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Girnar Mountain on a misty morning
Girnar (also known as "Girnar Hill") is a collection of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujaratmarker, Indiamarker. The tallest of these rises to 945 meters (3600 feet), the highest peak in Gujarat. The first peak of Girnar has a collection of Digambar and Shwetamber temples. The Shwetambar temples are more intricately carved but are more modern in terms of history. 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 Junagadhmarker 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.

The nearby Gir Forestmarker serves as sanctuary for the last remaining Asiatic Lions.

It is also famous for the Kathiawadi culture in the adjacent region.

Girnar is one of the holiest places in Gujarat, situated near Junagadh at a distance of 327 from Ahmedabad. It is a holy place and an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Jains. There are a number of temples located here, which have converted it into a township of temples. Amidst the lush green Gir Forest, the mountain range serves as the hub of religious activity. Apart from this, there is a mosque attracting many Muslim pilgrims to the place. This has made Girnar a perfect example of unity in diversity in India.

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 at first peak is one of the main attraction of Girnar. It was built during 1128 AD to 1159 AD.

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 jeweled 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.

It is dedicated to 24 Tirthankars of Jain religion. Another Jain temple in the region is the Parshwanath Temple. It was built in the 15th century and is also known as Meravasi. Besides this, there is a Goddess Ambe Temple at Grinar. The temple is visited by the newly married couples for good fortune and prosperous married life. A mosque nearby is thronged by childless women for blessings. The Dattatreya hill also houses a number of other temples worth seeing.

Literature about ‘Girnar’

(1) ‘Girnar’, a tribute to the Great Girnar mountain worshiped by the people of Gujarat (a travelogue in Gujarati language) published in year 2009, authored by Dr. Sanjay Chaudhary:

Book `Girnar' (language: Gujarati), authored by Sanjay Chaudhary, is a unique travelogue narrating experiences of author during `Girnar Parikrama' (circular walk around) of spiritual and religious hill of `Girnar', near Junagadh, Gujarat, India. The book contains articles encompassing historical, religious and spiritual perspectives on `Girnar'. Author has recorded his interesting observations with extensive information about various places explored en route whilst climbing the peak of `Girnar'. Cultural diversity and heritage of Great Mountain of `Girnar' are depicted with minute details about numerous religious places. An entire chapter is dedicated to discussion of biological diversity of `Girnar' mountain and `Gir' forest. Another chapter on wildlife of `Gir' provides historical facts and ongoing efforts for wildlife conservation, which have successfully raised the population of lions, leopards and other wild animals and intensified the flora and fauna. Ample references are cited from historical literature, along with summary of prominent Gujarati prose, poetry and folklores developed around the core theme or backdrop of ‘Girnar’. Book also introduces the reader to some celebrated destinations of Junagadh. Ancient history of ‘Girnar’ and Junagadh region since year 200 B.C. is presented in an attention-grabbing manner, starting with the foundation of `Girinagar' (ancient Junagadh), mentioning facts and legends about the rulers of Junagadh as well as all major incidents till the merger of Junagadh into independent India. The last chapter contains a critique of the acclaimed Gujarati novel `Hoo Hoo', a story of communal harmony and disorder amongst the community of Junagadh during the period of 1925-1948.(Web site:http://rangdwar.com/web/index.php?option=com_collection&task=view&catid=5&id=3&Itemid=28)

Photographs

For photographs of Girnar and Gir Forest click on the following link:http://picasaweb.google.co.in/chandrahas.dabke/GirForestGirnarMountain2023032008

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