People moved through the narrow lanes of the city casting long shadows in the morning sun. The old broken walls, arches, wooden doors tested by time stood as silent audience to the morning drama that unfolded. The city was still asleep yet old men with crumpled faces holding large copper pots with milk, walked swiftly through the cattle infested streets. Women in their traditional sarees, the young partially veiled and the old and experienced unveiled also walked alongside them. Sweepers had become busy dusting the road, kicking an occasional dog out of the way. People sat reading their Gujarati dailies outside their houses, having sips of hot tea which was carried by scruffy teenage boys. Some shops were opening shutters, cleaning, burning incense in front of deities and idols arranged at the back. Cattle sat lazily, looking grumpy in the middle of the undulating streets while dogs continued to chase cars.
The aroma of the tea beckoned us to the main city square. More people could be seen sitting with their copper pots along the street. Copper pots were being loaded onto carts and scooters that would deliver milk to the city. Young men chewed tobacco, smoked and wandered in the square. Little children sat alongside their mothers. The city of Junagadh was coming to life!
Junagadh is the main city of Junagadh district in Saurashtra, Gujarat located at the foot of the Girnar hill. About 400 km from Ahmedabad, it is the seventh largest city in Gujarat and the only place in the world where you can see the Asiatic Lion.
After walking the streets in the morning, next up was the Darbar Museum, housing the royal court and the artifacts, weapons of the various Nawabs(Kings) that have ruled Junagadh. Following this we visited Uparkot Fort, from where you can see the city on one side and the Girnar hill on the other.
The highlight of the trip was however the Bahauddin ka Maqbara or the Mahabat Maqbara. Exquisite minarets with spiral staircases and intricate carvings of the monument left us spell-bound. Sadly, the Maqbara has not received the attention it deserves. The monument is protected by the Archeological Survey of India, which hasn’t done enough to protect it. The complex is used by children to play cricket and the minarets are in a dilapidated condition and often misused. In the evening the place is deserted and the lights put in place don’t work.
We left the place with a heavy heart, wanting to capture more in our eyes and cameras, but alas the mundane of the routine awaited us the next day…
- Unlamented, let me die (arefatehsin.com)