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Jain Temples at Parasnath Hills, Shikarji
|Elevation:||1,350 m (4,429 ft)|
|Architecture and culture|
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Shikharji (शिखरजी), also known as the Parasnath Hill, located in Giridih district in Jharkhand, India, is a major Jain pilgrimage destination and considered one of the most sacred places for Jains in the world. According to Jainism, 20 out of 24 Tirthankaras attained Nirvana here. Parasnath Hill at a height of 1,350 metres (4,430 ft) is the highest mountain in Jharkhand state.
This place is known as Sammed Śikhar or Sammet Shikhar, the ‘peak of concentration’, because 20 out of 24 Tirthankaras attained mokṣa through samadhi or meditative concentration at this location. Though it is more commonly referred to Śikharji, 'the venerable peak,’ the hill is also known as Parasnath Hill. This name was derived from Pārśva, the 23rd Tirthankara to attain nirvana on this site.
The oldest reference to the hills as a holy place is found in the Jñātṛdhārmakātha, one of the twelve texts constituting the canonical core of Jain literature. There, the hills are described as the place where Mallinātha, the nineteenth Jina, attained samadhi or meditative concentration. The prominence of the Parasnāth hills as a pilgrimage place and their connection with Pārśvanātha can be traced to the medieval period when reference to them was made in the Pārśvanāthacarita, the biography of Pārśva written in 12th century. The development of the hills was probably prompted by the popularity of Vulture Peak in Bihār, the holy mountain connected with the Buddha where his disciple Sariputra and others are considered to have attained enlightenment.
The remote location is surrounded by a deep forest called Madhuban. The ascent itself starts in Madhuban and leads to two streams, Gandharva Nala and Shital Nala 2 ½ miles away. The Jains hold the portion from Gandharva Nala up to the summit as very sacred. It is easier to reach the hill from its northern side.
Starting from the base of the hills and over the peaks, the trek to Śikharjī and back is approximately 27 km. The trekkers usually start early in the morning, between 3 A.M. – 4 A.M. People who cannot walk all the way have an option to use the services of "doli wallah", villagers who use a one-seater 'doli' (or, palanquin, also called palkhi in ancient times) to ferry people up and down the hills. There are 'dolis' carried by 4 people as well as 2 people, depending on the weight of the person to be ferried up. The charges quoted by 'doli wallahs' vary seasonally. Trekkers as well as "doli wallahs" usually keep a torch with them to assist the steep climb through the jungles early in the morning, but no other equipment is necessary as it is relatively safe. There are enough stalls all along the way serving tea, coffee, water, fruits and all kinds of snacks. The route is paved with concrete slabs all the way up and the slope is quite steep at places. There are also several places where steps have been constructed. Trekkers usually first reach Gautam swamy hill, then proceed towards Chandra Prabhu hill. On their way back, they visit Jal Mandir and finally Parasnath Hill via the Gautam swamy hill. There is a way down from Parasnath Hill itself, that after about 3 km, merges with the road taken while climbing up.
Significance in Jainism
The present temple is not very old, although the idol in the main temple is ancient. The Sanskrit inscriptions at the foot of the images indicate that they were put in the temple in 1678 A.D.
Archaeologists believe some of the existing temple edifices on Parasnath Hill date from 1765 A.D. although the place is of greater antiquity. It is certain that the present edifices replace older edifices, which were demolished. Jain temples are often pulled down and re-built.
Shrines and temples
There is a temple of Bhomiyaji at the start of the hills (termed as Taleti) and it is said that once you bow your head at this temple and start the journey towards the top of the hill, there is no way you can be mislead in the journey. The moment you forget the way, there will be dogs who will guide you the way and will quickly disappear once you are back on track.
The following are temples and shrines at Shikharji. There is no proper numbering available:
- Ganadhara Gautam Swami
- Kunthunath (17th Tirthankara)
- Naminatha (21st Tirthankara)
- Aranath (18th Tirthankara)
- Mallinath (19th Tirthankara)
- Shreyansanath (11th Tirthankar)
- Suvidhinath (9th Tirthankar)
- Padmaprabha (6th Tirthankar)
- Munisuvrata (20th Tirthankar)
- Chandraprabha (8th Tirthankar)
- Adinath (1st Tirthankar)
- Anantnath (14th Tirthankar)
- Sheetalnath (10th Tirthankar)
- Sambhavanath ( 3rd Tirthankar)
- Vasupujya (12th Tirthankar)
- Abhinandannath ( 4th Tirthankar)
- Ganadhara Shubhswami
- Jal Mandir
- Dharmanath (15th Tirthankar)
- Sumatinath (5th Tirthankar)
- Shantinath (16th Tirthankar)
- Mahavira (24th Tirthankar)
- Suparshvanath (7th Tirthankara)
- Vimalnath (13th Tirthankara)
- Ajitnath (2nd Tirthankara)
- Neminath (22nd Tirthankara)
- Parshvanatha (23rd Tirthankara)
Most Jain sects have traditionally supported construction of temples and tirths (pilgrimage places) and are known to build temples even if there is a small Jain population to support it. Replication of major tirth's in such places is considered an auspicious and worthwhile endeavour. Many temples in India, such as Dadabari in New Delhi, have small, not-to-scale replicas of Shikharji. A complete to-scale replica was formally inaugurated on August 13, 2012 Siddhachalam in the USA upon discovery that its layout has close similarities to the layout of Shikharji's tonks and Jal Mandir.
The State tourism department is planning to develop the hills of Parasnath and Satpahar as a prime destination for paragliding and parasailing as the natural contour makes them some of the best sites in the country for such adventure sports
This place is surrounded by a dense forest called Madhuban. It is accessible from nearby towns and cities through arterial roads. Motor cars or passenger buses travel along the route from Dumri to Giridih and stop at Madhuban village. The nearest railway station is at Parasnath Station on the Grand Chord. The village Post Office is called Parasnath.
Jains have provided rest houses and temples at the foot of the hill at Madhuban. On the walls of the Jain Temple at the village of Madhuban, there is a mural painting depicting all the temples on Parasnath Hill.
Palganj, 12 km away from Madhuban has a temple with icon of Parshvanath dating back to 4th Century.
- Jain, Vivek (15 April 2011). "Magazine | Jain Culture | Temples | India | Jharkhand ►Shikharji ►Jain Temples". Herenow4u.net. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- "On a spiritual odyssey – Hindustan Times Travel". Travel.hindustantimes.com. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "::Jharkhand Tourism::District Profiles". Jharkhandtourism.in. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- http://books.google.co.in/books?id=6brLiXCJfsoC&pg=PA58&dq=shikharji&hl=en&sa=X &ei=osfiUOamJM7orQeH14GoAQ&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=shikharji&f=false
- "Adventure Tourism in Jharkhand". Dept. of Tourism, Govt. of Jharkhand. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shikharji.|
|A short video on Shikharji|
|Video on Madhuban, Giridih Jharkhand|
- Shikharji Tonks description
- Photos of Parasnath hill
- Giridih-Tourism Official Website of District Administration