The pilgrimage town of Palitana is steeped in Jain history. It is home to the world’s largest temple complex Shatrunjaya hill, dotted with over 3,000 temples, where it is rumoured that the first of the Jain Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers) Ādinātha meditated. Jain pilgrims flock to the town in their thousands, especially for the Kartik Purnima festival during the monsoon season.
Palitana is located in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, India and was the first city in the world to be legally vegetarian. Since 2014, the buying and selling of eggs, fish and meat has been made illegal or outlawed.
As the world’s only hill with more than 900 temples, Shatrunjaya makes an amazing tourist hotspot. This awe-inspiring hill is dotted with more than 3,000 white marble temples grouped into tunks (enclosures), some of which date back to almost a thousand years. One of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India, every devout Jain aspires to climb to the top of the hill at least once in their lifetime. Some determination is needed to reach the temples, which are at the top of 3,300 steps over a 500m climb. However, help is at hand for visitors unable to tackle this arduous trek can be chauffeured regally on a dholi, a seat on poles carried by four bearers.
There are hundreds of temples to explore, including the Muslim shrine of the saint Angar Pir who guarded the temples against a Mughal attack. Women who want children visit this shrine and bestow miniature cradles as offerings. One of the largest and most impressive structures is the Adinath Temple with its intricate carvings, located on the south side at the highest point.
Crowds of thousands including hundreds of Jain pilgrims flock to Shatrunjaya for Kartik Purnima, a lively festival celebrating the slaying of demons by Shiva. The event takes place during monsoon season, marking the end of a four-month period of material self-denial and spiritual retreat known as Chaturmas.
Just down the road from the foot of the Shatrunjaya is the Shri Vishal Jain Museum which displays ivory carvings, Jain artwork and artefacts, and recreations of Jain stories in model form. The basement contains a circular temple with centuries-old images of four great Jain teachers (Tirthankaras) reflected in the mirrored walls.
You can visit Palitana on our Highlights of Gujarat Tour or as part of your own bespoke Indian holiday. Contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org