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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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.

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