A mountain older than that of Himalayas, highest peak of Gujarat, home to few of the most ancient Jain temples in the country– these are just few of the reasons which made me to visit these glorious extinct volcano peaks. Not only is this, amidst the lush green Gir forest area, this mountain range serves as a main centre of religious activities for Hindus, Jains as well as Buddhists.
A mountain with around 10000 stairs from base till peak, might seem easy to many of the readers here. But believe me it is as tiring as the usual long pass crossing days of Himalayas and may be much more than that. Especially once we complete 1/3rd of the hike, the sign of greenery goes away from the mountain owing to its rocky structure and hence it starts feeling even more tiring.
Girnar is only 4 Km east of the city of Junagarh and hence is nicely connected with rest of India. Rajkot is the nearest airport as well as railway station. We arrived in Rajkot and took a taxi to reach Junagarh. Moreover, the road is quite good and the Gujarat public transport will never fail you. State transport bus is a good, as well as cheapest option to reach Junagarh. It will just take two and half hours to reach Junagarh by bus.
I will highly recommend an overnight stay in Junagarh city before attempting the excursion to Girnar.
Junagad city to Girnar Base!
Recommend time to start this climb is quite early in the morning, which reduces the available options to traverse this distance of 6-7 Km from the city to the base. We hired a taxi, though much better way is to use tuk-tuk, an eight seater sharing vehicle. They start as early as 4 am in the morning from Junagarh city area to Girnar base.
Private 3-wheelers known as Auto are also available. They will charge somewhere around 80-100 Rs which still depend heavily on your negotiation skills and on the time you are hiring it.
My Trek Experience!
We attempted this hike in the month of January, when it was still winter and a nice recommended weather to climb Girnar. We were already aware of the fact that this is certainly a tiring and time taking hike and should be commenced as early as possible in the morning. We started by 4:00 am from Junagad and after renting bamboo sticks (which is advisable) from one of the vendors in Girnar base area moved towards main entrance.
As soon as we crossed the main entrance there was a small quadrangle with a pulley along with many rope chairs. This is a pulley service which can be availed by anyone who would find it hard to climb up. Official rates based on weight are mentioned there on a board itself.
Initial steps are easy, nicely paved to support child and elderly pilgrims. With a cool breeze, bustling sound of trees around, it is rather soothing to climb up. We were feeling pretty much refreshed after this early morning wake up call.
Junagarh City from the Top and Star Gazing!
It was more than 2000 Steps and now we felt the heat. But what kept us going is the search of capturing sleeping Junagarh city from the top and yes we found one, a very beautiful indeed.
Word of Caution – Don’t try to rush and climb, keep on taking short breaks after every 400-500 steps, just enjoy the view around. Talk to pilgrims or do star gazing. But yes take STOPS!!
After initial 4000 steps up, we reached our first stop – a plateau with a Jain temple complex. These temples dated from 12th to 16th centuries. They are considered as few of the oldest Jain temples and also a major pilgrimage stop.
Sky was no more dark, and time was already past 6:30 a.m. This was another long stopover for us of around 10 minutes. In-fact around 60% of the crowd return after visiting this temple area itself.
Moving further, after almost 3000 steps, temple of Amba Mata (Mother Goddess) is another major stop visited by Hindus, Jains, and newlyweds seeking blessings for a happy marriage. This is the first time we could clearly see our final destination, the very peak of the mountain. After Amba Mata temple it was further 2000 steps(up) which really tested our patience and stamina. Steps are quite steep, but well worth the trip for the spectacular panoramic views from the summit.
From the temple around 1500 steps down it took us to another complex area served as a home to many Aghori Sadhus (Naked sadhus).
For me, the most difficult part of the trek was the last 1000 steps up towards the paduka- the footprints, of Guru Dattartreya Bhagwaan which is the topmost shrine.
Look for Wildlife!
Girnar is located amidst Gir forest reserve and sighting Asiatic Lion, Eagle nest and many such wildlife is quite common here. In fact, we could see family of Eagles flying around which is indeed not a common sight nowadays.
Accessibility for Wheelchair users
Being a hike and not an easy one for sure, Girnar is not highly recommended for wheel chair users. Though this being said, there are palkis (a palanquin) which on the basis of weight of individual quote the price and take them up safely.
Things to carry!
- Water Bottle – 2 Lt minimum per head
- Head Torch – If hiking up early morning.
- Light Snacks
- Light Jacket or Wind cheater
- Bamboo Stick from the base of Girnar
- Prefer sport shoes over sandals or slippers
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Thanks for reading and happy travelling…