Girivihar – Shatrunjaya Hills, Palitana
Shatrunjaya Hills in Palitana (Gujarat) are among the holiest Jain pilgrimages in India. There are more than 900 temples, big and small, built on the slopes of the twin peaks and the area between them. These temples are dedicated to various deities and Tirthankaras. All but one of the temples belong to the Shvetambara sect. The one Digambara temple at the base of the hill. Palitana was earlier known as Padiptapur and is called the ‘City of Temples’.
Victory over Enemies
The word ‘Shatrunjaya’ means victory over enemies. Here the enemies referred to are none other than your inner forces which lead you away from the Godly path. Our senses (Touch, Taste, Hearing, Smell, and Sight) are the enemies to be conquered, to be able to walk on the Godly Path. Shatrunjaya has 108 other given names, but they are not much in use in present times. Jains believe this hill should be climbed at least once in one’s lifetime. Such is the significance of Shatrunjaya that some consider it even more important than Shikharji in Jharkhand.
Palitana Jain Temples – Prayers Immortalised in Stone
Shatrunjaya Hill is the place where the first Tirthankara Shri Rishabhnath delivered his first sermon. 23 Jain Tirthankaras have visited Shatrunjaya Hill besides many other saints and scholars. This is also where Pundarika, Shri Rishabhnath’s grandson and disciple achieved Nirvana.
The nearly 1000 temples on Shatrunjaya Hills range from large to tiny structures. Some of them are just 3 feet by 3 feet. A common feature among all the temples is exquisite workmanship and intricate carvings. All the temples are built of white marble, white being the symbol of purity. The temples are grouped in nine clusters known as Tonks. The building of these temples started in the 11th century and continues to this day. They have been destroyed by invaders and rebuilt a number of times. In the sixteenth century CE, temple building activity greatly increased. The momentum of the building remained steady in the seventeenth century when Murad Shah (Mughal Governor of Gujarat) granted Palitana Village to Shantilal Jhaveri, a Jain merchant. Taxes were also exempted resulting in increased prosperity of the town.
Of the nine tonks, one is dedicated to Pundarika – a disciple of Shri Rishabhnath, the first Tirthankara. The rest are dedicated to different Tirthankaras as below –
Narshi Keshavji – Dedicated to the fourth Tirthankara Abhinandananath.
Chaumukhji – Dedicated to ‘Pundarika’, a disciple of Shri Rishabhnath.
Chipa Vasi – Dedicated to Shri Rishabhnath
Shakar Shah – Dedicated to the twenty-third Tirthankara Shri Parsvanath.
Ujambhai – Dedicated to the 24 Tirthankaras.
Sheth Hemabhai – Dedicated to the second Tirthankara Shri Ajitnath.
Premchand Modi – Dedicated to Rishabhnath and his disciple Pundarika.
Balabhai – Dedicated to Rishabhnath.
Sheth Moti Shah – Dedicated to Rishabhnath.
Some Prominent Palitana Temples
When it comes to temple architecture, sculptures, and carving, it is hard to beat Jain temples. The intricacy of the sculptures and carvings has to be seen to be believed and better examples would be hard to find.
Adinath Temple – This is one of the main temples on Shatrunjaya Hill. Located on the top of the Northern ridge, this is one of the grandest temples. Simple architecture with ornate patterns, the temple has a number of spired domes. A 7-foot Murti of Shri Adinath with crystal eyes can be seen seated in Padmasana. The temple has a magnificent and priceless collection of jewelry.
Chaumukha Temple – As the name suggests, this is a temple with four sides. Enshrined within is a four-faced Murti of Shri Adinath. The openings are known as ‘Chaturbimb’. These are built so that images and Murtis can be seen from all four sides which is considered auspicious.
Adishwar Temple – This temple built in the 16th century CE is dedicated to Shri Rishabnath and boasts of an ornamented spire rising high.
Samovasaran temple – This temple has been built recently at the base of the hills. Here, Lord Mahavir can be seen seated in Padmasana posture, decorated with gems and jewelry. Murtis of Nakoda Bheruji, Manibhadra veer and Ghantakarna Veer Dada can also be seen here.
Jambudweep Temple – Another prominent temple in this complex, a 108 feet tall Murti of Shri Rishabhnath was enshrined here in recent years. Vigyan Bhavan, within the temple complex, is a sort of a planetarium where science is explained based on Jainology.
Other prominent temples on Shatrunjaya Hills include the Vimal Shah Temple, and Saraswati Devi Temple. Narsinh Kesarji Temple, Dilwara Temple and many more. Shatrunjaya is a tribute to Jain temple architecture, devotedness, faith, and belief. It is a place that stands out as a magnificent wonder of the world.
How to reach Palitana
Palitana Railway Station is about 3.5 km from Shatrunjaya Taleti.
Bhavnagar Airport is about 60 km from Shatrunjaya Taleti.
Where to stay in Palitana
There are a number of Jain Dharamshala in Palitana and near the Taleti. To book rooms and know more click on the link below –
Distances from Palitana
Songadh – 27 km
Bhavnagar – 54 km
Mahuva – 76 km
Ajahara Parshwanath (Una) – 150 km
Rajkot – 169 km
Junagadh – 174 km
Ahmedabad – 217 km
Mumbai – 666 km