Dilwara Jain Temples

The Jain temples of Dilwara is a complex of temples, carved of white marble, which was built between 11th and 13th centuries. Dilwara Temples are one of the best Jain temples in the world. Dilwara temples are known for their extraordinary architecture and marvelous marble engravings. Some experts also consider it architecturally superior to the Taj Mahal. This seems pretty basic temple from the outside but the temple interior presents extraordinary work of human art at its best. The intricate carvings of marble are phenomenal and unparalleled. The ceilings and pillars are amazingly carved. All this was done at a time when no transport or roads were available at a height of more than 1200 meters in Mount Abu. The huge blocks of marble stones were carried on elephants’ back from the Arasoori Hills to Ambaji to this hilly region.

At Dilwara on Mount Abu are five famous Jain temples. Among them are Vimal Vasahi Temple and Tejpal Temple, unique in the world for their delicate architecture. The Vimal Vasahi, built in 1031 AD by Vimal Shah, a minister of King Whim Dev of the Solanki dynasty of Gujarat at a cost of rupees 18 crores and 53 lakhs, is constructed entirely in white marble brought from the famous Makrana quarries of Jodhpur. It is surrounded by a lofty wall containing 52 cells, each of which contains an image of a Tirthankara. These cells are screened by a double arcade of carved pillars. The main portico rests on 48 beautifully carved pillars. The octagonal dome outside the main shrine is formed by eleven concentric rings adorned with human and animal figures—a procession of elephants in particular.

The Tejpal temple, founded by two brothers, Tejpal and Vastupal, ministers of king Veer Dhavai of Gujarat – inspired by Annapurna Devi, wife of Tejpal’s brother, was built two years later, but more or less in the same pattern. This is dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Lord Neminath

The pendant of its dome is its most striking feature which “hangs from the centre more like a lusture of crystal drops than a solid mass of marble." (Fergusson). The florid reliefs and carvings on the porticos of the 39 cells project episodes from the life of Neminath.

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