The Jain Temples of Jaisalmer

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This is out of my Rajasthan archive. (And i say archive because I've clicked hundreds and hundreds of pictures of the state and its many palaces , forts and temples) The pictures I took of Rajasthan are special to me. And i wanted this post to be special. I'm very moved and grateful about the hearty response I got to Robyn's post and so here's a bit of beautiful Rajasthan just to say my many thanx to each one of you who reads this blog regularly & appreciates it.
The 12th century Jain temples of Jaisalmer were quite a study for me cause despite living in Bombay which has more than its fair share of Jains and Jain temples, I had never been to one. So going to this cluster of Jain temples (some 4 of them) gave me a bit of an idea of the common elements one gets to see in a Jain temple. I'm a lay person & don't presume to give an exact account and information of the temple, but this is what I saw. And a bit of research on the net is where the rest of the information comes from.

The 'Torana Dwar' or main archway is a common feature in a lot of Jain Temples.
The jewel like carving on the 'Toran dwar'
On entering the temple one looks up to see the stunning and circular domed ceiling carved with dancing figures

"holistic concept of depiction of dance, which is cosmic and individual at the same time"
"The Thousand-Petalled Lotus: Lotuses have been carved on the ceilings in the navachaukis and in the marble domes of the rangamandapa, or on the ceilings in the porches and the corridors in myriad ways, and with mesmerizing magnificence and subtlety" Read more here.
There after I made it a point to look up at every temple we entered and just check this magnificense. This roof unlike the others was elabborately painted and do note the mirrors stuck like jewels that reflect and shine
This temle has a simple and extremely elegant depiction of a one headed & many bodied being.
The sunlit pillars of the temples was the only excuse I needed to keep clicking
"The Jain temples in the Jaisalmer Fort are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji, the famous Jain hermits known as 'Tirthankars'. Like all other structures in Jaisalmer, these temples are craved of yellow sandstones." from Claude Renault's brilliant photography blog
"As the Jain often walk barefoot to their temples and cover their mouths with a cloth to stop the inhalation of insects, their temples were built in groups, to make the pilgrimage easier. This also gave each temple an identity of its own despite being part of a cluster." To read more about Jain temple architechture click here.

A detail of one of the pillars. Unlike the regular Jain temple which is almost always built in white marble, All the Jain temples in Jaisalmer use yellow sandstone to resembling all other structures in Jaisalmer.
I didn't manage this time to avoid the presence of a fellow traveller. I waited and waited and the people just kept coming- finally I just clicked.
The graceful dancing figure
And now finally the gods in the sanctum sanctoram
Loved the yellow glow in this pic. In most Hindu temples photography is strictly forbidden, so I took this shot very gingerly.This is my favourite part. I just love these idol formations with its many rows of the Jain hermits all lined up and piled up.
So fascinating.
I wish could give you a better idea of what these depict. But since i have not found anything on the net, I'd love it if any of you can provide more information about these units of sculpture.
I found this unusual because unlike the other sculptures in this one the figures are of different sizes and there is also a depiction of trees animals and temple in a similar format. How cool!

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