The Garden Guide

Palitana Temples Shatrunjaya Hills

Among Indian religions, the Jains are the great builders. Though few in number (see Wikipedia article) they have built a large number of temples, especially at Palitana. It has 900 of the 3000 temples in the Shatrunjaya hills and is the most important pilgrimage site (tirtha) for the Jain community. Their construction has taken 900 years. The entire hill is sacred and the ascent takes between 1 and 2 hours (with no food allowed). Every Jain aims to make the ascent at least once as part of the journey to Nirvana. The layout and design of the temples shows great sensitivity to the landscape. Like Hindus and Buddhists, Jains associate gods with mountain scenery. They do not eat meat and Palitana became the world's first legally vegetarian city in 2014. See also Ranakpur Jain Temple.

The focus of Jain worship is on the 24 Jinas. They are not creator gods and, having attained perfection in nirvana, are completely detached from human life. Other gods are local. They can personify ideas and tend to be worshiped by local communities. There are also clan and family deities. Worship is a step on the path to the perfection of nirvana.

Palitana (Photo courtesy Duncid)
Shatrunjaya Hill Palitana from Google
Shatrunjaya Hill in 1866

Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India

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