Photo of Dilwara temples in 1870
Dilwara temples, located at Mt Abu in Rajasthan which enshrine various Jain ‘Tirthankaras’ was built between 11th and 13 centuries and are famous around the world for its intricately carved marble interiors. The Dilwara temple compound is home to five temples known as Vasahis. Vimala Vasahi and Luna Vasahi are most celebrated examples of Caulukya Architecture that developed during the reign of Caulukya dynasty from 950 – 1246AD. In Caulukya architecture of temples, the principle feature comprises of Grabhagriha or mulaprasada, the sanctum, the Gudhamandapa, and a mukhamandapa or trikamandapa, an entrance porch to the sanctum.
There are five temples in Dilwara temple complex built by different people, unique in style and dedicated to different theerthankaras.
They are Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pithalhar, Parshvanath and Mahavir Swami temple
Vimal Vasahi was built by Vimal Shah who was a minister during the reign of Solanki King Bhimdev 1. It took 1500 artisans and 1200 labourers nearly 14 years to build this temple.
Vimal Vasahi temple is devoted to Jina Rishbhanatha. Vimal Vasahi temple entrance, Rang Mandap, is surrounded by intricately carved pillars. The imagery of musicians are carved into the pillars. Vimal vasahi’s main carved ceiling features 16 vidya devis ( Goddess of Knowledge). Out of the four triangular panels that surrounds the central dome, one features Yakshini Ambika and the other features Yaksha Sarvanubhuthi. The ceiling is decorated with dancers and floral geometric panels. The ceiling in the pillared hall depicts the story of Bharata and Bahubali. The ceiling also got an imagery of Sri Krishna defeating Kaliya. Inside the decorated doorway is the principal deity Lord Rishabhanatha .
Rishabhanatha is the first Tirthankara in Jainism and he is believed to have lived millions of years ago. He was born in Ayodhya. Jains believe that Rishbhanatha organized the social system that created the varna based on professions.
The Hastistala was constructed by Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimal Shah between 1147 – 49 AD.
Luna Vasahi temple is dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha. – Luna Vasahi was established by two brothers Vastupal and Tejapal. Both ministers of Virdhaval, the Vaghela ruler of Gujarat and was consecrated on 3rd March 1230 AD, during the reign of the Solanki or Chalukya dynasty. Tejapal built this temple to ensure eternal bliss for him and his family which included his wife Anupamadevi and son Lavanya Simha. The temple got the name Luna from the shortened version of Lavanya. Inside the Luna Vasahi, eight pillars with intricate profiles of female dancers support the domed ceiling. Each of these female dancers are carved in different dance poses. The dome features sixteen goddess figures placed equally spaced in circle. At the four corners of the central dome there are four imageries of eight-armed Goddess Lakshmi with elephants. As we enter inside, on either side there are two Jina Shrines of jina Sambhavanatha, third of the 24 Jinas. The main sactum is dedicated to Jina Neminatha, the twenty second Jina.
Luna Vasahi also have imagery that illustrates the life of Jina Neminatha which includes his life as a normal human being and his life as a jain monk.
Neminatha is one of the four Tirthankaras that attract the most devotional worship among the Jains. He was born in Dwaraka in the Yadu lineage. Jains believe that he was the cousin of Lord Sri Krishna. He lived for 1000 years.
The Pittalhar Temple, dedicated to Swami Adinathji aka Rishabhdev. The temple was built under the patronage of Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabad. A panchloha ( five metals ) statue of Rishabhadev is installed at its sanctum. The temple got its name, Pithalhar, because of the five metal mix which also known as Pittal is used for making the statue.
Pithalhar has a main sanctum or Garbhagraha, a Gudh Mandap secondary hall and Navchowki or the nine halls. Its Rang Mandap was never finished. The original statue was replaced by the present one in 1468-69 and weighs about four metric tons. There is a big marble statue of “Panch Tirthi” Adinathji, inside the Gudh Mandap.
Parshavanath temple is dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. This temple with the tallest shrine among the Dilwara temples and was built by Mandlik and family in 1458.
Mahaveer Swami Temple
Dedicated to Lord Mahavira, this temple was constructed in 1582. With intricate carvings on its walls and paintings on the upper walls of the porch, Mahaveer swami temple is a beautiful architectural creation.