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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Archaeological Museum-Somnath

     Down the lane to the north of the temple is a museum with important archaeological remains from the former Somnath Temple. The museum is open from 8:30am-12:15pm and 2:30pm-6pm. To some, the museum is even more interesting than the modern temple, for it preserves stone sculptures, inscriptions and pottery from several periods.
   Though lacking in proper documentation or guidebooks, the time spent here is supremely worth the journey, with the remains of the ancient shrine reconstructed by the Chalukyan Maharaja Shri Mularaja Deva Solanki of Anhilvada Patan.
 

Somnath Mahadev Temple

      The principal temple of Somnath is believed to have been built in gold by the moon god Soma, in silver by the sun god Ravi, in wood by Krishna and in stone by the Solanki Rajputs in the 11th century. The present temple, built in 1951, is the seventh reconstruction on the original site. Tales of its riches attracted a series of invasions, but each time the temple was invaded, it was restored to its original glory by devout Hindu worshipers. Commanding a breathtaking view from the tip of the Saurashtra peninsula, kissed by the                                               
waves of the Arabian coast, the temple has been constructed in the Chalukyan style with a shikhara nearly 50 m tall. The temple's imposing architecture includes intricate carvings, silver doors, an impressive Nandi idol and the central shivalinga. In the vast courtyard stand the massive mandapa (hall), as well as the main shrine, whose gently curved pyramidal forms tower over the whole complex.
       Through a side door the sea is visible shimmering in the sunlight. Try slipping out to gaze at the roaring waves below, which though not safe for swimming, present an exhilarating spectacle. In view, you will find a tower called Deep Stambha erected on the embankment. On the top is a shape like a conch shell on its side, and in the tower is an arrow pointing directly to the south pole (interestingly, a line between here and the south pole crosses no land until Antarctica.)
      The Kartik Purnima Fair is held here for four days beginning on Kartik Sud 14 according to the Hindu calendar, and attracts crowds in large numbers.

Somnath

      In the Shivapurana and the Nandi Upapurana, Lord Shiva is quoted as saying, 'I am omnipresent, but I am especially in twelve forms and places.' These places are known as jyotirlingas, and Somnath is the first to be found in the world. Around the linga the moon god Soma built a mythical temple of gold as an ode to Lord Shiva's glory and compassion. Like the waxing and waning moon, and fittingly for a place associated with Lord Shiva's cosmic dance of creative destruction, the Somnath temple has risen unfailingly from repeated acts of devastation.
   On Kartik Sud 14 in the Hindu calendar, the day of Shiva's son Kartikeya's birth, a fair is held for four days at the shrine of Somnath. Millions of devotees converge here for these ebullient celebrations on the shores of the Arabian Sea.
 

Sarkheswar Beach-Juynagadh

      A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea or lake. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, or cobblestones. The particles of which the beach is composed can sometimes instead have biological origins, such as shell fragments or coralline algae fragments.
Wild beaches are beaches which do not have lifeguards or trappings of modernity nearby, such as resorts and hotels. They are sometimes called undeclared, undeveloped, undefined, or undiscovered beaches. Wild beaches can be valued for their untouched beauty and preserved nature. They are found in less developed areas such as Puerto Rico, Thailand or Indonesia.Beaches often occur along coastal areas where wave or current action deposits and reworks sediments.

Madhavpur Beach-Junagadh

    Madhavpur is a small town located 60 kms southwest of historic town Porbandar. Madhvapur Beach is one of the beautiful sandy beaches in Gujarat. Beautiful sandy beaches lined here with coconut trees.Madhavpur Beach , is home to the name of Madhav Raoji.
     The temple of Madhav Raoji is a cynosure of all eyes along with the Madhavpur Beach. The Haveli temple of Madhavraiji is the chief attraction.   
    It is believed that Lord Krishna had married Rukmini in Madhavpur. The Legend is kept alive by holding a fair on Chaitra Sud 12 every year. There is also a Bethak of Mahaprabhuji as Shri Vallabhachrya who had given discourse on Shrimad Bhagwat for seven days here.

Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary-Junagadh




    Mitiyala grasslands known for the rustic, untamed essence of undulating hill tracks engulfed with tall grasses, semi-dry deciduous trees, is almost like an offshoot of Gir Lion Sanctuary. Mitiyala Wildlife Sanctuary occupying an area of 18.22 square kilometers got the confirmed status in the year 2004. The jungle pre-independence was part of the royal estate of Bhavnagar and Asiatic Lions in their most Majestic aura were preserved along with other wildlife native to this region.
    As one wanders around the terrain the regal Asiatic Lions basking in the glory of nature greets and a further way down herds of spotted deer gallop around trying to move further away from the King of Jungle. The Lions often meander down to the Gir forests as the Mitiyala sanctuary is at a stones throw and share a common boundary with the woodlands. The area between the Mitiyala and Gir Sanctuary serves as a passage connecting the two habitats for the wildlife residing in these areas.
    The rugged ridges with the grasses and scrubs in Mitliyala are a safe haven for two prides of lions and a solitary lion which is almost 11-12 lions. Other animals sharing the space with the royal king are leopards that diffidently rest around blending with the nature. Spotted deer in herds with their graceful movements gallop around the terrain and the Bluebulls or nilgai are often seen grazing around to their hearts content. Wild boars in groups which are known as sounders move around the area, eating anything from plants to little reptiles.
    Driving around the sanctuary, the winters is best time to experience the place and spend a day away from the daily routine. This small sanctuary with its diverse natural variety on offer is an ideal place to unwind and learn from environment and enjoy the experience of nature’s creation. A day in the haven looking around the inhabitants can be quite an exciting endeavor, but just remember the King of Jungle does continue his life at his own fancy. He may or may not be present in or around the site when you are there. Keep ample amount of time in hand and wait for the jungle king while enjoy the varied species of birds and other animals in the vicinity.
    Being a responsible nature lover is our way of showing reverence to Mother Earth, a few tips for you to remember-

    No smoking whatsoever (cigarette butts cause many forest fires.)
    No flash or intrusive photography (for example, don’t pluck leaves to clear a better view; reposition the camera instead.)
    Do not carry any music system or sound making device along with you and remember to keep them switched off if you are driving around.
    Picking plants or insects prohibited; do not remove anything from the park.
    No quick or sudden movements to scare off wildlife.
    Do not try going to close to the animals.
    No pets should accompany you.
    No littering. Trash is only to be disposed of in proper receptacles.
    No hunting devices or other weapons should be carried, as well as used.

Pania Wildlife Sanctuary -Junagadh



      Precipitous, undulating landscape carpeted with wild grass and vegetation in-houses the Pania Wildlife Sanctuary. The ecological refuge also known by the name of Chanchai-Pania has been home to varied species of endangered and rare animals and was declared a Sanctuary in 1989. The 39.63 square kilometers sanctuary is an extended stretch of the Gir Sanctuary and the majestic lions and leopards frequently roam around this area. The Pania Wildlife refuge is differentiated from Gir to emphasize preservation of the Chinkaras and antelopes who wander around freely in the grassy region.
    Patches of grassy land amidst the hilly arid areas render the area suitably for the elegant and graceful Chinkara or Indian Gazelle. Small animals like Hyena, wild cat, civet cat, antelopes bearing four horns, pangolins, and foxes are seen almost playing hide and seek with the varied species of grasses while majestic animals like mighty lions stomping around the bumpy terrain in their full glory might offer a pleasurable surprise.
    The crude exuberance of nature basking the glory of the Pania Sanctuary can be best experienced during the period in between monsoon and winters. A haven for eco-tourists this center will provide you with ample treasures and diversity of nature. Drive around the small zone while coming across petite animals shying away from you or apprehend the magical aura of the royal king of jungle lazing around in the rustic wilderness.
    Being a responsible nature lover is our way of showing reverence to Mother Earth, a few tips for you to remember-

    No smoking whatsoever (cigarette butts cause many forest fires.)
    No flash or intrusive photography (for example, don’t pluck leaves to clear a better view; reposition the camera instead.)
    Do not carry any music system or sound making device along with you and remember to keep them switched off if you are driving around.
    Picking plants or insects prohibited; do not remove anything from the park.
    No quick or sudden movements to scare off wildlife.
    Do not try going to close to the animals.
    No pets should accompany you.
    No littering. Trash is only to be disposed of in proper receptacles.
    No hunting devices or other weapons should be carried, as well as used.
    Carry lots of water.  

Satguru Rohidass Ashram-Junagadh


       Satguru Rohidass Ashram situated at Sarsai Village of District Junagadh of Gujarat. It is believed that Satguru Ravidass ji has spent approximately 15 years of his life at Sarsai Village of District Junagadh of Gujarat and become famous with name Satguru Rohidass Ji. Satguru Rohidass Ashram at Sarsai Village of District Junagarh is a great place of worship for Satguru Rohidass followers. A very old temple of Satguru Ravidass (Rohidass) Ji is also here in this Ashram. In front of this temple a Yagya Hawan Kund is also present; which has an historic value. According to the old folks of Sarsai; few decades ago, there were 7 Kunds (Pool) related with Satguru Ravidass Ji. But, now only 3 Kunds are left.
    One Kund is named as Shram Kund; where Satguru Ravidass ji was doing his work of Leather. Second Kund is named as Shaan Kund, which is related with story of Pandit Ganga Ram and Ganga. It is believed that King Kankan of that place became very fascinated and highly impressed by the spiritual power of Satguru Ravidass Ji; hence they became his Followers. Third Kund named as Hemano Kund where the followers of Satguru Ravidass ji are doing “Pind Daan”. All these Kunds were created by Satguru Ravidass (Rohidass) Ji to fight against manmade discrimination based on caste, colour or creed.
    Famous personalities like King Pipa, Mirabai and Queen Jhalla were disciples of Satguru Ravidass ji. Another memorial of Satguru Ravidass ji Kund is found in Junagadh at Kathiawar and an idol of Lord Madhav in the form of stone under the tree of Jamun is still present at Prachi (approx.15 km) from Somnath which itself tells us about the spiritual powers of Satguru Ravidass Ji.
    Satguru Ravidass Ji taught the lessons of universal brotherhood, tolerance, message of love your neighbour, which has got more importance in today's world.
 

Junagadh Caves


      
       Khapra Kodia Cave, Junagadh On the basis of scribbles and short cursive letters on the wall, Khapra Kodia caves are datable to 3rd-4th century AD. This is the plainest of all cave groups. The chambers are cut into an east-west longitudinal ridge. The important components of the caves are the oblong western wing and the 'L' shaped wing used by Monks as a monsoon shelter.
     The Group of caves lying close to the Modhimath is known as Baba Pyara. The northern group of it has four caves. The next set of caves lies little to the south of the eastern end of the first group and has a unified plan with a spacious court and a chaitya hall, apsidal in shape. The cave pillars and door jambs of the caves suggest a clear impact of art traditions of Satavahanas period and are datable to 1st-2nd century AD on the basis of architecture.
 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Girnar-Junagadh

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        The highest point in Gujarat, Mt. Girnar has for centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the state and indeed in all of Western India, with 866 Hindu and Jain temples spread over the 5 summits. The base of the mountain, known as Girnar Taleti, is just 4 km east of the center of Junagadh. A hike up the mountain is best started early in the morning, with the mind of a pilgrim. Each step upward should itself encompass the entirety of the journey, rather than be seen as another effort towards one’s goal of reaching the top
     The steps begin at Domdar Kund, near the Damodar and Baldvji temples. The 15th-century poet Narsinh Mehta used to bathe here, and supposedly composed most of his morning hymns, the prabhatiya, here. As you ascend the stone path that connects the temples along the 5 summits, you will pass temples of many different sects of Hinduism. The Bhavnath temple, early on, is dedicated to Shiva, where the “naked sadhus” come to celebrate Shivaratri. After 4000 steps up, 800 steps before the first summit, you   reach a plateau with a Jain temple complex. Among these temples, which date from the 12th to 16th centuries, is the site where Neminath, the 22nd tirthankar of Jainism, died after 700 years of ascetic meditation. 2000 steps further on, the temple of Amba Mata (the Mother Goddess) is visited by Hindus, Jains, and newlyweds seeking blessings for a happy marriage. These last 2000 steps are intimidating but well worth the trip for the spectacular panoramic views from the summit. Then the stone trail continues, 1000 steps down and 1000 steps back up, to reach the other summits. The last of which houses a temple to Kalika, where the Aghora ascetics smear themselves with funeral ashes
        Though people will offer to carry you up the stairs (for a hefty price), the real experience of Girnar is to be found in walking. Pilgrimage is not about arriving, but about traveling. Start early in the morning, carry plenty of water, and stop for rest often during the hot hours of the day, and your climb of Mt. Girnar will be fruitful.

Darbar Hall-Junagadh


      A walk around the old city of Junagadh will take you to many places worth visiting. The tombs of the Babi Nawabs, including the first Nawab of Junagadh, who made the princely state independent from the Mughals in 1748, have interesting designs, and though somewhat poorly maintained, are still worth seeing. Far more spectacular, however, are the Maqbaras from later in the Babi period, built over the grave of Nawab Mahabat Khan II. The awe-inspiring architecture mixes Moorish, Hindu and European influences with an exquisite eye for detail. The Maqbaras are not to be missed.
     The Junagadh Museum, open from 9am-12pm and 3pm-6pm every day except Wednesday, houses prehistoric stone and bone implements, 9th-century stone carvings and many bronzes, manuscripts, silverwork, glass crafts, woodcarvings, textiles and other items from the history of the area.
     Next door is the Sakkarbaug Zoo, open from 9am-6:30pm (closed on Wednesday, like the museum), which is known for its conservation and captive breeding program for the Asiatic Lion, found in the wild in nearby Gir National Park. Entry to the zoo is Rs.10/- for Indians, Rs.50/- for Foreigners.The Darbar Hall Museum, open from 9am-12 noon and 3pm-6pm (closed Wednesday and the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month), exhibits the era of the Babis of Junagadh, with lavish furniture, thrones, textiles, arms, portraits and photographs from the period.
    Entry: Rs. 2/- for Indians and Rs. 50/- for foreigners. The Museum charges Rs. 2/- per photograph (if you wish to take photographs). Mobiles are to be switched off during your visit.

Ashok Edicts-Junagadh


      Ashoka’s Rock Edicts belong to 250 BC where around 14 edicts of Ashoka are located on the route to the Mount Girnar Hills. This rock edict is a huge stone and the carving in Brahmi script in Pali language mention the resistance to greed and animal sacrifice and also moralize the principles of purity of thought, secularism in thinking, kindness and gratitude. The other major part of Junagadh’s Buddhist heritage are the stone edicts of Emperor Ashoka, found on the road towards Mt. Girnar. When Ashoka famously converted to Buddhism and renounced violence, on his way to being one of India’s most revered and respected rulers of all time, he had edicts carved in stone and placed in sites all across India (ranging as far as Kandahar in present-day Afghanistan in the West, modern Bangladesh in the East, Andhra Pradesh in the south) with precepts for living a virtuous life, respecting others and creating a just society. Speaking in moral and ethical terms, not religious ones (though the Buddha is mentioned), the edicts reach out across faith traditions. Tellingly, in        Junagadh one edict that is visible (though you won’t understand it unless you read Pali) reads: “To foster one’s own sect, depreciating the others out of affection for one’s own, to exalt its merit, is to do the worst harm to one’s own sect.” This is wise counsel calling to us from 2300 years ago. The site of the edicts is open every day from 8am-6pm. Entry is Rs.5/- for Indians & Rs.100/- for Foreigners.

Buddhist Caves

    The so-called “Buddhist Caves” around Uparkot are not actually caves, but three separate sites of rooms carved out of stone to be used as monks’ quarters, hence the name. They are all a little over 2000 years old, give or take a couple of centuries.
     The oldest, the Khapara Kodia caves caves belong to 3rd-4th century AD and are plainest of all cave groups. These caves are along the edge of the ancient Sudarshan Lake (which no longer exists) and the northern side of Uparkot. The chambers are separated into an east-west longitudinal crest. The rectangle western wing and the ‘L’ shaped wing used by the Monks as a monsoon shelter, are the important parts of the caves. They were carved into living rock during the reign of Emperor Ashoka and are considered the earliest monastic settlement in the area. After many years of use, they were abandoned because cracks above them allowed water to seep into living quarters, rendering them unusable. Many accounts say that after this, the monks left for Maharashtra, where they went on to carve many similar and more elaborate structures. Khapara Kodia was damaged by later quarrying, and now only the highest story remains.
     Across Uparkot from Khapara Kodia are the caves of Baba Pyara. Baba Pyara caves are lying close to the Modhimath, which has four caves in its northern group. The next set of south group caves has a unified plan with a spacious court and a chaitya hall. The art tradition of Satavahanas period has influence over these cave pillars and door jambs of the caves. It is believed that they belong to 1st – 2nd century AD. These have 13 rooms in three stories, cut into the rock 45 m. (150 ft.) high and adorned with carvings of Buddhist symbology. These are much more intact than the Khapara Kodia caves. The last (and most recent, being only 1900 years old) caves are next to the Adi-Kadi Vav.
    Entry Rs.5/- for Indians & Rs.100/- for Foreigners.
 

Adi-Kadi Vav & Navghan Kuwo-Junagadh

     These two stepwells inside Uparkot, are highly unusual forms of stepwells, very different from wells in other parts of Gujarat. Most wells are dug through various kinds of subsoils and rock layers, and stone columns, floors, stairs and walls are built much like they would be in above-ground construction. In the case of these two, the spaces of the well itself were carved out of stone, leaving the structure of the well (the columns, the walls, etc.) out of the original rock. This means no structural construction is done, so the whole structure of the well is hewn out of a single stone.
    Navghan Kuwo, just a few years shy of being a thousand years old (it was apparently built in 1026 AD, though some accounts say it is much older), is partly hewn out of soft rock and partly built up structurally like other wells. The stairs that lead down 52 m (170 ft.) to the water level spiral around the well shaft itself, which is also very uncommon. The water from Navghan Kuwo is what allowed Uparkot to withstand many long sieges.
   Adi-kadi Vav, built in the 15th century, is carved entirely out of hard rock. A narrow flight of 120 stairs cuts down through the stone to meet the well shaft deep in the stone. Two different legends claim to explain the name of the well. One says that the king ordered a stepwell to be built and workers excavated down into this hard stone, but no water was found. The royal priest said that water would only be found if two unmarried girls were sacrificed. Adi and Kadi were the unlucky ones chosen for this and after their sacrifice, water was found. The other story, less fantastic but probably more likely, claims that Adi and Kadi were the names of the royal servant girls who fetched water from the well every day. Either way, people still hang cloth and bangles on a tree nearby in their memory.

Jama Masjid-Junagadh

   The Jama Masjid was originally the palace of Ranakdevi, but was converted to a mosque by Sultan Muhammad Begda when he conquered the princes of Saurashtra. Perhaps for that reason, it is easily mistaken for a fort. It also has a covered courtyard, which is very unusual in Indian mosques.

Uparkot -Junagadh


    The oldest part of Junagadh, and the center of any visit to the city, is the upper citadel, known as Uparkot. Over 2300 years old, with walls up to 20 m high in some places, Uparkot is what allowed Junagadh to withstand a 12-year siege at one point. It is believed that these caves belong to 1st-4th Century AD and are gilded with beautiful pillars and entrances, water cisterns, horseshoe shaped chatiya windows, an assembly hall and cell for meditation. There is also a 300 ft.-deep moat inside the walls, that reportedly used to be inhabited by crocodiles, so that if any attacker managed to surmount the high fortifications, they would then either be exposed on the upper battlements or fall into the crocodile-infested trench.
    Just inside the entrance are the insignia of some of Uparkot’s former rulers and temples to Ganesh, Hanuman and Shakti. Closeby are two medieval cannons named Neelam and Manek, forged in Cairo and brought by the Turks who sailed to Saurashtra to aid in defending Diu against the Portuguese.
      Entry to Uparkot is Rs.2/- (Rs.10/- for a vehicle); it is open from 7am-7pm every day. The following places (Jami Masjid, Adi-Kadi Vav, Buddhist caves and Navghan Kuvo are all within Uparkot.)

Junagadh hub

     Few places offer you the chance to probe the earth and the heavens, the human and the wild, as Junagadh does.  Towering over the city is Mt. Girnar, a holy site for Hindus and Jains that is climbed by a 9999-step staircase along peaks studded by temples that reach for the sky and look out across the plains. Walking up these stairs in pilgrimage is a unique experience of striving towards the heavens. Back at the base of the mountain, however, deep in the heart of the oldest quarter of the city, you can walk down into the depths of the earth in a pair of ancient stepwells that were not built, but hewn out of solid rock. Spiraling down the staircase of thousand-year-old Navghan Kuvo, plunging 170 feet into the heart of solid rock to find life-giving water at the bottom, is an unparalleled contact with the elements that sustain us.
     In the city of Junagadh, you can reach out and touch the two and a half millennia of human civilization, spanning dominant periods of Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, all of whom left deep imprints on the city.  And then you can set off for the Gir National Park to come face to face with the utter wildness of the last of Asiatic Lions, where human civilization is still just incidental to the natural rhythms that have continued for centuries.

Gopnath Mahadev Temple and Beach-Bhavnagar


    Located on the shore of the seaside on the Gulf of Khambat, this Shiva temple is where the devotional poet Narsinh Mehta supposedly had his spiritual experience almost 500 years ago. Set on the seashore, the temple is an ideal spot for all wanting a spiritual and natural trip. The coast in this area is full of tiny islands and offers a picturesque delight to the onlooker.

Khodiyar temple Bhavnagar

    Khodiyar temple, named after the principle deity, venerated by the royal family and the natives around, was built in the year 1911. The temple visited by thousands of pilgrims is located on the banks of the Khodiayar Lake, which attracts tourists from all the surrounding areas. Quite often followers of the goddess walk long distances to revere the goddess.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brahm Kund-Bhavnagar

      22 km away from Bhavnagar in the quite locale is situated the town of Sihore which was the ancient capital of the Gohilwad Kingdom. The royal palace and its mural speak about the grandeur of the era in which it was built and the many temples built around the town speak of the spiritual inclining of its inhabitants.
      The Gautameshwar temple lake and the Shiva temple built on its bank is one of the most exquisite examples of this region.

Palitana temple-Bhavnagar



    Palitana located 51 km south west of Bhavnagar is known for being the largest cluster of Jain temples. There are in total 863 temples from base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples are located. The path is climbed through 3950 steps spanning 3.5 km up the Shatrunjaya Hills.
   The construction of temples of Palitana spanned over a period of 900 years and was structured in two phases. From the 11th to12th centuries AD as a part of the resurgence of temple building all over India, the first phase of temple architecture was constructed. The second phase followed later, from the 16th century AD onwards. Muslim invaders destroyed some of the earliest temples built in the 11th century AD, during the 14th and 15th centuries AD. No one person can be attributed for the construction of these magnificent temples rather it was the effort of the wealthy businessmen who were followers of Jainism.

Talaja hill-Bhavnagar

      The serene town of Talaja on the banks of Shetrunji River, has around 30 ancient Buddhist caves cut into the rocks, with perfectly identifiable carvings of Boddhisatva. The most impressive structure is the Ebhala Mandapa, a large hall with four octagonal pillars in the front.
 

Nilambag palace-Bhavnagar

      Nilambag, the royal palace now converted into a heritage hotel reflects the grandeur of the eighteenth century and is set amidst vivid lawns and gardens. The pillared porticos, stepped arches, pleasant center courtyard, turning marble staircase, dining hall furnished with European chandeliers and the historic library takes one back to the era of royalty and splendor.
 

Gaurishankar Lake-Bhavnagar

     The vast lake spreading over an area of 381 hectares is also locally known by the name of Bor Talav after the illustrious Dewan Shri Gaurishankar Oza. Conceived and built in 1872 as a water reservoir for drinking water, today is one of the most preferred tourist as well as picnic spot in the city. The adjoining bal-vatika along with the musical fountains, planetarium, boat house and many more attractions provide ideal entertainment for a day out with nature and family.
    Near the lake is a mini forest, a repository of flora and fauna, with more than 1 lakh trees which provides a serene ambience bringing one close to nature. One of the few city-forests in India, this natural haven provides shelter to varied species of flora and fauna. Within the forest premises there are two nurseries which cultivate plants for gardens and forests.
 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BHAVNAGAR HUB

       The lapping waves of the Gulf of Khambat along with the majestic splendor of art and architecture acquaint one to the most royal city of Gujarat. Bhavnagar located at the Southern tip of Peninsula Gujarat with its principle port Gogha as the entrance to the Gulf of Cambay, has been a predominant city for trade and commerce.
      The glimmering shine of gems to grandiose of the historical structures, vibrant bazzars flaunting the glory of textile artisans to the finesse of the silversmiths, centuries of ocean trade to the effervescent entrepreneurship spirit, this city offers ample amount of diversity for any tourist or visitor. Delicately carved wooden pillars to facades of the merchant houses display the magnificence and opulent taste and fervor of the inhabitants whereas the buzzing markets and the industries state the enterprising zeal of the populace.
The intricately lattice work on the walls of Ganga Devi Mandir fills an feeling of awe in the spectator while the Takhteshwar Temple on the hilltop in the south of the town affords a good view over the city to the Gulf of Khambat in the South. The city known for being pioneer in rural children and women’s education field is also lauded for their efforts in social welfare.
       Bhavanagar is also known as the Sanskari Kendra or the Cultural city and is identified for its cultural ingenuity and the literary laureates who were born and reside in the city.  Narsinh Mehta, Ganga Sati, Jhaverchand Meghani, Kavi Kant, Govardhan Tripathi and many other poets, writers and artists have been part of the cultural and literary heritage of the city.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Talaja-Palitana

            On the Shatrunjaya River, just inland from the small port town of Sartanpur, lies Talaja, about 32 km from Palitana. Best known as the birthplace of the poet Narsinh Mehta, Talaja also houses important sites for Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Also, this place holds the importance to Buddhists as there are around 30 ancient Buddhist caves cut into rocks, with fine carving of Boddhisatva. The Ebhala Mandapa, a large hall with four octagonal pillars is the most impressive structure.
    
          There is a notable Jain temple on a hill alongside the town. The same hill has 13 Buddhist caves carved into solid rock. The caves are around 2000 years old, and require about a 15-20 min. walk up the hill to reach them. They are of the 4th stage of Buddhist cave architecture, noticeably earlier than the famous Buddhist caves of Maharashtra. The Hindu temple of Khodiad Mata is on the same hill, placing holy sites of three religions on the same site. You can also visit Narsinh Mehta’s house in town, though there is little of obvious note other than a marker signaling it as the house of his birth.
          Private and ST buses travel to Talaja from Palitana and Bhavnagar regularly. 

Jambudweep Temple-Palitana

       
      This temple has an excellent exhibit on Jain cosmology, describing the intricate divisions of the heavens and the earth, and an individual's passage through the different stages of the universe. There is also an exhibit on Jain mathematics, for anyone intrigued by unusual systems of reasoning, whether a believer or not. It features uncommon units of measure for height, width, weight, time and so forth. The temple is open every day, with a free show every evening at 6pm.

Shri Vishal Jain Museum-Palitana

         At the foot of Shatrunjaya, this museum houses an excellent collection of artifacts, excavated idols from earlier temples, ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves, and an exhibit on the history of Jainism and the life of Lord Mahavira. Most of the accompanying information is in Gujarati, though some is in Hindi and occasionally English. Entry is Rs. 6/-. Open from 11am-3pm and 4pm-6pm daily.

Angar Pir-Palitana


       Next to the Adeshwara Temple is a rare Muslim shrine to Angar Pir, a Sufi saint who lived here in the 14th century when the area was attacked by Allauddin Khilji, who sought the riches of the temples on Shatrunjaya.  Angar Pir, believing in the intrinsic sacredness of the temples, even though they were to a different faith than his own, came to their protection. Through the power of his prayers and devotion, he hurled holy fire on the invading armies, thus protecting the temples from destruction.
    We would do well to commemorate those like Angar Pir who believe in the sanctity of others’ holy sites, instead of those who destroy them as if to raise the stature of their own. Angar Pir’s dargah is approached before the first main temple complex; where the path forks, many take the shorter route on the left and bypass the dargah, so be sure to take the path on the right to lead you to the dargah, a small shrine with a green flag.

Adinath temple-Palitana


          With a slender tower over the shrine, the Adinath temple honors the first tirthankar Lord Rishabhdev of Jainism, who is said to have achieved enlightenment on this spot. Lord Rishabhdev had a sign of an Ox on his thigh and before he was born, his mother Marudeva had seen 14 dreams out of which the first was an Ox. He was the first to start the religion and thats why he is also known as 'Adinath'.