Girnar, also known as Girinagar ('city-on-the-hill') or RevatakParvata, is a group of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India.

The Girnar mountain ranges are considered to be sacred. It is an important pilgrimage site for Jains , who gather here during the Girnar Parikrama festival. Girnar is one of the five major 'tirthas' attributed to the 'panchkalyanakas' of various ' tirthankaras'

This mountain was considered holy to Buddhists.[1][better source needed]

Mount Girnar is a major igneous plutonic complex which intruded into the basalts towards the close of the Deccan Trap period. The rock types identified in this complex are gabbros (tholeiitic and alkalic), diorites, lamprophyres, alkali-syenites and rhyolites. The parent gabbroic magma is shown to have given rise in sequence to diorites, lamprophyres and alkali-syenites. The rhyolite, though earlier considered a product of differentiation, is now believed to be an independent magma without any genetic link with the gabbro and its variants.[2][3]

Mount. Girnar is older than the Himalayas and the Jain temples upon it are amongst the most ancient in the country; it is the Nirvan bhumi of 22nd Tirthankara Lord Neminatha. It is 3666 feet high, and is one of the most remarkable mountains in India. From the city of Junagadh, which is at an altitude of barely 351 feet only the top of Mount Girnar can be seen, as it has in front of it lower hills, of which Jogniya, or Laso Pawadi, 2527 feet; Lakhshman Tekri, Bensla, 2290 feet high; and Datar, 2779 feet high, are the principals.[4]

Fourteen of Ashoka's Major Rock Edicts, dating to circa 250 BCE, are inscribed on a large boulder that is housed in a small building located outside the town of Junagadh on Saurashtra peninsula in the state of Gujarat, India. It is located on Girnar Taleti road, at about 2 km (1.2 mi) far from Uperkot Fort easterly, some 2 km before Girnar Taleti. An uneven rock, with a circumference of seven meters and a height of ten meters, bears inscriptions etched with an iron pen in Brahmi script in a language similar to Pali and date back to 250 BCE, thus marking the beginning of written history of Junagadh.[5]

On the same rock there are inscriptions in Sanskrit added around 150 CE by Mahakshatrap Rudradaman I, the Saka (Scythian) ruler of Malwa, a member of the Western Satraps dynasty (see Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman).[5] The edict also narrates the story of Sudarshan Lake which was built or renovated by Rudradaman I, and the heavy rain and storm due to which it had broken.

Another inscription dates from about 450 CE and refers to Skandagupta, the last Gupta Empire.

The protective building around the edicts was built in 1900 by Nawab Rasool Khan of Junagadh State at a cost of Rs 8,662. It was repaired and restored in 1939 and 1941 by the rulers of Junagadh. The wall of the structure had collapsed in 2014.[6]

A much smaller replica of these Girnar edicts has been positioned outside the entrance of the National Museum in Delhi.

The base of the mountain, known as Girnar Taleti, is about 4 km east of the center of Junagadh. There are temples and other sacred places all along this stretch.

The traveller, in order to reach Girnar Taleti from Junagadh city, will pass through the Wagheshwari or Vagheshwari Gate [Girnar Darwaza], which is close to the Uparkot fort area, Easterly.

At about 200 metres from the gate, to the right of the road, is the Temple of Wagheshwari (Upale Vagheshwari maa), which is joined to the road by a causeway about 150 yards long. An ancient Verai Mata mandir and a modern Gayatri Shakti Peeth mandir are nearby.

About a furlong beyond this is a stone bridge, and just beyond it on the right are the Ashoka's Major Rock Edicts.[4] The edicts are inscribed high up on a large, domed mass of black granite measuring roughly 20 feet x 30 feet. The inscription is in Brahmi script.[5] On the same rock can be found an inscription of the Western Satrap ruler Rudradaman, the Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman.

On leaving Ashoka's edicts, the route crosses the handsome bridge over the Sona-rekha, which here forms a fine sheet of water over golden sand, then passes a number of temples, at first on the left bank of the river and then on the right, to the largest of the temples. This is dedicated to Damodar, a name of Krishna, from Dam, a rope, because by tradition his mother in vain attempted to confine him with a rope when a child. The reservoir, Damodar Kund, at this place is accounted very sacred.[4]

Next is an old shrine of Bhavnath, a form of Shiva, close to Girnar Taleti; Mrigi kund and Sudharshan lake are nearby.

Most persons who are not active climbers will probably proceed up the mountain in a swing doli from Taleti. A long ridge runs up from the west, and culminates in a rugged scarped rock, on the top of which are the temples. Close to the old shrine is a well called the Chadani vav.[4]

The paved way begins just beyond this and continues for two-thirds of the ascent. The first resthouse, Chadia Parab, is reached, 480 feet, above the plain; and the second halting-place at Dholi-deri, 1000 feet above the plain. From here the ascent becomes more difficult, winding under the face of the precipice to the third resthouse, 1400 feet up. The path turns to the right along the edge of a precipice, which is very narrow, so that the doli almost grazes the scarp, which rises perpendicularly 200 feet above the traveller. On the right is seen the lofty mountain of Datar, covered with low jungle. At about 1500 feet there is a stone dharmsala, and from this there is a fine view of the rock called the Bhairav-Thampa, "the terrific leap," because devotees used to cast themselves from its top, falling 1000 feet or more.[4]

At 2370 feet above Junagadh the gate of the enclosure known as the Deva Kota, or Ra Khengar's Palace, is reached.[4]

Main temple on Girnar mountain - Neminathji Derasar with other Jain temples.

On entering the gate, the large enclosure of the temples is on the left, while to the right is the old granite temple of Man Singh, Bhoja Raja of Kutch, and farther on the much larger one of Vastupala. Built into the wall on the left of the entrance is an inscription in Sanskrit. Some 16 Jain temples here form a sort of fort on the ledge at the top of the great cliff, but still 600 feet below the summit. The largest temple is the Neminath temple, standing in a quadrangular court 195 x 130 feet. It was built from 1128 to 1159.[citation needed] It consists of two halls (with two porches, called the mandapas), and a shrine, which contains a large black image of Lord Neminatha, the 22d Tirthankara. Around the shrine is a passage with many images in white marble. Between the outer and inner halls are two shrines. The outer hall has two small raised platforms paved with slabs of yellow stone, covered with representations of feet in pairs called padukas, which represent the 2452 feet of the Ganadharas, first disciples of Tirthankaras. On the west of this is a porch overhanging the perpendicular scarp. On two of the pillars of the mandapam are inscriptions dated 1275, 1281, and 1278—dates of restoration. The enclosure is nearly surrounded inside by 70 cells, each enshrining a marble image, with a covered passage in front of them lighted by a perforated stone screen.

The principal entrance was originally on the east side of the court, but it is now closed, and the entrance from the court in Khengar's Palace is that now used. There is a passage leading into a low dark temple, with granite pillars in lines. Opposite the entrance is a recess containing two large black images; in the back of the recess is a lion rampant, and over it a crocodile in bas-relief. Behind these figures is a room from which is a descent into a cave, with a large white marble image which is mostly concealed by priests. It has a slight hollow in the shoulder, said to be caused by water dropping from the ear, whence it was called Amijhara, "nectar drop."[4] Neminath is said to have attained Moksha from Girnar so this place is frequently noted in Jain literature.[8]

In the North porch are inscriptions which state that in Samwat 1215 certain Thakurs completed the shrine, and built the Temple of Ambika.

After leaving this there are three temples to the left that on the south side contain a colossal image of Rishabha Deva, the first Tirthankar, exactly like that at Palitana temples, called Bhim-Padam. On the throne of this image is a slab of yellow stone carved in 1442, with figures of the 24 Tirthankars.[4]

Opposite this temple is a modern one to Panchabai. West of it is a large temple called Malakavisi or Meravasi, sacred to Lord Parshwanath, built in the 15th century.[citation needed] North of this is another temple of Parshwanath, which contains a large white marble image canopied by a cobra, whence it is called Sheshphani, an arrangement frequently found in the South India but uncommon in North India. It bears a date of 1803. The last temple to the north is Kumarpal's temple, built by Chaulukya king Kumarapala, which has a long open portico on the west. It appears to have been destroyed by the Muslims, and restored in 1824 by Hansraja Jetha. These temples are along the west face of the hill, and are all enclosed.[4]

Outside to the north is the Bhima Kunda, a tank 70 feet by 50 feet, in which Hindus bathe. Immediately behind the temple of Neminath is the triple one temple, Vastupala-Tejpala temple, erected by the brothers Tejapala and Vastupala (built in 1177), who also built the Dilwara Temples on Mount Abu. The plan is that of three temples joined together. The shrine has a blue black image of Mallinath, the 19th Tirthankar. Farther north is the temple of Samprati Raja, This temple is probably one of the oldest on the hill, dating to 1158. Samprati is said to have ruled at Ujjain in the end of the third century BCE, and to have been the son of Kunala, Ashoka's third son.[4]

Neminathji's foot print or Dattatreya as known by Hindus & it's Temple on the topmost peak
Shambhunath Footprint 3rd Tonk & Gorakhnath shrine 5th Tonk in background

South of this, is the Gaumukhi Shrine, near a plentiful spring of water.[4]

From it the crest of the mountain (3330 feet) is reached by a steep flight of stairs. Here is an ancient temple of Amba Mata, which is much resorted to by newly married couples . The bride and bridegroom have their clothes tied together, and attended by their male and female relations, adore the goddess and present cocoa-nuts and other offerings. This pilgrimage is supposed to procure for the couple along continuance of wedded bliss.[4]

This is one of the 52 Shakti peethas . It is believed that the stomach of the Devi had fallen here. The temple is on the top of the Girnar mountain called Ambika Shikhar . One has to climb 5000 steps to reach the temple located at a height of 3664 feet.

On the fourth tonk which is the highest point in Gujarat lies the shrine of Gorkhnath who is revered highly in the nath sampradaya of hinduism, a 'dhuni' lightened by him also lies in the vicinity. Also his footprints lie there.

There is a way down to the Kamandalu kind from the gate while going down there on the way lies a Hindu ashram.

Here there is a way from Kamandalu kund but there are no steps further to go and one has to find the way through the forest to reach here. Going alone here is not recommended.

As it is holy place as Siddha Kshetra of Jains, for the moksha of Shri Neminath Bhagwaan (22th tirthankar), Jains celebrate Moksha Kalyanak of Neminath Bhagwaan on Ashad Shukla satam (7) of the Jain Calendar. Moksha place of Shri Neminath Bhagwaan is 5th tonk (presently known as dattratraya as it was captured by so called Hindu monks).

The main event for Hindus is the Maha Shivaratri fair held every year on the 14th day of the Hindu calendar month of Magha. At least 1 million pilgrims visit the fair to participate in pooja and parikrama of Girnar hill. The procession begins at Bhavnath Mahadev Temple at Bhavnath. It then proceeds onwards to various akharas of various sects of sadhus, which are in Girnar hill from ancient times. The procession of sadhus and pilgrims ends again at Bhavnath temple after visiting Madhi, Malavela and Bara Devi temple. The fair begins with hoisting of fifty-two Gaja long flags at Bhavnath Mahadev temple. This fair is the backbone of the economy of Junagadh, as more than ten lakh pilgrims who visit the fair generate a revenue of 250 million in only five days.[9][10][11][12]

The dispute regarding illegal construction around a shrine on the fifth tonk (peak) of Girnar mountain in Junagadh had landed before the Gujarat high court. A trust of the Digambar Jain sect had alleged illegal construction around the idol and charan (footprint) of lord Neminatha, in a manner that devotees could not see and worship the idol and footprint at the site.[13]

A controversy over ownership of a religious site on Girnar in Junagadh town saw a Hindu sadhu allegedly stabbing a Jain monk.[14] Police sources said victim Prabalsagarji Maharaj of Udaipur in Rajasthan was taken to a private hospital for the treatment as he had received serious injuries on chest and abdomen. Accused Muktanand Giri was arrested by the police after a case was registered against him at Junagadh taluka police station.[14] Giri stabbed Prabalsagarji with a knife when the latter arrived at Kamalkund.[14] The dispute over the engraved stone idol and footprint on the fifth peak of Girnar goes back several years.[13] “We have raised the issue about construction of concrete platform and grill in such a manner that Jains cannot see and offer prayer to the footprint of lord Neminath,” said HR Prajapati, counsel for petitioner Bharatvarshiya Digambar Jain Trith Kshetra Committee.[13] “There was a clear high court order in 2005 that prohibited any new construction at the site but it was constructed by overlooking the order,” the counsel said. The archaeological department had concluded that illegal construction had taken place at the site. The matter of illegal construction around the monument had come before the Gujarat high court in 2004. After hearing all parties, the high court in 2005 had directed the Hindu Mahants to not undertake further illegal construction at the site.

“Acting upon the high court direction, the archaeology department has recently conducted a survey and concluded that illegal construction had taken place. It also told the Junagadh district collector to raze the illegal construction. Now the high court will conduct further hearing on January 13,”as stated by Prajapati.

It is claimed by Hindus that many images of Hindu gods and goddesses have been replaced by Jains from the Raa Khengar Mahal, ruins of an ancient palace, with carved images of Jain gods, to give an impression that Girnar is essentially a Jain place of pilgrimage. [15]

Further, Jains claim that Hindu monks don't allow to capture images, remove coverings on disputed footprints, and don't allow devotees to worship for more than minutes.

The matter of illegal construction around the monument had come before the Gujarat high court in 2004. After hearing all parties, the high court in 2005 had directed the Hindu Mahants to not undertake further illegal construction at the site.[13]