Rich with cultures and traditions of various kinds, India is dotted with temples, mosques, churches and other places of religious significance all over the country. Every year, certain main pilgrimage centres, like Tirupathi, Rishikesh, Ayodhya, Kedarnath, etc., are crowded with devotees, especially during the festive season.
While we all know the places mentioned above, Taranga in Gujarat might be unheard of. Taranga hills, located in the Mehsana district of Gujarat, is a Jain pilgrimage site. It is located about 100 km from the capital city of Gandhinagar and 130 km from Ahmedabad.
The 3-peaked Taranga hills is nestled on the banks of river Saraswati. A pilgrimage to these hills is considered to be among the most sacred ones. While walking up the hills, you will encounter many Jain temples and a few Buddhist temples one after the other.
Ajitnath Jain Temple
Also known as Taranga Jain Temple, this was built in the 12th century and is one of the most well-preserved Jain temples of Gujarat. King Kumarapala of Chalukya dynasty followed Jainism under the guidance of Acharya Hemchandra, after which he built this temple in the 12th century, which is one of the oldest Jain temples.
Right in the middle of this beautiful temple, sits the idol of the second Jain Thirthankar, Shri Ajitnath, which is decorated with precious stones. The insides of the temple are red while the temple is made of white sandstone and bricks. The architecture of the temple reflects the wonderful artistry of the Chalukyan dynasty.
The temple has seven domes, idols of King Kumarapala and Goddess Padmavati on the front, footprints of 20 Thirthankaras on the left and of the first Thirthankar Rishabhanatha on the right side of the temple. The peak season to visit this beautiful temple is during the full moons of April and November months.
Digambara Jain Temples
It is a wonder in itself as to how they brought stones to build these many temples on the hill. It is believed that thousands of Digambaras attained moksha on this hill. There are 14 Digambara temples on the hill that is dedicated to different Thirthankaras.
The hill had presence of Buddhists between 4th to 8th century, which can be seen through the relics. Towards the north of hill, there are shrines dedicated to local deities Taran Mata and Dharan Mata. A stream flows beside these shrines, and on the right side of the stream an altered Buddhist stupa can be visited.
Buddhist statues found in the caves of the hills, images of Buddha on terracotta, prove the presence of Buddhists on the hill.
How to Get To Taranga Hills
PC: पायल शर्मा
By Air: At a distance of about 125 km, Ahmedabad Airport is located, which is closest airbase to Taranga. It is well connected to important cities of India such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. From here, airport taxis are available.
By Rail: The closest railheads are located at Visnagar, Mehsana, Unjha and Vijapur at a distance of within 60 km. These stations are well connected to other places within Gujarat as well as other places like Dehradun, Uttarakhand, etc. A slow moving local train is available from Mehsana to Taranga from where the hills are only 5 km away.
By Road: State government run buses are available from anywhere within the state to reach Taranga. Apart from this, you may hire taxis or private cars to drive from anywhere to the hills. Well-maintained roads are available from Ahmedabad to Taranga.