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Tourist Places To Visit In Palitana
Palitana is one of the top tourist destinations in Gujarat. If you are one of those who believe strongly in religion, this is the place for you. Packed with some astonishing religious places Palitana grabs the attention of many people from across the globe. It was founded in 1194 and was a princely and prime state in Saurashtra. In 1656, Murad Baksh, the son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan conferred the village to the leading Jain merchant popularly known as Shantidas Jhaveri. So Palitana has a rich historical and religious history behind it. Below we list some of the finest places to visit in Palitana.
Hastagiri Jain Tirth
Hastagiri Jain Tirth is located at some 25 km from Palitana. It's the prime Jain temple situated on the bank of river Shatrunjaya. This famous temple is a dedication to Bhagwan Rishabhdev or Shri Adishwar Bhagwan. According to mythology, it was built by the eldest son of Bhagwan Rishabhdev, Bharat Chakravartin. Devotees and management have been able to preserve the footprints of Bhagwan Rishabhdev even today in a small temple on the hills. The temple is spread across 9 acres and it’s an octagonal shaped Jain temple. The temple’s main sanctum is home to four idols of Rishabhdev facing four cardinal directions. The dome has intricate carvings that will remind you of Dilwara temples in Mount Abu. The sight of the Shatrunjaya mountain on one side and Kadamgir mountain on the other offers a beautiful sight and it’s very appealing.
At 9 km from Palitana city center, you come across the most sacred hills in Palitana known by the name Shatrunjaya Hills. This site is considered sacred by Swetambara Jains. As per Shatrunjaya Mahatmya, Rishabha delivered his first sermon at this place who was the first Tirthankara. Astonishingly, the number of Jain temples on the hills is 863 spread mostly in nine clusters and is considered as the world's largest Temple Complex. The temples have been developed in 2 phases and in 900 years. In the first phase between the 11th and 12th centuries AD as a part of the resurgence of temple building all over India. The present temples that you see today belonged to the 16th century CE. The credit for the construction of these temples cannot be attributed to one person. Rather, it was through the joint efforts of the wealthy businessmen who followed Jainism. Eventually, these temples became part of the Anandji Kalyanji Trust in 1730.
Shri Vishal Jain Museum
At a small distance of 4 km from the Palitana city center, you come to the Taleti area of the city. This place has the most famous museum in Palitana, Shri Vishal Jain which is situated at the foot of the Shantrujaya Hills. The museum is named after a great Jain Acharya Vishalsen Suriji and has a rich collection of Jain heritage and culture. The best part of the museum is that stories and legends of this enigmatic religion are depicted pictorially which tourists admire a lot. This unique museum is one of the only museums in the world dedicated completely to the history of Jainism. One can view the beautiful artifacts, coins and ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves, and excavated idols from earlier temples. If you are interested in knowing the history of Jainism, there are exhibits on the life of Lord Mahavir. Some remarkable exhibits of Jain artwork and artifacts as old as 500 years and beautiful ivory carvings are simply outstanding. Additionally, the circular temple with mirror walls and ancient images of four Tirthankaras in the basement of the museum are there at the display.
If you travel some 35 km from Palitana railway station, you will come down to a historical town known as Talaja. It is the birthplace of Narsimha Mehta who was a famous poet and has some important sites for Hindus, Buddhist, and Jain. The prime attraction of the town is the ancient Buddhist Rockcut Caves on Talaja hill. The best structure at this site is the Ebhala Mandapa which is a large hall with four octagonal pillars. There are many Hindu temples in the area so this place is equally important for many Hindus as well. Overall, an excellent site for people who love the ancient style of architecture.
The Gopinath beach is situated at a distance of 57 km from Palitana and takes about an hour to get there from the city. It’s a beautiful beach located near Gadhula village. It is considered as one of the poplar beaches in Gujarat and a must-visit place in Palitana. This place used to be the summer home of Maharaja Krishna Kumar Singhji. The scenes at the beach are simply awe-inspiring with stunning limestone cliffs and great views of the sunset. The beach offers an exquisite and firm sand for walking and shallow shore waters for wading. A word of caution, don’t try to swim in the water here as it has a high tidal disparity of the coast which turns the water murky. There’s also a 700 years old Mahadev temple. Also, the Maharaja built a mansion for his stay at this place which was constructed in the European colonial style in the 1940s with a huge complex. It’s now converted into a heritage hotel.