The Jain Dilwara temples of India are located about 2½ kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan's only hill station. These temples built by Chalukya between the 11th and 13th centuries AD are World famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex.
Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan, some believe that none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvellous. For the people who come to perform puja here, there are facilities to bathe and get ready,which is mandatory to perform puja to the idol. The facilities use passive solar power to heat up the water for bathing and other things. Guided tour hours for tourists are posted outside the temple.
Five Unique Temples of Dilwara:
There are 5 temples in all, each with its own unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. These are:
- Vimal Vasahi, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
- Luna Vasahi, dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha.
- Pithalhar, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar, Rishabha
- Khartar Vasahi, dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshva.
- Mahavir Swami, dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira.
The most famous of these are the Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples.
Vimal Vasahi Temple:
This temple carved entirely out of white marble was built in 1021 by Vimal Shah, a minister of Bhimidev I, the Chalukya King (Solanki Maharaja) of Gujarat. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rishabha. The temple stands in an open courtyard surrounded by a corridor, which has numerous cells containing smaller idols of the Tirthankaras. 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 Luna Vashi temple is dedicated to Lord Neminath. This magnificent temple was built in 1230 by two Porwad brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal - both ministers of a Virdhaval, the Vaghela ruler of Gujarat. 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 Tirthankars 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 was built by Bhama Shah kavdia [Rajasthan]. A massive metal statue of first Jain Tirthankara Rishabha 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 Garbhagriha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki. It seems that the construction of Rangmandap and the corridor was left unfinished.
This temple, dedicated to Lord Parshvanath, was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59 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 beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, depicting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis, Shalabhanjikas and other decorative sculptures comparable to the ones in Khajuraho and Konark.
Mahavir Swami Temple:
This is a small structure constructed in 1582 and dedicated to Lord Mahavira. There are pictures on the upper walls of the porch painted in 1764 by the artists of Sirohi