World's first vegetarian city is in India

World's first vegetarian city is in India

People living in Kerala can never imagine a town where no fish, meat or eggs are available. However, such a place does exist in our country; it is Palitana in Gujarat, which is the first vegetarian city in the world.

A major Jain pilgrim centre, a majority of the residents of Palitana also follow Jainism, which preaches vegetarianism. The town has around 1,000 temples and enjoys an eventful past.

Palitana was declared a totally vegetarian city by the Gujarat Government in 2014. Now, killing animals for meat is punishable by law in the town. Moreover, selling of meat and eggs too is banned. The law in this regard was enacted after around 200 Jain monks staged a fast demanding these restrictions pointing out that non-vegetarian food habits hurt their religious sentiments.

Jainism has numerous followers around the world and their population is estimated to be between four and five million. Jains consider Palitana as their Holy Land. The place also has the honour of being the only hill city in the world with 1,000 temples.

Most important shrine

Of the numerous religious localities in Palitana, the most sacred one is Shatrunjay Mahatheerth, considered sacrosanct by the Jain community. There are hundreds of temples on the Shatrunjay hill, all of which are carved in marble. The main temple is located on top of the hill and is dedicated to the first Jain 'tirthankara' (saviour) Adinatha.

Pilgrims heading to the top of the Shatrunjay hill have to trek 4 km uphill along a rough path. However, for people facing physical difficulties 'doli'(a kind of stretcher) and lifting chairs are available. Yet another means of reaching the top is an elephant ride! All the temples in the hill are over a thousand years old.

World's first vegetarian city is in India

Each temple - big and small- in Palitana flaunts its own legend related to Jain history and myth and these shrines were built using the gold and silver donated by devotees over the past centuries.

How to reach

Palinana, which is 51 km from Bhavnagar, is accessible by rail, road and air. The nearest airport is at Bhavnagar. Palitana railway station is connected by trains to all parts of the country. The holy place can also be easily reached by road.

Meat lovers may find Palitana uninteresting. However, if you wish to practice vegetarianism for a few days, it is a good place to plan a trip. Meanwhile, for vegetarians, Palitana would be the ideal destination with its pure Jain cuisine, multitude of temples and eventful history.

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