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Ranakpur Jain Temple
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Jain Temples In Rajasthan

The restrained austerity of the Jain way of life has its anti-thesis in the delightful exuberance, even opulence, that one sees in their temples.

Dilwara Temple, Mt Abu: For many visitors, this is reason enough to visit Mt Abu. Located within an ancient mango grove, the Dilwara temples are profusely carved, and are open between noon and six in the evening. During the morning, the priests perform several ritual ceremonies that are not open for public viewing. The Jains house images of their tirthan-karas (those who impart knowledge) within the sanctums, and the two main shrines, those of Adinath and Neminath, are elaborately carved, from doorways and lintels to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. The sculptor's art is as much a dedication to the gods as it is a repository of the stone-carver's skill, enshrined here forever. A separate hall, dedicated to the donors who worked towards the building of these magnificent temples, houses their lifesize images including the delicate tracery of their garments captured in exquisite detail on marble.

Parsvanath Temple, Nakoda: Situated in a valley ringed by hills, on the Jodhpur-Barmer highway, the temple dedicated to the tirthankara Parsvanath is carved in black stone. Beside it are other Jain tem-ples, including Shantinath with its steep flight of stairs, as well as some ancient Hindu temples.

Ranakpur: Since the Jains held important positions in Rajput courts, made their money through trading, and were influential money-lenders to the royal house, it was hardly surprising that the Ranas, in turn, were patrons of the Jains and their quiet religious ways. In fact, the tract of land on which the Ranakpur temples have been laid was a gift of the Ranas to the Jains in the 15th century. The Chaumukha is its principal deity in the main temple with its impressive dimensions: 29 halls spread over 40,000sq ft, and consisting of 1,444 pillars, not one of which is alike in its carving. Cupolas surround the five spires. Three entrances lead to the temples via doublestoried portals and pillared courts. Halls and courtyards radiate around the main shrine. Also in the valley are a polygonal sun temple, and two 14th century Jain temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath.

Ranakpur Jain Temple

Shri Mahavirji Temple: Located 90 km from Ranthambhor, it is believed that the spot was converted into a pilgrimage spot following the unearthing of a statue of Mahavira by a cowherd. The temple is a vast complex that has been constructed with white sandstone, and has cupolas of red sandstone. Its chhatris and spires are visible from all around. The walls are painted with religious scenes, and facing the temple is a tower where the footsteps of Mahavira have been consecrated.

Rishabdo Temple, Dhulev: A temple complex that is beautifully carved, 64 km from Udaipur, it is dedicated to Rishabdeo, while images of several other tirthankaras are carved into panels on the walls. Built in the 15th century, the temple has stone elephants at the entrance, and images of goddesses flanking the main shrine. Various phases of Rishabdeo's life are also illustrated through sculptured panels. Offerings of saffron are made to the deity, and a rath yatra every year attracts pilgrims from all over.

Other Jain centres of pilgrimage: Some other centres where the Jain temples have a major following are at:

Bhandasha Jain Temple: A 16th century temple dedicated to the 23rd tirthankara Parsvanath, this temple in Bikaner is very poular.

Lodurva: An important complex of Jain temples near Jaisalmer, they are known for the fine quality of their sandstone carvings.

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