Priyanshi Pareek reports on the Palitana Temples..
The Palitana temples of Jainism are located on Shatrunjaya by the city of Palitana in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, India. It is a major pilgrimage centre for Jains and is home to many temples. Also called the ‘Jain Temple Town’, Palitana consists of as many as 823 temples dedicated to the 24 Tirthankaras or holy saints of the Jain community.
Along with Shikharji in the state of Jharkhand, the two sites are considered the holiest of all pilgrimage places by the Jain community. Every Jain believes that a visit to these temples is essential as a once in a lifetime chance to achieve salvation.
The town is flooded with pilgrims and visitors during the Kartik Purnima festival.
Temples in Palitana
There are as many as 850 temples in Palitana. Few of them are:
- Adishwar Temple – This Tirth Sthal for Jains is made out of marble. The structure is like a typical Hindu temple, with tall and heavy pillars and several openings on all sides of the structure.
There are approx. 3500 stairs in the temple. For those who find difficulty in climbing, sling chairs have been made available.
- Chaumukh Temple – The Chaumukh temple or four-faced temple, built in 1618. Each of the four sides of the temple has openings, so that the idols in the temple are visible from all directions. Marble is used here as well, as a pedestal on which the idol of Adinath is placed.
Architecture and Culture
The architecture of Palitana was built in the 11th century by the Solanki dynasty, which later on was destroyed by Muslim invaders.
Later the structures were added in the 16th century by the wealthy merchants of that region during that time.
The architecture of the Jain temple Palitana includes very rich and heavy ornamentation. The use of materials such as marble has been well thought out; when the sunlight falls on the marble, the structure transforms its appearance as an ivory shield.
It is also believed that the temple town is an abode for the divine and because of this reason, no one is allowed to stay overnight, including the priests. Some temples remain closed during the four months of monsoon as well.