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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.

How to Reach:
  • By road: Somnath is 85 km from Diu and 79 km from Junagadh. The Gujarat State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect Diu to Somnath.
  • By rail: Somnath is located 6 km from the nearest railway station at Veraval.
Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple
Bhalka Tirtha & Dehotsarg:

North of Somnath, en route to Veraval, is the famous Lord Krishna temple, Bhalka Tirtha, on the site where Krishna is said to have been mistakenly shot in the foot. Nearby is Dehotsarg, where he succumbed to his mortal wound. The temple at Bhalka Tirth is known as Mahaprabhuji's Bethak, and a tulsi tree has been planted in Lord Krishna's memory. At the Dehotsarg Tirth, in the 9th century AD Shri Vallabhacharya gave discourses on Shrimad Bhagvat Gita for seven days, as well as the revered Gita Mandir, which has eighteen marble pillars with a chapter from the Bhagvat Gita inscribed on each one. The temple also contains a beautiful tribhangi idol of Lord Krishna playing his flute.

Nearby is a place known as Baldev Gufa (cave). According to legend, Lord Krishna's elder brother Baldev disappeared through this cave and went to the netherworld, as he was considered to be an incarnation of Sheshnag, the king of snakes.

How to Reach:
  • By road: Bhalka Tirth is 85 km from Diu. Somnath is 79 km from Junagadh and 25 km from Chorwad. Gujarat State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centres of Gujarat to Somnath.
  • By rail: Somnath is located 6 km from the nearest railway station at Veraval.
Bhalka Tirth
Bhalka Tirth
Bhalaka Tirth
Gir National Park:

In Gir you touch the history of India before humanity itself. Before monuments, temples, mosques and palaces. Or rather, a history as humanity was emerging, when humans coexisted with lions, before the former had overrun the continent (and the world) and pushed the latter to the brink of extinction.

Many come to Gir because, outside of Africa, it is the only place with wild lions. But to truly experience Gir and the lions, you must explore their natural habitat, with everything from tiny wild birds, not easily seen, but heard singing in the forest canopy, to crocodiles floating in the marsh waters.

Driving around, you are uncommonly aware you are in someone else's territory. You stay in your vehicle because you are in the home of lions, leopards, hyenas, crocodiles; you remember that humans do not rule the world, and however "advanced" we think we are, most of us would not survive very long on our own in a place like Gir.

That is not to say that all humans are out of place. The local Maldhari community has lived here for generations and coexists magnificently with the wilderness. They sustain themselves by grazing their livestock and harvesting what they need from the forest. The sizeable portion of their herds lost to lions and other predators is considered prasad, offered in exchange for living in another's homeland.

How many of us are aware, let alone as conscientious as the Maldharis about the impact of our lifestyle on other species? How can we be, if we so distance ourselves from the habitats that are ravaged to feed our material appetites? When you visit Gir, try to see the Maldharis not with nostalgia for a picturesque past, but as crucial teachers for a better present and future. You don't have to be a shepherd living with wild lions to learn from their way of life. Ask yourself why we have reached the point where National Parks like Gir are necessary; what happened to these lions who used to inhabit everywhere from Greece to Bangladesh. If you begin to understand the deeper implications of these questions, you will return home, whether home is a hut in the countryside, or a high-rise apartment, whether in Mumbai or Berlin, charged with new inspiration for evolution in your own life.

How to Reach:
  • By road: The Gir National Park is 120 km away from Diu and 60 km from Junagadh, the most common base for making a visit, and 360 km from Ahmedabad. The main centre is at Sasan Gir, and has a forest guest house maintained by the park, just opposite the railway station.
  • By rail: One can travel by rail to Junagadh from Ahmedabad or Rajkot and then take a 65 km road trip on bus or taxi to Sasan Gir.

  • A permit for entering the park is obtained at the Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre, Visit Gujarat Forest Department Website for timing. A 35-40 km driving route through the park is maintained for visitors. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless travelling with an official and experienced guide, you must not leave your vehicle at any time, for your own safety as well as the well-being of the park and its inhabitants.) Entry fees, per vehicle with up to 6 occupants, are, for Indians- Rs. 400/- Mon.-Fri., Rs. 500/- Sat.-Sun., and Rs. 600/- for holidays. Entry for foreigners US$40 (must be paid in rupees.)For more information, contact the Forest Dept. at Sasan Gir, Tel: 02877 285541.
Gir National Park
Gir National Park
Gir National Park
Gir National Park
Gir National Park
The Asiatic Lion, Sasan Gir
Dwarka:

Depending on who you are, what you are about to read can seem anything from myth to legend to reality. Turn back the cosmic clock, let your imagination plummet suddenly into 1500 BC, and you may begin to recreate in your mind’s eye, a city of gold – Dwarka, the mesmerizing kingdom of Lord Krishna. Ranchhodrai, as Lord Krishna is affectionately called in Gujarat, came to Dwarka from Mathura to build his new kingdom where he would later spend a significant part of his life. Located at the western tip of the Saurashtra peninsula, this town enjoys remarkable importance in Hindu lore. It is the only place considered both one of the four principal holy places (char dham), as well as one of the seven ancient towns (sapta puris) to visit. For this reason, millions of pilgrims and historical scholars have come here over the centuries.

It is believed that immediately after the death of Lord Krishna and the consequent demise of the Yadav dynasty a massive flood swallowed all of Dwarka and submerged the city of gold to the bottom of the ocean. However, current excavations give us reason to think this myth has a historical basis, as most myths do.

Today, the present Dwarka sits at the opening of the Gomti river on the Arabian Sea and is renowned for the Dwarkadheesh temple, among other notable historical and religious sites. It is believed that Mirabhai, Lord Krishna’s devoted follower, merged with his idol in this temple. Every year during Janmashtami (the anniversary of Krishna's birth), thousands of devotees from all over the world come here to partake in elaborate festivities.

How to Reach:
  • By road: Dwarka is 325 km away from Diu. Dwarka is on the state highway from Jamnagar to Dwarka. Direct buses available from Jamnagar and Ahmedabad.
  • By train: Dwarka is a station on the Ahmedabad-Okha broad gauge railway line, with trains connecting it to Jamnagar (137 km), Rajkot (217 km) and Ahmedabad (471 km), and some trains that continue all the way down the coast through Vadodara, Surat, Mumbai, Goa, Karnataka, to the southern tip of India in Kerala.
  • By air: Nearest airport is Jamnagar (137 km.)
Dwarka (Krishna) Temple
Dwarka (Krishna) Temple
Dwarka (Krishna) Temple
Dwarka (Krishna) Temple
Dwarkadhish Temple
Porbandar:

Let us begin our journey where Gandhi began his. On October 2, 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in a 3-storey blue haveli in the city of Porbandar, where his father, uncle and grandfather had all been prime ministers to the Jethwa Rajput rulers of the princely state. The city had been a prosperous trading centre for centuries, conducting much commerce with Arabian and Persian Gulf countries, as well as East Africa, under the Mughals, the Marathas and the British. Now it is a city of industry, with cement and chemical factories ringing the city, contributing to a general griminess around town.

The site of Gandhi’s birth, now called Kirti Mandir, has been converted into a small museum about him, with an exhibit of old photographs, some of his very few possessions and a nice library of books either by him or relating to Gandhian philosophy and practice. The room where his mother gave birth to him has, as expectable, nothing special about it. It was the family home.

Two km from the middle of town is Bharat Mandir, with exhibits of sculptures, pictures and other examples of Indian tradition. Next door is the Nehru Planetarium, with regular programs about astronomy. Both sites are open from 9am-12pm and 3pm-6pm and entry to each is Rs.3/.

How to Reach:
  • By road: The Porbandar is 215 km away from Diu. ST and private buses come here from Diu, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Dwarka, Veraval, Jamnagar and Junagadh, among others.
  • By rail: Porbandar has a railway station which has connecting trains to places like Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar
Porbandar
Junagadh:

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 step wells that were not built, but hewn out of solid rock. Spiralling 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.

How to Reach:
  • By road: Junagadh is 185 km away from Diu and 327 km from Ahmedabad, 102 km from Rajkot, and 113 km from Porbandar, and is accessible by Gujarat State Transport bus from each of these places, as well as from other cities in Gujarat by way of Veraval and Rajkot. Bus is recommended as the best way to get to Junagadh
  • By rail: Two express trains run on the Ahmedabad-Veraval line, one at night (with a rather inconvenient schedule) and one by day. Ahmedabad is 7.5 hours away by train. Junagadh is also on the Rajkot-Veraval line, with Rajkot 2.5 hours away, and Veraval 2 hours.
Junagadh (Girnar)
Junagadh (Girnar)
Girnar, Junagadh
Rajkot:

A chance meeting with a stranger on the streets of Rajkot sparks of the beginnings of knowing an exuberantly spirited city of Gujarat. Walk the streets at any time of the month or day and you will meet people who are lively, vibrant and festive. Sampling delicacies at fast food stalls outside the Galaxy cinema or spinning threads of life in the Rashtriyashala, evenings spent playing cricket at the gymkhana or manufacturing machine tools and auto parts; a citizen of the city spends his life in hard work and leisure.

Typical Kathiawari hospitality greets people from all walks of life and complicated business deals are struck over cups of tea, jalebis and ice-cream. The city over the years has earned the title ‘Rangilo Rajkot’ and the exuberance of the people more than make up for it. Sprawling Rajkot, located on the banks of River Aji and Nirari, is the centre of Saurashtra and a mushrooming industrial hub with wide streets and a distinctly urban architecture. The city is a curious blend of the modern layered over the traditional and it is this uniqueness that attracts people from various parts of the country to come and settle in the heart of Kathiawar.

Under the bustle and noise of pistons and engines, trading and business consuming numerous cups of tea, is a town which has become the educational hub of Saurashtra opening the doors of its elite institutions to a Prince and a commoner alike. From the hallowed gates of the Alfred High school where walked a young Gandhi to the Cricket stadium at Rajkumar College where played a young Ranji, Rajkot is a jewel of Kathiawar. A walk through the streets of the city is the fulfilment of knowledge and nostalgia, the Watson Museum vies for your attention along with the Ramkrishna Math and the Lang Library jostles for space with an evening spent frolicking around the lakes. The tinkling of red bangles at the Bangadi Bazaar match the garish reds of ice candies on summer afternoons, browsing and shopping in Rajkot can be such fun!

How to Reach:
  • By road: Rajkot is 295 km from Diu and is well connected by road to most of the major cities of Gujarat and other neighbouring states. State Transport buses are regularly available from Rajkot to other cities of Gujarat. The ST bus stand is 2 km, west of Bedi Gate on the other side of Ranmal Lake. Auto rickshaws are the best way into the town, though one might also choose to walk in. Private buses are also available for Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mumbai, Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Una, Mount Abu and Udaipur.
  • By rail: Rajkot is a junction on the Western Railway Ahmedabad-Hapa broad gauge line. Inter City Express, Saurashtra Mail and Saurashtra Janata Express are some of the few trains that pass through the station. The railway station known commonly as the Rajkot Junction is almost 6 km away from the Teen Batti triple gateway. Rajkot is well connected with important cities in Gujarat and India by rail. Trains for Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Amritsar, Patna and Bhopal are available from Rajkot.
  • By air: Reaching Rajkot by air is quite a possible option as the city has a domestic airport linking it to Mumbai. Air India has daily flights from Mumbai, while Jet have daily flights. A rickshaw ride into the city from the airport costs approximately Rs 25/-.
Rajkot (Saurashtra)
Rajkot (Saurashtra)
Rajkot
Palitana:

Every religion has its focal points on the surface of the earth. In the case of Jainism, the holiest places lie not on the surface, but reaching up into the skies. Along with Mts. Abu, Girnar and Chandragiri, Shatrunjaya is one of the most sacred places for the faith. Climbing the stairs of Shatrunjaya is, for a pilgrim, the ascent to greater knowledge along the path to liberation. For a visitor, it can be a day's journey into the heart of the Jain spirituality, a passage through a new cosmology of total non-violence and devotion.

Things to do The climb up Shatrunjaya is no doubt the primary activity of a Palitana visit, for Jains and non-Jains alike. The hill is 3 kms from Palitana proper, and the 600 m climb over 3000 stairs to the top of the mountain is an unforgettable experience. Beginning at dawn is recommended, to avoid the mid-day heat. Frequent rest stops to visit temples along the way also help avoid overheating. Many devotees even gather at the highest temples before sunrise, having climbed in the predawn twilight. Be sure to carry enough water and leave a few hours to explore the mountain. Idols are bathed around 9:30am, and pujas tend to be performed around noon. If climbing in the afternoon, be sure to descend with enough time to arrive at the bottom before dark.

The construction of temples of Palitana spanned over a period of 900 years and was structured in two phases. From the 11th to 12th 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.

Several customs must be observed, as the entire hill is sacred to Jains, not only the temples. In keeping with the strict non-violence of Jainism, no leather products (wallets, belts, etc.) should be carried on the mountain. Dress appropriately; shorts and sleeveless shirts are considered disrespectful. Women should avoid tight-fitting clothing. When entering temples, remove your shoes and leave any food outside. Inside the shrines, you should not talk, laugh or smoke. Permission must be obtained from temple attendants for photography. There is no entry fee for any part of the mountain. No one, not even the priests, may remain on the mountain at night, as it is an abode of the gods and they are not to be disturbed.

How to Reach:
  • By Road: Diu is 175 km, Bhavnagar is 56 km and Ahmedabad, 215 km away from Palitana. Private and Gujarat State Transport buses travel to Palitana from the above cities as well as from several others around Gujarat and even from Mumbai.
  • By Rail: Palitana is on a rail branch line, with trains available to Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad and intermediate points.
  • By Air: The nearest airport is in Bhavnagar (56 km.)
Palitana (Shetrunjay)
Shetrunjaya
Bhavnagar:

The lapping waves of the Gulf of Khambat along with the majestic splendour 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.

Bhavnagar 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.

How to Reach:
  • By road: Bhavnagar is 215 km away from Diu. Gujarat State Road Transport buses and private luxury coaches gives an easy connectivity to Bhavnagar. It is situated 791 kms. from Mumbai via Ahmedabad and 200 kms. from Ahmedabad via the State Highway.
  • By rail: It is on the Western Railway Line. It is 777 kms. from Mumbai via Ahmedabad.
  • By air: Various domestic airlines connect Bhavnagar with Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar
Takhateshwar Temple