The act of ascending a path to reach a place of pilgrimage is a part of the Hindu and Jain consciousness, which is why many of their holiest temples are located along hills and mountain ranges. The Jains have five separate hill locations for their holiest clusters of temples and Shatrunjaya Hill, Palitana is considered the most important among them. Another group is in Girnar (Junagadh), not too far away, while others are in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. While the Palitana temple are not the most beautiful the Jains have built (the marble temple of Ranakpur in Rajasthan, just across the border from Mt. Abu, would rate as their most creative architectural effort), they are the most impressive. Nothing can match the vision of this hillside covered with the spires of hundreds of temples, each stretching higher still, as if anxious to establish communion with the skies.
Palitana houses perhaps the largest cluster of Jain temples anywhere. From the base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya Hill, where the Palitana temples are located, there are in all 863 temples. These temples were built in two phases-the 11th and 12th centuries as a part of the resurgence of temple building all over India, and in the 16th century. Some of the earliest temples built in the 11th century were destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 14th and 15th centuries. The current temples date back to 16th century onwards. Not any one person or group was responsible for the construction of these magnificent temples. It was the effort of the wealthy businessmen who were followers of Jainism that these buildings came into existence.