Junaraj, the mediaeval capital of the Gohil Rajput dynasty of Rajpipla

Ruins of the main entrance to Junaraj fort.

Ruins of the main entrance to Junaraj fort.

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 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.

Panoramic view of Junaraj.

Panoramic view of Junaraj.

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.

View of the Karjan from the rear of the fort.

View of the Karjan from the rear of the fort.

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.

Temple of Lord Shiva at Junaraj.

Temple of Lord Shiva at Junaraj.

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.

Sunset over the Karjan from the Junaraj road.

Sunset over the Karjan from the Junaraj road.

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8 thoughts on “Junaraj, the mediaeval capital of the Gohil Rajput dynasty of Rajpipla

    • Pranaam Bhai. I was just wondering that I have not heard from you for a while. This is a piece that I have written quickly. My book will have an indepth study. You come over to Rajpipla when I am a bit more organised. Have been travelling a fair bit. All good wishes.

      • We will organise your visit, Bhai. I am off to Gandhinagar on the 2nd, then to Delhi on the 5th. Scheduled to be back in Rajpipla on the 15th. More visits to Gandhinagar and Delhi will follow. Warm regards.

    • Thank you, Bhai. This is just a quick, brief piece. I intend doing a lot of research for the book. I also want to visit Uplu Junaraj on Devastra hill, the Vallabhi site of the 6th century, Chittor, Juna Khergarh in Marwar, and Pirambet to get a real feel of history.

  1. I am impressed with your knowledge of history.I salute to your research– By the way I have been to JunaRaj back in early 50s. I am proud of being Rajpiplian.

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