Palitana is the main pilgrimage destination for the Jains. The temple is situated on the Shatrunjay hill which is 51 km south west of the town of Bhavnagar in Gujarat. There are around 863 Jain temples on the Shatrunjay hill. These Jain temples of Palitana were constructed in the 11th and 12th century. However the Muslim invaders who came in the 14th and 15th century destroyed these temples. In the 16th century these temples were rebuilt by a group of wealthy businessmen.
In the ancient times Palitana was the capital of the princely state of Gohil. The temples at Palitana pilgrimage are all made from marble. The carvings and paintings on the temple are simply amazing and unforgettable. Each temple or shrine is unique in its beauty. The temples look like ivory miniatures when seen from a distance in the sunlight.
As the temples are built on the peak of the hill there are around 3800 steps which the pilgrims need to climb. These steps were built in the 13th century by Vastupal the Jain Minister of that time. An important thing to remember is that the pilgrims are not allowed to carry any food or eatables along with them while ascending the mountain. They can only drink water and due to this reason many water pots are available on the way. The devotees can eat only when they have descended the hill.
The Main temples:
The main temple of this pilgrimage is that of Lord Adishwar, the first Jain tirthankar. The idol of Lord Adishwar is covered with gold ornaments which are studded with precious stones. Other temples are Adinath, Vimalnath, kumarpal and Sampriti Raja. This pilgrimage centre is also known as Siddhakshetra because it is believed that the three Pandavas Bheema, Arjun and Yudhishthir attained salvation here.
Digamber Jain Temple: Another temple which is very important to visit is the Digamber Jain temple. The temple consists of 9 other shrines which have idols of different tirthankers installed in them. The main deity of the Digamber temple is the idol of Lord Shantinath. The idol is made from white stone having a height of 42 inches in a Padmasan posture. The idols of the three Pandavas who attained nirvana here are also installed in this temple. In addition there are two idols of Lord Parshwanath each of 24 inches height sitting in the padmasan posture. One of them is called Vighnaharan Parshwanath and the other one is called Chintamani Parshwanath. Apart from these two there are many other beautiful and finely carved temples which are worth seeing.
Shatrunjay Hill: This hill is not only a very holy pilgrimage destination which has many Jain temples but is also surrounded by beautiful nature. The mountain is around 3 and a half km climb. You can see the biggest irrigation project in Saurashtra from this peak. The water which flows from the Shatrunjay River is very pure and the sight is very soothing to the eyes. Many devotees visit Palitana on the full moon day to worship at the temples. Another attractive temple of Palitana is the Sameswaran temple which is circular in shape and is situated at the right side of the start of the stairs from where the pilgrims start ascending the hill.
Airways: The nearest and the most convenient airport is the Ahmedabad airport. Another airport which is closest to Palitana is the Bhavnagar airport which is just 51 km away.
Railways: The Palitana railway station is very small. However it is well-connected to the Bhavnagar railway station.
Roadways: Regular taxi and bus services are available from Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad to Palitana. The bus stand is only 800 meter from the Palitana railway station.