Posted on: 21 June 2012

Palitana - 5 May 1868

Watercolour drawing by John Frederick Lester of Palitana in Gujarat, from Album with laid down watercolours made between 1865 and 1877 in Kathiawar, Bombay, Poona, Mahabaleshwar and Savantvadi State, dated 1865-1877.

Above the plain around the town of Palitana rises Satrunjaya hill, an ancient Jain place of pilgrimage where Pundarika, the main disciple of the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinatha, obtained enlightenment. On the two summits of the hill, which rise about 600 metres, there are many hundreds of multi-spired temples where every day pilgrims come to pay reverence to the different Jain saints. The sanctuaries are grouped in fortified enclosures or tuks, named after their founders and are not earlier than the 16th century as many were destroyed during the 14th-15th centuries by the Muslims. This watercolour depicts the steps leading to one of the enclosures and the curvilinear spire of a temple in the background.

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I visited Palitana in early 78 when I was in the Library Party.