Backpacking in India: Day 12

Junagadh - Mahabat Maqbara - fort

At half past four in the morning it is pitch dark and streets are empty in Junagadh. Only the huge carcasses of cows and dogs wander around deserted streets. We have booked hotel in one and a half kilometer from the station, so we decided to reach it by foot.

We easily  found our hotel, but of course it was closed at this time. Through the glass door we saw manager of the hotel sleeping right on the floor. We knocked on the door. Manager woke up and we have been saved. Hotel is situated in the four storey building on the 4th floor.Room was spacious, with a large window. Sheets were terribly dirty, as usual we wondered how Indians are not ashamed to lay that kind of sheets and went to the reception to ask for a clean one.

Manager has already gone to sleep on his place on the floor, so he sent his assistant with us to give us new sheets. After the warm shower we went to sleep.

We woke up about 11. As usual, we wanted to make the coffee. We started to look for our small heater for water, but couldn’t find it. I was really upset as for me tea and coffee in the room are like salvation.

So we went out from the hotel, drank tea in front of bus station and moved further to explore city of Junagadh.

Suddenly, my friend dragged me to one of the stalls, saying "There will be heater for sure!"

We showed the picture of the heater to seller, he pulled out a huge boiler to heat the water in the buckets. We asked for the same, but small one. Seller stood on a stool and climbed to look for a small heater. He found it! Hooray! I could not believe that we found the heater in the first stall.

Our first destination in Junagadh was Mahabat Maqbara, mausoleum built in 1892 year for the ruler Mahabat Khan II of Junagadh.When we reached that place I was so surprised! It seems that two abandoned magnificent building just appeared in front of me from the fairy tale.

Actually there are two tombs, one is Mahabat Maqbara (the biggest one) and another is Bahauddin Maqbara - one with four minarets, it was a tomb for Wazir (minister) of Junagadh.

Both tombs are amazingly beautiful, with carved arches and windows reminding French cathedrals. There was rusted plate near the tombs and it was written that the mausoleum was built in 1892 and combines elements of European, Islamic and Hindu architecture. Now this area with two tombs is absolutely abandoned and the only visitors are indian children from the nearby slums and flocks of pigeons.

At first, we certainly climbed the narrow spiral staircase to the top of one of the minarets of Bahauddin Maqbara. Breathtaking views of nearby mausoleum Mahabat Maqbara opened from the top of the minaret. After this we continued exploring the area and found rusty iron ladder - it led to the second tier of the mausoleum. We climbed up, but then it appeared to be three more such ladders that lead to the very top of the mausoleum. We climbed up higher and higher. And here we are at the top around the main onion-shaped huge dome. I have been to different kinds of abandoned building but never like this one. It was wonderful adventure!

There is a beautiful building of abandoned school near by Mahabat Maqbara. We entered the territory of the school and at once gang of indian children ran to us, rounded my friend asking where we are from and what are our names. Nobody knows Ukraine…

Our next destination was Junagadh fort. We walked through the streets of the old town and every step opened new and new beauty. Junagadh is far away from the main tourist attractions in India and it seems we were the only tourists in this town. But believe me it is definitely worth visiting. 

Building around the town are all  abandoned or  semi-abandoned combining European and islamic styles. We saw building reminding catholic cathedral with colored stained windows. It was hard to believe that it could be so much beauty in the lost corner of India. It is pity that all buildings are in very bad condition.

In one of these beautiful buildings, we found a school. The teacher gladly allowed to photograph children. Children read books sitting on the floor.

Slowly we made our way through the streets with amazing buildings, and finally reached the entrance to the fort. Fort is believed to be built in 320 BC.

Entrance to the Junagadh fort is free. The indian guide offered his services, but very unobtrusive. He said he saw different people, from Italy and France -but never from Ukraine.

Fort was almost like in my dreams. At first, we saw a large water tank and a small power station. And then, we continued to go over the walls that surrounded the fort. It was absolute silence, only the green parrots screamed and eagles circled in quiet.

We saw one eagle very closely - he sat proudly on the wall of the fort. So we walked and walked, enjoying with excellent views of the walls and  Girnar hill, where we plan to go tomorrow.

Then we reached the well with steps carved into the rock - it's amazing sight. Night was falling.

So very quickly we visited the old mosque Jama Masjid, with columns, similar to what we saw in Ahmedabad. Everybody in Junagadh was surprised to meet white tourists and want to take a picture with us. The sun had already set behind the horizon. We hurried up to the exit.

We had dinner in a restaurant near our hotel, the only dish offered here - unlimited thali. As soon as all this for 120 rupees (2 USD) per person. Waiters brought us a large platter with a small bowls. There were different dishes like cabbage, potatoes with spices and a few dishes that we didn’t recognized - but almost all was delicious.

All the time waiter brought hot indian bread of different kinds. I ate a lot of my favourite one - buttered roti. There was rice too, but how could I eat rice when there is unlimited roti!

Tomorrow we plan to get up early and visit the Girnar hill with it temples and ten thousands of  steps.

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