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Palitana Jain Temples: Location, History & Much More

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Jainism is the sixth most prominent religion in India. Its influence can be traced in Indian history from around 600 BCE when the religion was more popularized by the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism named Mahavira. The religion believes in the principle of non-violence or ahimsa, which is the main fundamental aspect of the religion. The concept of non-violence is also found in the tradition of other similar Indian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, but this doctrine is more specifically found in Jainism.  Here, we shall discuss a very religiously significant place called Palitana Jain temples of Gujarat for Jain pilgrims of India, including its history, architectural significance, and much more.

Panoramic view of Palitana Jain Temples
Image Courtesy: Pratap Tur

This temple is considered by them as the most sacred place of pilgrimage for Jain devotees of the country, as it is mentioned in several Jain texts that Adinatha- the first Tirthankara of Jainism had delivered many of his sermons in this place. There are also references that almost all the Tirthankaras had paid a visit to this place, making it the most important pilgrimage location of the Jain community.

Location of Palitana Jain Temple

Palitana Jain temples comprise a group of about 1000 temples present in a small town named Palitana, which is almost 55 kilometers from the city of Bhavnagar in the state of Gujarat. This place is considered by the Jain community as one of the holiest places for pilgrimage. This is because the Jain community believes that 23 out of their 24 Tirthankaras had paid a visit to this place. The temples of Palitana are found to be in about nine major clusters in the hills. The governing body of the temples is Anandji Kalyanji Trust which also manages more than 1200 Jain temples and is also the largest and oldest Jain trust in India. The Palitana railway station is connected to Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar. The distance of Palitana temples from Mumbai is about 660 kilometers, and from Gandhinagar, it is about 237 kilometers.

History of Palitana Jain Temple

According to Jain texts, the first Tirthankara, Adinatha himself, had visited this place nearly 700 million times. This incident makes this place the holiest pilgrimage spot for the Indian Jains.  There are also references to Mahavira reciting the legends of Adinatha in a session which was organized in these hill clusters in the holy text titled- Shatrunjaya Mahatmya, which was also his first sermon. There are references that these temples were built between the 11th and 14th centuries, while some others believe they took more than 900 years to be fully constructed. In medieval India, with Islamic invasions, these temples were supposed to be destroyed in the 15th century. Since then, these temples have been reconstructed fifteen to sixteen times. The temples are located on top of Shetrunjaya hills of Gujarat, and therefore the pilgrims have to climb nearly 3500 steps to reach the top. There is an arrangement of palanquins for the people who are unable to climb so many stairs.

Also read about: Ranakpur Jain Temple

Architecture and the significance of the Palitana Jain Temple

Samovsaran Mandir, a modern temple and museum at the base of the hills (Tapa Gaccha subtradition of Jains) Palitana Jain Temples
Image Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon

The architecture of the temples resembles the Maru-Gujara style, which was once popular in western parts of India during the 10th century. The ceilings, pillars, and walls inside the temples are very brightly decorated, while there are domes in the center of the main temple. Popular Temples here include Adishwar, Kumarpal, Sampriti Raj, etc. Inside the temples, we find encrypted idols of the Tirthankaras and also some of the popular characters of the legend of Mahabharata, like Arjuna and Yudhishthira. It was Jain scholar Kumarpal Solanki who built the first temples on this site.

Also read about: Tijara Jain Temple

Timings to Visit the Palitana Jain temple

The temples open at 5 AM in the morning and close at 8.30 PM at night. No one is allowed to stay overnight in the temples, not even the priests of the temples. The best time to visit the temples is during Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, which is the most important festival of the Jains that generally take place in the month of April-May. Pilgrims also visit during Kartik Purnima and Falgun Feri. The average cost to stay and visit the Palitana temples is around 5000 to 8000 rupees for two to three days.

Palitana Jain Temple Contact Number

If you want to contact Palitana Jain Temple, you can call at: (02848) 2148

Places to stay near the Palitana Jain temple

Best hotels near Palitana include Hotel Om Palace, Hotel Sumeru, Hotel Nandini, etc. The average staying cost per day varies from 1400 rupees to 1800 rupees. Other tourist places near the temples include Hastagiri Jain Tirth, Vishal Jain Museum, Talaja Gopnath Beach, Shatrunjaya river, and Bhavnagar city.

The Palitana Jain temples are the holiest place for the Indian Jains. Jain devotees seek to attain Nirvana or salvation by climbing to the top of the Shatrunjaya hill, keeping faith in the teachings of the Tirthankaras. The Jains consider Shatrunjaya hills and Palitana temples to be more sacred than the other Jain religious spots like Mount Abu and Girnar temple. The Mahavir Jayanti festival is observed here with great enthusiasm as thousands of pilgrims are seen visiting the place, and huge chariots are decorated to carry the images of the Tirthankaras in the temples. Therefore, we can say that the Palitana temples carry huge religious significance for the Indian Jains.

Also read about: Hutheesing Jain Temple

Frequently Asked Questions about Palitana Jain Temples

1.       Where are Palitana Temples located?

The Palitana Temples are located in the Shatrunjaya Hills of Palitana town, which is 55 kilometers to the southwest of Bhavnagar city in the state of Gujarat.

2.       Who had built the Temples of Palitana?

The temples of Palitana were built by Jain scholar Kumarpal Solanki.

3.       How to reach Palitana Jain temples?

One can reach the temples by train from Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar or Mumbai and get down at Palitana Station, which is 2km away from Palitana City.

4.       Is there any entry fees to enter the temples?

There are no entry fees to visit the Temples.

5.       What is special about the Palitana Temples?

These temples are considered to be the holiest pilgrimage spot of the Jains. It is believed by the Jain community that Tirthankar Adinatha delivered his first sermon here. One can achieve Nirvana or salvation by climbing the 3500 stairs of the hill to reach the top of the hill where the oldest Temples are present.

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