JAINISM, a religion of India that teaches a path to spiritual purity and enlightenment through a disciplined mode of life founded upon the tradition of AHIMSA (non-violence) to all living creatures. Jainism dates to the 6th century B.C.E. in India. The religion derives its name from the JINAS ( conquerors ), a title given to twenty-four great TIRTHANKARAS (ford-makers), through whom their faith was revealed. BHAGWAN MAHAVIRA, the last of the tirthankaras, is considered the founder of Jainism. The three main principles of Jainism are NON – VIOLENCE, NON- ABSOLUTISM and NON- POSSESSIVENESS . Followers of Jainism take five major vows: nonviolence, not lying, not stealing , chastity, and non-attachment. Here is an overview of the most popular jain temples in India.
1- GOMATESHWARA TEMPLE ( KARNATAKA)
One of the holiest Jain pilgrimages, SHRAVANABELAGOLA is synonymous with the colossal monolithic statue of Jain saint Lord GOMATESHWARA . Shravanabelagola is a historical temple town and pilgrimage center in Karnataka. The cynosure of the centuries, Gommateshwara towers in his 57 feet solitary serene splendor, over the surrounding countryside. The gigantic statue of Lord Gomateshwara has been the piece de resistance among a multitude of Jain architectures in Sravanabelagola. The statue, created around 983 AD by Chamundaraya, a general and minister of the Ganga King Rachamatta, stands atop the Indragiri hill and at a height of 18 meters, is regarded the tallest monolithic statue in the world. Thousands of pilgrims, devotees and tourists from all over the world flock to the statue once in 12 years for an event known asMAHAMASTAKABHISHEKA.
2- DILWARA TEMPLE ( RAJASTHAN )
DILWARA JAIN TEMPLES of Rajasthan are popular for their beautiful artistic work. Located near Mount Abu in Rajasthan. DILWARA JAIN TEMPLES is one of the finest Jain temple known world over for its extraordinary architecture and marvelous marble stone carvings, some experts also consider it architecturally superior to the TAJ MAHAL. It seems fairly basic temple from outside but every cloud has a silver lining, the temple interior showcases the extraordinary work of human craftsmanship at its best. These temples were built between 11th to 13th century AD. The beautiful lush green hills around this temple gives a very pleasant feeling. The ornamental details of marble stone carvings is phenomenal and unmatched, The minutely carved ceilings and the pillars are just amazing. DILWARA JAIN TEMPLES complex consist of 5 major sections or temples devoted to five JAIN TIRTHANKARAS : 1- Shri Mahaveer Swami Temple , 2- Shri Adi Nath Temple 3 – Shri Parshav Nath Temple 4- Shri Rishabdaoji Temple 5- Shri Nemi NathJi Temple.
3- RANAKPUR TEMPLE ( RAJASTHAN )
RANAKPUR TEMPLES are very popular for their baroque and excellent architectural style. These temples form one of the five major pilgrimages of the Jains. It is situated in Ranakpur village near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan. The Ranakpur Jain Temple excels them all as an exquisite work of art and architecture. There are a number of admirable and delicately carved sculptures in this shrine which defy comparison. The Ranakpur Jain Temple was constructed during the reign of the liberal and gifted Rajput monarch Rana Kumbha during the fifteenth century. The basement is of 48,000 sq. feet area which covers the whole complex. There are 4 subsidiary shrines, 24 pillared halls and domes supported by over four hundred columns. The total number of columns is 1,444 all of which are intricately carved with no two being alike.
4- SRI DIGAMBAR JAIN LAL MANDIR ( DELHI )
THE SRI DIGAMBAR JAIN LAL MANDIR is an ancient temple and is known as the oldest Jain temple in Delhi, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara or Lord Parashvanath . The Temple was built during the year of 1656 made of red sandstone and is popularly known by devotees as the Lal Mandir. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658) once invited several Jain seth to come and settle in the city and granted them some land south of the Chandani Chauk around Dariba Gali. He also ordered them to build a temporary structure to house a Jain temple. The Jain community acquired three marble idols installed by Jivaraj Papriwal under the supervision of Bhattaraka Jinachandra in Samvat 1548 for the temple. The main idol is that of Tirthankara Parshva. THE SRI DIGAMBAR JAIN LAL MANDIR was visited by Acharya Shantisagar, a Jain Monk in 1931 who was known as the first ever Digambar Jain Priest to visit Delhi after a period of 8 centuries and hence a memorial was also established within the temple premise to mark this auspicious event.
5- SONAGIRI TEMPLE ( MADHYA PRADESH )
SONAGIRI , meaning “the golden peak”, is situated in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh and is famous for its Jain temples; the site is known as a holy place for the Digambar sect of the Jains .Legends believe that King Nanganag Kumar attained nirvana at this site, along with his 15 million followers. Several white Jain temples are scattered around hill, which are dedicated to the king and his followers. There are several white Jain temples scattered around Sonagiri. This sacred place is popular among devotees & ascetic saints to practice for self discipline, austerity, and to attain Nirvana .This unique temple site, known as Laghu Sammed Shikhar, is covering the area of 132 acres of two hills. There are 77 beautiful Jain temples with sky high spires, where temple no. 57 is the main temple of the complex. Aacharya Shubh Chandra and Bhartrihari lived and worked at this place for spiritual achievements.
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6- PALITANA TEMPLE ( GUJRAT )
PALITANA TEMPLE is situated in south west of Bhavnagar (Gujarat) and is known for being the largest cluster of Jain temples. There are in total 863 temples from base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples are located. Amongst all the Jain temples, Palitana Jain mandir are known as the most sacred. No one is allowed to sleep overnight, not even the priest, as the temple has been built as an abode for the Gods. Padliptapur was the ancient name of this city Palitana. In olden times, this mountain was also called Pundarikgiri. Palitana is a city of temples. Worshippers come to Palitana, take a bath in the river, bow down to the 99 idols and cross the ocean of re-births.
7- SHIKHARJI TEMPLE ( JHARKHAND )
TEERTHRAJ SHIKHARJI is located on Parasnath Hills and is accessible from the town of Madhuban, District Giridih State of Jharkhand. Parasnath Hills stands high at 4769 feet in the middle of barren and agricultural plains of Chikri, Jharkhand. Shree Sammed Shikharji is one of the most prominent pilgrimage among all the Jain pilgrimages located in eastern India. According to ethics if a person visits Sammed Shikharji engaging his full mind and with full devotion, he attains salvation in maximum 49 lives of his near future and thus he gets free from worldly affairs, affection and aversion. The ancient reference of Sammed Shikhar has been made in the scripture Jnatadharm Katha, the `Parshwanath Charitra` (biography of Parshwanath) of Kalpsutra, and in the medieval literature `Samadhigiri`. The local People address it as Parasnath Hill. It is also mentionable that this pilgrimage is called `Sammet Shikhar` in the Shwetambar tradition and `Sammed Shikhar` in the Digambar tradition.
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8- KOLANUPAKA TEMPLE ( TELANGANA )
THE KOLANUPAKA JAIN TEMPLE in the village of Kolanupaka in Nalgonda district Andhra Pradesh is a well known Jain temple. Kolanu means lake and paka means hut, which indicate that there were lots of huts and lakes at this place. The temple is said to be more than 2000 years old and renovations have been carried out from time to time. The temple houses three idols of the Tirthankars namely Lord Rishabhdeva, Lord Neminath and Lord Mahavir. The image of Lord Rishabhdeva is carved out of green stone and is historically famous as Manikyaswami. There are 8 idols of various other Tirthankaras, placed on both sides of the temple. Every Tirthankara has been built with their own unique style. For instance, the statue of Lord Mahavira has been built with a Lion, while there is a bull on the pedestals of Lord Rishabha. A cobra with multi heads has been carved as an umbrella over the statue of Lord Parshawnath. There are statues of Lord Simandar Swami and Goddess Padmavati on the side of the temple.
9- DHARMANATH TEMPLE ( KERALA )
DHARMANATH JAIN TEMPLE is located in Cochin ( Kerala). It is dedicated to one of the Jain’s God Lord Dharmanath who was the fifteenth Jain Tirthankar of the present age (Avasarpini). According to Jain beliefs, he became a siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. It is an 100 years old temple built by Jain Community peoples who migrated from Kutch and Saurashtra of Gujarat to Kerala . The entirely marble interior of the temple is adorned with artworks and beautifully arranged with the sculptured pillars and idols of Jain Thirthankara`s.