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Palitana

Legends swirl around this incredible complex of 863 Jain temples on the summit of Shatrunjaya Hill, which is an enormously popular pilgrimage site, or tirtha. Devout Jians must aspire to climb Shatrunjaya at least once in their lifetime. Jains form just 1% of the Indian population but are prevalent in Gujarat, practising a creed of non-violence and worshipping in immensely ornate carved temples.

Palitana was the capital of the princely state of the Ghoul Rajput clan and the temples were built between the 11th and 16th centuries. Many of the temples are built from marble and are alive with carved animals, birds, musicians and dancers, with ornate spires and numerous inner courtyards. The most important temple is considered to be 900-year-old Shri Adishwar, renowned for its architectural motifs detailed in white marble.

During the festival of Kartik Purnima, the town’s population swells with pilgrims. Kartik Purnima is a festival for Sikhs, Hindus and Jains held on a full moon (Purnima) often including a ritual tirtha (bathing in holy water) which will take place on this day. In Palitana, tritha takes places in the Shatrunjaya river, which flows down one side of the mountain range.

Palitana North India Palitana North India
Vijay Vilas Palace Palitana North India Vijay Vilas Palace Palitana North India

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To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
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