For many visitors, the highlight of a trip to Saurashtra is a climb up the holy hill of Shatrunjaya, India’s principal Jain pilgrimage site, just outside the dull town of Palitana, 50km southwest of Bhavnagar. More than nine hundred temples crown Shatrunjaya, said to be a chunk of the mighty Himalayas where the Jains’ first tirthankara, Adinath, and his chief disciple gained enlightenment. While records show that the hill was a tirtha as far back as the fifth century, the existing temples date only from the sixteenth century, anything earlier having been lost in the Muslim raids of the 1500s and 1600s. Climbing the wide steps up Shatrunjaya takes one to two hours, but, as with all hilltop pilgrimage centres, dholis (seats on poles held by four bearers) are available for those who can’t make it under their own steam. The views as you ascend are magnificent, and you should allow at least two more hours to see even a fraction of the temples.

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