The most ancient holy places in Gujarat are Dwarka, the seat of the Yadava
kingdom of Lord Krishna and the Somnath temple at Veraval which is dedicated
to Lord Shiva. Ambaji, Palitana, Girnar and Pavagadh are hill top shrines
similarly dating back in history. Ambaji and Becharaji are two most popular
goddesses of Gujarat and the temples dedicated to these two goddesses
are the centres of pilgrimage for Hindus. Women observe vow of the goddess
Becharaji to obtain fertility. Other religious spots include Bhadreswar,
Dhakor in Kheda district, Shamlaji in the Sabarkantha district etc
Jains have their holy places at Miran Datar in Mehsana
district, Palitana in the Shetrunjaya hill, in Taranga and the Jamial
Shah Pir on the Datar hill near the Girnar. Parsis have their holy places
at Udvada, near Surat. The holy flame brought here by these worshippers
of the sun-god still burns and inspires this small and significant community. Besides
these major holy places there are several other temples in Gujarat.
In fact Gujarat is a land of temples, which besides their historical
and religious significance, are noteworthy for their architectural splendor.
The temple of Somnath is one of the oldest holy
places in India. The story of Chandra, the Moon-god associated with the
shrine, adds to the mystery of it. Among the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva,
the one at Somnath has precedence over all the others. Somnath had a chequered
history. Every time it was destroyed, it rose again with added splendour.
Its destruction at the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni was the precursor of
the loss of India's independence and its final renovation followed India
regaining her lost freedom. It was destroyed by Allauddin Khilji and Aurangazeb,
and every time it was rebuilt. Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore rebuilt the
temple adjacent to the original site.