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Shatrunjay Series
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This series of Shatrunjay stories is about Tirthankars, historical events, shrines etc which will tell us about significant stops on the Shatrunjay hills related to Adinath, his sons Bharat & Bahubali, Neminath's cancelled wedding, Ravan/Mandodari's dance and more. In this newsletter, we will learn about the 1st story, 'Introduction of Shatrunjay and Mokshdwar'.

Click to read story & listen to an amazing audio click in English or Gujarati.


Jay Taleti is the worshipable rock at the base of the hill. It represents the sacredness of the whole Shatrunjay hill as it is impossible to worship the whole hill from top to bottom. Every day, people worship this base rock with water, sandal wood paste and flowers..

Most Jains conduct the first of five required rituals of the pilgrimage here. This ritual is called "Chaityavandan". There are 11 mini-shrines above Jay Taleti that houses foot prints of enlightened souls who walked up this path and made it sacred. The center-most shrine has the foot prints of Adinath, the first Tirthankar, to whom the main temple is dedicated.

Across the walkway is a shrine of the foot prints or "Paduka" of Pundarik swami, the chief disciple, and grandson of Adinath, the first Tirthankar. Pundarik swami achieved salvation on this hill. One of the 108 names of this hill is "Pundarikgiri" named after Pundarik Swami.

When we are at the summit, you will once again see the importance of Pundarik Swami to the Jains. Now walk back up and make your way to the temple of Babu as shown in the map. Leave your footwear where they were. We will come back to them after visiting the temple of Babu.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


This temple was constructed in 1900 by Babu Dhanpat Singh to fulfill his mother's wish. His mother, Mehtab Kumari visited Shatrunjay in her later years. She found the journey to be arduous. She asked her son to build a temple at the base of the hill so that old and feeble Jains could also undertake the pilgrimage. She decreed that the temple should be built as an exact replica of the main Adinath temple on the summit. The obedient son replicated not only the main idol but also the other main features of the main temple. Today, many elderly Jains visit only this Babu temple and experience the same satisfaction of making the journey to the top.

Once you climb the steps, turn slightly left and then right to proceed straight to the main temple. After visiting the main temple, please retrace your steps back to the entrance gate. There are three other mini-temples inside this Babu temple complex that are worth a visit.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati


The Mandir was inaugurated in 1986 after 14 years of construction. It is a three-dimensional representation of the Samavasaran. A Samavasaran is a preaching hall erected on the spot where a Tirthankar attains Nirvana (enlightenment). A Tirthankar delivers sermon from this Samavasran. According to Jain texts, the heavenly pavilion are erected by devas (heavenly beings).

Humans, animals and devas assemble there to listen to the Tirthankar speak. It is believed that during this speech, there is no unhappiness for miles around the site. As you enter the temple, the outside wall is lined with a 108 pictures of various temples throughout India. The inner wall holds 108 pictorial representations of the lives of various saints.

The inner sanctum is a 42 foot dome with a 16 foot wide pillar in the center. There are 108 idols of Parshwanath and the other Tirthankars. Step outside and you can climb further up to the top of the 108 foot tall Samavasaran. Here you see four idols of Mahavir Swami facing in four different directions. This type of statue is called a Chaumukhi.


On the left is the entrance to the newest temple on this hill. The temple houses four idols of Adinath facing in all four directions. Such as arrangement is called a Chaumukhi.

Each idol is made of a different stone – a delicate rose quartz, a clear crystal, Jade and a special Jade called MayurPankhMargaj. It is called MayurPankh because the sunlight bouncing off the idol creates images of a peacock feather.These beautiful idols make this a “must-see” stop on our climb.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati


Adinath, the first Jain tirthankar, had two wives. He had 99 sons by his first wife, of whom Bharat was the eldest, and 1 daughter named Brahmi. By the second wife, he had one son named Bahubali and one daughter named Sundari. Bharat turned out to be a great warrior and a politician. Bahubali was tall, well built, and strong. In Sanskrit, Bahu means arm and Bali means mighty. Because he had very strong arm, he is known as Bahubali.

As King, Adinath controlled a large geographical area. When he renounced worldly possessions to follow the Jain way of life, he handed over what is today known as Ayodhya to Bharat, and Takshshila to Bahubali. To the remaining 98 sons from his first wife, he gave different parts of his vast kingdom. Bharat quickly established a hold over his kingdom. He was an ambitious ruler and intended to become emperor of India. He organized a strong army and embarked upon his journey of conquest. He easily conquered the surrounding regions. Then he turned attention towards his brothers and asked them to acknowledge his superiority. His 98 brothers saw the futility of fighting with their elder brother and surrendered their territories to him. They then became disciples of their father, Adinath.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


In the earlier story we heard how Bahubali achieved enlightenment. What became of Bharat?

Bharat became the undisputed emperor, or Chakravarti, of all of India. His rule was so expansive that another name for India actually became Bharat. He ruled equitably and in the interest of all. People were happy. He was happy in every respect too.

Years passed. One day, a ring rolled off of his finger while he was in his dressing room. He noticed that his finger looked rather odd without the ring. Out of curiosity he took off all of his other rings and noticed that his hands looked odd without any adornment. He then took off his crown and other jewelry from his ears, neck and arms. He looked in the mirror and noticed that he did not look impressive.

This set in motion a train of thought. ‘I consider myself handsome and impressive, but all of that impressiveness is merely from the ornaments I wear. The body is just flesh and blood. It will grow old and wrinkled and one day I will have to let go of my body, just as I let go of my ornaments.”He realized that nothing in the world, including his own body, really belonged to him. In that case, he thought, ‘Why not do away with my attachment to alltemporary things and instead focus on something that lasts forever, like my father did? His mind detached itself from worldly life. This led to true enlightenment from within.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


Marudevi is best known as the mother of Adinath, the first Jina. Like other mothers of Jinas, Marudevi experienced the auspicious dreams that herald the birth of a Jina. You can learn more about these dreams in more accounts of Marudevi's life.

According to Svetambara accounts, Marudevi rides an elephant to hear the sermon being given by some newly enlightened teacher. When she arrives she sees the holy man is her son, Adinath. Marudevi looks down from her elephant and sees the splendor of the universal assembly of a universal ruler. When she realizes the universal ruler is her own son, she attains omniscience and then dies, achieving liberation.

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This is a shrine with an idol of Ambikadevi. The story goes like this:There was a demon named Hingul, who harassed all the devotees climbing this hill. Ambika Devi, a protector deity and a devotee of Neminath, defeated Hingul. As his dying wish, he wanted his name to be remembered. Ambika Devi granted this wish by changing her name to Hinglaj Devi and is worshiped under that name here even today.

It is believed that if you pay respect here, your pilgrimage will be completed successfully.Rest on the stone benches here. The next half of the climb gets easier, I promise.

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To the right of this water station named KarunaParab, is a shrine dedicated to the footprints of "KalikundParshwanath".

It is said that Parshwanath once stood in deep meditation in the Kadambari forest. The air was warm and still. Suddenly, a magnificent bull elephant emerged from the thorn bush and saw Lord Parshwanath standing still, framed by the emerald foliage and the morning sun’s soft and golden light. The elephant was filled with devotion.

He went and brought water in his trunk and poured it on Parshwanath as if doing Abhishek (a ritual of washing a tirthankar with water). He then placed flowers at His reverend feet. The elephant eventually died and went to heaven. In his memory, the footprints were placed here in 1780.

Read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


You probably noticed the Shatrunjay River flowing on your left during your climb. By now, the view of the river and the surrounding area should be breathtaking. The river starts in the hills of Gir and empties into the Gulf of Cambay. A dam was constructed on the river in 1965 to irrigate the surrounding areas. The catchment provides drinking water to the nearby villages, the town of Palitana, and the city of Bhavnagar

If you are lucky, you will see peacocks perched on the branches behind the bushes that line the walkway. They are often found in this stretch of the walk.

Read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


Jainism postulates that time has no beginning or end. It cycles continuously, like a wheel. We are in an endless cycle of birth and rebirth, living many lives, until we escape this cycle by attaining enlightenment. Jain texts record the details of the Tirthankars’ previous lives before the final life in which they attained enlightenment. In Jain tradition, the Tirthankars were royals in their final lives, which meant that they had to renounce more worldly possessions than others would have to in order to follow the Jain path. Their clan and families are also among those recorded in very early or legendary Hindu history

According to Jain philosophy, there have been many time-cycle eras, each with a set of 24 Tirthankars. The stories that we have recounted so far are stories of the 24 Tirthankars from our current time-cycle era. Previous eras had different sets of 24 Tirthankars. Rushabh, Chandranan, Varisen and Vardhman These names are therefore eternal, or "Shashwat". The lotus leaf pattern in this intricately carved shrine represent the footprints of these names.

Rushabh, Chandranan, Varisen and Vardhman

These names are therefore eternal, or "Shashwat". The lotus leaf pattern in this intricately carved shrine represent the footprints of these names.

Read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


The Padmavati temple is part of the Shri Pujya Toonk. The entrance is to the right, past the benches and water station.

As you enter, notice the water reservoir, or parab, on the left. Now look to the right. These are individual shrines for each of the 24 tirthankars with idols and footprints.

The tree beside each shrine is different. It matches the tree under which that tirthankar achieved enlightenment, also known as moksh or “Kevalgyan”. Inside the shrine, the color of the footprints matches the color associated with that tirthankar: gold, red, black, greenish blue, and white. The idols are also carved in the same posture that each tirthankar achieved “Kevalgyan.” Pretty neat, right?

Next, let’s go to the medium-sized shrine in the center of the courtyard. It is the temple dedicated to Padmavati Devi. Padavati is the protective goddess of Lord Parshwanath, twenty-third Jain Tirthankar. She is an important religious deity in her own right and is very popular amongst Jains. A snake’s hood covers her head, and she sits on a lotus flower. Look for a small image of the Lord Parshwanath placed in her crown.

According to one Jain sect, Parshvanath saved two snakes that had been trapped in a burning log when a he was young prince. Later, one of these snakes as reborn as Dharanendra, the lord of the snake, or “Nag”, kingdom. The other was reborn as Padmavati. They sheltered Parshvanath when he was harassed by the snake Meghalin. While Padmavati is Parshwanath’s protective goddess, Dharnendra is his Attendant God, or “Yaksha”.

Every few years, there have also sightings of snakes here by the security guards and other employees who are the only ones allowed to be on the hill at night. Nobody else can stay overnight. As you turn back and head to the entrance, the temples you see on the distant mountain peak is our final destination. You’re 75% of the way there!

Read the story or listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


On the right a fenced mini-temple on a platform with 4 idols made of black marble standing in a meditative posture.

The first two, Dravid and Varikhill, were among Adinath’s 102 children. Before renouncing the world to become a Jain monk, Adinath gave each of them their own kingdom and armies. Dravid waged a war against his younger brother Varikhill. Half of their armies were killed. Repenting their greed, they ultimately attained liberation.

The 3rd idol is of Aimuttamuni, the author of a book called “ShatrunjayLaghuKalpa”. The book explains the Shatrunjay’s significance to Naradji, who is the 4th idol.

When the town of Dwarika was burning and Naradji saw many people turn to ash, he renounced the world, accepted sainthood,and came to Shatrunjaand attained enlightenment on this hill.

Because so many have attained enlightenment on this hill, Shatrunjay is also known as Siddhachal.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or Gujarati.


This is a shrine on a platform with five sculptures made of black marble in standing meditative posture.

There is an interesting story about one of them. His name was Thavaccha-putra.

He heard a sermon by Neminath, our 22nd tirthankar and was so moved that he decided to renounce his 32 wives and all his wealth of 320 million gold coins. When his mother heard that her only son was going to renounce the world, she begged King Krishna to talk to him and stop him.

Krishna asked Thavaccha-putra his reason for renunciation, he answered that he had only one fear and that was the fear of death.

He told Krishna that if he, Krishna, can rid him of his fear, he would not renounce this world. Otherwise he would renounce and overcome this fear with severe penance.

He would strive to attain salvation and put an end to the cycle of birth and death.

This then would be his last death. And, this in fact would be death of death itself .

Krishna was pleased and announced that he would financially support families of men who wished to accompany Thavaccha-putra in renouncing the world.

Thavaccha-putra eventually became an Acharya, a religious leader and ultimately attained salvation here.

Isn’t an inspiring story?

Our next stop is step 2951. If you were listening to this story and continued walking, we may have passed theshrine but hope you can keep walking and listening to the next story.

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King Kirtidhar of Ayodhya was engrossed in observing the colorful artwork made by sun in the sky. An eclipse put an end to that beautiful show.

That got him thinking about how nothing was permanent, not his royal wealth, not his physical health, and not even the power of the sun. Only the soul is eternal and cannot be destroyed. He decided to renounce worldly pleasures and lead the life of a monk.

His wife, Queen Sahdevi, was pregnant and eventually gave birth to a boy named Sukoshal. At a young age Sukoshal bore the responsibility of ruling the kingdom.

One day, the Kirtidhar came back to Ayodhya as a monk. When the queen heard of this, she asked the guards to send him out of the kingdom because she was afraid of the influence the father would have on Sukoshal.

But Sukoshal heard the news that his father was in town. He went to meet him and hear him preach. Sukoshal also decided to become a monk. On getting this news, the Queen was shocked and full of rage and despair. She collapsed and died, and was reborn as a tigress.

The father and son came to Shatrunjay and the tigress followed. The rage from her past life made her attack the son. The father asked the son to stay extremely calm and composed. The son obeyed. He stayed still and calm as the tigress tore apart his body. He died in that state and attained salvation.

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Take a moment to look at this shrine. Do you see anything different?

Both footprints point in the opposite directions and both have their own doors. Nami and Vinami were Adinath’s grandsons. When Adinath distributed his kingdom, the grandsons were absent and never got their share.

They came looking for Adinath to ask him for their share but Adinath was in deep meditation and would not respond. With open swords, they stood by his side but this did not disturb Adinath. In fact, they became his devotees. For their devotion, they were given kingdoms by a demi god called Darnendra. Nami got a kingdom to the North and Vinami a kingdom to the south.

Maybe that’s why these footprints face opposite directions! Our next stop is a rest area at step 3076.

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Look up to your right.
Do you see a white wall with a green flag?
That is Angarsha Pir.

It may be surprising to you to find a muslim place of worship here.

Jains and Muslims have shared the land of Gujarat for centuries, but have you seen their places of worship so close to each other, especially at a place which is perhaps the worlds holiest of spots for Jains. It is easy to assume that some Muslim ruler in the past forcibly made this Dargah, and once there, it just survived for all these years. However the true tail is far more interesting. Often when you travel, you come across stories which are unexpected, yet become the defining point of the trip. Here is one such story – The Legend of Angarsha Pir.

In the 14th Century, when Palitana was already a rich and well known Jain pilgrimage site, Allauddin Khilji decided to plunder the temple and go back with all the famed jewels. He also wished to destroy the holy idols, which were considered to be against Islam and so had to be razed to the ground. As he attacked the temples, a Sufi requested him to turn back and not destroy such a pious place. Allauddin Khilji scorned at him and told him to mind his own business, and questioned the sanity of protecting temples of Kafirs (non muslims). As Khilji marched on, the Sufi decided to teach him a lesson and summoned fire from the skies. The fire burned most of his army and pushed Khilji back from the sacred temple complex.

From that day onwards, the Sufi became a holy man to all Jains as well. He got his name Angaarsha, because angaar means fire, after the miracle which saved the temples. Today people from all faiths come here and request favors. In an interesting tradition, as you ask for something you leave a small symbol of what you want from the Pir. So childless women leave a wooden cradle, people with Asthma leave Asthma pumps and so on. You can be very imaginative here. Of course, once you wishes are fulfilled you come back and make a donation to the Pir. Our next stop – step 3200.

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On the right is a hollow cut-out in the rock, forming a cave. There are steps that take you to the carvings of 3 idols of Krishna’s sons, named “Jali, Mayali, and Uvayali” in a standing meditative posture. All of them have obtained salvation on this mountain. Almost there….Next stop step 3300

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Congratulations. You have reached the main gate. The gate is called Ram Pol. Beyond the gate is a corridor where all the porters rest.

On the left before entering the gate is a warning sign by the management that says, “Eating or drinking anything is a severe sin on this holiest hill “Giriraj.” Except for water, eating, drinking anything, spitting, and urinating is forbidden. Despite this sign, cold yogurt is sold in clay pots on the left just before the gate.

It is said those who eat it will have an unsuccessful pilgrimage. The yogurt in Palitana is very famous and available at the base on completion of your pilgrimage

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Walk through the Ram Pol gate, beyond the corridor where the porters are resting.You will see three temples. The one on the far right is the temple dedicated to Vimalnath, the thirteenth tirthankar. The temple has five spires, or “Shikhar”. No other temple on this summit has five spires. This is NOT a “must see” temple, but if you have time, go in and take a look around.

Tirthankar idols appear similar at first glance but have small details that differentiate them from each other. A Tirthankar’s idol represents the qualities and virtues of the Tirthankar. Each idol has its own distinguishing emblem.

Vimalnath’s emblem is a boar. The symbol is on the base of the idol. If you decide to explore this temple, look for this symbol.

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The temple next to Vimalnath’s temple is dedicated to Sumtinath, the fifth tirthankar. The temple has three spires. This is also NOT a “must see” temple.

We have mentioned the two sects of Jains – the Digambar and the Shvetambar. On this summit we find predominantly Shvetambar temples.

Temples of the Digambar sect have the idols of Tirthankars in their natural unadorned form with their eyes semi-closed in meditation. These idols represent the Tirthankar as free from attachment and avarice.

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The third temple is Motishah Toonk. A short flight of stairs brings you to this temple complex. The temples are beautiful and the view of the temple complex as you reach the top of the stairs is absolutely amazing. I strongly recommend you to spend at least 5-10 minutes here.

It is hard to imagine that this area was once a deep and dangerous canyon between two mountain peaks. In the early 18th century, a wealthy businessman named Sheth Moti Shah vowed that if his merchant ships returned safety, he would build a temple on Shatrunjay.

But this hill top was already filled with temples. The only space that could be allotted was this deep canyon. Motishah decided that he would fill the canyon with Jute ropes. In those days the ropes cost about Rs. 80,000. This temple complex resembles a heavenly palace called “NalinigulmDevViman” and took 7 years, 1100 sculptors, and 3000 laborers to complete.

Unfortunately, Motishah did not live long enough to see his dream fulfilled. His son and wife completed the project.

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This third Gate is called Waghan Pol. Can you guess where it got its name Waghan means tigress in Gujarati. To the right of the gate is carving of a tigress, which is how this gate got its name. Two brothers, Vastupal and Tejpal, built this gate approximately 800 years ago in the memory of a brave man, Veer Vikram Singh. It is said that a tigress was killing and scaring away pilgrims coming here. Veer Vikram Singh fought courageously and killed the tigress but also gave up his own life to protect the pilgrims. Stop just inside the gate and on either side you will see an edict, or inscription. Look in More Stops to learn about the edict.

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The script carved in marble speaks praises of Vastupal and Tejpal. These two brothers used their tremendous wealth to build devotional miracles in expensive white marble with intricate carvings. These beautiful temples speak to their devotion, faith, and wisdom.

They created such wonders of art, including the temples of Delwara in Mount Abu, and many in temple city Palitana, Girnar etc. All of mankind benefit from their grand deeds and are forever indebted.

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Shanti means peace. We all yearn for peace but it continues to evade us. It is believed that if one prays with devotion to Shantinath in this temple on Shatrunjay, one can get everlasting peace.

Pilgrims pray by doing the 2nd out of 5 required Chaitya-vandan rituals here. This temple dates to the early 18th century.

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We descend to a passage that feels like a palace. The first thing you see is the shrine of Chakeshwari Devi who serves Adinath. The mirror reflection is worth seeing. In the reflection, the Devi seems alive.

It is said that Chakeshwari Devi appeared in Javad Shah’s dream and helped him find the Takshshila marble to build the main Adinath idol.

As you continue, you come to the shrines of Vagheshwari Devi and Padmawati Devi.

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The Neminath Temple is a Must See. Take a moment to go inside. It is a beautiful and ancient temple. The temple has three levels. We will first go to the basement to see a beautifully carved representation of Neminath’s wedding ceremony.

As you enter the temple, walk around and behind the center edifice. There you will see a set of stairs going down. As you walk down, in front of you is a marvelous samovasaran carved out of a single stone.

At the bottom of the stairs turn right. Look for 4 pillars that form a wedding stage called chauri or mandap. To identify them, look for two pillars that have pots carved into them, stacked on top of each other. Notice the two pillars across from them don’t have the pots. These four pillars form a square and that is the wedding stage.

Now step inside the chauri and look at the ceiling. The frieze on the ceiling depicts Neminath’s wedding.

The story is this: when Neminath saw animals being sacrificed for his wedding feast, and when two deer came crying to him, he asked the charioteer to turn around his chariot, abandoned his bride-to-be Rajul, and called off the wedding. He could not stand for such violence and he renounced the world.

On one frieze, you can see Neminath on a chariot going towards the wedding stage. The second half of the same frieze shows the chariot turning back. You can see the slaughter of animals and the bride all dressed and waiting for the groom.
Can you guess why the second set of pillars does not have the stack of pots?
Because it represents an incomplete wedding!

The temple has three nicknames – First, Neminath Chauri - and know you know why! Second, it is known as Vimal Vasahi. This might be because this temple resembles the Delwara temple in Mount Abu that was built by Vimal Shah. And the third name is Bhul-bhulamni, which means maze. I think you will agree that the layout of the temple is a little confusing and thus the name.

Our next stop is another fun spot just around the corner.

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This is another must see. Just after Neminath temple, make a slight left, where you will see the doorway to the Window of Virtue and Sin. It is a freestanding room housing a statue of a man mounted on a camel with the caretaker standing beside the camel.

The test for all visitors is to get down on the floor and crawl through the small space between the camel’s legs. It is said that only virtuous people will succeed. Try it out – it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, skinny or plump – you may find that you’ll succeed!

Why is it a camel and not an elephant or a horse? The story is this: 800 years ago, a wealthy man vowed to come to worship Adinath here on this peak on a particular day each year. He fasted for the three days it took him to travel here and broke his fast after he finished the pilgrimage. He did this diligently every year.

One year, it was exceptionally hot. The master, camel, and caretaker were all exhausted and dehydrated but since the master would not break his vow and drink water, the caretaker and camel did not either. They reached the base of the hill, only to drop dead from exhaustion.

In memory of such great devotion and knowing that the man’s last wish has come to Adinath, this statue was made and placed here. Once you’ve passed the test, our next stop is a temple 100 pillars.

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A little bit ahead, just across from the Windows of Virtue and Sins is a temple that has a hundred pillars. The pillars are laid out such that none of them block your view of the Chaumukhi or four-faced main idol. The temple is styled after the famous Ranakpur temple in Rajasthan. The temple dates back to the 16th century.

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Farther ahead on the same side as one-hundred pillar temple is the small shrine of Acharaya Sri Dhaneshwar Suri. He is widely respected for his epic work the Sri Shatrunjay Mahatmya, a 9000 stanza detailed history and description of Shatrunjay and its significance to Jains.

When paying respect to an Acharaya, we join our hands, bow and say “MathhenVandami”. Acharaya can also be called Guru, or mentor.

Look closely at the idol. On either side of the guru are small idols, sitting and toucing the guru’s toe.

What does this represent?
When a Guru is in deep meditation and his disciples need his attention urgently, they press his toe to call him out of his meditative state.

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Haathi means elephant. This is the fourth gate. As you probably guessed already, the gate gets its name from the stone elephants on each side. As soon as you enter Haathi Pol, you will see florists on the right, selling roses and garlands for worship. Pilgrims adorn the idols and footprints with these flowers.

On the immediate left is a window to get free tickets to do “Pooja” or worship. Although anyone can enter the temples, only ticket holders can go inside the altar to worship. Sometimes there is a very long line to do Pooja.

To the left, you will find an area for men and women to change into clean clothes for worship.

Click to read the story & listen to an amazing audio clip in English or  Gujarati .


Ratan Pol means ‘Jewel Gate’. It got this name because you can see the crown jewel of all the temples on this hill as you walk through the gate.

Shri Adinath temple is at the highest point of the summit, two thousand feet above sea level. It is an ornate building dating from 1530 AD. The temple is situated on the site of a much earlier temple dating from the time of Lord Adishwar, countless centuries ago.

These temples, big, small, built in different centuries, richly carved into a breathtaking splendor, give us an impression of a Temple City.

In the middle, the temple of Adinath glows with its superb beauty. Here you find white, red, yellow and pink marble carved with fine art. Each and every stone is ready to tell you its own history. So, let’s climb this flight of stairs to enter the main temple courtyard.

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This is the main courtyard. This is a busy place. Men in white “dhoti”, which is traditional attire, and women in saris are probably walking around with bronze plates filled with flowers and sandalwood paste. These are for worship.

Glance up to see the 78-foot tall ornamental spire of the main temple.

At the doorway, before walking into the main temple, devotees will touch the floor and utter the word – “Niss-see-he”, three times. It signifies that they are leaving worldly thoughts at the door and entering the temple.

The Adinath idol you see here is 2.16 meters or 7 feet tall, carved in white marble with eyes of crystal. The idol is seated in the Padmasana posture. Devotees offer flowers and sandal paste to the deity as they approach the statue for worship.

This is where the final fifth of the five required ritual of Chaityavandan is performed.

If we followed the Jain process, we would enter the main temple last, after we have finished the circumambulations.

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Look for two stone reliefs with animal's right behind the main temple on the lower side panel.

One depicts a peacock and a snake, and the other a lion and an elephant. These reliefs signify that when animals broke the sanctity of these holy hills, monks meditating here would calm them down by saying, “Oh living beings, anger and hatred on this holy hill are sins, calm down and be at peace”. Hearing their voice, they calmed down and went their way.


It is believed that Adinath meditated and preached under this tree, and that demigods reside in each and every leaf and branch of this tree. They worshiped an Adinath idol made of precious stones placed here by King Bharat.

Devotees go around this tree 3 times.

There is a belief that if the tree sprinkles you with its milk while you circle around it, you are very close to achieving salvation.


Under the Ryan tree, we see a set of large footsteps covered in silver foil, sprinkled with flowers. It is said that this is the exact spot from where Adinath gave his first sermon, and is very sacred to Jains.

Jains perform the third of the five required rituals of Chaityavandan here.


Walking past the Ryan footsteps, walk towards the small shrines. The first shrine against the wall is a temple showing Adinath in the kāyotsarga position flanked by his grandsons Nami and Vinami.

Kayotsarga is the absence of concern for the body. This commonly refers to a standing or sitting posture of deep meditation. In the standing position, the eyes are concentrated on the tip of the nose and the arms hang loosely by the body. The individual remains unaffected by whatever happens around him.


both had taken a vow to remain celibate - Vijay Seth for the first half of the month and his wife the second half. After they were married, they realized their predicament but both decided to remain celibate their entire life.

Saints and laymen alike salute their virtuousness and resolve.


In this temple you will see a 2 inch small black idol, flanked by two larger idols. The idol in the center is considered to be miraculous. There’s a story behind why it’s been placed in the center: every morning when the pujari came to the temple and opened the doors, they would find this idol seated on the lap of Adinath in the main temple. Once they moved it to the center, the idol has not moved.


This idol of Simandhar Swami is from the 16th century. Jains believe that Simandhar Swami is a Living Jina. They believe he is currently in Mahavideh, a world in the Jain universe where 20 tirthankars currently exist and where souls can attain liberation. This image depicts Simandhar Swami in conversation with Indra, singing praise of Shatrunjay as a place of worship.

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Just outside Simandhar Swami Temple are idols placed in two recesses. The first recess with the artistic panel is an ancient idol of Saraswati Devi, the goddess of knowledge.

The second recess has an idol of Ambika Devi. She is the attendant deity of Neminath, the twenty second Tirthankar but is also a figure of worship in her own right. In Sanskrit, the name Ambika means “Mother” and so she is closely associated with motherhood.

As a goddess, Ambika’s soul is subject to the cycle of birth and rebirth. She can intervene in human affairs, unlike tirthankars, who are liberated, perfect souls, completely detached from everyday human experience. Some Jains worship gods partly to request help with worldly matters, ranging from issues of health and fertility, to passing school exams, to business success.

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The temple of Five Brothers is the temple on the left at the outer end. The temple has five large idols. The five brothers of Ujjain built it in the early 16th century.

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As you move forward in the Outer circle, a 16th century temple built by Vastupal,Tejpal is on the right. One day, lightning struck the main Adinath idol.Tarachand Sanghvi of Surat had a new idol made to replace it. When they attempted to remove the old idol, it would not move no matter what they tried. Even today, you can see a crack across the nose of the main idol. The new idol, called New Adinath, was consecrated with a grand ceremony in this temple, along with a pair of huge footprints.

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Vis means twenty. Viharman loosely means, “residing”. Here we see 20 sets of handprints and 20 sets of footprints covered in silver.

These represent the 20 living tirthankars that currently reside in Mahavideh, another world within the Jain mythological universe.

According to Jains, every time-cycle era is half “waxing” and a half “waning”. Imagine the face of a clock. The “waxing” half is the positive half. All 24 Tirthankars are born and attain salvation during that half of the era. The final tirthankara was Mahavir, whom historians estimate lived between 599-527 BCE.

We are currently in the second half, the negative “waning” half when tirthankars do not incarnate.

However, on Mahavideh, a separate world from ours, a “positive” time-cycle exists continuously. There, living Tirthankar perpetually incarnate.

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What you see before you is Ashtapad. In Jain literature, Ashtapad is recorded as being a four-sided, eight-stepped, and probably very extensive structure. The identity and location of Ashtapad have been lost to time. Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is frequently thought to be this mountain. Adinath attained salvation on Ashtapad.

Look closely at the representation in front of you. On one side of the two idols of tirthankars is a ten-headed representation of Ravan. On the other side is his queen Mandodari.

Legend has it that Ravan and his wife Mandodari were praying at the Ashtapad temple. Mandodari was in a state of trance while dancing in devotion as Ravan played a musical instrument called the veena. Suddenly, a string of the veena snapped. But Ravan determined to not let that come in the way of Mandodari's divine dance, plucked out a vein from his thigh to keep the instrument playing.

Look for another representation: see if you can find a monk feeding many other hermits. This is the story of Gautam Swami, a disciple of Mahavir, who was able to feed 1,500 hermits from a single small bowl of Rice Pudding or “Kheer”. While serving, he kept his thumb in the bowl in order to feed all of them.

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This is a MUST SEE. Walk the entire back line of the many mini-temples, go beyond the Ryan tree, take a right turn around the circle, walk about 30 feet or so, and look for a flight of stairs to go upon the upper floor.

It should be behind the Temple of Simandhar Swami that you had seen in the first circle. Climb the steps to get a scenic view of the temple complex from the upper floor. There is also another Chaumkhi temple on the balcony with the idol facing all four directions.

The entire area looks beautiful from here.

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Once you come down the stairs, go a little further and turn left to enter the New Toonk, a new temple complex in red stone built in 1972. The hill had become overcrowded and a new complex was built to hold all the extra idols that were scattered across the temple complex.

The oldest image of Pundarik Swami, dating to the 11th century, is in one of the cells f this new complex.

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Once you are out of the new toonk,walk towards the exit. A temple dedicated to Pundarik Swami is just above the stairs. Adinath, in the main temple, and Pundarik Swami are seated facing each other, just as a teacher and disciple do. If you remember, Pundrik Swami is grandson of Adinath.

Here pilgrims perform the 4th of 5 ritual “Chaityavandan”. This is where our circle ends. We are now going in the main temple for the last time. After that, we will start our return journey.

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Suraj Kund is a reservoir of reputedly magical waters. According to legend, King Mahipala was afflicted with leprosy. After bathing in this reservoir, he was cured.

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