a special place on the Gujarat travelers' map, Palitana is a `must
visit' destination for the Jains and all those who would like
to witness what the subtle combination of human enterprise, architectural
skills, philanthropy and channelised religious fervour can achieve.
The entire summit of majestic mount Shatrunjaya is crowned with
about 900 temples, each rivaling the other for beauty and magnificence,
presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle to devotees and visitors.
The town was an imperial Thana during the Mughal era, which grew
into the capital of Palitana State of the princely Kathiawad.
The feuds and the rivalries culminating into the battles during
the reign of Rajput king Unadji reminds us of the sacrificial
chivalry of that age. Taking advantage of the occupation of Bhavnagar
army with Maratha forces, Unadji had attacked Sihor. In retaliation
Gohil Wakhatsinhji, the then ruler of Bhavnagar, laid siege on
Palitana. Unadji's stubborn resistance, which compelled the Bhavnagar
forces to retire, is even today, many generations later remembered
by the residents of this temple town.
The mount Shatrunjaya lies hardly a kilometer away from the town,
the way, which is now thronged on both the sides by sarais and
minor temples, including Kala Bhandars (museums). The mountain
is associated with Rishabhdev, the first tirthankar, also known
as Adinath. It is believed that all the tirthankars, except Neminath,
attained nirvan here; imparting sacredness and earning an epithet
of Siddhakshetra. The summit is divided into two peaks, but the
valley between has been partly built with masonry by a wealthy
Jain merchant Motishah. The entire summit is covered with temples
among which the most famous are those of Adinath, Kumarpal, Vimalshah,
Samprati Raja and the Chomukh, which is the highest and can be
distinguished from a distance. The multitude of temples, half
palaces, half fortresses and made of splendid marble, with their
spires aiming the skies present a spectacle unmatched for its
scale and magnitude.
Visitors naturally wonder how such a mammoth task of covering
the entire summit with temples has been achieved. The answer is
simple. Generations after generation of Jain devotees have spent
money on some construction or the other on the Shatrunjaya. This
is aptly described in Ras Mala thus: There is hardly a city in
India, through its length and breadth, that has not supplied at
one time or other, contributions of wealth to the edifices which
crown the hill of Palitana.
Because of its sanctity, every devout Jain aspires to climb to
the top of the mountain at least once in his lifetime. The journey
is arduous. The walk up the stone stairway hewn into the mountain
face takes about an hour and a half. For those unable or unaccustomed
to the strain, sling-chairs are available at a bargain. The code
for the climbers is stringent, in keeping with the rigours of
the Jain faith. Food must neither be eaten nor carried on the
way. The descent must begin before it is evening, for no soul
can remain atop the sacred mountain during the night and Gods
are to be left alone. Such is the mystique of Palitana, the summit
While atop one can also visit a Muslim shrine of Angar Pir. The
Pir's blessings are invoked by the childless women for to be blessed
with children. They offer miniature cradles to the Pir and the
shrine is strewn with such cradles.
Visitors with special interest in temple ornament can contact
Hill Inspector or The Manager, Anandji Kalyanji Trust, for viewing
the jewellery that adorn the deities on ceremonial occasions.
How to Reach
Palitana is on the Western Railway metre gauge line and is well
connected to Ahmedabad, 277 kms. by rail and 215 kms. by road.Nearest
airport at Bhavnagar is 62 kms.S.T. & luxury buses ply regularly.
YOUR ITINERARY for Palitana
(Mumbai - Bhavnagar - Palitana - Shatrunjaya - Junagarh - Mt.Girnar
- Ahmadabad - Mt.Abu - Ajmer - Pushkar - Agra - Delhi (15 Days/14
Day 1 Morning arrival in Mumbai. Connecting
flight to Bhavnagar. Stay at Nilambagh Palace.
Day 2 Bhavnagar. Visit the Gandhi
Smirti Museum and the Old City.
Day 3 Drive to Palitana (50km). Rest
of the day at leisure.
Day 4 Climb the holy Jain hill of
Shatrunjaya, and visit some of the 900 temples on its slopes and
Day 5 Drive to Junagarh (195km, c.
5 hours). Stay at Girnar Hotel.
Day 6 Climb the 5000 steps to the
summit of Mt. Girnar, sacred to Jains and Hindus.
Day 7 Day at leisure in Junagarh.
Overnight sleeper train to Ahmadabad. Overnight Stay
Day 8 Visit Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram
and the Calico Museum of Textiles. Gandhi's doctrine of ahimsa
was formed by the influence of Jains in his early life.
Day 9 Morning train to Abu Road (1000
1418), and short onward drive to Mt. Abu, most sacred of
Jain hills. Overnight Stay.
Day 10 Explore the hill resort and
temples of Mt. Abu
Day 11 Afternoon train to Ajmer (six
hours) and short onward drive to Pushkar, famous for its annual
camel fair and its Brahma temple. Stay at Pushkar Palace.
Day 12 Pushkar. Visit the rare temple
dedicated to Lord Brahma, and explore the narrow bazaars.
Day 13 Optional morning visit to the
shrine of Sufi saint Kwaja Muinuddin Chisti in Ajmer. Afternoon
train to New Delhi, arriving 2215. Overnight Stay
Day 14 Delhi, or optional all day
visit to Agra for the Taj Mahal.
Day 15 Day at leisure in Delhi. Late
evening transfer to airport for return flight.