On the Shatrunjaya River, just inland from the small port town of Sartanpur, lies Talaja, about 32 km from Palitana. Best known as the birthplace of the poet Narsinh Mehta, Talaja also houses important sites for Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Also, this place holds the importance to Buddhists as there are around 30 ancient Buddhist caves cut into rocks, with fine carving of Boddhisatva. The Ebhala Mandapa, a large hall with four octagonal pillars is the most impressive structure.
There is a notable Jain temple on a hill alongside the town. The same hill has 13 Buddhist caves carved into solid rock. The caves are around 2000 years old, and require about a 15-20 min. walk up the hill to reach them. They are of the 4th stage of Buddhist cave architecture, noticeably earlier than the famous Buddhist caves of Maharashtra. The Hindu temple of Khodiad Mata is on the same hill, placing holy sites of three religions on the same site. You can also visit Narsinh Mehta’s house in town, though there is little of obvious note other than a marker signaling it as the house of his birth.
Apart from the caves, there is also a Hindu Temple of Khodiar Mata and a Jain Derasar on Talaja Hill. The Jain temple is dedicated to Bhagwan Sumatinath, the fifth Tirthankar of the Jains. This temple is known to have a tremendous religious significance for Jains. There is a lamp here that is known to burn continuously and miraculously. It also emits a saffron powder, which is considered auspicious. Even the idol of Lord Sumatinath is known to posses many miraculous powers.
The Khodiyaar Temple, on the other hand, is known to be around 700 years old.
Another interesting thing about Talaja is the fact that this town is also the birthplace of renowned poet Narsinh Mehta. While one can visit his house when they are there, there is little they will find in terms of historical importance apart from a sign that points to his birthplace.
Not much is known about the history of Talaja. However, the caves are said to be as old as 2000 years. Also, the Jain temple is known to be built during the era of King Kumarpal in the 12th century AD. It also bears references to the era of Kim Samprati who ruled around the 16th and 17th century AD. The temple was last removed during the year 1872.
Best Time to Visit
Although Talaja Hill is closed during the monsoons, summers in Gujarat are known to be harsh with the mercury rising as high as 40 degrees centigrade. So the best time to visit Talaja is during November to February. This will ensure that the climate is pleasant and you get to enjoy all of the different places of historical and religious significance at leisure. There are a number of dharamshalas (religious inns) here as well as hotels where one can stay during their visit to Talaja.
How to Reach
There are many state transport buses and private buses that travel from Bhavnagar (56 kms from Talaja), Ahmedabad (200 kms) and Mumbai (791 kms) via the State highways. One can also hire a private taxi from Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar and other nearby towns to reach Talaja.
Talaja is situated on the Western Railway and is at a distance of 777 kms from Mumbai via Ahmedabad. There are also trains coming in from Bhavnagar which stop at Talaja en route to Palitana.
There are many domestic flights from Mumbai to Bhavanagar and Ahmedabad. From any of these locations you will have travel either by road or rail.