Hike to Magical Hill
It has been a while since I have climbed this sacred mountain called Shatrunjaya Or Palitana. I usually go with my family but this time I will take you along. So go pack your bags. Till then let me fill you in about our Jain pilgrimage.
Shatrunjaya hill is an ancient tirtha (pilgrim) studded with 863 temples. It is in Gujarat. Rishabh Bhagwan (Adinath Dada) attained moksha here, became our 1st Tirthankar and sanctified this hill forever.
Climbing Shatrunjaya hill is a hike that’s a magical one. Magical? Yes. To reach the top that is the main temple you have to climb 3750 stone steps under scorching heat and also you cannot eat anything on this hill but can drink water. How will you feel after climbing so much? – Tired. No, you are wrong, somehow you will be more energized, more calmer inside out as if you have fought all the evil battles and won them, this is what Shatrunjaya truly means. That feeling is unexplainable you have to experience it yourself at least once in your life. This pilgrim is un-destroyable, can stand any wrath mother earth throws, known as ‘Shaswath’.
Once my father did ‘chhat’ in 2009. ‘Chhat’ is a fast in which you can’t eat or drink water for 2 days and climbing for 7 times. It gets really hard while climbing under heat not once but more with no water. It became next to impossible for my father to continue the hike, with reduced energy and motivation. He almost gave up on his 5th climb , sitting on the steps half in sleep but because of his belief in Adinath Dada and a little help from sevaks made him come back on track.
He said “ it’s like a miracle, I have never experienced anything like this. It was as if I felt the presence of God and met him in person.”
When he was telling me his experience it passed chills down my spine and made me go for this yatra again. This makes him feel strong and emotional at the same time.
Isn’t all this magical! So now are you coming with me to Shatrunjaya.
Tirth-yatra / Journey
Our climb starts at 5am as after sunrise it gets more difficult. It is preferred to wear thick socks for climbing as shoes are not allowed. You might also see some people climbing barefooted.
While at the base you will find a lot of local people trying to offer an alternative option of ‘Doli’, a palanquin for those who are unable to climb. It’s a way in which 2 hardworking locals carry this and make 2-3 trips in a day. These are lean men and women who can easily overtake us and are provided with the strength by Adinath Dada to carry travellers up and down, helping them complete their yatra. Isn’t it magical? There are over 800 smaller temples on the way that one can visit to relish the intricate designs.
Eventually, I came across a water stop where people were drinking water and resting on the stone platform. This is located after every 200-300 steps. It’s headed by sevaks (locals) who bring fresh boiled water up and store it in matkas for cooling.
As I went climbing and looking up once in a while, I glanced at the rising sun and the environment. Now I am at a point where tiredness filled me with my gazes frequently looking forward at how many more steps to go. The heat was sucking up all of my motivation but then I came across a small temple near a tree “ Hingraj Mata” this temple somehow gives you strength. My mother had faced this problem earlier and found it helpful.
I can’t believe I made it again from this step I was able to see the huge gate of the top temple, all my tiredness disappeared in a second as I excitedly ran towards it. After reaching I took a bath and got ready in my fresh clothes for puja, praying and other rituals. I love the moment when I roam and get lost in the fabulous maze of alleys leading to beautifully carved temples.
You will also find a place ‘ Paap-Puniya ni Baari (window)’, where there is a structure of a Seth sitting on a camel with his servant. It is believed that people can only pass through the hole below the camel if they have a pure soul and I was able to pass through it.
The vibe up here is so lively with people around, singing stavans (religious songs). While waiting
in the queue to go inside the temple, I felt so homely, relaxed, and somewhere sad as I will have to leave soon and not knowing when I will come back. My heart was full of joy and contentment after meeting Adinath Dada. As the sunsets, the divine place is left in peace to the Gods as everyone needs to come down.
How to reach and tips?
- You can reach Ahmedabad by train or flight (airports in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar) and later book a cab to reach Palitana town in Bhavnagar district.
- Stay- I always stay at a Dharamshala which is 5-10 minutes away from Shatrunjaya hill. Especially for their timely Jain meals.
- Best time to visit is from October to March. Closed for 4 months during monsoon.
- Wear traditional or full clothing respecting the culture.
- Carry sufficient water for your climb.
- Eat something before your climb as you aren’t allowed to eat anything on the hill.
- Wear thick socks as you shouldn’t climb wearing shoes or footwear.
- After coming down replenish yourself with sugar water (sakar nu paani) or sugarcane juice from a stall ( Bhatu Ghar) near the Taleti which is free for all the yatris.
Looking back at the hill, an abode of peace and harmony which has the power to purify one’s soul, creating a pathway to moksha. It is apt to call it a magical entity.
We hope that this article has inspired you to plan a trip to Shatrunjaya Hill in Palitana. If you have any questions or tips about the destination please leave them in the comments below.
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This article is contributed by our Guest Writer Kinjal Shah for Postcard Thursdays Column.
I’m Kinjal Shah, an 18-year-old inquisitive soul aspiring to travel the world to fill my curiosity. I am a believer in destiny that life will take me to all the destinations which are waiting for me to explore. I am passionate about art (I also have an art page) and travel. For me, writing is a way to save, express and share memories with others.
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