About The Place: The hustling, dusty town of Palitana, 51km southwest of Bhavnagar, has grown rapidly to serve the pilgrim trade around the Shatrunjaya Hill. The sacred site contains hundreds of shrines that were sanctified when Rishabha, the first Tirthankara of Jainism, gave his first sermon in the temple on the hilltop. Even though the climb to the temples is a rigorous one, it awards a dazzling sight of the intricately carved temples. During the Kartik Purnima festival, accommodation around town floods with pilgrims and is best booked in advance.
One of Jainism’s holiest pilgrimage sites, Shatrunjaya is an incredible hill studded with temples, built over 900 years. It is said that Adinath (also known as Rishabha), the founder of Jainism, meditated beneath the rayan tree at the summit. The temples are grouped into tunks (enclosures), each with a central temple flanked by minor ones. The summit is situated at an elevation (height) of 7,288 feet (2,221 m). Reaching it involves climbing over 3,750 stone steps. to the temples adds to the extraordinary experience. Most days, hundreds of pilgrims make the climb; crowds swell into the thousands around Kartik Purnima, which marks the end of Chaturmas, a four-month period of spiritual retreat and material self-denial that coincides with the monsoon season. White robed monks walk past you. As you near the top of the hill, the track forks. The main entrance, Ram Pole, is reached by bearing left, though the best views are to the right, where on a clear day you can see the Gulf of Cambay. Inside the Nav Tonk Gate, one path leads left to the shrine of Angar Pir – a Muslim saint who protected the temples from a Mughal attack. To the right, the second tunk you reach is the Chaumukhji Tunk, containing the Chaumukh (Four-Faced Shrine), built in 1618 by a Jain merchant. Images of Adinath, the first Jain tirthankar (believed to have attained enlightenment here), face the four cardinal directions. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering among the hundreds of temples up here. The biggest and one of the most splendid and important, with a fantastic wealth of detailed carving, is the Adinath Temple, on the highest point on the far (south) side. People who walk down grab a bowl of curd from scores of sellers to restore their energy.
Brief History: The Palitana temples on Shatrunjaya Hill were built over a period of 900 years starting from the 11th century. It was Kumarpal Solanki, a great Jain patron, who built the first temples on this site. The temples were destroyed by Turkish Muslims invaders in 1311 AD, when the saint Jinaprabhasuri, who was then 50 years old, presided over the temples, but later restored to their glory.
Best time to visit: November–February is the best period to visit the temple town.
By Road Palitana lies 51km/ 2 hours from Bhavnagar, Rajkot (4 hours), Ahmedabad (5 hours) and Vadodara (6 hours).
By Train Palitana lies 51km/ 2 hours from Bhavnagar railway station.
By Air Palitana lies 51km/ 2 hours from Bhavnagar airport.