Dilwara Jain Temples, Mount Abu: A Religious Heritage of Rajasthan
Temples are an integral part of India. Ever since humans realized that there is a superior being behind the existence of human race and living and non-living being under the sky, they have praised the contribution of this supreme power and have religiously followed the preachings of the Almighty. Building a temple, mosque, Gurudwara, church, or a similar monument, where a large number of people can gather for worship has been a traditional way of paying homage to God. Dilwara Jain Temples in Rajasthan are a perfect example that shows how religious people have been since the ancient times and their tribute to the deities in the form of elegant structures that are still famous for visiting and worshiping.
The Dilwara Jain Temple is at a distance of barely 1.5 miles from Mount Abu, a hill station in the state of Rajasthan. These temples are surrounded by high walls on all sides and are in the middle of a hill covered by forests.
The Dilwara Jain Temple was built by the rulers of the Chalukya Dynasty. There are five temples in a common premise and all of these temples are dedicated to a Tirthankara, a person who played the role of a spiritual leader and was considered to be the holiest of beings.
Two of the five temples, Vimal Vasahi and Pithalhar are dedicated to the first Tirthankara, Rishabha. Luna Vasahi is dedicated to the twenty-second Tirthankara, Neminatha. Khartar Vashi is dedicated to the twenty-third Tirthankara Parshava and Mahavir Swami are dedicated to the twenty-fourth or the last Tirthankara Mahavira.
Each temple was named after the village where it was built.
Vimal Vasahi Temple
A structure made purely out of white marble, this temple was built by Vimal Shah in 1021 A.D., who served as a minister to the Chalukya king, Bhimdev I. The temple is within an open courtyard, inside of which there are several idols of Tirthankaras. Each section of the temple is carved beautifully, including the ceiling where the designs depict the mythological scenes, flowers, petals, lotus-buds, etc.
There is a spacious hall in the temple known as Rang Mandap, which again is a brilliant structure with twelve pillars carved with female figurines playing musical instruments and the sixteen goddesses of knowledge. The carvings in the arches are carefully executed out, while the ceiling is adorned with a beautiful dome in the center.
A part of the temple called Navchowki has nine rectangular ceilings, each carved with a unique design and supported by ornate pillars. The hall where the idol of Lord Rishabhadev is kept is known as the Gudh Mandap. This hall was used for worshiping. Few sculptures of elephants were added to the structure during 1147-1149 by Prithvi Pal, a descendant of Vimal Shah.
Luna Vasahi Temple
This temple was built by Vastupal and Tejpal, two brothers of the Porwad community Interior of Luna Vasahi Temple in 1230 A.D. Both of them
Served as a minister to the ruler of that period. The Rang Mandap of this temple is distinguished with the pendent that hangs from the dome and is extensively carved. Seventy-two idols of Tirthankaras are arranged in a circle, below which there are another 360 small sized idols of Jain monks, which are again arranged in a circle.
Like the Vimal Vasahi Temple, there are sculptures of elephants carved out of marble in the Elephant Cell or Hathishala, as it is called. Even the Navchowki is designed in a way that it captures the undivided attention of the onlooker. At the Gudh Mandap, an idol of the Tirthankara Neminath, carved out of black marble, rests near to a black stone pillar, which is another attraction of the temple.
Built by Bhama Shah Kavadia, a wealthy merchant who is famous for giving away all of his wealth to support Maharana Pratap’s battle against Akbar, a ruler of the Mughal Dynasty.
The temple derives its name Pittalhar from the statue of Lord Rishabhadev, which is primarily made of brass, commonly known as pittal. There is a Garbhagriha or the inner most part of the temple where the idol of the deity is placed. Only the priests are allowed to enter this part. The appearance of the Rang Mandap and the corridor suggest that their construction was halted due to reasons unknown. However, the old idol was later replaced with a new one after it was disfigured. The new idol is believed to weigh around four metric tons, measures 2.4 meters in height and 1.7 meters in width.
This temple was built in 1458-59 by Mandlik and is the highest amongst all, with three towers and four big mandaps. At the exterior of the shrine are beautiful sculptures of Dikpals, Vidya Devis, Yakshinis, etc., all in gray sandstone.
Mahavir Swami Temple
The details of who built this temple are still unknown. It was built in 1582 as a dedication to Mahavira. Some artists from Sirohi town of Rajasthan, which was the capital Sirohi state in that period, painted the upper walls of this temple.
What to Do
More than thousand years old and still preserved well, the Dilwara Jain Temples are a perfect spot to visit. Guided tours are available for the tourists. Those who are looking forward to pray and worship can take a bath at the facility near the temple, where water is heated through solar powered geysers.
Best Time to Visit
The temples are open to visit from 12:00 pm to 03:00 pm all year long. Being a hill station, the climate is usually cool except for the summer season. In winters, the temperature falls to as low as -2 to -3 degree centigrade. During monsoon, moderate to heavy rainfalls are recorded, and it is advised that you carry an umbrella and raincoat to avoid getting caught in the spells.
How to Reach
Abu Road station is at a distance of twenty-seven kilometers in the lowlands of town. Several trains run on this route and take a halt at this station.
The airport of Udaipur city is at a distance of 185 kilometers from Mount Abu. Another airport near to the hill station is in the Ahmadabad city of Gujarat, at a distance of 221 kilometers.
Mount Abu is also well connected with various parts of the state and country through road network. Private taxis and state run buses are available on a frequent basis.
As you visit the Dilwara Temples, you will recognize that the talent and dedication of the architects were unmatched and what they have left for us and the coming generations is beyond words.