The district is named after the capital of the former princely state of Dungarpur. Dungar means a hill or a mountain and pur means a town, thus Dungarpur means a hill town. Rawal Veer Singh Dev took
over this part of the state from the Bhil Chieftain Dungaria and laid the foundation of the city as well as of the Old Palace on 14 October 1282 AD. The district is wild and rugged being situated in the
foothills of the Aravalis. The terrain though fairly open in the south and east is interspersed with stony slopes covered with low jungle of cactus, jujube trees and salar (Boswellia Servata, gum producing
tree). A variety of shrubs and trees which require neither a deep soil nor moisture also grow in this area. In the north and the east the country is rugged and wild but towards the south west border the
harsh features gradually become softer. The eastern part of the Gujarat region, slopes down towards the basin of the Mahi river and consists of a plain and a level cultivated area. Two rivers, the Mahi
& the Som, flow through the area. The former separates the districts from Banswara and the latter forms the natural boundary between this district and Udaipur. The cultivated area is mostly confined
to the valley and low ground between the hills where the soil is alluvial. Dungarpur is famous for its particular style of architecture. The palaces of the Dungarpur princes and the residence ot the
noble ones are adorned by stone jharokhas and a new style of jharokhas which was developed by Maharawal Shiv Singh reign (1730-1785 AD). The gold and silversmiths of Dungarpur and Banswara are well known
for lacquer painted toys and picture farming.
Bhils: The Bhils are fobust people of short stature. They are mostly animists, but over the year have been greatly influenced by Hinduism. They believe in the existence of God and in the
transmigration of souls. The Bhils worship Cavins erected on hill-tops or raised platforms. Cavins are piles of loose stones, smeared loose with red paint. They worship Mata Goddess to whom propitiatory
offerings of goats and male buffalo are made. Other favourite deities of the Bhils are Mahadeo, his consort Parvati, Hanuman and Bhairon. Bhils have lost much of their ancestral way of life. Some
however are still armed with ancient weapons such as bows and arrows. The Bhils in the district are divided into twenty six clans. A Bhil village consist of a number of huts, scattered over hillocks.
Each Bhil after marriage, makes a new home for himself on some nearby hillocks. The chief Bhil Goddess is Bhawani or Kali worshiped under different names. Bhilmen generally wear silver or bronze kadas,
kanthis and doras. Bhil women mostly wear bras ornaments.
PLACES OF INTEREST ARE:
Udai Bilas Palace: In the east of this beautiful town is Udai Bilas Palace, the residence of the Royal Family named after Maharawal Udai Singh II, a great patron of art and architecture. Maharawal
Udai Singh built a wing of bluish grey stone "Pareva" overlooking the lake and the "Ek Thambia Mahal" (Literally one pillared palace), featuring intricate sculptured pillars and
panels, ornate balconies, balustrades brackets windows, arches and frieze of marble carving a veritable marvel of Rajput architecture. Still the royal residence the Udai Bilas Palace offers accommodation
with all major facilities.
Junamahal: Almost as old as the town itself, the construction of the palace was started in the turbulent 13th century using the superb natural defence of a rocky peak some 1500 ft above sea level.
This seven stories structure resembles a fortress with crenellated walls, turrets and narrow entrances and passage ways to slow down the enemy. Inside, one will see the most colourful and vibrant rooms
embellished with frescoes, miniature paintings and glass and mirror inlay work. Juna Mahal is still owned by the royal family and can be visited by invitation only.
Gaib Sagar Lake: In Dungarpur, the most famous shrine is that of Shrinathji located on the embankment of the Gaib Sagar Lake. It is a conglomeration of several small and medium sized temples with
one main temple, all massive and strongly built. The latest architectural glory in marble is the Vijay Raj Rajeshwar Temple, which is dedicated to Shiva. Carved and constructed by Shilpis of Dungarpur,
it bears testimony to the greatness and glory of the art in this region.
MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES:
Government Museum: The Govt. Archeological Museum in Dungarpur with its fine collection of old statues is worthwhile place to visit.
Dungarpur Museum: A newly constructed museum named "Rajmata Devendra Kunwar State Museum and Cultural Centre. Dungarpur" was opened to the public in 1988. The sculpture gallery of the museum
throws light on the history of Vagad Pradesh that was spread over the present areas of Dungarpur, Banswara and Tehsil Kherwara of Udaipur district. The museum also has a panel of portraits of the
erstwhile Maharajas of Dungarpur State and photographs of palaces, temples and monuments from the many phases of the land's history.
Baneshwar (60 km): The Baneshwar temple, with the revered Shiva Linga of the area, is situated on a delta formed at the confluence of Som and Mahi Rivers. Near this temple is the Vishnu
Temple, believed to be constructed on the spot where Mavji, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna, spent his time in meditation and devotion. There is also a beautifully constructed
temple of Brahma, which has a spacious two storied building and exquisite carvings on pillars and doors. A big fair is held here annually.
Deo Somnath (24 km): On the bank of Some River, is a 12th century old beautiful Shiva Temple. Built of white stones, the temple has imposing turrets. The juxtaposition of huge slabs of
stone, both vertically and horizontally reflect the skill and intricate workmanship of the architect of those days. The features of this temple convey an impression of great antiquity.
Galiyakot: Galiyakot is a small village of Tehsil Sagwara in Dungarpur District. It is located on the banks of the River Mahji and hold special significance for Dawoodi Bohras, a sect of
the Ismaili Shia Muslims. They converge at Galiyakot for Ziyarat (pilgrimage) at he memorial of the revered said, Sayyed Fakhruddin. The mausoleum is called Mazar-e-Fakhri. The followers of the saint
arrive here not only from the States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan but also from abroad.
Baroda (41 km): An erstwhile capital of Vagad, the village has some beautiful temples. Of particular note is the old Shiva temple in white stone and an ancient Jain Temple whose black wall
has exquisitely carved images of the 24 Tirthankaras.
Bhuvaneshwar (9 km): A famous temple of Lord Shiva is situated here and is the venue of a colourful fair held on the fifth day after Holi. Gair dance by the Bhils is the Major highlight of the fair.
Poonjpur (37 km): A beautiful temple dedicated to Mavji preserved the manuscripts of a book - "Chopra', written by Mavji and an idol of Nishkalank riding a horse.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Baneshwar Fair: The name Baneshwar is derived from the revered Shiva Linga which is kept in the Mahadev temple in Dungarpur. "Baneshwar" means the "master of the delta" in the
local Vagdi language and this name was given to the Shiva Linga. The Baneshwar fair is held at a small delta formed by the river Som and Madhi, from Magh Shukla Ekadashi to Magh Shukla Poornima.
The Baneshwar fair in its present form is actually a merger of two fairs: one which used to be held in honour of Baneshwar Mahadev (Lord Shiva) and another fair which started after the construction
of the Vishnu temple by Jankunwari, daughter-in-law of Mavji, a highly revered saint considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Two disciples of Mavji named Aje and Vaje built the Lakshmi Narain
temple near the confluence of rivers Som & Mahi.
The Pran-Pratishta ceremony of the idols was performed on Magh Shukla Ekadashi and since then, the fair is held on this day. Large congregation that gathers here at the time of the fair pays homage to
all the deities with equal reverence. On Magh Shukla Ekadashi, the priest called the Mathadhish, arrives at the fair side from Sabla, in a huge procession. A 16 cms. silver image of Mavji on horseback
is also brought here.
The river water supposedly becomes holier when the Mathadhish takes a bath. Hence, people bathe along with him in the river. The Bhils consign the ashes of their dead at the confluence of the
rivers. The Baneshwar fair is predominantly a tribal fair with more than half of the congregation consisting of Bhils. They revere Baneshwar Mahadev as well as Mavji. The Majority of the gathering is
from this district of Dungarpur, Udaipur and Banswara.
The Bhils attending Baneshwar fair sing traditional folk songs in high pitched voices sitting around a bonfire every night. Cultural shows are arranged by youngsters of the clan. Groups of villagers
are also invited to participate in the programme. The fair resounds with the gaiety of songs, folk dances, magic shows, animal shows and acrobatic feats. Adding to the excitement are joy ride on
merry-go-rounds and swings. The large number of shops in the fair provides an opportunity for buying and selling of essential goods and fancy articles.
Urs at Galiyakot: Thousands of followers and devotees converge at the shrine during the annual Urs which is celebrated on the 27th day of Moharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar. Many
devotees seek blessing of the saint to have their wishes fulfilled. This is called mannat and generally the devotees come to the shrine again to express their gratitude after their whishes are fulfilled.
Before the Urs ceremonies begin, the tomb is decorated with flowers and lit up with lamps. The Urs is initiated with mass prayers and recitation of the Holy Quran. A devotional gathering called Majlis
is held wherein songs are sung in praise of the saint. A free community lunch is organized and all the devotees feel privileged to partake of that feast. The ceremonies of the Urs are headed by the
Dai-Ul-Mutlaq, who is the religious head of the community. People make offerings at the shrine consisting of sweets, fruits, coconut and jaggery. Cash offerings are also made.