Girnar, Junagarh, Gujarat, India

Location: Junagadh DistrictDistance: 327 km from Ahmedabad
Altitude: 3660 feet above sea level
Attractions: Hindu and Jain Temples, mainly Neminath Temple
Best time to visit: October to March
STD Code: 0285

Girnar (also known as Girnar Hill) is a collection of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India. The tallest of these rises to 945 meters (3600 feet), the highest peak in Gujarat. The five peaks of Girnar are topped by 866 intricately carved stone temples. A sturdy stone path a pilgrimage route for both Hindus and Jains climbs from peak to peak. It is claimed that there are exactly 9,999 steps from the trailhead to the last temple on the highest peak, but the actual number is roughly 8,000.

Every year, a race is held, running from the base of the mountain to the peak and back. The locals in nearby Junagadh insist that the fastest-ever time was 42.36 minutes. However, most people take 5-8 hours to climb the mountain.

In the Hindu religion, the legend is that climbing Girnar barefooted earns one a place in Heaven. There is one holy stone; it is said that if a person attempts suicide from that stone then he becomes a part of Heaven.

Rising up on the fortification around the temple is called Deva Kota and is associated with Rao Khegaji of Kutch. The enclosure is well filled with temples of both Hindu and Jain religions, but only 5 Jain temples are really impressive, though it is also worth looking at some smaller temples like the granite shrine .The temple complex of Mt Girnar has been an important place of Jain pilgrimage from the 3rd century BC.

At the foot of Mt Girnar, Damodar Kund is the place where lord Shiva and Goddess Parwatis’ garment fell during an ariel cruise. Bhavnath is an important Shiva temple at the foot of Mt Girnar.

The greatest of the temples on the summit is the rectangular Neminath Mandir, built from 1128 AD and completed in 1159 AD. The temple surrounds a collonaded courtyard, with delicate carvings of the Tithankars of Jainism. Further up from the Neminath temple, the Amba temple is where newely wed Hindus gather to pray for a happy marriage, and a Muslim shrine where childless women prey for children.

The trio of temples which forms Mallinath Mandir, shrine of the 22nd Tirthankar, was erected in 1231 AD by Vastupal and Tejpal, the 2 brothers responsible for such marvels in marble as the Dilwara temples of Mt Abu. The corbelled domes and beautifully carved interior domes are highlights of the temple. Other important temples lie to the left of Neminatha temple-the temple of Rishabdeo with 24 Tirthakaras carved in 1442, a 15th century Parshwanath temple called Meravaksi, the modern Panchbhai temple, 1803 AD Parshwanath temple with a cobra protecting the marble image and the 12th century temple built by Kumarapala of the Solanki dynasty, which is responsible for many of the finest Jain andindu temples.

Around half way down from the temple cluster, you can detour for the hill of Guru Dattatray whose very footprints are holy to 2Jains, the Kalika hill and Kamandal temple. At the foot of Mt Girnar is Damodar kund and the Bhavnath temple both of considerable importance to Hindu pilgrims.

The summit has been an important religious place since the 3rd century. Girnar temples present a true blend of art, religion and devotion. The sculptural art used in these temples is outstanding. They have stood the test the time and the cruelty of various invaders. Despite that, the art forms of the temples still retain their magnificence. The Jain temples at Girnar attract devotees of both Shwetambar and Digambar sects of Jainism. The Neminath Temple is the main attraction of Girnar.

According to Jain religious beliefs, Neminath, the 22nd Tirthankar became an ascetic after he saw the slaughter of animals for food on his wedding. He renounced all worldly pleasures and came to Mount Girnar to attain salvation. Here, Bhagwan Neminath reached the highest state of enlightenment, Keval Gyan and Moksha, after great austerities. His bride-to-be also followed his path and founded the ‘Sandhvi Sangh’, the organization of women ascetics. The rectangular Neminath temple is the greatest temple here. It has an idol of Lord Neminath in black granite with jewelled eyes. There are quadrangle courtyards, corridors and other shrines. The pillars are adorned with intricate carvings of Jain Tirthankars. The ceilings bear carvings and sculptures of Dancing Goddesses. Apart from this, there is the Mallinath temple, which is dedicated to the 19th Tirthankar. It was constructed by Vastupal and Tejpal. Neminath in 1231 AD. The Lord is shown in blue color here. The Rishabhadev Temple, situated nearby, is in golden color.

The nearby Gir Forest serves as sanctuary for the last remaining Asiatic Lions. It is also famous for the Kathiawadi culture in the adjacent region.

Festival:
There are Hindu temples as well. It is an abode of Hindu ascetics. The annual Bhavnath fair dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva draws thousands of people.

Other Attraction near by:
Uparkot Fort
Famous in by gone times for its virtual inaccessibility, the Upar Kot or Upper Fort is girdled by a wall that is, in some places, over 20m high. An ornate entrance gateway leads to the ruins. A mosque still stands in a state of preservation. A Nilamtope (canon) was acquired by the Nawab of Junagadh from a Turkish Sultan. There are also two stepwells, Jama Masjid and Buddhist caves in the fort premises.

Chorwad Beach
66 Kms. from Junagadh and 23 Kms. from the fishing centre of Veraval, Chorwad is a delightful resort on the sunny coast of Gujarat. And an excellent road connects it to Junagadh, Girnar, the Gir Forest Sanctuary and the famous temple of Somnath.

Sasan Gir Forest & Sanctuary
It is situated 65 Kms. from Junagadh via Keshod. It is connected both by Rail as well as Road. Sasan Gir Sanctuary provides refuge to that rare species-the Asiatic Lion. The sanctuary covers an area of 500 sq. miles of dry, open scrubland where the lions roam freely. They can be seen on guided jeep tours through the jungles.

Ahmadpur Mandvi
Close by the sea, with an option to entertaining oneself lazing on the beach, swimming or enjoying water sports facilities, Ahmedapur Mandvi is one of the finest beaches of the country.

Damodar
A sacred tank marks the ascent to the Girnar temples.

Ashoka’s Rock Edicts
On the way to Girnar, fourteen rock edicts of the Emperor Ashoka can be seen inscribed on a great boulder. The inscription carries Brahmi script in Pali language and dates back to 263 B.C. On the same rock are inscriptions in Sanskrit.

Maqbara
The mausolea of the Nawabs, the traditional rulers of Junagadh.

Tulsi Shyam
Hot SpringIn the heart of the Gir Forest 165 Kms. from Junagadh is the scenic spot of Tulsi Shyam with its hot spring.

Somnath
Situated 79 Kms. from Junagadh and 30 Kms from Chorwad, the legendary shore temple of Somnath is one of the twelve most sacred Shiva shrines in India. According to the legend, Somnath is as old as creation, built by none other than Soma, the Moon God himself. Somnath was destroyed seven times, and seven times, it was rebuilt. Mehmud of Gazni having heard of its fabulous treasure raided it in 1026 and carried away camel-loads of jewels and gold.

How to reach:
by Air: Nearest Airport is Keshod 40 km. Daily flight from Bombay to Keshod.
by Rail: 395 km. from Ahmedabad, meter gauge line.
by Road: 400 km. from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda, 43 km. from Veraval and 65 km. from Junagadh Via Mendarda. State Transport buses Available from Junagadh and Veraval.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Ambaji, Danta, Gujarat, India

Deities: Goddess Ambaji
Location: Ambaji, Gujarat
Significance: One of the 51 Shaktipeeths.
STD Code: 02749

Ambaji is a census town in Banaskantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. It is situated at a distance of approximately 65 kilometers from Palanpur and 45 kilometers from Mount Abu and 20 kilometers from Abu Road near the Gujarat and Rajasthan border.

Ambaji is an important temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths.The original seats of Ambaji mata is on gabbar hilltop in the town. Ambaji town is known for possessing mines which produce fine quality marble and granite.

Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata temple is the origin of the Supreme Cosmic Power of the Universe. This Temple is one of the Shri Adhya Shakti Devi. The Goddess is a manifestation of Shiva’s consort, Parvati. Ambe Mata is the Adya Shakti- the primordial female power, the Mother Goddess.

The Great Miracle of this Holy Place is that there is no idol or picture in the Nij Mandir of Shri Arasuri Mata Ambaji, but a simple cave like Gokh in the inner wall, in which A Gold Plated Holy Shakti Visa Shree Yantra, having kurma back convex shape and 51 Bij letters there in, like that of the original Yantras of Nepal and Ujjain Shakti Piths, is ritually installed in such a way it can be visible for devotion, but it was never photographed in past nor in future.

The Main Temple of Ambaji with a big Mandap has a Holy Gokh of Mataji in the Garbhgruh, in front of huge Chachar Chowk carpeted with beautiful marbles near Yagnashala. All the ritual worships of Ambaji is performed in Chachar Chowk The Temple has a glorious Suvarn Kalash Shikhar, shining at 103 feet height on the top of the temple, weighing more than 3 tones as a whole The Holy Long Flag of Ambaji and Trishul.

The newly constructed Main Temple Nij Mandir is worth seeing all time for its holy significance in Shaki Sampraday – the worship of the supreme power of cosmic energy and is also for its wonderful carvings on artistic renovation displaying an Indian traditional culture.

In the total area of about 20 meters X 9.50 meters as a whole in place of the above shown old Havan Shala, new Havan Shala is developed and below this Havan Shala in the Chachar Chowk. The temple is attracting many pilgrims from all over the world. The temple is very famous and is of considerable importance to Hindus.

It is believed that the heart of Goddess Parvati fell here. On the Gabbar Hill the footsteps of Goddess are imprinted. The imprint of her chariot is also found here. It is believed that the tonsure ceremony of Lord Krishna also took place here. Ambaji temple has a golden yantra made jointly with the yantra of Nepal Shaktipeeth at Ujjain. There are 51 shlokas on the yantra.Lacs of devotees visit the temple every year especially on Purnima days culminating into a large mela on Bhadarvi Purnima. Goddess Ambaji Mata has been fulfilling wishes of her devotees for thousands of years.

Festival:
Posh Sud Purnima, i.e. the fifteenth day of the Full Moon Day of each month of Posh as per the religiously believed to be the Birthday of Mata Arasuri Ambaji. Hence it is celebrated with joy at the instance of Shri Arsuri Ambaji Devasthan .Trust by all the people and devotees of Ambaji, coming from all over the world.

Mainly on this holy festival of Poshi Punam, A big Satchandi Yagna is performed by the temple trust in a quite traditional manner with all the Vedic rituals and Mata Ambaji is worshiped with Om Havan and Annakoot, in which Mataji is offered with different kinds of Foods, Fruits and Pakvan and Prasad are distributed to all the devotees and the poor people.

In Ambaji, there are Four Navratri Festivals, namely Sharad, Vasantik ,Maha & Ashadh, ritually celebrated as per the Shakti Sampraday Traditions, and other worships, in Yagnashala of the Chachar Chowk, which is decorated and illuminated with colourful lightings from all corners, during this period of Navratri. The devotees also enjoy Devi Darshan and Traditional Garba Dances.

Nearby important Places:
Mount Abu – 45 Kms
The hill resort of Mount Abu on Aravallis is magnificent land of sages and seers. The major attractions are Nakki Lake, 1000 years’ old Dilwara Jain temples, Head Quarters of Brahmkumaris Foundation etc.

Ahmedabad – 180 Kms
Ahmedabad, once associated with Mahatma Gandhi, is renowned as a great textile and commercial centre. The major attractions are Jama Masjid, Kankaria Lake, the Shaking Minarets, and Rani Rupwati Masjid etc.

Palanpur – 65 Kms
Palanpur is a former princely state ruled by Nawabs. The major attractions are palaces of the Nawab, Balram Mahadev temple etc.

Adderess:
Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust
Temple Trust Office
Ambaji Temple Complex
Ambaji, Pin: 385110
Taluka: Danta
District: Banaskantha
Gujarat
India

Tel: (Office) 0091-2749-262-136, 264-536

Email: info@ambajitemple.org
Web Address:
www.ambajitemple.org

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India

Deity: Lord Surya/Sun
Location: On the banks of Pushpavati river in Modhera, Gujarat
Built by: King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty
Attraction: Marvellous architectural work
Significance: One of the few Sun Temples across the country

Modhera or Modherapura also known as Mundera is said to have been the original settlement of modha Brahmans. The remains of an ancient Sun Temple at Modhera draw hundreds of tourists, to this village 30 km south of Patan, near Ahmedabad. The Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki .Solankis were considered to be Suryavanshis, or descendants of Sun god. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes.

The Sun Temple at Modhera dates back to early 11th century CE and was built by King Bhimdev I in 1026 CE. It was during the same period that the Jain temples at Mount Abu were constructed by Vimal Shah. The Rudra Mahal temple at Siddhapur also dates back to this period.  Also re-constructed at the same time was the Somnath temple at Somnath Patan. Interestingly, the grand Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur in South India was constructed during the same time.

Even in its ruined state, the sun temple at Modhera is magnificent. There is no worship offered here now. There is no shikhara either. The temple has a sanctum, a pradakshina patha and a sabha mandap in front. The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing a belt and long shoes as in the Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya. The mandapa in front of the sanctum has beautifully carved pillars with exquisite toranas adorning the entrances. The exterior of this temple is intricately carved. In front of the temple is a colossal tank, which was once known as Surya Kund or Rama Kund. The tank has a series of carved steps leading to the bottom. Several miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank – which is an art gallery in itself.

History:
According to the Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana, the areas near Modhera were known during ancient days as Dharmaranya (literally meaning the forest of righteousness). According to these Puranas, Lord Rama, after defeating Ravana, asked sage Vasistha to show him a place of pilgrimage where he could go and purify himself from the sin of Brahma-hatya (the sin of killing a Brahmin, because ravan was a Brahmin by birth). Sage Vasistha showed him Dharmaranya, which was near the modern town of Modhera. In the Dharmaranya, he settled at a village Modherak and performed a yagna there. Thereafter he established a village and named it Sitapur.This village is about 8 km from Becharaji Modherak village and it subsequently came to be known as Modhera.

Festival:
Modhera dance festival is the major festival that is observed by the Sun Temple. This dance festival is organized to keep the Indian traditions and culture alive. It is held in the third week of January every year. The classical dance forms in the premises of this temple revive the imperial ambiance during the period.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Modhera Sun Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Gujarat.

Dwarkadhish Temple, Gujarat, India

Location: Dwarka, Gujarat
Built in: 15th century
Dedicated to: Lord Krishna
Significance: One of the four pilgrimages of the Hindus
Also known as: Jagat Mandir, Mokshadham

India has 4 Main Dhaams, 7 Puris, 108 Devi Peeths, 4 Shardapeeths, 68 Tirth and 12 Jyotirlinga.

Out of 4 main Dhaam Dwarka & out of 12 Jyotirlinga Nageshwar are at Holy place Dwarka.

Introduction:
The world famous ancient town of Dwarka needs hardly any introduction. Located on the confluence of Gomati River and the Gulf of Kutchh between 22’ & 22.28’ N. latitude and 68.59’ E. longitude, Dwarka is Lord Krishna’s town. The original temple of lord Krishna is believed to be constructed by Vajranabhji, the great grand son of Lord Krishna. The existing temple is a 15th / 16th century structure constructed in Chalukya style in 27 m x 21 m area. Its tallest peak is 51.8 m high, its east-west length is 29 m and north-south width is 23m. It is said that Dwarka’s pilgrim starts receiving fruits of Ashwamedh Yajna from the moment he commences his journey towards Dwarka. The city of Dwarka is regarded as the ‘Gateway to Moksha (Salvation)’. The term ‘Dwarkadhish’ refers to Lord Krishna, who is regarded as the “Lord of Dwarka”.

About Dwarkadhish:
In the main shrine, the central altar embraces the idol of Lord Dwarkadhish. The image is presented in the form of four-armed Vishnu (Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu) known as Trivikrama. Apart from this main idol, there are idols of Baldevaji (Balrama), Pradyumna and Aniruddha (grandsons of Lord Krishna) too. There is a small shrine dedicated to Kuseswara Mahadeva (Shiva) also. Besides these, there are shrines dedicated to Devaki (mother of Lord Krishna), Veni-madhava (Lord Vishnu), Radhika, Jambuvati, Satyabhama, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Lakshmi-Narayan in the temple complex.

As Dwarka is derived from ‘Dwar’, a door, and in ancient times its flourishing port was considered to be the gateway to the main land. As ‘Ka’ means ‘Brahma’ meaning, gateway to Moksha. It is called Dwarkamati and Dwarkavati. Being adopted home and capital of Shri Krishna after he gave up Mathura. It is held in such a high esteem as a place of Hindu pilgrimage that it is considered to be one of the four principal holy places of chardham, it is also known as Mokhsapuri.

Festival:
It is every devotee’s dream to visit the city on Janmashtami day. Krishna Janmotsav is celebrated with special flavor at Dakor, Mathura and Dwarka. As Dwarka is known at Mokshapuri it is very special event at Dwarka. Janmashtami (Krishna Janmotsav) is celebrated in a very special way. Devotees from across India and abroad come to celebrate this special festival. It is a historic event for them.

Rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form. Dwarka is mainly based on his daily routine (Nitya Kram). There are several special occasions on this special day when Shriji gives darshan to its devotees. Rituals are performed by Aboti Brahmins; they belong to special caste of Brahmins who are performing this auspicious task since centuries. The importance of Shri Krishna’s life and teachings was not limited to his contemporary period but is equally so to the posterity. That is why his birthday is remembered and celebrated today even after five thousand years. Not only Vaishnavas (followers of Vishnu – Shri Krishna) but also all those who are interested in his philosophy celebrate his birthday with great devotion. The philosophy of his life has stood the test of time.

Architecture:
The majestic five-storied structure of Dwarkadhish Temple stands high on the confluence of Gomati River and Arabian Sea. Built with the support of 72 pillars, Dwarkadhish Mandir presents a sight to behold. Elevated to the height of 78.3 meters, the spire of temple dominates the skyline of Dwarka. An eighty-four foot long multicolored flag, adorned with the symbols of the sun and moon, waves from the dome of temple. It is said that originally the temple was built over the ‘Hari-Griha’ (Lord Krishna’s residential place) by Vajranabhji, the grandson of Lord Krishna.

How to Reach:
The temple is connected by regular buses from various towns and cities in Gujarat. The nearest airport is located at Jamnagar that lies at a distance of 146 kms from Dwarka.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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