Girnarji Teerth

Girnarji Teerth

Girnarji Siddha Kshetra is one of the most holy pilgrimage sites of the Jains. It is 5 kms from the Junagarh district of Gujarat. It is also unique as both the Digambar and Shwetambar sects of Jains have temples on its hills. Girnar range is a gigantic five peaked rock formation of volcanic origin and is at a distance of 327 kms from Ahmedabad. The tallest peak is at 3600 feet above sea level. The five peaks of Girnar are said to have 866 intricately carved stone temples belonging to Hindus and Jains. There about 8000 steps from the trail head to the last temple on the highest peak. The base of the mountain known as Girnar Taleti is only 4 kms to the centre of Junagarh. The main attraction of Girnarji is the Bhagavan Neminath temple which was built during 1128 AD to 1159 AD. The other temples are Mallinath temple and Rishabhadeva temple.

History

Girnar has been a sacred place before the Dholavira and Mohenjodaro period and its origin can be traced back to the Vedas and other holy scriptures of various religions. In the scriptures the Girnar Mountain is referred to as Raivatagiri or Urjayantagiri. Acharya Samantbhadra in his ‘Swayambhu Stotra’ has eulogised Urjayantagiri. There are references to many Chakravartis and pilgrims going on pilgrimage to and around the Raivata Mountain from the time of the 1st Tirthankar to the last Tirthankar. Records of references to the renovation and reparation of this Tirtha in the sixth century by Ajitshah and Ratanshah and by Tejpal , Vastupal and Sajjansha in the twelfth century have been noted. References are also made to renovation by many Kings and ministers. Every year a race is held from the base of the mountain to the peak and back. The Gir forest nearby is a sanctuary for Asiatic lions.

Places of Interest

Neminath Temple

Bhagavan Neminath was the 22nd Tirthankar and this land is said to be really sacred and pious as he took Diksa, achieved Keval Gyan(omniscience) and attained Moksha here. On the way to his own wedding he witnessed the slaughter of animals for the wedding feast and suddenly dispassion arose in him and he renounced all worldly pleasures and came to Mount Girnar to attain salvation which he achieved after undergoing great austerities. His bride to be, Rajul, also followed his path of renunciation and founded the Sadhvi Sangh the organisation of women ascetics.

The temple is rectangular in shape and there is an idol of Lord Neminath in black granite with jewelled eyes and in Padmasana posture. The pillars are adorned with intricate carvings of Jain Tirthankars. In the temple there are courtyards, corridors and other shrines. There are carvings and sculptures on the ceilings of dancing Goddesses.

Mallinath Temple

This temple was constructed in 1231 AD by Vastupal and Tejpal. Bhagavan Mallinath was the 19th tirthankar. The idol is shown in blue colour.

Other Jain Temples

There are temples of Bhagavan Rishabhdev where the idol is golden in colour and Parshvanath temple built in the 15th century also known as Meravasi.

Tonks

A ‘Tonk’ refers to a peak with a temple. There are five tonks on the hill. To reach the first tonk one has to climb 4400 steps, from 1st to 2nd tonk 900 steps,2nd to 3rd 700 steps and 3rd to 5th 2500 steps. 3rd to 4th tonk is a straight hill without steps to be covered in a natural way by climbing the stones. The 1st Tonk to Sahastaramavan(the diksha place of Bhagavan Neminath) has 1499 steps. The footprints of Bhagavan Neminath can be seen here.

First Tonk

The first Tonk is of Tirthankar Neminath. Next to it is a cave called Rajulmati cave where Rajul, his bride to be, performed great austerities and penance. One has to bend to cross this cave. An idol of Bhagavan Bahubali in standing posture is installed in a small temple nearby. Besides this are the footprints of Kundkund Acharya a famous Jain Acharya in white stone made under one umbrella and 5 idols of Panch Parmeshti are carved in the wall present in front of it. There is an idol of Neminath and nearby the idols of Parshvanath and Shantinath are installed. Nearby a Gomukhi Ganga exists from which a continuous stream of water flows resulting in the formation of lots of ponds here. Nearby the footprints of 24 Tirthankars are present. From here the Sahastaramavan of Bhagavan Neminath is close by but one is supposed to visit the place only after completion of the visit to the five tonks.

Second tonk

It is a Hindu temple of Devi Amba and the Nirvan(Salvation) place of Aniruddha Kumar whose foot print images are also present here.

Third Tonk

This is also a Hindu temple where the footprint images of Muni Shambhu Kumar who attained Nirvan here has been installed.

Fourth Tonk

Here the footprints images of Pradyumna Kumar who attained Nirvan here are installed.

Fifth Tonk

This is the Nirvan place of Bhagavan Neminath. The footprint images of Bhagavan Neminath are present here along with an idol of Neminath.

After climbing these five tonks pilgrims descend down to the 1st Tonk from where they go to the Diksha and Keval Gyan place of Bhagavan Neminath.

Literature on Girnar

A book titled Girnar authored by Dr. Sanjay Chaudhury contains articles on the historical, spiritual and religious perspectives of Girnar. It is a unique travelogue containing the experiences of the author during the Parikrama(Or Circumambulation) of the Girnar hill. Extensive information on various places en route, minute details about numerous religious places and their cultural diversity and heritage, biological diversity and wild life conservation in the Girnar Mountain has been given in the book. Also included in the book are historical literature, poetry and folklore on the Girnar Mountain and the history of Junagarh.

How To Reach

The Girnar Mountain is 5 km east from Junagadh city and about 400 km south west of Ahmedabad. It is easily accessible by trains and roads and state transport are also available.

Air: The Nearest airport is at Rajkot – about 100 km from Junagadh, is well connected with Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi and many major Indian cities. The nearest International airport is in Ahmedabad.

Rail: Nearest railway station is 5 km from Junagadh and trains are easily available for Ahmedabad, Rajkot and other major cities.

By Road: State transport buses and private transport are easily available.

Accomodation

At the valley of the hill there is a big Dharamshala equipped with all facilities. There is another Dharamshala built on the first Tonk.

Staying Facilities are also available at-

Shri Bandilal Digamabar Jain Dharamshala at Girnar.
Phone-0285-2654108, 2621519
Boarding, Lodging for 500 persons available on payment basis.
Manager: -09427733364

Conclusion

The Girnar temples are a true blend of religion, art and devotion. The art and sculptures of the temple have stood the cruelty of invaders and the test of time and still retain their magnificence. The presence of Hindu temples and a mosque nearby depicts India’s unity in diversity. Girnarji is also the Nirvan place for a number of great Munis. The faith and devotion of the pilgrims creates holy vibrations and the purity of the place hallowed by the Divine Masters help pilgrims on their spiritual quest for enlightenment and bliss.

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