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Felt Mountain

India | Monday, October 17, 2011 | 5 photos

‘When the deluge comes, all that shall be left is Shatrunjay...’
And as you finish climbing 4000 steps to the top of the 700 metre high Shatrunjay hill, you begin to see that the belief is not misplaced. The expansive flatlands of Gujarat below harbour no other hills, and the prominence of the mount exaggerated. At the summit is a sea of Jain temples, 863 of them (built over the past 1000 years), making Shatrunjay the most exalted pilgrimages in Jainism.
The two hour ascent begins before sunrise, gently through semi-arid scrubs swaying in the cool breeze. The stars shine brightly above as the sky turns into shades of orange and crimson. By the time one reaches the top, its easy to forget the exhaustion of walking barefoot, silent and without food and water (as all are considered unwelcome on a mount so sacred). The vista of the sun rising over the hinterland and illuminating the labyrinthine complex of temples requires a quiet moment of appreciation. The complex itself is huge, offering plentiful nooks of solitude. Often, you might find yourself in the company of rapid-fire ascetic, robed in white, busy in his or her circambulations, lending an air of mysticism to the otherwise serene nature of the place.
Though not particularly devout, I’m a keen Jain myself, apart from being a final year Architecture student who loves travel and photography. Fed on tales of Jain myths and morals, Shatrunjay was a quiet relevation about my faith, and its emphasis on effort and self-dependence.

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