Kumar Shri Samarsinhji was the younger son of the legendary Mokhdaji Gohil, chief of Ghogha in southern Saurashtra, with capital at Pirambet in the Gulf of Cambay. He was adopted around 1340 AD by his maternal grandfather Chokrana Parmar who ruled over Rajpipla from his fort on Devchhatra (Abode of the Gods) hill, high up in the western Satpuras.
On succeeding Chokrana on the gadi (throne) of Rajpipla, Samarsinhji assumed the name Arjunsinhji. Thus the ancient Gohil Rajput dynasty established its rule over the principality of Rajpipla. At that time there was constant threat from the sultans of Ahmedabad, and the Gohil dynasty also lost its sway over Rajpipla for twelve years between 1431 and 1443 AD.
Having regained their territories and with the danger from the sultans of Ahmedabad receding, the rulers of Rajpipla decided to shift their capital in the latter half of the fifteenth century lower down to a scenic site, a bowl surrounded by the Satpura hills on the banks of the River Karjan. They built a new fort, the ruins of which are still in evidence. This came to be known as Junaraj. It was the seat of the Gohil dynasty of Rajpipla until Maharana Jeetsinhji further moved the capital in 1730 AD to the present town of Nandod (now know as Rajpipla) in the plains, also on the banks of the Karjan. Earlier, Maharana Verisalji I had wrested back Nandod taluka from the Mughals as their empire began to crumble.
Seeing the enchanting natural beauty of Junaraj, one can understand why Rajpipla is sometimes called ‘Switzerland of the East’ and ‘mini Kashmir’. After construction of a dam just as the Karjan emerges from the hills into the plains, water from the reservoir collects around Junaraj, forming a large lake. A temple of Lord Shiva still stands, along with smaller temples of other deities.
As the old road was submerged after the dam was constructed, a new one has been built, though not tarred yet. One can also take a motorboat up the Karjan from the dam. Either way, it is an hour’s ride. Junaraj is a sight to behold, and replete with a history of nearly three hundred years. It was here that the army of Emperor Akbar had invaded in 1584, and it was from here that the Gohil dynasty marched down again to the plains to usher in the modern era.