PALITANA FACTS & FIGURES
- Location: Bhavnagar District, Gujarat, India
- Best time to Visit: October to March
- Significance: Shatrunjaya, Chaumukh temple, Anga pir.
Palitana is a city, a municipality and former princely state in Bhavnagar district in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is located 50 km South-West of Bhavnagar city and is a major pilgrimage centre for Jains.
The Palitana temples, are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community. There are a total of 1250 temples located on the Shetrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to 1st tirthankar lord Adinath (Rishabdeva). No one is allowed to sleep overnight including the priest, because the temple city has been built as an abode for the Gods.
Palitana houses perhaps the largest cluster of Jain temples anywhere. From the base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya Hill, where the Palitana temples are located, there are in all 863 temples. These temples were built in two phases-the 11th and 12th centuries as a part of the resurgence of temple building all over India, and in the 16th century. Some of the earliest temples built in the 11th century were destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 14th and 15th centuries. The current temples date back to 16th century onwards. Not any one person or group was responsible for the construction of these magnificent temples. It was the effort of the wealthy businessmen who were followers of Jainism that these buildings came into existence.
Pilgrim/Tourist Attractions in Palitana
Shatrunjaya (the place of victory) Hill is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for the Jains. The temples are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankars and even the priests leave the temples at dusk.
Among the most important temples here, is the Chaumukh temple with its four-faced deity of Adinath enshrined on a marble pedestal in a shrine open on all four sides (an aberration in itself). Built in the early 17th century, it is planned as a large square subdivided into smaller squares, each structure topped by a dome. The innermost five dome topped squares form a cross and represent the five hills sacred to the Jains.
The Adishwar temple is probably the most profusely decorated in Palitana. Its ornate pillars and roofs are decorated with intricately cut marble in the shape of dragons.
Near the Adishwar temple is the Muslim shrine of Angar Pir. Childless couples make offerings of miniature cradles at this shrine in the hope of being blessed with children.
Other temples worth mention are the Sampriti Raja, Kumarpal, and Rampal.
How to Reach Palitana
- Air: Bhavnagar, the nearest airport lies at a distance of 51 kilometer from Palitana.
- Rail: Palitana is a small railway station and has connection only with Bhavnagar.
- Road: There are hourly buses for Bhavnagar from Palitana.