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Shubhyatra >> Rajasthan Yatra >> Dilwara Temple


Location : Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Carved In : 11-13th century
Famous For : Intricate Nagara Style Sculptures
Visit Timings : 12.00 - 6.00 pm

Dilwara Temple
Dilwara Temple

"A Materialistic Expression of An Ascetic Religion" - Dilwara Temples

A pleasant retreat set amidst the lush forested hills, Mount Abu is a green oasis in the barren desertscape of Rajasthan. The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu is more than just a summer retreat. The stunning array of exquisite Dilwara Jain temples, dating back to 11th - 13th centuries, makes the city a popular pilgrimage destination. From outside, the Dilwara complex is a nondescript heap, barricaded from the prying lenses of photographers by high walls and barbed wire. Inside, it is an incredible confection of embroidery trying unsuccessfully to convince the faithful that it's made up of marble, not lace. Half hidden by mango groves their sober exterior belies the wealth of their interior ornamentation. The eye scrambles nervously from one delicately fretted sculpture to another, looking for a hint that whether it is a magical divine creation.

The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous and has to be seen to be believed, making this Jain temple a popular attraction in Rajasthan. The marble structure is warm, almost breathing, layer upon layer of carvings like gentle exhalations of stone. Wondrously carved in the Nagara style, putting life in stones, the Dilwara temples enshrine various Jain tirthankaras (saints).

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The Incredulous Architecture

Jain Temple at Mount Abu
Jain Temple at Mount Abu

The hallmark of these famous Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, is the cloudless translucent shell-like treatment of marble, which eclipse anything seen anywhere. The elegance and beauty of these bedazzling idols can only be felt after seeing them. The architecture is marked by carvings that are not just ethereally beautiful in form but are often presented in a highly poetic context. For instance, one of the marble nayikas (maidens) is depicted as having just emerged from her bath. Droplets falling from her long hair are shown being drunk by a swan sitting at her feet. Surely indeed these places of worship has given a new birth to marble architecture in Indian history. Each nook and corner of the Jain temples are so diligently carved that it's a wonder that the effigy was created out of a single plain stone. The method of carving was also unique; done by gently scraping away the surface till a splendid figure eventually emerged out of it.

Vimal Vasahi Temple
One of the earliest and most popular Jain temples in India, Vimal Vasahi Temple is made of purely white marble, austere outside and extravagantly sculptured inside. This is an open temple with just a dome and no walls. Raised from the ground like a stage, the entrance is followed by a courtyard surrounded by pillars. Jain mythology, saints, gods and goddesses, monks, devotees or just good old religious motifs, all find their way in a spectacular rendezvous of marble and rock in this Jain temple. Meander across the hallway to explore the images of Vimal and his family rides marble elephants in a procession to the handsomely carved domed portico. In the centrally built sanctum sanctorum is kept the glorious bronze idol of Adinath, the first Tirthankara, sitting cross-legged, adorned with a gem necklace and gazing out at passing pilgrims with eyes made of precious jewels. The ambiance of the shrine refines as the first sun ray enters the temple and touches the delicate sculptures, offering the first homage.

The most renowned section of the famous Dilwara temple is the Rang Mandap, an exquisite square chamber embraced by a wide marble path directly in front of the relatively restrained sanctum containing the idol of Adinath. The Rang Mandap is supported by 12 pillars whose brackets are gorgeously carved to represent garlands or toranas. Check out the brackets that stretch from the edges towards the center of the ceiling, meticulously carved with fluid grace in the shape of dancing women. They seem to hang from the roof rather than hold it up, just as the hard stone of toranas is retailored into a lacy filigree. A brilliant citation of the harmony that existed between Jainism and Hinduism in the bygone era, is the exquisitely carved past times of Narasimha and Krishna, and a beautiful sculpture of Krishna subduing the Kaliya snake.

Luna Vasahi
The Luna Vasahi or Neminatha temple, to the north, was built around 1230 AD, exactly 200 years after the popular Adinath temple. Although structurally identical to its predecessor, the carvings in this shrine are more delicate and intrinsically carved, resembling a marble tapestry. Here, however, marble carving reaches its apogee in the partly opened lotus flower, drooping like a pendant from the dome. The mason labors were surely a dedicated group of craftsman, who left the marbles to speak for their unsurpassed adroitness. It is curious that Jainism, the most ascetic of the world's major faiths, should produce such opulent decorative architecture. Further, Jainism is atheistic, believing in an eternal universe rather than a created one- making the beauty of these temples even more remarkable.

Other Pearls In The Necklace
Beside the pendants, Dilwara Jain temple complex also boasts of some pearls; exquisitely carved shrines dedicated to other Tirthankaras. The tallest among them, Chaumukh temple, dedicated to Parasvanath, was built around 1459. The unfinished Sri Rishadeoji has a majestic 4.3 ton Tirthankara statue made of "panchadhatu" or five metals- gold, silver, brass, copper and zinc. Around 50 meter from the temple premise, is the Trevor's tank. A nice place to catch spine-chilling sights of crocodiles, this tank is always crowded with this member of the reptile dynasty.

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Cool Tips

The temple is open for non-Jain visitors from noon to 6 pm (Jain visitors can visit from sunrise to sunset). Photography is not allowed inside the temple premises and bags are searched to prevent cameras being taken in. as at other Jain temples, all articles of leather have to be left at the entrance (where you pay a few rupees when collecting them). You can stroll out to Dilwara from the town in less than an hour, or can get a shared taxi from opposite of Madras Cafe, in the center of the town.

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit The Temple

Dilwara Temple - Mt. Abu

Melody In White Marble
Surely a marvel in marble, take a tour of the Dilwara Temples, atop Mount Abu, display a splendid work of art that enthralls every visitor. Portraying the Nagara form of sculpture in marble, the Temples surely elevates one's spirit because of the magic in architecture.

It Was How They Carved
Each nook and corner of the famous Jain temples are so magnificently carved that it's a wonder that the statues were created out of a single plain stone. The method of carving was also unique; done by gently scraping away the surface till a splendid figure eventually emerged out of it.

Temple of Elegance - Vimal Vasahi Temple
For the main attractions Visit the Vimal Vasahi Temple dedicated to Adi Shankara, the first Tirthankara in the popular Dilwara temples. Check out the brackets that stretch from the edges towards the center of the ceiling, meticulously carved with fluid grace in the shape of dancing wom

Tune With The Nature At Wildlife Sanctuary
Plan a tour to the Mt. Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, and dissolve yourself in the jungle fun. Look for a few daring sambars, proud blackbucks and shy foxes darting through the virgin bushes.

A Temple of Enchantment
The Jain Temples of Dilwara in Rajasthan are one of the most important pilgrimage centres of the Jains. Plan a visit during Mahavir Jayanti and you can see scores of pilgrims crowding the temple premises, rejoicing the birth of the Lord.

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