Palitana Travel Guide

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Palitana, is the most famous Jain pilgrimage centre in India. The Shetrunjay hills of Palitana have entered the guiness book of records due to having the highest number of temples on a single hill, they numeber more than 800, dedicated to Jain Tirthankars. This hill is huge and needs climbing up of more than 5000 steps. Nearby flows a Shetrunjay river, where some devotees dip themselves in it before climbing the long hill of Shetrunjay. It was here that the Jain's first Tirthankar Lord Rushabh attained his Moksh and hence it is very sacred. Nearby hills also have Jain temples on the top. In fact Palitana is the city for Jains and travelers who wish to climb the hill and see the beautiful view and appreciate all those heavily carved temples. There are various Dharamsalas (place of residence) for rich and poor where one could reside, since hotels are far less and a little far from the hills.

There is a Jain museum worth a visit. It is located close to the base of the Shetrunjay hills. There are several Jain temples even in the Palitana town. The hills close at sunset and open before sunrise.

The best time to climb the hills is early morning by 6-7 AM, since it takes two hours for an average person. Before climbing the Shetrunjay hills, there is a temple, at the base (almost at the start of the steps) that is visited by all who wish to climb the hills. To know more about the ritual, ask any local and they will be more than happy to give you all information. The base area of these hills are locally called 'Tareti'. The temple trusts provide free snacks and liquids for all those returning back from the climb, enquire with the locals or anyone else to point out the hall, where it is available.

Palitana, situated in the region of Saurashtra of Gujarat is well connected to Bhavnagar (nearest airport), Ahmedabad, Mehsana and other cities of Gujarat. Buses and private cabs are available as the mode of travel beyond Palitana and horse-carts and rickshaws for traveling in town itself. Palitana was once a small kingdom of its own previous to Indian Independence, where a palace still stands even today. Nearby areas that fall within 5Km -20 Km are archeological sites, where very ancient India unfolds stories of its own.

The best time to visit is between November and March. The hills are closed during monsoon for all. To avoid rush of devotees, visit palitana during weekdays, unless it happens to fall on any of their auspicious dates. Eatables are not allowed on the top of the hills but at the bottom, there are many places to eat, so do not worry, the famous food is the special Palitana Bhel, plates of tomatoes slices (available only in winter), goti soda and gulkand. One can also find handicrafts and accessories for accupressure. These markets come alive only in the evenings and early morning it is pretty quite, since it is the time when all visitors and devotees are up on the hills. There are masseurs also available on demand, since it gets exhaustive in climbing the hills. Due to devotees and non- Jain visitors coming in droves, many facilities are available like modern communications, etc.

For a very good pictorial tour : http://www.esnips.com/web/palitana

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