|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Veraval is also the nearest town to the Gir National Park (42 km away).
Sir H. M. Elliot writes that taking the accounts of the Arab writers, and comparing them with the Indian annals, there can be no great hesitation in identifying the "Balhará" with the dynasty settled at Ballabhi-pura, the princes of which were the founders of the Ballabhi era, and were probably known as the Ballabhi or Ballabh Ráís. This identification, originally proposed by Colonel Tod, has met with tacit acquiescence, except from M. Reinaud, who considered the term "Balhará" to represent Málwá Ráí or "King of Málwá."
Wikipedia tells us that Veraval was founded in 13th or 14th century by Rao Veravalji Vadher. Veraval was once a fortified port town of the royal family of Junagadh. It was a part of the Kingdom of Junagadh till 1953 when Junagadh was merged with India. The city still bears some remnants of the old Nawabi heritage, the beautiful Nawabi summer palace being among them. There are ruins of the old Nawabi fort and Nawabi Gates in and around the place. The old walls of the port are now ruined, but the impressive Junagadh gate and the Patan gate are still seen, but are in a very bad state.
The Nawabi Palace with gothic features which is one of the main attractions. It is popularly known as Somnath College (the palace was converted into a college after it was abandoned by the Nawab). At present it is the building of a Sanskrit university. The town is often known as the gateway to the magnificent temple of Somnath and the pilgrimage centres of Prabhas Patan and Bhalkha.
Before the rise of Surat, Veraval was the major seaport for pilgrims to Mecca. Its importance now is as a fishing port, one of the largest in India. Sea going dhows and fishing boats are still being built by the sea without the use of any instruments other than a tape-measure. Traditional skills are passed down from father to son. About 25 km from the veraval a historical place is located at Savani village.
वीरावल (काठियावाड़, गुजरात)
वीरावल (AS, p.867): यह छोटा सा बंदरगाह वाही स्थान है जहाँ इतिहास-प्रसिद्ध सोमनाथ का मंदिर स्थित है। इस को 1024 ई. में महमूद गजनी ने तोड़ा था। प्राचीन मंदिर के खंडहर समुद्र तट पर एक ऊँचे टीले पर स्थित हैं। इस स्थान के निकट युद्ध में आहत गजनी के सैनिकों की सैंकड़ों कब्रें दिखाई पड़ती हैं जिससे जान पड़ता है कि गजनी की सेना को काफी क्षति उठानी पड़ी थी। स्थानीय वीरों ने बड़ी बहादुरी से उसका सामना किया था। सोमनाथ का अपेक्षाकृत नया मंदिर, जो पुराने के समीप है, अहल्याबाई ने बनवाया था। वीरावल के पास ही प्रभास क्षेत्र है जिसे भगवन कृष्ण का देहोत्सर्ग-स्थल माना जाता है। वीरावल या वेरावल का प्राचीन नाम वेलाकूल कहा जाता है जिसका अर्थ है - समुद्र तट।
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