A convenient way to reach the Jaina temple-hill of Sonagiri is by boarding a south- bound train at Gwalior or a north-bound one at Lalitpur or Jhansi (see map, p. 100). After a journey of about sixty kilometres from Gwalior (or forty from Jhansi) the train will halt at a lonely station bearing the name of SONAGIRI. Here, tongas and rickshaws are in attendance to take the pilgrim the last few kilometres to the entrance-gate at the foot of the sacred hill.
The building of the temples which dot the crest and the north-easterly slope of the rocky hill began about the year 1300 and continued for some centuries. The latest structures are of recent date. For on-going transport and accommodation, inquire at the desk in the temple next to the entrance.
Sonagiri’s topmost temples after the annual ‘flag-hoisting’ ceremony at which thousands of pilgrims gather at this religious site set in a landscape of tranquil beauty. To let one’s eyes hover across the whitewashed temples with the orange-gold coloured flags atop their spires is a unforgettable sight. Traditionally, the flags stay hoisted till they are replaced by new ones at the next flag-hoisting ceremony twelve months hence. (Photo: Steffen Kleuser)