This article was given to me by Ila Shah. It explains why so many Jains visit Palitana, how hard it is to reach the temples there and the cruelty that the donkeys suffer in the process.

This is quite ironic because Jainism focuses a lot on non violence and compassion so I am surprised that I have not heard anyone tell me about this situation before. (I have not been there so I was unaware of it until now). Anyway, better late than never right?

So here’s where you come in! Can you help us keep people in employment whilst ensuring better treatment of these donkeys?

Here’s more info from Ila: –

Amongst all the Jain temples, the Palitana temples are considered to be the most sacred. Located on Shetrunjaya hills, Palitana houses perhaps the largest cluster of Jain temples with over 1,200 temples. The path winds through 3,950 steps for a trying 3.5 km up the Shetrunjaya Hills. Much of the track is unshaded and the higher you climb the more the heat haze skimmers across the plains from below.

Because of its sanctity, every devout Jain aspires to climb to the top of the mountain at least once in his lifetime. The journey is arduous. The walk up the stone stairway hewn into the mountain face takes on average about an hour and a half. For those unable or unaccustomed to the strain, sling-chairs are available for a cheap price.

But, for the donkeys that work on the Shetrunjaya hills, there is no sling chair to take the strain!. They carry heavy loads (often too heavy which breaks their backs) up to the hills, sometimes many times in one day and often ill treated by their owners/keepers and not treated for medical conditions. The donkeys suffer greatly and we have seen them actually crying! Their suffering is shameful and regrettable in a sacred pilgrimage place for all Jains, who believe in Ahimsa.

So, please help us do something positive about the terrible plight of the donkeys of Palitana. We do not plan to stop the owners from making a living – we want to educate them to treat their donkeys better, get medical care when needed, and above all, treat them with kindness.

We have already had blessings from Pujya Shilapiji and Pujya Vijyashen Vijay Maharaj/Pujya Hemprabha Vijay Maharaj in Palitana and, as well as support from Kastur Dham in Palitana. The enthusiasm and kindness of people who have heard about the project has overwhelmed us and we have had good wishes for a successful project from everyone.

But, now the Palitana Donkey Relief Project needs YOUR financial support to help the donkeys and reduce their suffering at one of the world’s most beautiful and sacred religious sites. Our first camp providing veterinary care and education for the owners is planned for 15-18 November 2008. Sufficient funding in future will ensure that these camps take place on a regular basis.

Please send any contributions by cheque. Also please make it payable to: SHIVSAKTI SEVA TRUST (registered charity No 1114378) and send it to: 3 Hervey Close, Finchley Central, London N3 2HG.

For any further information please contact:Ila Shah: –
Mobile: 07983 633 132


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ILA SHAH · August 5, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Having had meetings and conversations with the people who work for the various Animal Charities, I have learned that these voiceless animals suffer from similar diseases as humans, but due to lack of funds and education the owners use outdated barbaric methods to treat them. For example, they treat flesh wounds (caused by birds, flies, wasps etc) by burning rather than applying antiseptic preparation. These animals suffer from cystitis due to lack of water and are sometimes too stressed to work due to lack of vitamins and minerals. This camp is designed to alleviate some of their suffering and to educate the owners.

If you are able to donate no matter how little, please be assured that the funds will be used to bring relief to the hard working donkeys in November this year and on a regular basis in the future.

Thank you on behalf of the donkeys in Palitana.

Heena Modi · August 6, 2008 at 12:09 am

Oh no! The treatment that the animals endure sounds awful!
I am looking forward to you educating the owners so that the animals suffer less.
Who will carry out this work and when will it begin Ila?

Heena 🙂

ILA SHAH · August 6, 2008 at 7:40 am


We have appointed Donkeys Sanctuary India who will provide a team of vets and helpers to do the very first camp in November (15-18) this year. They will provide the necessary veterinary care to about 200 donkeys, educate the owners, assess the needs and if required come back to treat the animals.

Long term, and with enough support we want to establish an arrangement whereby these donkeys receive regular care.


Heena Modi · August 6, 2008 at 10:07 am

Excellent Ila.
Sounds like a wiked plan! 🙂
Will they be based near the area where the donkeys are used or will the owners have to go somewhere to seek veterinary care?

I’m sure the long term plan will fall into place very soon. Good luck! 🙂

ILA SHAH · August 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm

The Trustees of Veerayatan have given us permission to hold the camp in the recently purchased 2 acres of land. The team of vets and helpers are coming from their Ahmedabad offices.

Thanks for your good wishes.

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