Controversy Erupts as Ancient Jain Idols Destroyed at Pavagadh Hill

Panchmahal district’s famous pilgrimage site, Pavagadh Hill, is embroiled in uproar following the destruction of ancient Jain Tirthankara idols, some dating back thousands of years. The idols, positioned along the steps leading to the Mahakali Mata temple, were reportedly shattered and discarded during ongoing development activities.

On Sunday evening, a significant number of Jain community members converged at the Pavagadh police station, demanding an immediate halt to the vandalism and urging swift action against those responsible.

According to the Pavagadh Tirth Development Committee, the hill features ancient steps leading to the temple, where for centuries, seven idols including that of the 22nd Tirthankara Lord Neminath, have been revered by Jains who visit daily for worship and service. Concerns were raised 20 days ago when demolition work commenced despite warnings to the Collector and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that the Jain idols, considered protected monuments, could be endangered.

Leaders within the Jain community have expressed outrage over the destruction, attributing it to the Mahakali Temple Trust’s development initiatives. A meeting held at Raopura Tower Crossroads in Vadodara saw community leaders mobilize support before heading to Pavagadh to address the issue.

One Jain leader lamented the disregard for their memorandum’s warnings, underscoring the emotional and religious significance of idols worshipped for millennia. Plans include submitting another memorandum to the Collector followed by potential legal action in the High Court to ensure the idols are reinstated.

Sunday night witnessed another gathering at Pavagadh police station, where Jains highlighted the sudden removal of idols from Pavagadh’s Mataji temple steps, condemning the act as a violation of religious sentiments and legal protections. Urgent appeals have been made for administrative intervention to restore the idols and hold accountable those responsible for their destruction.

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