Girnar is essentially a collection of mountains. There are five peaks festooned with 16 highly ornate temples. It is located in the Junagadh district of Gujarat about 327km from Ahmedabad. It is spread over an area of 200sq.km. People who visit Junagadh for the world famous Gir wildlife Sanctuary make it a point to visit one of the holiest places in India. Among the five peaks, the tallest one rises up to 945 meters in height and is the highest peak in Gujarat. There are around 10,000 steps from the trailhead to the highest peak. It is a very important place for Hindus as well as Jains. It is believed that climbing the steps is a way of attaining moksha or a place in heaven.
Isn’t it fascinating to note that amidst the rich green cover of the forest at a very high elevation is the temple township which attracts devout tourist throughout the year? Though it is an important tourist destination for Hindus and Jains people from all faiths do visit the Girnar.The Girnar region is also famous for the Naga sadhus and the best time to spot them is during Maha Shivratri.
All along the trek, you will notice that the task is worth it with lush green surroundings all along the peak.You would have to climb around 2000 steps to reach the famous plateau housing the Jain temples .The two important Jain temples here are the Mallinath and Neminath. Mallinath temple was built by the brothers Vastupal and Tejapala who also founded temples in Mount Abu and Shatrunjaya. This is a nineteenth century Mallinath temple dedicated to the 19th Tirthankar .
Right opposite to the Mallinath temple is the Neminath, which is the most famous temple and it attracts both the Swethambar and Digambar sects of Jains. It was built between 1128 AD and 1159 AD. Neminath was the 22nd tirthankar who became an ascetic after he saw the ruthless slaughter of animals during his wedding. He is believed to have come to this mountain to attain salvation. The ‘Sandhvi Sangh’ is an organization for women ascetics and was started by Neminath`s bride to be, who followed Neminath and meditated at the mountains and attained salvation.
Within the Neminath temple there is an idol of Lord Neminath carved out of black granite and bedecked with jeweled eyes. Quadrangle courtyards, corridors and other shrines make the place picturesque. The pillars seen here are adorned with carvings of the Jain Tirthankaras. The ceilings bear engravings of dancing Goddesses.
There is another interesting temple built in the 15th century known as Parshwanath which is also known as Meravasi. A little above the plateau is the Amba Mata temple. From this point the steps lead downwards and gradually ascend along a narrow edge towards the Gorakhnath Peak. There is a small shrine where you will find the foot-prints of Gorakhnath. On moving further ahead you will find the third peak wherein the imprints of Neminath`s feet are preserved. Ultimately at the final phase you will find a shrine dedicated to Hindu Goddess Kalika or Durga. This shrine is highly revered by the Hindus and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is believed that wishes come true at this place.
The Pir is a spot venerated by Muslims. There is a mosque which is mainly thronged by childless women for blessings .As mentioned earlier there are approximately 10,000 steps and at the last leg of the climb, the steps descend to a plateau on which is located the Kamandalu Kund ashram. On your way up to visit the shrine you will notice a spring of freshwater which helps quench the thirst of pilgrims. Here you will find the Dattatreya’s akhand dhuni or the sacred fire of the ascetic.
The ashram is home to several sadhus from all over India. On the last peak you will find the Dattatreya shrine bearing foot prints of the great guru who is worshipped here as the unclad ascetic. Girnar is also famous for the Dattatreya which is revered by the Shaivites or believers of Lord Shiva. Dattatreya is a three headed God representing the oneness of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The three peaks at Girnar are believed to symbolize this trinity. And Mahashivarathri is celebrated with much gusto. A visit to Girnar at that time will provide you an insight into the life and devotion of the Naga Sadhus.
The temples on the hilltop make this place a truly enchanting tourist destination. People from all faiths come here to offer their prayers to God. The task of climbing the ten thousand steps is a Herculean task but the devout deem it a pleasure. While you are in Junagadh make sure to visit the Girnar as it would be an indescribable experience of a lifetime.
By Air: The Nearest airport is at Keshod situated at a distance of 40 km and Porbander at a distance of 113 km. The nearest International airport is in Ahmedabad.
By Rail: A comfortable overnight train journey from Ahmedabad.
By Road: It is located at a distance of 5 km from Junagadh and about 400 km south west of Ahmedabad. State transport buses to Junagadh are available.
Staying facilities are available at the Shri Bandilal Digamabar Jain Dharamshala at Girnar.
Since its located 5 km from Junagadh, hotels in Junagadh is also a good option.
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