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Dilwara Temples

The Dilwara Temples stand with regal pride about 2½ kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan's only hill station. The Dilwara temples are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are holy places of worship for the Jains, and also repository of numerous manuscripts and dissertations. The Dilwara Temples are monuments of great artistic beauty showcasing a meticulous blend of exquisite beauty and intricate craftsmanship. The marble temples have an ostentatious aperture amidst somniferous surroundings of mango trees and wooded hills.

Great social awakening and religious fervor among the people of Rajasthan characterized the period betwixt 800AD and 1200AD. Jainism (an ancient Indian religion that originated in 600 BC) established its firm foundation in Rajasthan. Matrimonial alliances between the Mughals and the Rajputs, a liberal policy towards Hindus adopted by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, old Hindu shrines being renovated and new ones like the temples of Ranakpur and Dilwara being built demonstrated the kingdom of peace and communal harmony with people from different religions and communities existing in absolute accord.

The Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) where the idol of the main deity is instated composes the basic structure of most of the temples in India. A prominent roof called the shikhara surmounts the top of the Garbha Griha and overlooks the surrounds. The temple is usually constructed on a platform with a flight of stairs leading into the temple. A porch covers the entrance to the temple generally supported by carved pillars. Rajasthan is speckled with some gorgeous temples built by the Jains. The Dilwara Temples are undoubtedly the best in terms of architectural perfection. The flamboyantly carved ceilings, doorways, pillars, panels and niches are really alluring. And the translucent shell-like treatment of marble outshines all magnificently designed monuments ever witnessed.

» There are altogether five important Temples in Dilwara:
» The Vimal Vasahi Temple (Shri Adi Nathji Temple)
» The Luna Vasahi Temple (Shri Nemi Nathji Temple)
» The Pittalhar Temple (Shri Rishabh Deoji Temple)
» The Adinath Temple (Shri Parshav Nathji Temple) and
» The Parshvanath Temple (Shri Mahaveer Swamiji Temple)
» The Vimal Vasahi Temple

The Vimal Vasahi Temple is dedicated to the 1st Jain Tirthankara (teacher or guide) Adinath. This temple carved in white marble was built by Vimal Shah (a minister of Raja Bhimdeo) in 1021 AD. The temple which is 98 feet long and 42 feet wide, is encompassed by a high wall with 52 devkulikas (cells) each of which is surrounded by a portico of gracefully carved pillars. The main shrine holds a grandiose image of Adinath mold in gold-brass alloy. The temple stands with august pride on a open courtyard surrounded by a corridor, which subsumes several cells with smaller idols of the Tiranthakaras engraved on them. The corridors, ceilings, pillars, arches, and porticoes (mandaps) are lavishly mezzotinted with chic and baroque designs of lotus-buds, petals, flowers, geometrical designs and scenes depicting episodes from the Jain and Hindu mythologies.

» The Luna Vasahi Temple or The Teja Pala Temple
The Luna Vasahi temple is dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara Shri Nemi Nathji.This chivalric temple was erected in 1230 AD by two brothers, Vastu Pala and Tej Pala, both ministers of Bhimdev II. It resembles the architectural design and pattern structure of the Vimal Vasahi temple although built approximately 200 years after that temple The walls, doors, pillars, porticoes (mandap) and ceilings are bedecked with meretricious carvings of a innumerable subjects from flowers, animals to royal cavalcades and battle scenes. The dome of the Ranga mandap divided into concentric compartments by daintily chiseled cordons with each separating space being stuffed with detailed and luxurious designs is truly phenomenal. There is ten Hasthi-Shala or Elephant Halls each comprising of a white marble elephant, ten slabs of marble bearing replicas of a male and female celestially whittled on it. The Navchowki procures some of the most radiant and delicate marble stone cutting work. The Gudh Mandap contains a black marble image of Neminath. The Kirthi Stambha is a big black stone pillar on the left side of the temple constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar.

» The Pittalhar Temple
The Pittalhar Temple was built by Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabd. The basic metal utilized in making this temple is 'Pital' (brass), therefore the name 'Pittalhar'. The Shrine consists of a main Garbhagraha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki. A colossal metal statute of Rishab Dev (Adinath), cast in five metals is installed in the temple.

» The Parshvanatha Temple
The Parshvanatha Temple is dedicated to 23rd Jain Tirthankar Lord Parshvanath. It was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59. It includes a three storied building, the tallest of all the shrines at Dilwara. All the four faces of the sanctum on the ground floor bear four big mandaps. The outer walls of the sanctum comprise of beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, interpreting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis, Shalabhanjikas and other beatified sculptures comparable to the ones in Khajuraho and Konarak.

» The Mahaveer Swami Temple
The Mahaveer Swami Temple is dedicated to the 24th Jain Tirthankara Lord Mahaveer. This miniature structure constructed in 1582 AD is bedizened with pictorials on the upper walls of the porch painted in 1764 AD by the artists from Sirohi.

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