Shri Mahavirji Atishaya Kshetra is a famous Jain place of pilgrimage and is situated at Chandanpur on the banks of the river Gambhir in the Karauli district of Rajasthan and is 110 kms from the town of Sawai Madhopur. It is dedicated to Lord Mahavir the 24th Tirthankar. It is believed that during the period of 17th and 19th century the idol of Lord Mahavira was found buried under a mound.
Legend behind the idol
It is said that once a tanner’s cow was giving up her milk in the hillock. When this continued for a few days the tanner decided to follow the cow and found the cow pouring her milk into the hillock. The surprised tanner then decided to dig up the hillock. He was amazed to find a coral coloured idol of Lord Mahavir made of sandstone and in Padmasana posture. As news spread people began flocking to pay respects to the idol. Shri Amarchand Bilala of Baswa(Jaipur) constructed a magnificent temple on the spot. It is said that when the idol was to be installed in the temple it could not be removed from the mound. The tanner was recalled and only he could extract the idol and it was then installed in the temple with due reverence and pomp. Thus all devotees at this temple believe that irrespective of caste, creed or class all desires get fulfilled and hence pilgrims throng to this place with faith and devotion. Further renovations were carried out in subsequent centuries. It is said that grants had been provided by the rulers of Jaipur for the management of the temple.
Main Temple and Idol
The main temple of Shri Mahavirji is ornamented with three high pinnacles which are surmounted by the golden ‘Kalash’ and fly the flags of Jainism symbolic of Samyak Gyan(Right Knowledge), Samyak Darshan(Right Faith) and Samyak Charitra(Right character). The temple is surrounded by guesthouses or dharamshalas. The interior and exterior walls of the temple are richly decorated with beautiful carvings and paintings. The outer walls of the temple have 16 mythological scenes carved beautifully. The premises of a Dharamshala surrounding a temple is called Katla. The main temple is situated in the centre of the Katla. The entrance gate of the Katla is magnificent. There is a rectangular ground as one enters the main gate and then to enter the Mahamandapa there are seven beautiful gates. In front of the main gate a 52 feet high Mansthamba(Column of Dignity) stands and at the top of the Manstambha four Tirthankar idols are installed in four directions. In the Garbh Griha or the sanctum santorum is installed the beautiful coral coloured idol of Lord Mahavira with the Tirthankars Bhagavan Pushpadantha and Bhagavan Adinatha flanked on either side. A marble umbrella has been built over the spot where the idol emerged and a pair of Charan Padhuka or foot images have been ceremoniously installed which enables pilgrims to pay their homage at the Divine Feet. This is surrounded by a beautiful garden Mahavir Udyan.
There four more beautiful temples at this holy place. At Shantivir Nagar there is a temple dedicated to Bhagavan Shantinath. The idol is 28 feet high and idols of the 24 Tirthankaras are also installed here with a beautiful Mansthambha standing here. In front of the Shantinath temple is the Kirti Ashram Chaityalaya (Jain temple). In front of the Sanmati dharmashala is the temple dedicated to Bhagavan Parshvanath. It is also called Kanch Ka Mandir due to the beautiful glass work here. The Bhavya Kamal Mandir is located on the road connecting the Main Temple and the Shantinath temple.
There is a fair held every year from the 13th day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra to the first day of the dark half of the month of Vaisakh. The image of Lord Mahavir is taken in a grand procession to the bank of the river Gambhir in a golden chariot(Rath)drawn by bullocks for Kalash Abhishek. The five day celebrations begin with Mela Sthapana, Flag Hoisting and Jal Yatra. The mela ends with the Rath Yatra and Kalash Abhishek. Besides Jain devotees rural communities like Gujars, Meena, Ahirs, Jats, cobblers and others throng in large numbers in the fair presenting a rare sight of communal harmony and national unity. Cultural programmes, exhibitions, devotional singing, collective worship, rural games etc are some of the activities organized during the five days of the fair. An All India Kavi Sammelan is also a major attraction of the fair.
Daily Religious Activities
The devotees in Peeth Vastra (yellow colour attire) start their religious activities at the temple by having prakshalan of the idols installed in the temple in the early morning at about 5 A.M. This is followed by Pooja, Bhajan & Pradhakshina as expression of Bhakti and later by Svadhyaya and Pravachan. In the evening too there is worship and Arati followed by bhajan singing and religious discourses.
How to reach
By Road- Direct Buses are available from various cities Jaipur, Ajmer, Kota, Alwar, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Gwalior etc. The distances are Jaipur- 140 KM, Agra (Taj Mahal)- 165 KM, Tijara- 205 KM, Mathura (Chaurasi) -145 KM.
By Rail- The nearest railway station is Shri Mahavirji(SMBJ) which lies on the Delhi Mumbai Railway line. The station is 7 km from Shri Mahavirji. All major trains on the Delhi Mumbai line stop here. Buses and Jeeps are available at Railway Station for onward travel to the temple.
By Air – The airports close to Shri Mahavirji are Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
At Mahaveerji Atishaya Kshetra, there are 6 very big Dharmashalas with rooms full of modern facilities. Facilities of cooler & AC’s are also available in Vardhaman & Sanmati Dharmashala. In Yatri Niwas, an attractive mess has been constructed by the Kshetra Committee, where food is available according to Jain tradition for pilgrims and beds, utensils and other articles are provided to the pilgrims.
The Shri Mahavirji Tirth is a symbol of integration and draws people of all classes from all over the world. The basement of the main temple has been developed as a Dhyan Kendra where pilgrims can sit for a while and meditate in front of a beautiful portrait of Lord Mahavira. The holy vibrations of the place help the pilgrims in their faith and devotion and in their spiritual quest for bliss and enlightenment.