Palitana is associated with Jain legends and history. Ādinātha, the first of the Jain tirthankaras, is said to have meditated on the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples were later constructed.
The Palitana State was a princely state, founded in 1194. It was one of the major states in Saurashtra, covering 777 km². In 1921 it had 58,000 inhabitants in 91 villages, generating a 744,416 Rs revenue.
In 1656, Shah Jahan's son Murad Baksh (the then Governor of Gujarat) granted the village of Palitana to the prominent Jain merchant Shantidas Jhaveri. The management of the temples was assigned to the Anandji Kalyanji Trust in 1730.
During the British Raj, Palitana was a princely state in the Kathiawar Agency of the Bombay presidency. Gross revenue, £42,000; tribute jointly to the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Nawab of Junagadh, £700. The capital of the state was the Palitana town (population 12,800). It was ruled by a Gohil Rajput, with the title of Thakore sahib (also spelled Thakor Saheb or Thakur Sahib), enjoying a 9-guns salute, of the Hindu Gohel dynasty, which received a privy purse of 180,000 r.upees at the state's accession to independent India on 15 February 1948.
Palitana is located at 21.52°N 71.83°E / 21.52; 71.83. It has an average elevation of 67 metres (219 feet). The Palitana dam, an irrigation resource, is on the Shetrunji River.
Palitana is the world’s only mountain that has more than 900 temples. The Palitana temples and whole mountain are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place (tirtha) by the Jain community, and is the world's largest Temple Complex. There are more than 3000 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. The main temple on top of the hill, is dedicated to the first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha (Rishabhadeva). On the top the Shatrunjai Hill is a cluster of Jain temples, built by generations of Jains over a period of 900 years, from the 11th century onwards. The temples are managed by the Anandji Kalyanji Trust associated with the Kasturbhai Lalbhai group. From the foot of the hill to the top there are 3,800 and odd stone steps cut to facilitate climbing.
The temples are exquisitely carved in marble, veritable prayers in stone. To an observer, these appear to be ivory miniatures when seen from a distance. Created by master craftsmen, the most important temple is that of the first teerthankara, Shri Adishwar. It has ornate architectural motifs, though in its overall plan it is simpler than the Choumukh. Other notable temples are those of Kumarpal, Vimalshah and Sampriti Raja. Kumarpal Solanki, a great Jain patron, probably built the earliest temple. The temple has a fabulous collection of jewels, and these can be seen with special permission. The temples date from 11th to the 20th century.
Every devout Jain aspires to climb to the top of the mountain at least once in his lifetime, because of its sanctity. Not just the temples on the Hill are sacred, but as per Jain Scriptures entire Hill is sacred right from top to bottom. The journey is arduous. The walk up the stone stairway hewn into the mountain face takes about an hour and a half. For those unable or unaccustomed to the strain, sling-chairs are available at a bargain. The code for the climbers is stringent, in keeping with the rigours of the Jain faith. Food must neither be eaten nor carried on the way. The descent must begin before it is evening, for no soul can remain atop the sacred mountain during the night.
While atop one can also visit a Muslim shrine of Angar Pir. The childless women seek the Pir's blessings to be blessed with children. They offer miniature cradles to the Pir and the shrine is strewn with such cradles.
In 2014, Palitana became the first city in the world to be legally vegetarian. It has outlawed, or made illegal, the buying and selling of meat, fish and eggs, and also related jobs or work, such as fishing and penning 'food animals'.
As of 2011 India census, Palitana had a population of approximately 175,000. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Palitana has an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 71%, and female literacy is 57%. In Palitana, 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.
In 2014, 20-25% of the population was reportedly Muslim.By air
The nearest airport at Bhavnagar lies at a distance of 51 kilometres from Palitana, with two daily flights to Mumbai.Ahmedabad, 215 kilometres away by road, has an international airport with regular flights to many important cities.
Keeping in mind the religious and tourism travel, the State government has initiated the process of land acquisition for a new airport at Palitana as part of its plan to establish 11 new airports in Gujarat. The pre-feasibility study has been handed over to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).By rail
Palitana has a small railway station that is connected to Songadh and Bhavanagar. Most of the trains stop at Sihor, which is connected to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.By road
There are hourly buses for Bhavnagar from Palitana. Regular buses are also available for Ahmedabad, Talaja, Una, and Diu. The total journey time to Una or Diu is around 6 hours as the roads are good condition. Taxis are also available on hire for Palitana from Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad or Vadodra.The bus stand is situated 800 meters away from the Palitana railway station.