is well-connected railways in Gujarat broad gauge line.

By Air: Jamnagar is the nearest Airport at 138 Kms from Junagarh

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