Built over 900 years, the Palitana Temples are 853 in number and dedicated to the Jain Thirthankars. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Rishabdev, the first Tirthankar. The temples, which were built in two phases, the first of which dates back to the 11th and 12th century AD, are an important site for Jain pilgrimage.
Located in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, 214 kms south of Ahmedabad, the Palitana temples are believed to have been visited by 23 Jain Tirthankars. Said to be the work of a wealthy businessman, mystery still surrounds who built them.
Divided into nine separate wings, each housing a central temple with minor temples surrounding it, the temples are grouped systematically with a variation in height and space. Each temple has four doors so as to ensure that the idols are visible from all the sides. The larger temples have marble halls with towers and plenty of openings. They are surrounded with high fortified walls. You can also see many small temples of about three square feet with the Jain emblem. The interiors of the temple have carved ceilings with geometrical lace designs.
A majority of the temples are located on the Shatrunjaya hills and pilgrims climb over 3500 stairs to pay a visit to the 853 temples situated at a height of 603 meters. There are multiple routes to reach the last temple which is approximately a 3.5 km climb. The shortest route goes around the outer walls of the temples and passes Angar Pir, the shrine of a Muslim saint who protected the temples during Muslim invasions. The second route goes around the foot of the mountain. However, a large number of pilgrims prefer to take the third route in the Phalguna month (February/March), that passes five temples sites over a distance of 45 km. Aged pilgrims who cannot climb the stairs are carried on dolis and charged by their weight.
The hills are believed to have the largest concentration of temples anywhere in the world.
Adinath temple, Vimal Shah temple, Saraswatidevi temple, Narsinh Kesharji temple and the Samavasaran temple are the temples known for their architectural splendours. The Adishwar Temple and the Chaumukh and Sampriti Raj temples are also worth visiting. The ‘Chha Gau Teerth Yatra’ is an auspicious festival that falls during February-March. On the festival day, devotees circumambulate the Shatrunjaya hills covering a distance of 216 km.
The markets near the temples can be seen in the evenings where you can purchase snacks, handicrafts and accupressure tools. Since the climb is quite exhausting, there are also masseurs available on demand.
BEST PLACES TO STAY NEAR PALITANA TEMPLES
While there are no options for accommodation within the temple complex, you can find several options in Palitana city. From budget to mid-range and luxury hotels, you can choose a hotel based on your budget and other requirements. However, from October to February, it is advisable to book your rooms in advance as the hotels are booked.
BEST PLACES TO EAT NEAR PALITANA TEMPLES
The temple complex does not have any eateries and it is not allowed to carry food to the top of the hills, there are several stalls at the foot of the hills. The Palitana bhel, goti soda and gulkhand are the specialties of the area. It is advisable to carry food and water.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Palitana Temples is as given below. The best time to visit Palitana Temples is also specified.