Dilwara Jain Temples situated in Mount Abu, the only hill station of Rajasthan and north-west India are wonders made in marble. As these legendary temples are surrounded by mango trees and wooded hills, the sunshine dapples through on the luminous marble and the marble glows in the sunshine. Dilwara temples are an important pilgrimage for the followers of Jain religion.
There are five temples in the Dilwara temple complex. Each is named after the tiny village in which it is located. These are:
Vimal Vasahi (Shri Adi Nathji temple) dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar Lord Rishabh, is the oldest and the most famous temple among the entire complex. It was made in 1021 AD by Vimal Shah, a minister of Raja Bhimdeo and is made completely of white marble. It is a richly carved temple whose beauty cannot be described in words. The pillars, walls and ceilings are all sculpted with scenes from Jain and Hindu mythologies and images of flowers and animals.
The Rang mandap of the temple is a grand hall with 12 pillars, arches and a central dome, all having awe-inspiring carvings. On the pillars, carved female figurines playing musical instruments and 16 Vidhyadevis or the Goddesses of Knowledge can be seen.
The Navchowki is a collection of nine rectangular ceilings, each with beautiful carvings supported by ornate pillars. The Gudh mandap houses the idol of Adi Nath or Lord Rishabdev. The mandap is meant to perform the 'Arti' to the deity. The Hastishala (Elephant Cell) was constructed by Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimal Shah in 1147- ‘49 A.D and features a row of sculpted elephants.
Luna Vasahi (Shri Nemi Nathji temple) is dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankar Lord Neminatha. It was built in 1230 AD by two brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal who were both ministers of a local ruler. They had the temple built in the memory of their late brother. The main hall or Rang mandap features a central dome with a large ornamental carved pendant hanging from it. 72 figures of Tirthankaras are seated in a circle and just below this band are 360 Small Figures of Jain monks in another circular band. The Hathishala or Elephant Cell features ten beautiful marble elephants.
The other three temples are also similarly richly decorated with finely carved statues of deities, animals, flora and tales from mythology. With each temple more beautiful than the other, it is no wonder that Dilwara temples attract visitors in large numbers from all over the world.
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