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Home » Pilgrimage In Rajasthan » Dilwara Temples

Dilwara Temples

The exquisitely carved marble temples of Dilawara in Mount Abu are the finest examples of Jain temples in India. The hallmark of these temples is the crisp translucent shell-like treatment of marble, which surpasses anything seen elsewhere.
No matter how much one hears or reads about these temples, nothing can prepare one for the sheer elegance and beauty of marble as displayed here. These temples were dedicated to their saints known as the tirthankars and also served as storehouses of illustrated manuscripts and treatises. Dilwara Temples

Period of Temples The period from AD 800 to 1200 was one of great social awakening and religious fervor among the people of this region. Jainism (an ancient Indian religion that originated in 600 BC) found its firm foundation in Rajasthan. With matrimonial alliances between Mughal and Rajput rulers and a liberal policy towards Hindus adopted by the great Mughal Akbar, this was a period of tranquility in most parts of Rajasthan. Old Hindu shrines were renovated and new ones including the temples of Ranakpur and Dilwara, were built during this period.

Temple Architecture
The basic structure of most temples in India is a room called the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) where the idol of the main deity is kept. The temple is approached by a flight of steps and is often built on a platform. A porch covers the entrance to the temple, which is supported by carved pillars. A prominent roof called the shikhara surmounts the top of the Garbha Griha, and dominates the surroundings.

Temple architecture in India is broadly divided into the northern and southern styles and classified according to the form and shape of the shikhara and the distinctiveness of its decoration. The shikharas of the temples in south India tend to be made up of distinct horizontal levels that diminish to form a rough pyramid. Each level is decorated with miniature temple rooftops. The shikharas of the temples in north and central India, in contrast, resemble an upturned cone that is decorated with miniature conical shikharas.

Dilwara Temples - No Comparision
The Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan too but the best are undoubtedly those at Dilwara - no other temple can come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, doorways, pillars, panels and niches is simply marvelous while the translucent shell-like treatment of marble surpasses anything seen elsewhere.

There are altogether four important temples in Dilwara:
» The Vimal Vashi temple
» The Luna Vashi temple,
» The Adinath temple and
» The Parshvanath temple.
Among all these the Vimal Vashi and the luna Vashi are the most notable.

Vimal Vashi Temple
Vimal Shah, the minister of Raja Bhimdeo (a local Rajput ruler), built the Vimal Vashi temple in AD 1021. The temple is 98 feet long and 42 feet wide and is surrounded by a high wall with 52 cells, or devkulikas, each of which is surrounded by an arcade of carved pillars. In the main shrine is a majestic image of Adinath cast in gold-brass alloy. The temple consists of an open portico and a vestibule formed by a single grouping of pillars. The octagonal dome of the shrine is formed by eleven concentric rings containing patterns of endless variety and is upheld by eight carved columns. The richly carved corridors, pillars, arches, and mandaps or porticoes are bewildering. On the ceiling are engraved rich and elaborate designs of lotus-buds, petals, flowers, geometrical designs and scenes illustrating incidents from the Jain and Hindu mythologies.

Luna Vashi Temple
The other important temple here is the Luna Vashi temple dedicated to the twenty-second tirthankar Shri Neminathji. This magnificent temple was built in AD 1230 by two brothers-Vastupal and and Tejpal, both ministers of Viradhawala (a local ruler). The design and pattern of this temple was adopted from the Vimal Vashi temple, which was built earlier. Here too, the walls, doors, pillars, mandaps, and ceilings are adorned with ornamental relief carvings of a variety of subjects, from flowers and animals to royal processions and battle scenes. The dome of the Rangamandap is outstanding - it is divided into concentric compartments by richly sculptured cordons, each intervening space being filled with elaborate and elegant designs. The Hasthi-Shala or Elephant Halls here are ten in number and each contains a white marble elephant, beautifully and proportionately carved and polished to a shine.

Mount Abu, where the Dilwara temples are located, is referred to as Arbudgiri in ancient Hindu and Jain scriptures and is the only hill-station in Rajasthan as well as a very important Jain pilgrimage center.

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