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Shikharji (Śikharjī) is a pilgrimage site in Giridih district, Jharkhand, India. It is located on Parasnath hill, the highest mountain in the state of Jharkhand. It is the most important Jain Tirtha (pilgrimage site), believed to be the place where twenty of the twenty-four Jain tirthankaras along with many other monks attained Moksha.
Jain Temples at Shikarji
|Location||Giridih, Jharkhand, India|
|Elevation||1,365 m (4,478 ft)|
Shikharji means the "venerable peak". The site is also called Sammed Śikhar or Sammet Shikhar "peak of concentration." because it is a place where twenty of twenty-four Tirthankaras attained Moksha through meditation. The word "Parasnath" is derived from Parshvanatha, the twenty-third Jain tirthankara, who was one of those who is believed to have attained Moksha at the site.
Shikarji is located in an inland part of rural east India. It lies on NH-2, the Delhi-Kolkata highway in a section called the Grand Trunk road Shikharji rises to 4,480 feet (1,370 m) making it the highest mountain in Jharkhand state.
The earliest reference to Shikharji as a tirth (place of pilgrimage) is found in the Jñātṛdhārmakātha, one of the twelve core texts of Jainism. Shikharji is also mentioned in the Pārśvanāthacarita, a twelfth century biography of Pārśva.
Jharkhand acquired Shikharji under the Bihar Land Reforms Act, leaving the rights of Jains in doubt. Use of Shikharji as a tourist destination also impacts on the religious beliefs of the Jain.
Save Shikharji was a protest movement by Jain sects against the state's development plans for Shikharji. Jains opposed the plans of the state government to improve the infrastructure in the hill to boost tourism as alleged attempts to commercialize the Shikharji hill. The movement was headed by Yugbhushan Suri, and demanded Shikharji Hill to be declared officially as a place of worship by the Government of Jharkhand. On 26 October 2018, the Government of Jharkhand issued an official memorandum declaring the Shikharji hill as a 'place of worship'.
The section from Gandharva Nala stream to the summit is the most sacred to Jains. The pilgrimage is made on foot or by a litter or doli carried by a doliwallah along a concrete paved track. Along the track are shrines to each of the twenty four tirthankaras and vendors of tea, coffee, water, fruits and snacks.
The temple at Shikharji is a new construction with some parts dating to the eighteenth century. However, the idol itself is very old. Sanskrit inscriptions at the foot of the image date to 1678. At the base of Shikharji is a temple to Bhomiyaji (Taleti). On the walls of the Jain temple at the village of Madhuban, there is a mural painting depicting all the temples on Parasnath Hill. Temples along the track include:
- Jal Mandir
On August 13, 2012, the world's first to-scale complete replication of Shikharji was opened in Siddhachalam in New Jersey over 120 acres of hilly terrain. Called Shikharji at Siddhachalam, it has become an important place of pilgrimage for the Jain diaspora. There is a small scale replica of Shikharji at Dādābadī, Mehrauli.
The nearest railway station named "Parasnath Station" is situated in Isri Bazar, Dumri, Jharkhand. Its around 25 km from Madhuban, at the base of Shikharji. Parasnath station is situated on Grand Chord, which is part of Howrah-Gaya-Delhi line and Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai line. Many long-distance trains have halts at Parasnath Station. Daily connectivities to Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Kolkata, Patna, Allahbad, Kanpur, Jammutawi, Amritsar, Kalka etc. are available. Even 12301-12302 Howrah Rajdhani Express via Gaya Junction has a halt on Parasnath station which run 6 days in a week.
By Airway; Nearest airport is Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport, Durgapur (RDP) West Bengal and 4 hour drive from airport. Durgapur has direct flights from Kolkata and Delhi
Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi (IXR), Jharkhand is also around 180 km (Approximately 4.5 hours), and the drive to Shikhar Ji is quite smooth. Direct flights are available from Delhi.
- Shukla & Kulshreshtha 2019, p. 103.
- Hachette India, p. 123.
- Jharkhand Tourism & Parasnath.
- Balfour 1885, p. 141.
- India Times & Plot identified for helipad atop Parasnath Hill.
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- "Huge Relief For Jain Community As Jharkhand Accepts Plea To Save The Holy Shikharji Hill". IndiaTimes. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
- Time of India & doli lifters.
- Outlook & Sammed Shikharji under Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana.
- Shikharji at Siddhachalam
- Richardson 2014, p. 174.
- Richardson, E. Allen (2014), Seeing Krishna in America: The Hindu Bhakti Tradition of Vallabhacharya in India and Its Movement to the West, McFarland, ISBN 9780786459735
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- "Jains protest plan to convert sacred hill into tourist centre". Retrieved 14 October 2018.
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- Shrinivasa, M. (9 February 2018). "Expert team of doli lifters carries devotees to the top". The Times of India.
- "Jain community thanks Delhi CM for including Sammed Shikharji under Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana". Outlook. 16 October 2019.
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