The Shatrunjay Mahatirth, Palitana temples are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community. There are more than 1300 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to 1st tirthankar lord Adinath (Rishabdeva).
According to Jain scriptures, this is believed to be an eternal shrine. In ancient times, this was known as Pundarikgiri. There are 108 names of this shrine in scriptures. Countless times this shrine has been renovated and during the present “Avasarpini” part of the cycle of time (time runs in cycles having two halves, one in which there is general ascendance and the other in which there is general descendance, former being termed as “Utsarpini” and the latter “Avasarpini”) there have been such resuscitations,
Renovations of the following 16 times :
1st at the instance of Bharat Chakravarthy, son of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan.
2nd at the instance of king Sri Dandvirya 3rd at the instance of Sri Ishanendra during the period between the 1st and 2nd Tirtankaras of the present set of 24.
4th at the instance of Sri Mahendra Indra
5th at the instance of Indra of the 5th Dev-Lok.
6th at the instance of Sri Chamarendra.
7th at the instance of Sri Sagar Chakravarthy during the period of Sri Ajithnath Bhagwan.
8th at the instance of Sri Vyantarendra during the period of Sri Abhinandan Bhagwan.
9th at the instance of king Sri Chandrayasha during the period of Sri Chandraprabh Bhagwan.
10th at the instance of Sri Chakrayuddha, son of Sri Shanthinath Bhagwan.
11th at the instance of Sri Ramchandraji, during the period of Sri Munisuvrat Bhagwan.
12th at the instance of Pandavas, during the period of Sri Neminath Bhagwan.
13th at the instance of Sri Javadshah, a resident of Mahuva in Vikram year 108.
14th at the instance of Minister Bahad, during the period of Raja Sri Kumarpal in Vikram year 1213.
15th at the instance of Sri Samarashah in Vikram year 1371.
16th at the instance of Sri Karamashah, a resident of Chittod on the auspicious 6th day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakh in Vikram year 1587.
Besides above, they have been carried out by Raja Samprati, Raja Vikramaditya,
Raja Am, Sri Tejpal soni of Khambhat and Sri Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi founded by Sri
Swetamber Jain Sangh as and when found necessary.
According to Jain scriptures, countless souls have attained their Moksha here, e.g., on Chaitra Poornima Sri Pundarikswami, First Ganadhar of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan, on Kartik Poornima Sri Dravid, and Sri Varikhil with their numberless saint disciples, and on Falgun Sukla 13 Sri Samb and Sri Pradyumna, sons of Sri Krishna Vasudev a Tirthankar in future-to-be, on one of the peaks known as “Sadabhadra” of Mount Shatrunjay which later became famous as “Bhadvano DOongar” together with their numerous saint disciples. In commemoration of this even, a circulatory pilgrimage fo 6 “Kos” (19.3 Kms) is being undertaken by devout pilgrims and a big fair is also being held. Besides above, Sri Suryayasha, Sri Nami, Sri Vinami, Sri Naradji, and various successors of Sri Adinath Bhagwan beginning with king Sri Adityayasha upto Sri Sagar Vhakravarthy. SrI Shelaksuri, Sri Shuk Parivrajak, Five Pandavas etc., together with many other saints attained their Moksha here. Sri Adishvar Bhagwan visited this place a number of times. All Tirthankaras except one i.e. Bhagwan Neminath, have added to the glory of this shrine by personally paying a visit to it on a pilgrimage. The Guardian Deity of this shrine is Kapradi Yaksh for invocation of whom, it is said, and Sri Krishna had practiced intense austerities here in one of the caves. Bhagwan Adishvar climbed 99 times upto the shrine on the top of this Siddhachal GIriraj and in commemoration of that holy performance pilgrims come here from all corners of India to repeat the same on their part and to spend the entire four month period of the rainy season.
Here, “Muni Bhagwants” (holy saints) are always found in hundreds. Thousands of devotees visit this place on a pilgrimage to benefit themselves on a collective worship and offering of prayers on Kartik Poornima and Chaitra Poornima and on Falgun Sukla 13 and on Vaishakh Sukla 3 (Akshay-tritiya). They by doing this feel themselves fulfilled and attain punya. On this day of Akshay-tritiya, thousands of Jain householders who practice austerities of fasting all the year round from all over the country come here for breaking their fast. Because of these crowds, the sight of the place becomes a great source of inspiration and is very enchanting. Large and small congregations of Jains keep on coming and going every day throughout the year as a result of which the place attains the appearance of a continuous fair. The annual fairs are held on following days :
1. On Kartik Poornima.
2. On Falgun Sukla 13 (Circulatory pilgrimage of 6 Kos)
3. On Chaitra Poornima.
4. On Vaishakh Sukla Tritiya ( on the occasion of the breaking of fast on the part of those who practiced austerities of fasting all the year round).
5. On vaishakh Krishna 6, the anniversary of the 16threnovations carried out on the temple at the instance of minister Karmashah and the consequent ceremonial consecration of the temple. (Also the anniversary of the ceremonial hoisting of the flag on the sikhar of Dada’s principal temple).
In the town of Palitana, there are many other temples right upto the base of Mt. Shatrunjay one of which is a temple of Jain Agamas (scriptures). The pilgrims begin their ascent on the Mount after first offering their prayers to the Foot-Prints at its base. First comes the temple with 52 surrounding small single room shrines which is called Dhanvasahi Tunk, ceremonially consecrated on Magh Sukla 10 in Vikram year 1950 and built by Dhanpatsinhji Laxmipatsinhji, a resident of Ajimganj. Proceeding further, some single room shrines opposite to various resting places in some of which there are Foot-Prints of Sri Bharat Chakravarthy, Sri Varadutt, disciple of Sri Neminath Bhagwan, Sri Adishvar Bhagwan and Sri Parshvanath Bhagwan and in some of which there are idols of Sri Dravid, Sri Variknil, Sri Naradji, Sri Ram, Sri Bharat, SrI Thavachchhaputra, Sri Shukparivrajak, Sri Shelaksuri, Sri Jali, Sri Mayali, Sri Uvayali and some goddesses etc. In between also Kumarpal Kund (reservoir), Shala Kund etc.,. Near Shala Kund there is Jinendra Tunk where some idols and enshrines Foot-Prints of some Acharyas are installed. Here there is one impressive and beautiful idol of Goddess Sri Padmavati of height 40.6 Cms. Near Hanumanhada, one path is leading to Nine Tunks and other path is leading towards the principal Tunk of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan. On the way to the latter, first comes Ram Pol and then comes Vaghan Pol. Still further, before entering Hathi Pol, there are Suraj Kund, Bhim Kund and IShvar Kund. There is one large water tank also, water from which is being used for abhishek of the Lord.
The description of nine Tunk is as under:
- Sheth Narsi Keshavji Tunk built at the instance of Sheth Narsi Keshavji in Vikram year 1921. Principal Deity is Sri Shanthinath Bhagwan.
- Tunk of Choumukhiji (the quadruple idol whose face is seen on all four sides). This is the highest point of the mountain, the top of the sikhar of which is visible from a great distance. It was renovated in Vikram year 1675 at the instance of Sheth Sadasomji. Behind this tunk in the temple of Pandavas, there are idols of five Pandavas, Mother Kunti, and Sati Draupadi. On this point, there is also a temple of Mother Marudevi which is very ancient. The principal idol of the Tunk is Sri Adishvar Bhagwan. In the area outside the tunk of Choumukhiji, there is group of four temples which is known as Khartar Vasahi.
- Chhipa Vasahi Tunk, built at the instance of Chhipa brothers in Vikram year 1791. Principal Deity is Sri Adishvar Bhagwan.
- Sakar Vasahi Tunk, built at the instance of Sheth Sakarchandra Premchandra in Vikram year 1893. Principal Deity is Sri Chintamani Parshvanath Bhagwan.
- Nandishvar Tunk, built at the instance of Shethani Ujambai in Vikram year 1893. In the centre of this tunk are installed 4 idols each facing all the four directions of eternal Jineshvar gods Sri Rishabhanan, Sri Chandranan, Sri Varishen and Sri Vardhaman. The Principal Deity here is Sri Chandranan Jineshvar Dev.
- Hem Vasahi Tunk, built at the instance of Sri Hemabhai a resident of Ahemdabad in Vikram year 1886. Principal Deity of Sri Ajithnath Bhagwan.
- Prem Vasahi Tunk, built at the instance of Modi Sri Premchandraji Lavji in Vikram year 1843. Principal Deity is Adishvar Bhagwan.
- Bala Vasahi Tunk , built at the instance of Sri Balabhai in Vikram year 1893. The principal Deity is Sri Adishvar Bhagwan.
- Motishah Tunk, built at the instance of Sheth Sri Motishah and ceremonially consecrated at the instance of his son Sri Khimchandra in Vikram year 1893. The Principal Deity is Sri Adishvar Bhagwan.
The principal temples on above Tunks as well as several other temples together give an appearance of a row of mountains. On the back side of the mountain there is spot called “Gheti ni Pag” where there are old foot-prints of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan and two newly built temples. To reach there, the steps are cut near the principal tunk. To make a pilgrimage here renders one pilgrimage on Mt Shatrunjay as equal to two pilgrimages. Nearby is flowing the river of Shetrunji which is considered to be very holy.
There are three types of circulatory pilgrimage of MT. Shatrunjay, one of 1.5 “Kos” (4.8Kms), the other of 6 “Kos” (19.3 Kms) and the third if 12 “Kos” (38.6 Kms). Those who make 99 pilgrimages and other equally fortunate pilgrims generally complete their circulatory pilgrimage after taking a bath in river Shetrunji and thus destroy their sins. Near Prem Vasani Tunk, there is a large size magnificent idol of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan who is called “Adbhut Baba” (incredible and wonderful). The idol is in a lotus posture and of height 5.5 meters. Behind the temple of the principal tunk, there is an ancient Rayan tree (yellow colored and smaller than date size fruit). IT is said that Sri Adishvar Bhagwan had practiced his austerities here. This spot and the tree are therefore of great significance. Here there are enshrines foot-prints of Sri Adishvar Bhagwan size of which when properly decorated in silver is 119-63.5 Cms. Here there are many more temples but the description of all of them in words is not possible. It is recommended therefore that one should make his life fulfilled by paying a visit to this holiest of holy shrine.
No sooner one reaches the top of Mt. Shatrunjay that one feels as if one is transported into heaven. On seeing hundreds of temples bursting with innumerable creations of rare artistic beauty and elegance, all anxieties of worldly life are immediately wiped out and one easily is able to slip into the ecstatic realm of pure devotion. As long as one remains on the mountains, one remains unconscious about both hunger and thirst. In Bharatvarsh which is the most sanctified segment of the world, such a scene of so large a number of temples in perfect unison and symmetry with one another is unsurpassable in sheer excellence. On one side of the mountain there flows the river Shetrunji with its cool enveloping waves of breeze embalming pilgrims with pleasure and peace and on the other side there stand countless temples in the base town of Palitana shedding luster and aura in the merit in the whole surrounding atmosphere. Indeed, the shrine of Mt. Shatrunjay is at all times just incomparable.