temples of Jainism are located on Mount Shatrunjaya, by the city of Palitana, in Bhavnagar
. The city of the same name, known previously as Padliptapur, has been nicknamed "City of Temples". Along with Sammet Shikhar, earlier in Bihar state, now of Jharkhand, the two sites are considered the holiest of all pilgrimage places by the Jain community.As the temple-city was built to be an abode for the divine, no one is allowed to stay overnight, including the priests. Every Jain believes that a visit to this group of temples is essential once in a life time to achieve nirvana or salvation.
The Jain's sacred site of Shatrunjay contains hundreds of Palitana temples.There are approximately 863 marble-carved temples on the hills. It is said that 23 Tirthankara (a human being who helps in achieving liberation and enlightenment), except Neminath (a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma), sanctified the hill temples by their visits.The main temple is dedicated to the Rishabha, the first Tirthankara; it is the holiest shrine for the Svetambara Murtipujaka Jain sect who are worshipers of images of gods. The Digambara sect of Jainism has only one temple here.
The Gulf of Cambay
is to the south of the Shatrunjaya Hills, and Bhavanagar town is to the north of the hills with the Shetrunji River
flowing in between.Palitana, a city in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away. The Palitana Temples are situated at the twin summits and the saddle linking them. The temple complex is located 56 kilometres (35 mi) southwest of Bhavnagar, a major pilgrimage centre for Jains.
Architecture and Fittings:
The Palitana temples are considered to be the most sacred tirtha (pilgrimage place) by the Jain community. There are hundreds of temples, with estimates ranging between 863 and 1,008.They are arranged in systematic groupings with variation in height and space. The buildings are carved in marble and are considered to be prayers in stone.They are grouped in nine separate wings or tuks, each wing having a separate central shrine or temple with minor shrines surrounding it.
They have the unique features of the Chaumukh Temple
which is stated to be their creative preoccupation for large halls for holding discourses.This was prompted by their first thirthanakar’s discourse. It is an ensemble involving four sided buildings with doors so that images would be visible from all four sides or directions. The four sides are called the caturbimba (four sided views), which is considered auspicious from all directions. Their religious texts also are oriented towards building "cities of temples" like Palitana and Ranakpur, a particular feature in Jainism.
On one special day (Fagun Sud 13), which commonly falls in February/March (According to the Hindu Calendar, it is 13th day of Sud Cycle in the month of Falgun), thousands of Jain followers visit the temple complex to attain salvation.Three times as many pilgrims come at this time, which is also called "6 Gaon".The special festival day is the "Chha Gau Teerth Yatra" at the temple complex held on Poornima day (Full Moon Day) of Kartik month according to the Jain calendar (October–November as per the Gregorian Calendar).
Mahavir Jayanti, the birthday of Mahavira, is a notable festival celebrated at the temple complex. A procession carrying images of thirthankara Mahavira is made in huge decorated chariots, concurrently accompanied by religious ceremonies in the temples. Rituals include fasting and giving alms to the poor.