Jainism World Religions

Places of Worship: Shatrunjaya


Location: Palintana, India
Belief: Jainism

Near the city of Palitana in the Gujarat state of southwest India, the hills of Mount Shatrunjaya are covered with hundreds of ornate Jain temples that attract many pilgrims every year. These are considered the most holy places for Jains.

Mountains and caves have always been seen as spiritual places, and in history, many prophets such as Moses (as) sought spiritual uplift whilst isolating themselves in mountain retreats or caves. The Jains also built these temples in this location around the 10th and 11th centuries CE, inspired by the majesty of the mountains. There are 108 large temples and hundreds of smaller shrines. The oldest statue at the site is believed to date from 1006 CE.

Pilgrims climb over 3,000 steps to reach the summit where the hundreds of temples and shrines stand. This is sacred for Jains because they believe many of their most revered saints and prophets achieved moksha (spiritual enlightenment) here.

There are marble statues of the Tirthankaras (enlightened sages and saints) interspersed between the temples, but these are here to inspire Jain worshippers and not to be worshipped themselves, unlike in some other faiths. [1] The Tirthankaras have already achieved spiritual elevation, so they cannot help the devotees. However, seeing the image is supposed to inspire Jain pilgrims towards their own emulation of the same personal transformation. [2]

Even the name Shatrunjaya means ‘Place of Victory’, meaning the personal victory of the individual from the diversion of daily life. Pilgrims leave the site by sunset as nobody is allowed to be present at the site overnight. Every Jain is encouraged to make a pilgrimage here at least once in their lifetime, just as Muslims visit Makkah in Saudi Arabia.


  1. Philip Carr-Gomm, Sacred Places (London, UK: Quercus, 2008), 232.
  2. John Bowker, World Religions – The Great Faiths Explored and Explained (London, UK: Dorling Kindersley, 1997), 56.