Sunday, 3 April 2011

My Work: The Jains of Palitana

The Jains of Palitana is an audio-slideshow on the Svetambara nuns who walk the 3800 steps to the Jain temples on top of the Shetrunjaya hills in Gujarat, as well as scenes of a Jain puja at the topmost temple.

The still photographs were made during my recently completed In Search of Sufis of Gujarat photo~expedition, during an overnight stop in Palitana. There's a cluster of over 1000 Jain temples densely packed together on the hillside overlooking the town. These temples date back to the 11th and 12th centuries, and are the focus of Jains' pilgrimage or tirtha. From the foot of the hill to the top there are about 3,800 stone steps, and it is these steps that Jains have to climb to reach the main temple on top of the hill.

Some Jain nuns and monks walk up and down these 3800 steps continually for at least three days while abstaining from drinking and eating. The Jain temples of Mount Satrunjaya are considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimage places by the white robed Svetambara community.

I posted on my experience walking up and down these steps here.