Shikharji Temple, as we know it, is the most important Jain tirtha (pilgrimage site) for Jains, and is believed to be the place where the twenty-four Jain Tirthankaras along with many other monks achieved salvation. It is situated on the Parasnath hill in Giridih district, which is the highest mountain in the state of Jharkhand.
Shri Shikharji is the most sacred of all Jain pilgrimages. Twenty-four Tirthankaras and countless other Siddhas of the present Avarapini attain salvation here. It is situated on a group of eight hills called Parasnath Hills in Giridih of Jharkhand.
It would be absolutely impossible for the human intellect to assess the purity and power of the shrine where twenty Tirthankaras lit the imperishable flame of nirvana. Although the first light of nirvana was illuminated in the Ashtapada (in the Himalayas), Today that shrine is invisible to us. In such a situation, Sammet Shikhar is the pilgrimage that we can accept as the “shikhar” (peak) of the first light of Nirvana.
Pilgrimage Sites Related to Jainism
The truth is that Sammet Shikhar is the highest light of nirvana. Twenty-four of the twenty-four Tirthankaras of Jainism are Ajitnath, Sambhavnath, Abhinandan Prabhu, Sumatinath, Padmaprabhu, Suparsvanatha, Chandraprabhu, Suvidhanath, Sheetalnath, Shreyasnath, Vimalnath, Anantnath, Dharmanath, Shantinath, Kunthunath, Arnath, Mallinath, Munisuvrat Swami, Neminatha and Parshvanatha spent the evenings of their lives on this great mountain and attained the highest state of salvation. Each Tirthankara attempted to bring to life the density of its power in the place, and consequently the millennia. For, this place is alive, awakened, and anointed with his aura. In fact, Sammet Shikhar is a stunning, unique, and awakened holy shrine. Even today, there is a kind of purity in the atmosphere of Sammet Shikhar.
Shri Shikharji Temple’s Tonk is spread horizontally for about 2 miles from the eastern end to the western end. The total walk to the top of the hill is about 4.5 miles to cover all the 30-tonks and the Jal Mandir.
All 30-tonks have stage replicas (no statues). No daily puja paksha or aarti is performed on Tonk. However, it is performed at Parasnath Tonk and Jal Mandir.
“Tonk” is the English translation of the original word used to address the marble structure where a Siddha had attained salvation, or where a devotee established a place for meditation in homage to a Siddha. In some Jain literature, Tonk is defined as a spire with a temple. All the signs of Shri Shikharji refer to this word. The structure is also known as Tounk, Dehri, Kut, and Koot in various Jain communities and dialects. In some Jain literature, a dehri is defined as a small temple with a prominent threshold.
Sammed and Sammet
Sammed and Sammet used interchangeably by different Jain communities. The difference mainly due to the form of Prakrit language used by Shvetambara and Digambara Jains. Ardha Magadhi Prakrit used in Shvetambara tradition, while Sauraseni Prakrit used in Digambara tradition. ‘T’ in Sauraseni dialect becomes ‘D’ in usage. That is why in the Shvetambara tradition it pronounced as ‘Samet’ and in the Digambar tradition as ‘Sammed’.
Veer and Vikram Samvati
The Veera and Vikram Samvat calendar years commonly used in various Jain literature and in actual tonk engravings in reference to the time of the Shikharji Tonk dedication. The Veer Samvat mostly used by Jains (and Siddhachalams) according to the Nirvana of 24 Tirthankara Lord Mahavir Swami. The current year 2009 (according to the Gregorian calendar) corresponds to Veer Samvat 2535-36. Hence, the current year +527 Veer Samvat year (the year starts from Diwali). Also, the year 2009 corresponds to Vikram Samvat 2065-2066 according to the calendar established by the Indian emperor Vikramaditya. Hence, the current year is +57 Vikram Samvat year.
Shikharji Temple Tonk is located in the Parasnath Hills in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The tonks spread from east to west for a horizontal distance of about 4 km on the top of the hill. Different tonks are located on different peaks of the hill, so the total walking distance to the top of the hill to see all the 31 tonks is about 9 km. The main entrance to Shikharji starts from the north side of the hill at Madhuban. From Madhuban, the main paved trail leads to Tonk 1, which is the center of all the tonks. Tonk 2-20 is to the east of Tonk 1 and Tonk 21-31 is to the west of Tonk 1. Tonk 12 is the farthest to the east, while Tonk 31 is the westernmost tonk.
The most common way to see all the Tonks is to start the pilgrimage from Tonk 1, walk east towards Tonk 12, and then west to Tonk 20, which is the water temple. From Jal Mandir, a devotee walks to Tonk 1 intersection and then walks west towards Tonk 31. From the 31st Tonk, pilgrims usually return by the Dak Bangla route, which meets the main road at Sheetal Nala.
Although the Sammed Shikhar houses the tonks of all the 24 Tirthankaras, only 20 of them attained nirvana on these sacred hills. 4 arrowsThe Tirthankaras who did not get Nirvana here are Sri Adinath Prabhu, the first Tirthankar, Sri Vasupujya Prabhu, the 12th Tirthankara, Sri Neminath, the 22nd Tirthankara, and Sri Mahavir Prabhu, the 24th Tirthankar. Even though the history of Tonk goes back several hundred years, the present Tonks of 20 Tirthankaras who attained Nirvana here dedicated in Veer Samvat 2295 (Vikram Samvat 1825 or 1768 AD). Veer Samvat 2395-2403 (Vikram Samvat 1925-1933 or 1868-1875 AD).
How to reach Shikharji Temple
The hill of Parasnath is located in the Giridih district of Jharkhand. It is the highest hill in Jharkhand. It is easily accessible by road and rail.
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