The Jain Dilwara temples of India are located about
2½ kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan's only hill station.
These temples dating back from the 11th to the 13th century AD are
world famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary
marble temples of Dilwara are the sacred pilgrimage of the Jains.
They are an overwhelming blend of simple beauty and exquisite elegance.
The marble temples have an opulent entranceway. The simplicity in
architecture verily reminds one that Jainism as a religion "encouraged
honesty and frugality".
temples reside amidst mesmerizing surroundings of mango trees and
wooded hills. A high wall, shimmering luminous in the sunlight,
shrouds the temple complex.
Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places
in Rajasthan but none come close to these in terms of architectural
perfection. The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved
ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvellous and
has to be seen to be believed.
Five Unique Temples of Dilwara
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. These are:
Vimal Vasahi (Shri Adi Nathji temple)
Luna Vasahi (Shri Nemi Nathji temple)
Pithalhar (Shri Rishabh Deoji temple)
Khartar Vasahi (Shri Parshav Nathji temple)
Mahaveer Swami (Shri Mahaveer Swamiji temple)
Vimal Vasahi Temple
This temple carved entirely out of white marble was built in 1021
AD by Vimal Shah, a minister of Raja Bhimdeo. The temple is dedicated
to the 1st Jain Tirthankara (teacher or guide) Adi Nath. The temple
in an open courtyard surrounded by a corridor, which has numerous
cells containing smaller idols of the Tiranthakaras. The richly
carved corridors, pillars, arches, and 'mandaps' or porticoes of
the temple are simply amazing. The ceilings feature engraved designs
of lotus-buds, petals, flowers and scenes from Jain and Hindu mythology.
The Rang mandap is a grand hall supported by 12 decorated pillars
and nicely carved out arches with a breathtaking central dome.
On the pillars are carved female figurines playing musical instruments
and 16 Vidhyadevis or the goddesses of knowledge each one holding
her own symbol.
The Navchowki is a collection of nine rectangular ceilings, each
one containing beautiful carvings of different designs supported
on ornate pillars. 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' to the deity. The Hastishala (Elephant Cell)
was constructed by Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimal Shah in 1147-49
A.D and features a row of elephants in sculpture.
Luna Vasahi (Shri Nemi Nathji temple)
The Luna Vashi temple is dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara Shri
Nemi Nathji. This magnificent temple was built in 1230 AD by two
brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal - both ministers of a local ruler.
The temple built in memory of their late brother Luna was designed
after the Vimal Vashi temple. 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.
The Navchowki features some of the most magnificent and delicate
marble stone cutting work of the temple. Each of the nine ceilings
here seems to exceed the others in beauty and grace. The Gudh
mandap features a black marble idol of the 22nd Jain Tirthankara
Neminath. The Kirthi Stambha is a big black stone pillar that
stands on the left side of the temple. The pillar was constructed
by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar. The remaining three temples of Dilwara
are smaller but just as elegant as the other two.
This temple was build by Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada
of Ahmedabd. A massive metal statue of Rishab Dev (Adinath), cast
in five metals is installed in the temple. The main metal used
in this statue is 'Pital' (brass), hence the name 'Pittalhar'.
The Shrine consists of a main Garbhagraha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki.
This temple, dedicated to Lord Parshavnath was built by Mandlik
and his family in 1458-59 A.D. It consists of a three storied
building, the tallest of all the shrines at Dilwara. 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, depicting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis,
Shalabhanjikas and other decorative sculptures comparable to the
ones in Khajuraho and Konark.
Mahaveer Swami Temple
This is a small structure constructed in 1582 A.D. and dedicated
to the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Lord Mahaveer. There are pictures
on the upper walls of the porch painted in 1764 A.D. by the artists
How to Reach
The nearest airport is Udaipur (185 kms)
The nearest railway station is Abu Road (28 km)
Khajuraho is connected by regular and direct bus services
with Chhatarpur, Mahoba, Harpalpur, Satna, panna, Jhansi, Gwalior,
Agra, Sagar, Jabalpur, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi and Allahabad.