The divine hills of Girnar are located to the east of Junagad city in Saurashtra region. Girnar hills are considered to be holy due to the presence of some Hindu and Jain temples on it. Bored of our college routine, my friends and I decided to go for a trek. Out of the possible places for a trek, we picked Girnar hills as our destination. As we were travelling so far to Gujarat from Mumbai, we decided to visit the king of the jungle in gir forest and also take blessings of Lord Shiva at Somnath mandir.
Junagad city is situated at the foothills of Girnar mountains. Junagad can be reached from Mumbai and Pune by train as well as by bus. Junagad is also well connected to other major cities of Gujarat. There is an auto Rickshaw service to Girnar from Junagad from as early as 4 A.M. At the farthest point on the Girnar hills is temple of Lord Datta. The temple is reached on climbing 10 Thousand steps from the base of Girnar hills. There is palanquin service from the foothill to the top for people finding difficulty in climbing. Along the first 100-150 steps there are stalls selling foodstuffs like biscuit, wafers, water-bottles etc. Some stalls offer bamboo sticks on rent to use as support while climbing the mountain.
It is advisable to start climbing Girnar as early as possible, preferably while it’s still dark. One should cover maximum distance before sun rises and with it the temperature. While climbing in dark, after gaining some height one can see Junagad city below. The lights in the Junagad city appears like a cluster of stars. The whole view around the hill becomes magical, when you look upwards you see the sky full of stars and when you look downwards you see a land full of stars. The whole view changes in blink of an eye once the sun approaches the horizon. The clouds, now visible, perch themselves on top of the surrounding mountains and make the entire view astonishing. The view is extremely picturesque. One cannot resist the temptation of taking photographs of this view. But it is impossible to capture the view in the camera lens in the way human lens captures it.
After around 4000 steps come the Jain temples. The Jain temple is extremely magnificent. It is also very peaceful and one cannot move ahead without meditating for some time inside the temple. There are also some beautiful structures around the Jain temple.
100 steps above the Jain Mandir is the temple of Goddess Ambaji. After the temple there is a slight downward slope and then a sudden upward slope to reach the shrine of Shri Gorakhnath. Beyond the shrine, a huge and stiff peak appears. At first sight, the peak looks scary and impossible to climb but on top of this peak is the Mandir of Lord Datta. After a steep downward and then similarly steep upward climb one reaches the Dattatray Mandir. The Mandir is small but very well-built. The padukaas of Lord Dattatray are kept in the temple. Due to the small size of the temple one cannot wait inside it for long time.
While returning, the stretch from Datta Mandir to Gorakhnath shrine is the toughest and most exhausting part of the trek.
After returning from the exhausting trek of Girnar, we took a good rest and proceeded towards Gir forest the next day. The Gir forest jungle safari starts from village Sasan. Gir jungle is famous for the lions residing in it. The safari starts from the beautiful premises of Forest department known as ‘Sinh Sadan’. One has to make an online booking for the open jeep safari 3 days prior to it. If there is anything which is absolutely essential to get to see maximum animals in jungle safari it is luck. And we were extremely lucky. We got to see not 1 but 4 lioness during the safari.
One lioness even crossed our path. The queen of the jungle wasn’t even bothered of our presence. The lioness then spotted a deer and was about to hunt it in front of our eyes! The gullible deer spotted the lioness just in time and ran away. Having seen the majestic beast, our hearts were filled with joy, thrill, amazement, respect and fear. Gir forest hosts around 500-530 lions. Along with lions, there are other birds and animals too. One can see peacocks almost everywhere throughout the safari. A herd of deers is always present.
After the safari, we headed to Somnath temple. Somnath temple is one of the 12 Jyotirling temples in India. Somnath village is around 50 kilometres away from Sasan. On the sea-shore of Somnath village is the Somnath temple. The temple, re-installed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is very huge and beautiful. There are few hotels in Somnath village built by the Somnath temple trust for the devotees to stay. One of those hotels is ‘Hotel Sagar Darshan’. As the name suggests, one gets complete sea view from the hotel room. The view of sunset here is absolutely mesmerizing. Somnath temple and its premises are extremely clean and beautiful. Seating arrangements are made on the sea facing side of the temple. The wind blowing from the sea here is extremely refreshing.
After Darshan, on the next day, we went to Veraval from Somnath. Veraval is 7 kilometres away from Somnath. Train back to Mumbai starts from Veraval. We boarded the train from Veraval thus ending an unforgettable trip.