The five legendary marble temples
of Dilwara are the sacred pilgrimage of the Jains. They are an overwhelming blend of simple beauty and exquisite elegance. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway. The simplicity in architecture verily reminds one that Jainism as a religion "encouraged honesty and frugality". Located at the pristine hill resort of Mt. Abu in Rajasthan, the temples reside amidst mesmerizing surroundings of mango trees and wooded hills. A high wall, shimmering luminous in the sunlight, shrouds the temple complex.
Inside the temple complex, there is a wide path of marble and in the left is an exquisite square. There is an open temple with just a dome and no walls. Raised from the ground like a stage, the entrance is followed by a courtyard surrounded by pillars. In the centrally built sanctum sanctorum is kept the glorious bronze idol of Adinath, the first tirthankara.
The oldest among the five temples of Dilwara, this exquisite piece of architecture was constructed by Vimal Shah, completed in AD 1032. Vimal Shah was a minister and commander-in-chief during the reign of Maharaja Bhimdev I. The legend goes that exhausted by the massacres he had indulged in, Vimal Shah prayed fervently to goddess Ambika Devi. When she appeared he made two requests, one to get a son and the other the blessing to construct a temple on Mount Abu. When the goddess commanded Vimal Shah to ask for one favor only, he talked over with his wife and decided that he would rather build the temple, since a son could never immortalize his deeds.
It took 14 years to build the Vimal Vasahi temple. The sculpture comprised of flowers, animals, tirthankaras, dancing figurines and idols of various gods and goddesses. The Vimal Vasahi looks lively and beautiful when the sun's rays fall on the courtyard. The most incredible sculpturing is to be found on the toran and on the inner part of the dome.
Just opposite the Vimal Vasahi is the Elephant House. There is a statue of Vimal Shah on horseback followed by 10 bedecked elephants. Built by Prithipal of Vimal Shah's family in AD 1147, it is a storehouse of some intricate sculptures and fine art.
The third most important place, Lund Vasahi, was built by Vastupal and Tejpal, ministers of Bhimdev II. Lund Vasahi is very much like Vimal Vasahi and is dedicated to the 22nd tirthankara, Neminath. The Lund Vasahi has some beautiful sculptures of dancing figurines, each expressing a different mood. It is, in fact, a mosaic of designs, each different and extremely intriguing.
The temple of Parsvanath is also called chaumukhi (four-faced). It has four idols of Parsvanath facing four directions. Simplicity characterizes this temple, where one does not chance upon glamorous and refined sculpting seen in the Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi.
HOW TO REACH
BY AIR - The nearest airport is Udaipur, which is connected to several cities by regular flights.
BY RAIL - Abu Road is the closest railhead for Mt Abu. Direct trains run from Abu Road to Ajmer, Jodhpur and Agra. The railhead is on the meter-gauge line between Delhi and Ahmedabad.
BY ROAD - Mt. Abu is 185 km from Udaipur. It takes seven hours to reach Udaipur by buses.
WHERE TO STAY
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