The exquisitely carved marble temples of Dilwara 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. The ornamental detail Spread over the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, doorways, pillars, panels and niches is simple marvelous. It is a major sacred pilgrimage site for Jains worldwide and is Mount Abu’s most popular attraction.Built by Vastupal Tejpal between the 11th and 13th centuries AD.
These temples are famous worldwide for their superb marble carvings. The complex contains five Jain temples which are known worldwide for their superb marble carvings.Each temple is named after the small village in which it is located.
- Parshvanatha –
Dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshva. This temple was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59.The outer walls of the sanctum comprise beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, depicting Dikpals, double set of Vidhyadevis – one of standing figures and the other of sitting ones, a set of all 24 Yakshinis, Shalabhanjikas and other decorative sculptures especially females comparable to the ones in Khajuraho and Konark.
- Vimal Vasahi –
Dedicated to the 1st Jain Tirthankara, Adinath. This temple was built in 1031 AD by Vimal Shah, the chief minister of Bhimdev I, the Chalukya King of Gujarat. This Dilwara temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath. It is the oldest and most famous temple in the Dilwara temple complex. Carved entirely out of white marble.Each and every inch of the temple’s interiors are adorned with intricate marble carvings. Makaras guard the entrance, and below them are conches. The cusped arches and ornate capitals are beautifully designed and superbly made. Immediately outside the entrance to the temple is a small portico known as the Hastishala (elephant hall), built by Prithvipal in 1147-1159 which contains a figure of the patron, Vimal Shah, on horseback. The riders on the 10 beautifully carved elephants that surround him were removed during Alauddin Khilji’s reign.
Dilwara belonged to Saivite Hindus who were unwilling to part with it until Vimal Shah could prove that it had once belonged to a Jain community. The main temple is set within a rectangular court lined with small shrines and a double colonnade, an early example of the Jain architectural style in Western India.The exquisite lotus ceiling carved from a single block of marble rises in 11 concentric circles, carved with elaborately repeated figures. On the pillars are carved female figurines playing musical instruments and superimposed across the lower rings are 16 brackets carved in the form of the goddesses of knowledge, each one holding her own symbol which is believed to be a memorial of victorious Brahma Kumaris follower from the last Kalpa.
- Luna Vasahi –
Dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha. This temple was built in 1230 AD by two wealthy brothers, Vastupal and Tejapal, ministers of Virdhaval, the Vaghela ruler of Gujarat.Dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha, this temple was built in memory of their late brother Luna.The decorative carving and jali work within this temple are so fine that the marble looks almost transparent in some places. The small domes in front of the shrine containing the bejewelled Neminatha figure, the exquisitely carved lotus on the sabha mandapa ceiling and the sculptures on the colonnades are especially noteworthy. 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 Navchowki or main hall features some of the most magnificent and delicate marble stone cutting work of the temple. Each of the nine ceilings here seems to exceed the others in beauty and grace. The Gudh mandap or sanctum features a black marble idol of the 22nd Jain Tirthankar Neminatha. The Kirthi Stambha is a big black stone pillar that stands on the left side of this Dilwara temple. The pillar was constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar.
- Pithalhar –
Dedicated to the 1st Jain Tirthankar, Rishabha. This temple was built in the late 13th century by Brahma Shah, the Mewari Maharana Pratap’s chief minister. The Shrine consists of a Garbhagriha (grand hall), Gudh mandap (sanctum) and Navchowki (main hall). A massive metal statue of Adinath, cast in five metals, – gold, silver, copper, braas and zinc – is installed in the temple. The main metal used in this statue is pital (brass), hence the name ‘Pittalhar’. According to the inscription on it, the old mutilated idol was replaced and installed in 1468-69 AD and weighs 108 maunds (4.3 tonnes).
- Mahavir Swami –
Dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira. This small structure constructed in 1582.There are pictures on the upper walls of the porch painted in 1764 by the artists of Sirohi.
Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples are the most famous among the five Jain Dilwara temples. This ancient temple attracts tourists as well, with its magnetic lure. Dilwara Temples truly present a sight to behold and to praise the artistic beauty of their magnificent structure.