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Photo of the day: Jain Temples, Palitana, India

June 1, 2009
Jain Temples at Shatrunjay Palitana

Jain Temples at Shatrunjay Palitana

The Palitana temples are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community. There are more than 1300 temples located on the Shatrunjaya 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. The town is considered by many Jains to be more important than the temple covered hills of Jharkhand, Mt Abu and Girnar. Palitana was the capital of a princely state of the Gohil Rajput clan. It is also one of the greatest tourist attractions in Gujarat for foreign tourists. Every year millions of people come to visit these temples.

There are hundreds of other temples (besides those on the Shatrunjaya hills). Guest houses (dharmashalas) are found in Palitana city. It is believed that every Jain should visit Palitana at least once in his lifetime to get “Bhavya” status (fit to attain nirvan or salvation).

Getting There:
By Air
Bhavnagar, the nearest airport lies at a distance of 51 kilometer from Palitana, but it connects only with Mumbai. For people coming from other places, a more convenient airport would be Ahmedabad which has an international airport or Vadodara (a.k.a Baroda) as it is connected through regular flights to many important cities of the country like Mumbai and Delhi.

By Rail
Palitana is a small railway station and has connection only with Bhavnagar. Best way is to take a train to bhavnagar and go by road to Palitana using local transport. The railway station at Palitana is improving and it is going to soon have direct trains from Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

By Road
There are busses for Bhavnagar from Palitana. Regular buses are also available from Ahmedabad, Talaja, Una, and Diu. Taxis are also available on hire for Palitana from Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad or Vadodra. The bus stand is situated 800 meters away from the Palitana railway station. Since Palitana is an important destination for a lot of people who follow Jainism, and the fact that there are a lot of people in Mumbai (Bombay ), there are buses that run daily between Mumbai and Palitana.

History:
As a “Second Class” princely state, founded in 1194 (one of the major states in Saurashtra, where there were many smaller states), Palitana covered 777 km² and had 58,000 inhabitants (in 1921) in 91 villages, generating a 744,416 Rs revenue.

It used to be a native state of India in the Kathiawar agency of the Bombay presidency. Area, 289 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 52,856, showing a decrease of 15% in the decade. The chief was a Gohel Rajput, with the title of Thakur Sahib. Gross revenue, £42,000; tribute jointly to the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Nawab of Junagadh, £700. The capital of the state is Palitana; pop. 12,800. It was ruled by a Thakore sahib (also spelled Thakor Saheb), enjoying a 9-guns salute, of the Hindu Gohil dynasty, which received a privy purse of 180,000 Rupees at the state’s accession to independent India on 15 February 1948.



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