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Sonagiri pilgrims

Pilgrims on their way to the summit of the Sonagiri temple hill.

The temple area at Sonagiri, located between Gwalior and Jhansi, is sacred to Jains. There are 77 temples on a large hill as well as a number of other temples in the neighbourhood.

The oldest preserved temples are from the 8th and 9th centuries AC, but according to legend Jains have come to worship on this hill even farther back in history.

The whole temple area is Digambara, which means it belongs to the Sky Clad sect of Jains who go to extreme lengths of ahimsa (non-violence) to avoid harming any living beings. The monks of this sect go sky clad, i e naked. Thus any pilgrim or visitor to this temple area is likely to run into naked monks who have come to worship in the temples. Their only worldly belonging is a whisk used to sweep the ground in front of them in order not to step on and thus harm insects or worms. There are also Jain Digambara nuns, who differ from their male counterparts by being well covered in white dresses.

Sonagiri is a small village, some 15 kms from the town of Datia. The temples are located a few kms away from the railway stop at Sonagiri and next to a lively market area with guest houses and eateries called Sonagiri Khsetra.

 

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Taken on March 8, 2012