The Jain Dilwara temples are one of the holiest places of pilgrimage and are located in the Dilwara village which is 3kms from Mount Abu Rajasthan. They are world famous marble temples built by the famous ministers Vastupal and Tejpal who were Jain devotees between the 11th and 13th centuries. There are five legendary marble temples in Dilwara. In the midst of forested hills, the temples exist in all their beauty and splendour. They are known for their extraordinary architecture and marble stone carved with excellent workmanship. Surrounding the temples are lush green hills giving a scenic beauty to the whole atmosphere.
There are five temples in Dilwara. They are-
Vimal Vasahi Temple
It was built in 1031 AD by Vimal Shah a minister of the Chalukya King of Gujarat and is dedicated to Lord Rishabhnath also known as Lord Adinath. It is said that to wipe out the sins that he incurred in the battle field Vimal Shah spent the rest of his life in religious penance at Mount Abu and constructed this temple. This beautiful piece of architecture was built by 1500 artisans and 1200 labourers and is said to have taken 14 years to build. The whole shrine covers an area of length 140 ft and breadth 90 ft. The temple is adorned with columns, arches, carved passages, arches and doorways. The ceilings of the temple have carvings of petals, lotus buds, flowers and murals depicting scenes from mythology. This assortment of nine rectangular ceilings is referred to as Navchowki. The temple has a Sanctum, a Gudh mandap, Rang mandap, Rang Chowki and a circumambulatory corridor having 57 cells. Each cell has an image of one of the Tirthankars. Rang Mandap is a huge hall with its 12 ornamented pillars and beautifully carved out arches in the midst of a spectacular central dome. The carvings on the pillars are of female figurines playing musical instruments and 16 Vidhyadevis or Goddesses of knowledge each one holding her own symbol. On Gudh Mandap is the main hall where the idol of Lord Adinath is placed. There is a Hathishala or elephant cell that portrays a lane of sculpted elephants.
Luna Vasahi temple
This temple was built by Vastupal and Tejpal and is dedicated to Lord Neminath the 22nd Tirthankara. The main hall or Rang mandap has a central dome with a carved pendant. 72 figures of Tirthankars in sitting posture are arranged in a circular band and just below this band are 360 figures of Jain monks in another circular band. Made on the same structural pattern the temple also has a Hathishala with 10 marble elephants. The Navchowki has nine delicately carved ceilings with intricate marble work. The Gudh Mandap or main hall has the idol of Lord Neminath carved out of black marble. There is a big pillar made of black stone known as Kirti Stambha on the left side of the temple.
It is dedicated to Lord Rishabhdev the first Tirthankar and was built by Bhima Seth. The image of Rishabhdev is made of five metals with brass (Pittal) forming the major part of the composition. Hence it came to be known as Pittalhar temple. The temple again contains a Garbhagraha, Gudh Mandap(main hall) and Navchowki.
It was built by Mandlik in 1459.This three storey building is dedicated to Lord Parshvanath the 23rd Tirthankar. The shrine is the tallest in Dilwara. At the ground floor on all the four sides of the chamber there are four big halls. There are striking sculptures carved out in gray sandstone on the exterior walls. This temple is also known as the Kartar Vashi temple.
Mahavir Swami Temple
It was constructed in 1582 and dedicated to Lord Mahavira the 24th Tirthankar. The ceilings of its portico showcases several pictures painted in 1764 by the artists of Sirohi.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is 185 kilometres away in Udaipur. Many buses and taxis are available from Udaipur to Mount Abu.
The nearest railway station is 29 kilometres away on Abu Road which is connected to both Jodhpur and Ahmedabad.
Via Palanpur Ahmedabad is 200 kilometres away while Via Sirhoi and Pali Jodhpur is 250 kilometres away. You can get taxis and buses to Mount Abu from these places.From Udaipur which is 185 kms from Mt Abu buses take seven hours to reach.
The levels of accommodation range from dormitories to luxury hotels in Mount Abu. Advance booking of rooms is convenient for pilgrims.
These beautiful temples are built in the Nagara style of architecture and are extraordinary as they were built when they were no modern means of transport at such great heights at which Mount Abu lies and only elephants were used to transport the huge blocks of marble stone from Arasoori Hills at Ambaji to the remote hilly areas of Mount Abu. These temples are said to serve as store houses of illustrated manuscripts and treatises. Pilgrimages to these temples offer solace and increase faith and devotion and enable mankind to break through the infinite cycles of birth and death and attain enlightenment.