Shikharji Yatra: A pilgrimage to the Holiest Jain Teerth
By Vivek Jain
This page details the information required to conduct a successful Pilgrimage to the Holy place of Shikharji. All efforts are made to provide comprehensive and accurate information.
NOTE: All external weblinks are provided for Informational purposes and Siddhachalam does not endorse or recommend any information provided on those webpages.
Location: Teerthraj Shikharji is located on Parasnath Hills (Wikimapi location), and is accessible from the town of Madhuban, District Giridih, State of Jharkhand. Parasnath Hills stands high at 4769 feet in the middle of barren and agricultural plains of Chikri, Jharkhand. It covers an area of 200Sq KM.
Weather at Madhuban: Weather on the Parasnath Hills can change suddenly. It may be nice and sunny at Madhuban, however it may be raining up in the mountaines. So, always prepare for extreme weather up in the Hills.
Accuweather at Madhuban
How to get there:
- Comprehensive Information to reach Madhuban, compiled by UP Prakash Bhawan
- Base Pilgrimage Town: Town of Madhuban
- Nearest Train Staion: Parasnath (appx. 23 km from Madhuban) Driving route from Parasnath Railway Station to Madhuban
- Nearest Major Airports: Ranchi, Patna, Kolkata
- Nearest Major Towns: Giridih, Asansol, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Patna, Durgapur, Hazaribagh, Kolkata
- By Train: Many trains arrive here from Delhi, UP, Kolkata (Indian Railways website)
- Delhi – Kolkata AC Rajdhani Express (Train #2302) stops at Parasnath Station (Station Code: PNME). Many other trains also stop here. By Rajdhani express train, it takes 13 hrs from N. Delhi.
- By road: From New Delhi, Madhuban is appx 1150 km, about 18 hrs driving time. Driving Route for New Delhi to Madhuaban
- By road: From Kolkata, Madhuban is appx. 350 km, about 5-6 hrs driving time. Driving Route from Kolkata to Madhuban
Where to Stay and eat:
There are many Dharamshalas (rest house for spiritual pilgrmis) in Madhuban, managed by various Digambar and Shwetamber Societies. There is no online information of these Dharamshalas. However Phone #s of many Dharamshalas are provided here for convenience. In general, most Dharamshalas have in-house Bhojnalaya (place serving vegetarian food) and are well-maintained by local standards. It is advisable to contact the Dharamshalas in advance to make a room reservation, since many have different types of rooms to accomodate various needs and budgets of Yatris.
- UTTAR PRADESH PRAKASH BHAVAN : Phone- 06558-232366, 232367, 232390 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- SHWETAMBAR KOTHI and TEMPLE: Phone- 06558-232226, 232260. This place has a few hundred rooms for stay.
- SHRI DHARAM MANGAL JAIN VIDYAPEETH: Phone- 06558-232230, 232306
- DIGAMBAR JAIN BEES PANTH KOTHI: Phone- 06558-232228, 232209, 232361
- DIGAMBAR JAIN TERAH PANTH KOTHI: Phone- 06558-232231, 232292. This has a Dharamsala with over 400 rooms.
- SHASHWAT BHAWAN: Phone- 06558-232378 & 232314
- SHRI DIGAMBER JAIN SUMTISAGAR TYAGIVARTI ASHRAM ASHRAM: Phone- 06558-232261 It has about 80 rooms.
- TRIYOG ASHRAM: Phone- 06558-232252
- DAK BUNGLOW: Phone- 06558- 232265. Govt managed Tourist residence (on the Parasnath Hills, near 31st Tonk). Prior reservation is required from Madhuban.
- Chopda Kund Dharamshala
- KUTCHI BHAVAN Phone 06532 32225, 06532 32226
Pilgrimage Duration: It is recommended to plan for a 3-5 day pilrimage to Shikharji. Even though the Yatra to the Hills is for 1 day, however there are many Religious attractions in Madhuban to be seen. 1-2 days for planning, Madhuban attractions, rest, massage etc.; 1 day for Yatra; 1 day for post-Yatra rest, Madhuban attractions.
Trail Description: The total foot path trail distance to visit all 31 Tonks is estimated to be 27KM. 9 km is going up to the 1st Tonk, 9km is coming down and 9km is traversing all the tonks over the mountain top. 1st tonk is in the center of the mountain, while 12th tonk is on the far east side (about 3km) and 31st tonk is on the far west side (about 3 km). Since the tonks are not numbered, a Yatri will usually make a guess about the numbering of the Tonks. However, many Yatris do not really care about the numbering of the Tonks. Also, all Yatris may not cover all the Tonks based on their strength, stamina, time and weather. Yatra route is cement paved. Upto 4 km of initial trail is mostly flat, albeit hilly. They are motorable by a mobike. After 4 km, the trail is mostly steps as the steep climb starts.
The route is uphill right from the beginning, with some flat sections and some downhill sections when traversing mountains. There are 2 smaller mountains that need to be crossed before climbing the main Parasnath Hill. There are some nice views along the route from about 5 km. You can also see the sunrise if you leave early. There are some covered shelters in the first 3-4 kms. However there are tea/snack stalls along the route where one can rest and have water, tea, biscuits etc. There are no lights on the route. There are no formal bathrooms (restrooms) on the trail route. Bathroom and bathing facilities are however available at Jal Mandir, Dak Bunglow or Chopada Kund.
The return journey from Parshvanath Tonk is fairly easy due to descent and path in good condition. A walking stick is very helpful during descent. At Gandharva Nala, refreshment is made available by Beespanthi and Terapanthi Kothi and Shwetamber Society . After taking some refreshment, one must return to the Dharamshala. Maximum of pilgrims do adoration of Shikharji three times, some of them also have a round of hill that is about 30 miles.
Madhuban is at an altitude of about 400mts or about 1300 feet from sea level. The highest Peak is named Parasnath Peak which is 4769 feet. Therefore, net altitude climbed is about 3400 feet. In reality, the total height physically climbed is more since there are many peaks that are traversed to see various Tonks. Since one has to ascend and descend many peaks, the total height climbed by the Yatri is about 5000 feet. The average height of Tonks is about 1400 mts or 4600 feet.
Yatra Time and Distance: Shikharji Yatra has to be completed in a day since there are no facilities to stay overnight on the Hill. There is a provision to stay in Dak Bunglow facility only if prior arranegements are made at Madhubhan. The Yatra takes about 12 hrs for a normal healthy person to cover 27 kms, however it can take up to 16 hrs for elderly, Yatris with kids etc. Before starting the Yatra, most Yatris pays homage to BhomyaJi and pray for a safe and a successful Yatra. BhomyaJi temple opens at 4 am. Many Yatris staying at different Dharamsalas may start early based on the suggestions by the local people.
Estimated yatra timings: Start 3-4 am, reach 1st tonk around 9 am, see all tonks by about 1 pm and start return journey. Reach Madhuban by 5 pm. Later return times are also possible if covering all the Tonks.
Food & Water: Water, tea and biscuits are available on the way from vendors. However, there are no food facilities on the way or on the mountain. Therefore, its recommended to carry some food with you, especially with kids.
Best Time of Year: Yatra is open year around. However, there are 4 seasons to go. Spring, Summer, Rainy and Winter/festival time. Rainy season is not the good season to go. It usually starts around May 15th to July. If you want to avoid crowds (however can deal with summer heat), going in spring/summer time may be best. Most organized Yatras are during festival time, around Diwali and winter time. It also gets very crowded and expensive during winter time.
Tips for a successful Yatra :
- Take plenty of rest day before. Oil Massage is very beneficial.
- Arrange for Doli(s) for the elderly or kids day before.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Some Yatris may prefer barefeet. Do not wear new shoes that are not worn before.
- Water with lemon or glucose helps in the summer time. Water can be bought enroute on the trail.
- Carry an Umbrella or a raincoat for rain, since the weather changes suddently on the Hill top.
- Carry a Sunshade or a hat to take relief from scorching sun, especially during summer time.
- During winter time, it is cold at the start of the climb. However, as you trek up the mountain, body will get warmer and possibly sweaty. Therefore, dress in layers, such that outer layers be taken off as body gets warmer. Avoid cotton base layer as it absorbs the body sweat and does not evaporate in cold weather. It is better to wear synthetic or woollen base layer that can wick the sweat from the body.
- Carry some basic medicines for headache or bodyache. Bandaid for any bruises.
- Apply Sunscreen cream to avoid sunburns.
- Walking Stick helps in many ways.
- Always carry a torch light or LED headlight.
- Carry a change of clothes if you can. It is recommended if clothes are wet or dirty from from sweat, rain etc. Puja at Jal Mandir also requires appropriate attire.
- Beware of giving alms to the people on the way – Once you give to one, all others will swarm around you.
- Keep your expensive belongingings in safe possession.
Religious Attractions in Madhuban
Following list has some of the many attractions in Madhuban. (NOTE: Information below is compiled from other publicly available sources.)
- BHOMYAJI TEMPLE: Just on entering the Shwetambar Kothi is the temple of Shri Bhomiaji Maharaj, the protector-deity of this pilgrimage. The temple is amply attractive. Inside the Kothi itself there is the Jina temple in the form of a cluster of eleven temples. A 90 cm. idol of Lord Shamalia Parshwanath is installed here as the principal deity. In dharmashala there are arrangements for devotee for boarding and lodging etc.
- JAIN MUSEUM : Among the spots worth viewing in the Shikharji pilgrimage, this is the most important. Shree Jityasha Foundation, Calcutta under the inspiration of Ganivar Shree Mahimaprabh Sagar Ji Maharaj, has built the Museum. On the first floor of the museum various things concerning Jainism have been collected. Just in front of the sprawling hall the most majestic 6 feet high idol of Lord Parshwanath in the meditation posture is auspiciously seated. All around on the walls there is an exhibition of pictures depicting Jain architecture. In the whole of India, this is the only museum, which contains a collection of all the postage stamps issued on Jainism. On the first floor itself there is a collection of ancient art-pieces made of ivory and sandalwood. On the second floor of the museum, 50 scenes depicting special sequence of events of Jainism have been shown. The depictions are so lively that you will be enchanted.
- Shri Digambar Jain Madhyalok Research Centre : This Research Centre, which has been recently built depicts the ‘Madhyalok’ or Central world as described in the Jain scriptures. The main building houses a massive statue of Bhagwan Shri Parshwa Nath in a huge hall suitable for prayers, congregations and large gatherings. A library is being developed along-with research facilities for Jain scholars. The president of the Centre is Shri Chand Mal Ji Saraogi from Kishanganj, Bihar.
- Shri Parshwa Kalyan Kendra : This Centre, run by Shri Paras Jain Chikitsalaya Seva Sadan at Madhuban is being run under the guidance of Shri Navin Muni Ji Maharaj of Swetambar sect. It offers excellent facilities for treatment of serious diseases, like asthma, Jaundice, Rheumatism, Leucorrhoea, Diabetes and heart diseases, using herbal medicines, acupressure and other traditional methods of treatment.
- Terapanth Kothi: In the middle, there temple of Lord Shree Chandraprabhu. Samvasaran temple has been on the left side of the third door of this temple. TWENTY-FOUR ‘TOONKS’ – On entering here first of all we come across the magnificent 25 feet high idol of Bahubali. Twenty-four Tirthankars have been built here. Samvasaran temple is built in this very temple-campus.
- KACHCHHI BHAWAN : Fifty-two Jinalayas have been built here. This temple houses the idols of many Jain Tirthankars. The spire of the temple is very beautiful.
- Beespanthi Kothi: Beespanthi Kothi was established to facilitate the pilgrims coming to Shikharji about 400 years ago. This was under the control of Gwalior’s Bhattarakji. Bhattarak Shri Mahendra Bhooshan established here a Kothi and a Dharamshala. Bhagwan Parshvanath’s beautiful idol was installed in the temple. Two generous persons of samaj constructed here two temples. At present this Kothi is working under control of Bharatvarshiya Digambar Jain Teerth Kshetra Committee.
There are three compounds and eight magnificent temples decorated with sky – high artful spires, where Bhagwan Parshvanath, Pushpadanta, Adinath’s idol are installed as principal deity with many other beautiful idols. There is a huge dharamshala in this Kothi behind which in the garden two temples exist there. In front of Kothi, on a hillock, a magnificent huge temple exists, where a 25 ft high standing colossus of Bhagwan Bahubali is present in the centre of ground. There are 24 temples constructed in all directions with idols of 24 Teerthankaras. In the right and left side of this Bahubali Jinalaya, two magnificent temples of Bhagwan Gautam Swami and Parshvanath’s Jinalayas are existing, and a 51 ft high Manastambha (Column of dignity) is standing really agreeable.
Above the Bhahubali Tekari there is construction of artistic Samavsharan Mandir. In this temple, there is a hall of 70 x 72 ft in the centre of this hall, a very attractive creation of Samavsharan exists which is pleasing to eyes, worth being seen.
- Terapanthi Kothi: In this Kothi there are five compounds and five Dharamshalas and so many gateways. In the second compound of Dharamshala a huge and magnificent temple ‘Chandraprabhu Jinalaya’ is existing, which was constructed by Lala Sohan Lalji Kolkatawala. Sanctum of this temple is based on four pillars, spacious and artistic, art of sanctum shows the proficiency of artists. In the centre of sanctum, in a high and beautiful alter Bhagwan Chandraprabhu’s magnificent white padmasana idol, about 5 ft in height is installed as principal deity. There is a Sabhamandapa ahead of Sanctum and a compound surrounding the temple. There are three gateways in three directions of the temple to enter. These gateways are similar to Sanchi’s gateways. A beautiful flower garden is developed around the temple.
Moving ahead of this Jinalaya and coming out from Sultan Singh Dwar (Gate), there comes Katak Mandir. This has four alters with beautiful idols installed in them. Versified moral sentences, hymns and prayers are written everywhere in this temple. In the third compound, a 51 ft high, Manastambha a beautiful creation made of marble is standing on a three – stepped high platform. Under the umbrella on the top of Manastambha four idols 17″ in height are installed, each in one direction.
In the same way, on the platform, in four little alters four attractive white idols of Bhagwan Chandraprabhu are installed. In the night, due to light decoration, glamour of this Manastambha gets many folded.
In the same compound, there exists main temple in right side with 13 alters each alter is a separate temple with a beautiful spire. Details are as below:
1. Shri Shantinath Jinalaya – 15 inch high attractive idol of Bhagwan Shantinath is installed here with other idols as principal deity. Two one feet high Manastambhas are also here made of brass, idols are carved on these Manastambhas too.
2. Shri Samavsharan Mandir – This is a beautiful temple with four 10″ high Bhagwan Parshvanath’s idols installed as principal deity in Gandha Kuti, which is constructed over a three layer platform.
3. Shri Neminath Chaityalaya – Here a Bhagwan Neminath’s 3 ft high black idol in padmasana posture is installed.
4. Shri Pushpadanta Jinalaya – This is treated as main temple, gates of this temple are made of silver. Here Bhagwan Pushpadanta’s white magnificent idol in padmasana posture, 3’3″ in height is installed as principal deity. Other metallic and stone idols are also present here which are worth being seen.
5. Ajitnath Temple – In this temple a 2 ft high padmasana idol of Bhagwan Ajitnath is installed as principal deity.
6. Parshvanath Mandir – Sanctum of this temple consists three arches, pillars of the sanctum are artistic. In the central alter Chinatmani Parshvanath’s black color idol in padmasana posture, 6ft in height is installed. The idol is highly attractive magnificent. In the left alter Bhagwan Shreyansnath and in the alter of right side Bhagwan Chandraprabhu are installed as principal deity with other attractive idols.
7. Pravesh Mandapa – At this place, an octagonal Mandapa exists. In this Mandapa, and four platforms, 52 Jinalayas and an attractive artful creation of Panchameru is existing. This creation is wonderful and pleasing to eyes. In each direction there exists 13 Jinalayas. Among them 8 are Ratikar, one Anjangiri and 4 are Dadhimukh jinalayas. In Panchmeru temples total idols are 80 in numbers.
8. Shantinath Jinalaya – In the right of main temple, this temple exists, where principal deity Bhagwan Shantinath’s 3 ft high white padmasana idol is installed with many other beautiful idols.
9. Neminath Jinalaya – In this temple Bhagwan Neminath’s beautiful black padmasana idol is installed as principal deity.
10. Ahead of this temple there exists a big library called Saraswati Bhawan.
11. Chandraprabhu Jinalaya – This is a Samavsharana Mandir where 1 ft high idol of Bhagwan Chandraprabhu is installed as principal deity.
12. Mahaveer Jinalaya – In this temple, a 7.5 ft high standing idol of Bhagwan Mahaveer is installed, which is very attractive and magnificent. In the three sides of this temple 24 idols of 24 Teerthankaras equal in size are installed beside the walls.
13. Shastrakoot Chaityalaya – This is beautiful and agreeable Chaityalaya made of marble, 4 ft in height. This is so attractive, rare to find another.