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Climbing the Holy Mountains
The 5 hills of the Girnar Range guard the North Western limit of the Gir National Park. Why not wake early to climb all 8000 steps, stop to visit the ancient Jain and Hindu temples before reaching the peaks.
Set off before sunrise to the temple studded Girnar Hills, which is said to be a pre-Harappan site. Enjoy spectacular views of Junagadh town from the top. It is best to go during the pleasanter months of the year and best enjoyed the earlier you leave or before the pilgrims arrive.
This is an important place of pilgrimage for the Jains and en route you will have no trouble finding refreshments and may have to watch out for insolent monkeys. Chance upon, at about 1500 feet up, the fortress like Jain temple complex, which has 16 shrines. Elaborate sculptures adorn both the interior and exterior of the temple.
Right at the top at 3000 feet is Bhairon Jap from where people would jump off to be reincarnated as kings in often religious or grandiose fervour.
Girnar Hills can be reached from the town of Junagadh, which used to be under the Mauryans during 250 BC. Ashoka's influence can be seen everywhere in the Buddhist edicts, caves and the monastery in the Uperkot Fort.
Junagadh was later ruled by the Chudasama Rajputs and then taken over and declared a state by Sher Khan Babi. Interestingly, the famed Bollywood actress Parveen Babi, known for her beauty is a direct descendant from the Babi rulers of Junagadh.
Don't miss the bizare building of Mahabat Maqbara with a board next to it that proclaims, "An excellent example of post-medieval Islamic architecture in an Indian environment"! What you see is a mix of European, Arabian and Indian architecture that is astounding.
Junagadh in total has an eclectic feel with Awadhi towers, Gothic arches and early 19th century kitsch in the bazar. See the display of royal paraphernalia like the howdahs and macabre weapons in the Junagadh Palace. Also notice the portraits of Nawabs and pet dogs with jeweled collars here.