Junagadh is esteemed since ages for the inherited rare beauty of nature and heritage. The cultural diversity and infamous festivals have been able to attract people all over the world to embrace the city’s liveliness. The rich heritage buildings and caves left behind by Emperors and kings are the main attraction for not only tourists but also archeologists, Buddhists, ideologists, Hindu pilgrims, and explorers. In 2008, only 2.8% of the international and domestic tourists visited Gujarat. Gujarat had a huge potential to attract tourists because of ancient heritage sites as well as marvelous history. But to attract tourists, urbanization and maintenance of such tourism centers like Junagadh was essential.
Junagadh was ruled by the Mauryan dynasty, Chudasama dynasty as well as The Mughal Emperor. So it wasn’t much of a question that the city was enriched with exciting history and stories. It had some amazing archeological sites for everyone to fall in awe of its beauty and natural surroundings. Meanwhile, maintenance of such eloquent masterpieces was important. As a result of this, the average number of tourists was 1.5 million with an income generation of around 6.6 billion per year. To make Junagadh the epicenter of tourism in Gujarat, the facilities and infrastructure had to be increased to provide a memorable journey for the tourists.
City expansion took place as the peripheral small areas like Bhavnath and Timbavadi were also made significant and developed part of Junagadh (main city). Bhavnath became a hub to tourists as it is surrounded by immense and varied flora and fauna. Girnar, Damodar Kund, Jatashankar, Laldori, and Bhavnath Temple got the attention of tourists as the area developed with better services and Transportation. Development of religious places and the Girnar took place when the Chief Minister declared the Maha Shivratri Fair as “Mini Kumbh ”, attended by over lakhs of devotees.
The biggest Ropeway in Asia was recently inaugurated by Narendra Modi, constructed on the hill of Girnar as it is considered as one of the holiest places because of The Amba Ma temple. This led to the biggest tourism boost in Junagadh as the Ropeway made it possible for everyone to visit the temple. Hence, this is the stepping stone towards the booming tourism industry in the city as well as the state.
These changes in Junagadh city boosted the tourism of the city as well as the District. Meanwhile, the highlight of the constant urbanization of the city is that it never lost its original taste. Junagadh has been a conspicuous core for its nature, lush green surroundings, fresh air and lively environment. Even after extreme measures taken to civilize the city well and make it look presentable, the city didn’t lose it’s core advantage which attracted tourists in the first place. The feeling of every inhabitant that they live in a city equivalent to a hill station is still intact.
More than any infrastructural monuments, people still love to go on a trek in the woods or have a quiet time while strolling through the prolific canopy of trees.
With such a huge scale of urbanization comes some setbacks. Farmers of 42 villages protested against becoming a part of Junagadh Urban Development Authority (JUDA) as they wanted to continue farming and not sell their fertile lands. Another major problem was that there isn’t a proper drainage system in Junagadh which causes inconvenience to the residents of the city.
Hence to overcome these problems, the government has decided to take some measures to benefit the residents and increase tourism. The Chief Minister of Gujarat has decided to develop Junagadh as a heritage city and mark it on the Global Tourism Map. As of January 2021, Rs. 319.48 crore have been allotted for the underground drainage network as well as three sewage water treatment plants. Development work will be taken place to foremost tourism places like Uparkot, Sasan, Makbara and Indreshwar.
Urbanization of Junagadh has been in its favor to this extent, meanwhile, problems of the residents and the villages nearby are also being resolved as the city is moving towards the most significant tourism attraction in the world.
– Rashmi Ramchandani