Junagadh, Gujarat, Oct 12: For urban Gujaratis, the festival of Navratri means nine nights of constant dance and gaiety but for the devotees of Junagadh, this festival entails the arduous climbing of 4800 steps of Mount Girnar, a challenge to devotees with old age and physical disabilities.
Leading the group of pilgrims is 95-year-old Gopalanandaji Bapu, who is the main priest of Agni Akhada, a group of devotees. Having climbed 4800 steps of Mount Girnar, leading to Gaumukhi Ganga, the opening of water stream, Gopalanandaji will go into a cave and will perform rituals for whole nine nights and days of this festival.
''During the nine days of festival, I practice complete silence and wake up before twilight sketches the sky with crimson colour in the east. I devote whole day to the worship of Maa Jagdamba. After the sunset, I climb 700 steps of Ambaji temple and perform the ceremony of arati,'' Gopalanandaji told UNI