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01/Nov/2022

The Dilwara Temple at Mount Abu stand in a beautiful green valley surrounded by forested hills of the Aravali range. This is the only hill resort in Rajasthan. Abu is named after Arbuda, one of the sons of the Himalayas and in ancient times it was a center of Shiva worship. It became a Jain center in the 11th century with the building of the Dilwara temples. The sage Vasishtha is said to have built an ashram here and some of the royal Rajput clans claim they were created from the holy yagnya fire lit here by him. These Jain temples have by far the finest examples of the art of the Rajasthani sculptor.

Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan, which is also a holy site for Jains and Hindus as it has many temples. A complex made of marble is special in this temple complex, which is known for its abundance of temples. It is called Dilwara Temple Complex.

Dilwara Temple

Location

There are five temples in the Dilwara temple complex. Dilwara temple complex is at a distance of about 2.5 km from Mount Abu in the Sirohi district of Rajasthan. These temples reflect the changing history of the region. These five temples were built at different times during the reign of different dynasties.

Mount Abu is the most sacred place for Jains. It is believed that the 24th Tirthankara Mahavir came here as a beggar. Mount Abu is mentioned in the Rig Veda and Skanda Purana as Arbuda.

Dilwara Temple

History of Dilwara Temple

 

The history of this region begins with the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, who ruled from 321 to 297 BC. Later in the second century, it was ruled by the Western satraps. Between the 4th to the 6th century, this region came under the Gupta dynasty. During the 7th and 13th centuries, it was ruled by dynasties like the Pratiharas, Solankis and Parmars.

 

The Solanki dynasty, also known as the Chalukya dynasty, was a medieval dynasty that ruled from the 10th to the 13th centuries. They ruled parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan and Anhilvad (Patan) was their capital. The Solanki dynasty has made a great contribution to architecture. The most important king of this dynasty was Bhima-I, who ruled from 1022 to 1064 AD. During his reign Mahmud Ghazni, the first ruler of the Ghaznavi dynasty, invaded India in the 11th century. After the attack of Ghazni, Bhima had regained all his ancestral territories. During the regim of Bhima architecture flourished. Modhera Sun Temple, Dilwara Temple of Mount Abu, Somnath Temple, which was rebuilt, are some of the important examples of architecture of his time. Bhima’s queen Udaymati had built the Rani ki Vav (Baori) in Patan in the 11th century.

Dilwara Temple

The Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples are the most famous among the five temples of Dilwara. Mount Abu’s Vimal Vasahi is the oldest temple, which  built in 1031. According to an inscription in the temple in 1322, two persons named Laliga and Vijada got the temple repaired for the spiritual welfare of their parents. The inscription gives some information about the history of the temple. This temple built by Vimal Shah, the minister of Chalukya king Bhima-I.

It believed that after listening to the discourses of Jain Muni Dharmaghosh Suri, Vimal Shah built this temple to grope his mind and to atone for sins like murders committed while trying to spread his empire.

The Solanki dynasty was beginning to weaken in the 13th century. Around the 12th century, the Vaghelas were in the service of the Chalukyas. They called themselves the descendants of the Chalukyas. Vaghel Dhaval married the aunt of the Chalukya king Kumarapala, who ruled in the 12th century. The Chalukya dynasty became very weak during the reign of King Bhima-II in the 13th century. During this time Vaghel commander General Lavanya Prasad and his son Vriddhavala had become very powerful. But nominally, they accepted Chalukya’s hegemony.

Dilwara Temple

Vimal Vasahi Temple at Dilwara Temple Complex

This temple carved out of marble, represents the culmination of Solanki architecture. This temple  dedicated to Rishabhanatha, the first Jain Tirthankara, also known as Adinath. The temple has a sanctum sanctorum, gudhamandapa (pillared verandah), navchouki (auditorium with nine rectangular roofed chambers) in front of the gudhamandapa, and rangmandapa. Around this temple are small shrines, called Devakulikas, in which the images of Tirthankaras carved. Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimal Shah, built an auditorium in the temple. The main temple houses a 57-inch statue of Rishabhanatha in gold and bronze.

 

The roofs, pillars, and walls of Dilwara Temple very well decorated, which is the specialty of this temple. The pillars of the Vimal Vasahi temple are ornate. The ceiling of Vimal Vasahi Temple is very beautiful and decorated with circular chandeliers. There are images of 16 Vidya Devis on the ceiling. The Rangmandapa has images of Jain Puranas, Jain literature, Jain deities, elephants, musicians, and dancers. Apart from the auditorium, Prithvipala had also built a Hastishala in the temple, in which beautiful marble sculptures of 10 elephants made. Behind the elephants are images of Vimal and his family members.

Marvelous carvings within the temple

There are also images of Krishna subduing the Kaliya snake, the war between Bharata and Bahubali, son of Rishabhanatha, Bharata who attained Keval Gyan (the ultimate knowledge), and the meditative Bahubali surrounded by vines and ants.

Other temples

Luna Vasahi Temple at Dilwara Temple Complex

Luna Vasahi, the second oldest temple in Dilwara, built during the reign of Vaghel ruler Vriddhavala. In 1230, the construction of this temple done under the supervision of Tejpal, the minister of Vadel Vriddhavala. Both these brothers considered to be great builders. Apart from being a skilled administrator, he was also a brave warrior. He spent a lot of money on public welfare many other Jain and Hindu temples, mosques, wells, bridges, guest houses, and water bodies built. The most famous of the temples built by him is the Luna Vasahi Temple of Dilwara, which built under the supervision of Tejpal.

The two temples, Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi small and plain exteriors that give no hint of the magical world waiting to be discovered inside. The arched doorways lead into a dazzling pure white marble carved with such amazing virtuosity, it hard to believe that such extraordinary interior perfection and beauty created out of mere stone by human hands.

 

Vimal Vasahi built in the 11th century by Vimal Shah, a minister of the Solanki king of Gujarat, and dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath. A parade of marble elephants leads up to the porch and on their backs sit the donor Vimal and his family. The courtyard has 52 cells with icons of Tirthankaras inside. A series of mandapas lead to the sanctum that has the bejeweled bronze icon of the saint.

The walls, pillars, and ceiling ornamented with subtle carvings of apsaras, animals, and scrolls and the doorways have intricately carved arches. The ceiling of the assembly hall, the ranga mandapa, has an exquisite pendant in the center surrounded by delicate figures of female nymphs. The dome designed in concentric circles with carvings of figures, animals, and decorative motifs. The lowest ring has sixteen bracket figures of the vidyadevis, goddesses of learning, all framed within carved aureoles.

The opulent Luna Vasahi even more heavily carved. It built two centuries later by Tejpal, another minister of the Gujarat kingdom, and dedicated to the Tirthankara Neminath. The temple is alive with such exuberant and brilliantly finished marble carvings that it gives the surface the texture of lace. Among the glittering pillars, figures, and animals, the most striking creation here is the ceiling of the rangamandapa. The octagonal dome has an overhanging lotus delicately carved with extraordinary precision.

another temple

Brasshar Temple at Dilwara Temple Complex

Around the 15th-16th century Bhim Shah, minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabad (reigned 1458-1511), built the Brasshar temple in Dilwara, which dedicated to Tirthankara Adinath. The temple known as Prassahar because of the bronze statue of Tirthankara Adinath. The present idol established in the 16th century at the site of the original. This idol of 108 mond made by a craftsman named Dev under the supervision of two ministers Sundar and Gada. This temple is not as ornate as the other two temples, but it has images of many Jains Tirthankaras and deities.

At the end of the 15th century, a fourth temple built in Dilwara, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath. The Chaumukh temple with three stories and one kangoor also called Khartar Vasahi. This temple is the highest among the five temples. While other temples made of marble, the Chaumikh temple made of brown sandstone. Most of the idols present in the temple donated by a person named Sanghvi Mandalik and his family members. The three-story sanctum sanctorum has four-faced figures and depictions of the 14 dreams of the mothers of the Tirthankaras before they were born, which are the features of this temple. There are depictions of Jain deities on the outer walls of the temple.

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