Temples, Shrines And Spiritual Places Across Gujrat
Geographically located along the west coast of the country, Gujarat is known for its rich cultural heritage, dance and food. It is a land of contrasts, stretching from the seasonal salt deserts of the Kutch district in the northwest, to the wet, fertile, coastal plains of the south-eastern part of the state.
The name Gujarat is derived from Sanskrit words Gurjar (the local tribes of the region) and Rashtra (nation), literally meaning the Gurjar nation. Historically, the north region was known as Anarta, the Kathiawar peninsula as “Saurastra”, and the south as “Lata”. The state has traced back since the era of the Harappan civilization, to the ‘land of Krishna’, and the ‘exile of Rama’.
For Gujrat, Hinduism forms a way of life. One of the most ancient pilgrimages in Gujrat is the Somnath Mandir, located in the temple town of Somnath. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple enshrines one, among the twelve prominent Jyotirlinga shrines. Legend suggests that Lord Krishna ended his ‘leela’ in this temple for seeking his ‘heavenly abode’.
According to the some legends, the history of the temple-city Dwarka prevails from the days of Mahabharata. The city enshrines the first Jyotirlinga of the world’ at the Nageshvara Jyotirling Mandir. The Bhadkeswar Mahadev Mandir, dedicated to Lord Shiva is around 5000 years old, and is encompassed around a ‘self-manifested Shivlinga’.
The Dwarkadish Temple, considered a part of ‘Chardham Yatra’ is also located in this city. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this temple is estimated to be more than 2500 years old. The Sandipani Mandir at Porbander resonates with the divine friendship between Lord Krishna and Sudama. Several other Hindu pilgrim sites, like the Gita Mandir, Bhalka Tirtha, Panch Pandav Guha, Kamnath Mahadev Temple graces the spiritual vend of minds.
Jainism had widely spread in Gujrat as the 22nd Jain Tirthankara attained his salvation here. Shri Girnar Tirth, located in the hills of Girnar, is one of the most important pilgrimages of the Jain community. Legend suggests that Lord Neminath, followed by his wife sat for penance in these hills after being upset with the butchering of animals. The first ‘Women’s Jain organization’ was also founded in those times.
The Plaitana Temple at Bhavnagar is a massive cluster of Jain temples, located on Shatrunjaya Hill in Palitana. This temple is of paramount religious significance as 23 Tirthankaras visited this temple, and blessed their devotees.
Some of the hill ranges are an abode of Jain Temples. The Taranga Hill at Mehsana is an amalgamation of both Digambara and Svetambar. The idol of Lord Adinath is deemed as the most important one. Footprints of 20 Tirthankaras present at the right side of the temple make it even more important.
More than 200 ancient monasteries have flourished in Gujrat. Perhaps the most influential Buddhist pilgrimages in the pages of Medieval History are the Uparkot Caves. Built by King Ashoka, these rock caves are carved out of Monolithic stone, and the interior rock paintings reveal episodes from Buddha’s life.
The Vadnagar Monastery, located in the Mehsana district, encapsulates a ’12-celled structure’, combining two stupas. During the 2nd-7th century, the monastery became an important center of Buddhist learning and sheltered more than 1000 monks. The interior follows a swastika-shaped architecture.
The Dev Ni Mori Stupa, built around the 2nd-3rd century upheld special status during Emperor Ashoka’s reign. Other Buddhist pilgrimages like the Dharanmata Temple, located in the ‘Taranga Hills’ attach historical and spiritual importance.
Gurdwaras are of paramount importance in the secular state of Gujrat. Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib is one of the most revered locations for the Sikhs. Legends suggest that Guru Nanak, on his way to Mecca stayed in that place, which was later commemorated as a gurdwara. Gurudwara Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji, Gurudwara Chaadar Sahib, Nanakadi Gurudwara Sahib are other important Sikh pilgrim spots.
Gujrat is a resonance of spirituality, mysticism and is learning of a path of piousness. It is a place of exuberant beauty, which paints historical glimpses of India’s freedom struggle and upholds unique spiritual facets of culture and tradition.