Ghumli – an Archaeologist’s Paradise

Ghumli is not even a town; it is a small village located on the foothills of Barada range in Saurashtra, a region, most naturalists believe that it can become the second abode of Asiatic lions, if an epidemic breaks out at Gir Sanctuary. 20 km to its west is the coast of the Arabian Sea and 35 km southwest is Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. To its northeast lies Dwaraka, the holiest of holy cities for Hindus. The entire landscape of Ghumli is shrouded in mystery and legacies of Lord Krishna.

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Ghumli today offers a deserted look amidst ruins of Solanki and Saindhva Periods. Saindhvas who succeeded Maitrakas in the 9th century had made Ghumli as their frontier town and later established their capital here. They were known for their nautical skill and referred to as ‘the masters of the western sea’. It has been suggested that the Saindhvas were later named as Jethwa Rajputs. During the raid of Mahmud of Ghazni, they controlled all the western and northern parts of Saurashtra.

The earliest of Ghumli heritage is the Ganesha Temple built in Latina/Saurashtra style in the 9th century AD. Besides it is the Navlekha Temple, the pride of Ghumli. There are a few more temples on the hill top of the early period.

Navlekha Temple is dedicated to Sun God and was built in the 11th century AD in Maru Gurjara or Solanki style of temple architecture. In terms of artistic beauty the temple is no less than the Sun Temple at Modhera. It stands on a high platform, which is an unusual feature among Solanki temples. At the back of the wall are depicted are two massive elephants fighting with their trunks. Among sculptures, the idols of Brahma-Saraswati, Shiva-Parvati and Lakshmi-Narayana are noteworthy.

A kilometer away from the temple complex is a military gate, the only survived part of the fort. Locals call it Rampol gate. It is similar in plan to the gates of Dabhoi and Zinzuwada. A cluster of palias or hero stones are the other attraction near the gate. The other major ruin in Ghumli proper is a dilapidated step-well.

Among step-wells of Ghumli region, the most important is the Vikia Step-well, which is largest in the region and is named after a Jethwa ruler, Vikiaji, who was a contemporary of Sidharaja Solanki. A few km further south towards Porbandar lies yet another archaeological site, a Buddhist cave complex of Kshatrapa Period (4th century AD). It is now converted into a Shiva linga. (For more see http://theideaofindia.in/vikia-step-well-of-ghumli-a-forgotten-heritage-of-gujarat/ and http://theideaofindia.in/ranapar-a-buddhist-cave-complex-in-barada-hill-saurashtra/)

Truly, Ghumli is an archaeologist’s paradise and for a heritage lover it is simply awesome. For tourists it offers mixed elements, built-in heritage, breathtaking landscape, trekking adventure and above all Saurashtra hospitality.

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