Having traveled to New Delhi just about 2 weeks back to capture some of the city’s Mughal-era tombs and monuments, it felt a right time for me to pay an equal attention to another beautiful Palitana Temple town, in Gujarat State. Unlike some of the popular bloggers across the world, I haven’t yet left my full time job for travel owing to homely responsibilities and feel I can still manage to see some of the better places, especially in India. The idea then is to travel by flight to cover maximum distance within shortest span of time, so as to reach the destination faster – which helps me in only getting more time at disposal to explore better. Palitana temple town fitted the bill perfectly.
How did “Palitana Temple” cross my mind ?
Frankly, I do not know. May be I was searching for something on the internet and this cover picture came in the forefront, helping me make a decision spontaneously to pay a visit here. As I mentioned earlier, having the possibility to reach a destination as fast as possible is the single most important reason for me to make a decision, if I am not taking leave from work. So, weekends matter. I did some research and found that I can take a flight on Saturday night from Pune to Ahmedabad, take a late night train from Ahmedabad to Palitana (210 Kms), reach Palitana temple town in the morning, visit the temples & nearby market during the day, take return train in late evening and catch early morning flight from Ahmedabad to Pune, join office on Monday morning. Too hectic schedule to be followed but it was worth it. When the schedule seems possible, I do everything to make it a reality. As one devotee in my train to Palitana pointed out, HE has called me and HE will take care of me 🙂
Palitana Temple Town & It’s Significance
Palitana temple town is located in Bhavnagar district in Gujarat State. It is a very sacred place of worship for the Jain Community, who have always followed the path set by Lord Adinath, that of utmost devotion, patience and non-violence. Lord Adinath, also known as Lord Rishabh, was born here and was the first Tirthankara. Palitana temple town is actually a base town. The temples are located on nearby hill, called Shatrunjaya Hill. It is a widely noted fact that the Shatrunjaya Hill has 863 marble-carved temples, of varied sizes. One single hill having over 863 temples set on it, has hence rightly featured in the GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS.
Palitana and another place called Shikharji, Jharkhand are considered the holiest of all the pilgrimage places by the Jain Community. The main temple i.e. of Lord Adinath, is located at the top of Shatrunjaya Hill. There are over 3,745 steps to be climbed, before one can reach to this place. No one is allowed to stay on the hill overnight as this hill is an abode of the almighty. 23 out of 24 Tirthankaras sanctified the hill by their visits, except Neminath.
Jains believe one attains Nirvana (Salvation) after paying a visit to this sacred place.
Photography is not allowed these days at most of the temples in India and the rules here were no different. Getting space for secretly capturing photos was also not possible, with the huge deployment of security guards all over the place. Straight up, in this above picture, is the main temple i.e. of Lord Adinath.
Quick Tips on Palitana Temple
There are 3,745 steps before one reaches the temple of Lord Adinath. While it may sound fun in the beginning, it is not. These many steps mean that now you have reached a height of 1,978 feet above sea-level. It is required that you may practice walking or gymming 15 days before your trip.
The distance of these 3745 steps is approx 3 kms. Climbing them also requires around 3 hours. Coming down takes less than 2 hours.
The temples have been built over the period of 960 years, with the first temple of Lord Adinath being built around 1100 AD.
The temples on the hill are grouped together called “Toonk”. There are 9 Toonks having a Central Shrine and other smaller temples around it.
Out of the 863 temples, the most visited ones by pilgrims are Adinath Temple, VimalShah Temple, Chaumukh Temple, Kumarpal and Samprati Raja Temple.
There is a “Doli” (Manual Carriage) system, where 4 labourers carry you to the top and bring you down the hill, they charge around INR 800/- per head. Mostly, pilgrims with medical condition or elderly people use this facility.
I observed strict silence is followed by the pilgrims at the top of the hill. They will only speak only while offering prayers or if need be.
It is expected to not eat anything whilst climbing from the Palitana Temple base to the top of the hill. As such, there is nothing to eat in between. Drinking water is served.
Because the place is not commercialized yet, there is a great deal of devotion and tranquility all around.
How To Reach Palitana Temple Town ?
Located in the state of Gujarat, Bhavnagar is the closest city to Palitana temple city. Bhavnagar has an airport but flight connectivity is rather limited. Instead, people fly till Ahmedabad and thereafter either take a bus or train to Palitana. Ahmedabad to Palitana is approx 210 kms.
Do note, you may have to book train to Sihor Railway Station. Most tourists alight one stop prior to Sihor, called Songadh. Songadh Railway Station is approx 25 kms from Palitana Temple Town. There are Auto-Rickshaws & Jeeps available outside Songadh Railway Station, they charge INR 50/- per head to Palitana.