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Rajasthan Tours Travel » Sacred Places & Shrines » Dilwara Jain Temples
DILWARA TEMPLES - INTRODUCTION
The austerity of the Jain faith is belied by its opulent temples. And the Dilwara temples located in Mount Abu are perhaps the most magnificent Jain temples anywhere in the world. Situated in the picturesque Rajasthani hill station, nestled in an ancient Mango grove these profusely carved temples are a huge draw for devotees, historians and tourists alike. Built from the 11th to the 13 th century AD, the five legendary temples of Dilwara are famous for their exquisite architecture. The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous and the marble has been molded so that it appears as a translucent shell like surface.
The story behind these exquisite temples is that the followers of the Jain faith belonged to the prosperous merchant class and they expressed their devotion by constructing these beautiful marble temples in dedication to their saints known as tirthankars. These temples also served as storehouses of illustrated manuscripts and treatises.
DILWARA TEMPLES - ARCHITECTURE
These ancient temples have been constructed according to the Vastu Shastra (an ancient principle of building) and each has a room called the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) where the idol of the main deity is kept. The temple is built on a platform and approached by a flight of steps. A roof called the shikhara surmounts the top of the Garbha Griha and is a prominent part of the structure.
There are 5 temples in all, each with its own unique identity though together they are named after the small village in which they are located.
Vimal Vasahi Temple
Dedicated to the 1st Jain Tirthankara (teacher or guide) Adi Nath, this temple was built in 1021 AD by Vimal Shah, a minister of Raja Bhimdeo. The temple has been carved entirely out of white marble and stands in an open courtyard surrounded by a corridor. The corridor is further embellished with ornately carved pillars, arches, and 'mandaps' or porticoes. On the ceiling a profusion of lotus-buds, petals, flowers and scenes from Jain and Hindu mythology have been exquisitely engraved. A grand hall within the temple called the rang mandap, is supported by 12 pillars, carved out arches and a magnificent central dome. Female figurines playing musical instruments have been carved to perfection and with so much attention to detail that the 16 Vidhyadevis (the goddesses of knowledge) is each holding her own symbol.
The Navchowki gets its name from its nine rectangular ceilings and the gudh mandap is a simple hall once you step inside its heavily decorated doorway. Installed here is the idol of Adi Nath or Lord Rishabdev, as he is also known. The mandap is meant for 'Arti' (offering prayers) to the deity. The Hastishala (Elephant Cell) features a row of meticulously carved elephants.
Luna Vasahi (Shri Nemi Nathji temple)
The Luna Vashi temple is dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara Shri Nemi Nathji. It was built by two brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal - in 1230 AD as a memorial to the brother that they lost, Luna. Creatively designed and adorned with the most gorgeous carvings and sculptures it truly is a magnificent homage to the Jain teacher. The main hall or Rang mandap features a central dome from which hangs a big ornamental pendent featuring elaborate carving. Arranged in a circular band are 72 figures of Tirthankaras in sitting posture and just below this band are 360 small figures of Jain monks in another circular band. The Hathishala or elephant cell features 10 beautiful marble elephants neatly polished and realistically modelled.
This temple contains a massive statue of Rishab Dev (Adinath) cast in five metals, the main metal used is Pital (brass), which gives it the name Pittalhar. This shrine also contains a garbhagraha, gudh mandap and navchowki.
The tallest of all the shrines at the Diwara complex, the Parshvanath temple is a three storied building dedicated to Lord Parshavnath. On all the four faces of the sanctum on the ground floor are four big mandaps. The outer walls of the sanctum comprise of beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone. The decorative sculptures have been etched out so precisely that one cant help but think they might come alive any minute.
Mahaveer Swami Temple
Though the smallest structure in the temple complex it is no less elegant. Constructed in 1582 A.D. and dedicated to the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Lord Mahaveer, it has beautiful paintings on its walls.
Mahavira Jayanti or the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira is an important religious event in the Jain faith. Pilgrims from all over the country converge at the Dilwara temples on this day. In keeping with the simplicity of its religion the festival is a day of muted celebration, solemn visits to the temple and silent prayers.
The climate of Dilwara can be termed as temperate as it does not change a lot. Summer temperatures can go as high as 33°/34°C whereas minimum summer temperatures remain at a pleasant 23°C. Mount Abu's winters are mild to say the least. It rains heavily during the monsoons.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Dilwara Jain temples are between February and June or any time after the rains between September and December.
Air : The nearest airport to Mount Abu is Udaipur (185 km) from where one can hire a taxi or take a bus.
Rail : The nearest railway station is Abu Road, 29 km away. Abu Road is connected to both Ahmedabad and Jodhpur.
Road : Ahmedabad is 222 km via Palanpur. Jodhpur is 264 km via Pali and Sirhoi, taxis are easily available from these places to Mount Abu. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Council also conducts tours to the interesting spots in Mount Abu.
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