Everything You Should Know About Jain Pilgrimages

Pilgrimages in the Jain style might refer to actual physical journeys or they might refer to a more spiritual journey. There are many such pilgrimages. A “Tirtha” comes from the Sanskrit word for ford, and refers to both aspects of journey. The purpose of this type of pilgrimage is inspiration, especially when considering the reincarnation of one’s soul. Tirtha sites are located mostly throughout India. They include places like Ashtapada Hill, Girnar, Champapuri, Kundalpur, Aharji, Rajgir, etc. The list goes on.

One of the most important points to visit on a Jain Tirtha is Parasnath Hill, the highest mountain in Jharkhand. According to Jain texts, this is the site where nearly all of the 24 Tirthankaras (saviors) attained Moksha (the salvation of one’s soul). There are two routes, the shorter of which takes about 12 hours. The longest is about 44 kilometers!

There is a group of temples atop Mount Girnar, which is another important pilgrimage destination. Of all the Jain sects, this location is most meaningful to those belonging to Digambara and Svetambara (which are the two main sects). Jain texts teach that the 22nd Tirthankara devoted his life to asceticism when animals were slaughtered for his wedding. He then traveled to Mount Girnar, where he attained Moksha at his death. Coincidentally, his bride also became a nun.

Temples atop Mount Girnar include those at Neminath, Adabadji Adinatha, Panchmeru, Meraka-vasahi, Sangram Soni, Kumarapala, Mansingha Bhojaraja, Vastupala-vhiara, and Samprati Raja.

A group of Svetambara temples called the Dilwara Temples are near the Mount Abu settlement, and mark another pilgrim’s point of interest. Those traveling to this group of temples will be able to pray at sites that date between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. These include the Vimal Vasahi Temple, and others at Luna Vasahi, Pittalhar, Shri Parshvanath, Shri Mahaveer Swami, and Jirnoddhar.

There are many other points to which a pilgrim might travel located throughout India.