The history of Junagadh chronologically presents the birth and genesis of this small city in the state of Gujarat. A city and municipality, Junagadh is located at the foothills of the sacred Girnar Hills. The city is presently the headquarters of the Junagadh district of Gujarat.
The name Junagadh means Old Fort. Various famous rulers such as the Kshatrapas, Mauryans, Chudasamas, Guptas, Vilabhis, Gujarat Sultans and Babi Nawabs have reigned in this part of the world. The architecture and rich cultural heritage of Junagadh stands as the edifice of the political and religious influences of the various rulers who have ruled the region.
Four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam, have left a substantial influence on Junagadh. However, a stronger influence of the rulers of Junagadh was felt on the architecture of the city. During the reign of Babi Nawabs, Junagadh was the capital of the Junagadh State.
Among the two defensive structures, Uparkot in the west is one of the fortifications of Junagadh. Uparkot was a stronghold of Mauryans and Gupta Empire. This place is known to have survived 16 sieges in a span of 1000 years. This is courtesy to the strategic location which makes access to this place very difficult. Buddhist caves, Baba Pyara caves, Adi-Kadi Vav, Navghan Kuvo and Jami Masjid are the major sites here. The former residence of Ranakdevi was converted into the Jami Mosque by Muhammad Begada after his conquest of Junagadh in 1470.
Delving into Junagadh history would reveal the presence of rulers who were great patrons of art and architecture. Massive beautification of Junagadh was done during the reign of Nawab Mahobat Khat II, who was one of the Babi Rulers. Under his patronage, many renowned edifices like Aina Mahal, Circle Chowk with clock tower and Dewan Chowk were built. The Maqbaras or the mausoleums of the royal family are also architectural extravaganzas of the city. Manoranjan Guest House, Bahauddin College, Mahobat Madresa are the other important buildings constructed during the Nawabi period.
The rich culture and heritage of Junagadh is also preserved in the literature of the great poets and litterateurs like Narsinh Mehta.
Transport for Villagers
Upperkot Fort was built in 319BC by Chandragupta Maurya. The fort is classic example of Hindu style of architecture. A visit to Upperkot Fort is an important itinerary during the tour of Junagadh.
Ashoka’s Rock Edict
Ashoka rock edict is one of major rock edicts, which was constructed by Ashoka and they are great source of information about Mauryan Dynasty and history of Gujrat. It is located on the way from Junagadh to Girnar. Fourteen rock edicts of the Emperor Ashoka are inscribed on a great boulder. The inscription carry Brahmi script in Pali language and dates back to 263 BC. Rudrakama and Skandagupta added sanskrit inscriptions in around 150 AD and 450 AD respctively.
These inscriptions preach principles of matery of the senses, purity of thought, gratitude, devotion, self-control, secular thinking, kindness and oppose animal sacrifice and greed. The Edicts depicts the tale of Ashoka’s repentance for death and destruction during the wars waged by him.
The Polyester Prince
Dhirubhai Ambani was born into a Modh family on 28th December 1932 in Chorwad, Junagadh. He started Reliance industries which is among the largest corporations in India. The Polyester Prince is a book written about Dhirubhai Ambani. It not only is a biography of Dhirubhai, but also provides a lot of insights about the functioning of related industry and freedom movement of India. A must read.
Girnar Hills, Junagadh
After tiding over recent crisis of the illness of imported South African cheetahs, the forest department-run Sakkarbaug Zoo authorities in Junagadh City are now planning to welcome a pair of Hippopotamus.
Recently, much to the relief of wildlife lovers and zoo medico team, four cheetahs, which had fallen severely ill last month, were certified as fully recovered. The beasts, which were removed from public view after they had suffered infection, were put back for public view.
Sakkarbaug Zoo superintendent VJ Rana said, “The cheetahs have recovered and have been brought to the sections where visitors can see them since March 1.” Sakkarbaug Zoo is the only zoo in country to own the world’s fastest animal. The cheetahs were brought from Singapore under an animal exchange programme. The zoo is now planning to bring a female hippo from Kanpur Zoo under another animal exchange programme.
“We have already brought a male hippo and within the next fortnight will bring the female one to the zoo. In exchange, we have provided Kanpur Zoo with a tiger. The zoo is also going to house four pairs of foreign birds from Baroda Zoo in exchange of which we will give them a tiger, bear and Thamin deer,” Rana added.