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Gujarat - Palitana - A Tourist's Guide
Located at an elevation of 182 meters, Palitana, was the primeval capital of the Gahil Rajput Shah Ji. The prime and foremost holy pilgrimage for the hordes of spiritual Jain communities in Palitana is Shatrunjaya hill, about 3 km away towards the south- western side of the Palitana railway station.
You can take a walk or you can even hire a car to the foothill from the railway station to witness the largest temple complex of the world. Odd stair steps have been carved out of the hill for rock climbing. Devotees use these 3572 stairways as well to climb up the 602 meters tall hill to catch a glimpse of the divine temple complex of Palitana. If you are unable to climb up, then don’t worry, litters are available for you. Plastic shoes and sticks are available for hire as well for assisting climbers. To safeguard yourself from the scorching sun, don’t forget to put on a hat. Start the journey to the temple complex early in the morning. The sanctified temple is open during 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Pilgrims and worshippers don’t pay tribute to the almighty in the temple during 20th July to 20th October. Spiritual crowds, however, would not be able to stay overnight in the temple complex. There are no hotels around. Even worshipers come down to the plains in evening. You are not allowed to carry shoes, leather items and foodstuffs to the temple along with you. For taking snaps you have to take permission. Festivals, held during the months of Karthik and Chaitra (Hindu calendar year months), are pulling innumerable devotees to Palitana every year.
Palitana is one of the most important Jain pilgrimages (Girnar, Abu hill, Pareshnath, Gwalior, Palitana). It is said that the 1st Jain Tirthankar, Adinath, has visited Palitana pilgrimage on a number of occasions. Pundariksha, the disciple of Adinath, achieved divinity on the hill of Palitana. Each and every Jain devotee tries to visit the consecrated land at least once in his/her life. Jain pilgrims who visit Palitana every year always outnumber tourists.
The construction of the temples, atop the hill, had been started way back in 11th century. 900 long years were taken to erect 863 temples on the hilltop. All these temples astonishingly are carved out of white marbles. During 14th and 15th centuries, Muslim invaders had smacked these temples severely. Most of these temple structures were damaged. Later on, these temples were restructured and reshaped in 1500. Excellent architectural flairs and panache of these well fortified temples are truly laudable and worthy of mention. 9 ramparts or tunks of the temple complex are artistically adorned and are treat to the travelers on any given day.
Temples, such as, Adishwar, Adinath, Ballabhai (19th century), Matishah (1836), Kumarpal, Samprati Raj and Bimal Shah, are the class-apart allurements. All these temples were created by master craftsmen.
The Sri Adinath (1st Jain Tirthankara) temple, built during 11th century by his son, was built to commemorate Sri Adinath and is the holiest temple in the entire temple complex. This devout temple showcases an impressive architectural grandeur which is quite different from the other temples in the proximity. The Adishwar idol was carved out of marbles. Pearls and golden valuables decorate the idol.
The splendor of the two storied holy temple of four faced 24th Tirthankar Mahavir can be compared with the sumptuousness of the Adinath temple. This captivating Jain temple was erected during 1618. The deity looks pretty during the Angi festival, celebrated at 9 o’clock as he is bejeweled with expensive ornaments. Remember to take permission from Munimji, Anandji, Kalyan Ji Trust to watch the valuables of the deity, kept in the temple. You can hire a guide alongside as well.
The Dargah of the Muslim Fakir, Angar Pir, located adjacent to the Adishwar temple, draws attention of plenty of Muslim pilgrims. Countless numbers of women flock to the Dargah with the desire of fulfilling the wish of having a child. It is believed that this divine place fulfills the worldly concerns of the devotees as well.
Definitely the chief attraction of Palitana is the array of temples but many enjoy the bird’s eye view of the surrounding area from the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill. Take delight in the panoramic view of the largest irrigation project of Sourashtra from the hilltop. The sight of the feral Shatrunjaya River, at the western corridor of Palitana, is praiseworthy as well. Take a holy dip in the water of the fascinating hilly river to shed your sins and get rid of diseases. If you are interested to enjoy a divine bath in this River, then avail a bus to the river banks from Palitana. On a clear morning you can get a clear view of the Gulf of Cambay of Bhavnagar from the hilltop.
After enjoying all these appealing spots, go straight away to the Jain exhibition, at the roadside of the Taleti Road. A colossal museum called the temple of mirror is positioned at the back end of takhtgarh. It entertains the batches of Jain pilgrims with its rich collections. The dome of the museum is wrapped in colorful and shimmering glasses.
Besides 108 Sambhasaran temples and Vijay Vilas Palace, countless numbers of other righteous temples are dotted around the area of Palitana.
City dwellers earn money for living by manufacturing Harmoniums. They use to cut diamonds and put them up for sale as well.
Vallabhipur, about 55 km away from Palitana, is another nearby attractive tourists’ spot. A number of historical evidences of the capital of Kathiawar had been excavated from Vallabhipur. Scattered stones are found everywhere. Various archeological substances are put on display in the museum. Gaze at them to recall the historical days.
The Union territory, Diu, is not very far away from Palitana. Die is just 195 km away from Palitana and can be accessed by bus from Palitana. It takes approximately 5 hours to reach Diu from Palitana.
Buses regularly ply to Una and Talaja from Palitana. Watch the sanctified Jain temple, made up of white marbles, atop the tiny till, right beside the bus stand of Talaja.
Gopnath, about 24 km away from Talaja, can easily be accessed by the throng of tourists by bus easily. It’s a popular destination for the Hindu pilgrims mainly. The pious Krishna temple of Gopnath, on the banks of the Arabian ocean, is 500 years old. Catch a glimpse of the ruins of the summer palace of the emperor of Bhavnagar. It is situated adjacent to the renowned Krishna temple. The quiet ocean here would show you its various facades on different occasions. Take a look at its changing majesty sitting on the sea shore.
There are two guests’ houses in the hinterland. The Mohanta Guest House is the place where from the spectacle of the contiguous Arabian ocean can be enjoyed. You can book a room for you in Brahmachari Guest House, situated adjacent to the temple.
Regular bus services are available to Gopnath from Talaja. The port city, Mahuva, is located at distance of 30 km from Gopnath.
How to reach: Palitana is located on the railway track of Bhavnagar- Surendranagar. Passenger trains are regularly traveling to Palitana from Bhavnagar through Shihor. Buses are also running to Palitana from Shihor, Una, Bhavnagar and Ahmadabad.
Where to stay: Hotel Toran Sumeru, Hotel Shravak, Patel House, Pathik Ashram, Mahavir Lodge and Ready-money Guest House. Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.