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Cascoly Travel -- India: Palitana
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Cascoly Travel
India: Palitana


Palitana

The Jain pilgrimage site near Palitana occupies the heart of Gujarat in western India . Palitana the town lies at the foot of Shatrunjaya Hill, and the Shatrunjaya River flows to the south. Jains have built clusters of temples at five hill locations, and Shatrunjaya Hill the most important among them. The sacred hill  crescendos to a terrace of wonderful temples. In all 863 intricately and exquisitely carved marble shrines and temples climb in marble brilliance to the top of the hill. They rival each other for beauty and magnificence, as their patrons and builders intended, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle to devoted pilgrims and other visitors. . Over the impressive span of more than 900 years, each generation of penitents and pilgrims made its contribution to the collection of shrines that embody Shatrunjaya. The 2000 foot climb to Shatrunjaya is best made on foot - for reasons both sacred and aesthetic. Doolies or lift-chairs are an option for the infirm or elderly, and for others, the dooliewallahs are persistent & creative.. There are 3900 steps, but it's not as difficult as it may sound at first.


	Doolies		Palitana	India
Doolies Palitana India
	Girls resting on steps		Palitana	India
Girls resting on steps Palitana India
	Temple façade		Palitana	India
Temple façade Palitana India

	Climbing to summit		Palitana	India
Climbing to summit Palitana India
	Doolies & carriers		Palitana	India
Doolies & carriers Palitana India
	Doolie carriers		Palitana	India
Doolie carriers Palitana India


Our ascent proved to be one of those wonderful days that can never be planned, just experienced. We were dropped by car at dawn, just outside the shrine's perimeter. Serendipitously, this was the culmination of Duvall week, so thousands of pilgrims and Indian tourists were making the same trek as we were. Doolie carriers caught our scent as potential fares, and converged to offer to carry us to the top, expecting easy dealings. We told them no, but of course were ignored. . We walked thru the bazaar and started up the first of many sets stairs. The dooliewallahs escorted the 4 of us, expecting us to succumb inevitably. We looked in the frist temple as we passed, packed with adherents, chanting, praying and making with music. A spiritual thrumming lifted us along as we began the long steady plod upwards. The steps were labeled with the elevation, the distance traveled so far, but I didn’t point that out to the others till after we’d reached the top. The dooliewallahs were confident we'd fade, and their prices began to edge upwards, but only one of our party eventually opted for a chair. The 84 year old senior of our group was determined to see the top on her own power and she attracted many approving comments as we slowly ascended. The entire way, distractions abounded – men and women carrying loads to the top – firewood, food, water. Families walking along, everyone extremely friendly and curious, and we got to know many people as we met, talked, rested, then continued upwards, only to meet at the next resting place up the hill and offer further encouragement. A beautiful morning emerged, colors crisping as we moved heavenward in gently warming air. We easily consumed our bottles of water and shared the snacks we were carrying.

	Icon		Palitana	India
Icon Palitana India
	Temple rooftops		Palitana	India
Temple rooftops Palitana India
	Temple rooftops		Palitana	India
Temple rooftops Palitana India

	Temple rooftops		Palitana	India
Temple rooftops Palitana India
	Temple rooftops		Palitana	India
Temple rooftops Palitana India
Got to the main gate about 10:30 We found fresh water being distributed from large urns. It was labeled as distilled, which seemed unlikely, but we’d already been drinking local water when domestic tourists did, so we figured it was better than dehydration. Took awhile to register – foreigners had each to sign a book, and then we had to find the special office that sold camera chits to let us take pictures. We could easily have spent hours wandering about, but ended up just being there about one hour. Each temple had a guardian or two whose main purpose seemed to be to check camera permits and collect baksheesh for doing so. One more enterprising guy gave us a description of some of the other things we could see, and then led us through several beautifully carved temples. None were as large as the Abu or Ranakpur temples, but the cumulative effect of all these dedications trumped those others. Our guide took us up onto the roof of one of the main temples by way of a airy stairway, with high narrow steps and no railings. The view was stunning in all directions. He’d have taken us around for the rest of the day, but we realized we still had a long drive, so reluctantly began our descent.


Only 2 paths ascend the mountain, and we took the one that came out nearby our hotel, which was steeper. Turned out, it was relentless – few breaks in the stairways, unlike the other way which had several long flat spots. If we’d gone that way we’d also have missed most of the company, since many fewer people used this back way. About half way down, we were passed by a herd of donkeys, still in their bright magenta Divali paint, and I took a picture of them passing Audrey & Jeanne. The herder, at the rear of the small herd, immediately began berating me loudly for taking the picture, but when she got closer, she agreed to pose with her array of silver jewelry, in return for 10R. Mr. Singh was waiting for us at a tea house and we quickly returned to the hotel.
Lunch on return, after shower – alu gobi, tomato soup, egg curry 


	Temple sculpture		Palitana	India
Temple sculpture Palitana India
	Panorama		Palitana	India
Panorama Palitana India
	Panorama		Palitana	India
Panorama Palitana India

Other links:

  • Jainism and Temples
  • Ranakpur
  • Gujarat
  • More India
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