Jain Temples


Within the fort walls is a maze-like, interconnecting treasure trove of seven beautiful yellow sandstone Jain temples, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Opening times have a habit of changing, so check with the caretakers. The intricate carving rivals that of the marble Jain temples in Ranakpur and Mt Abu, and has an extraordinary quality because of the soft, warm stone. Shoes and all leather items must be removed before entering the temples.

Chandraprabhu is the first temple you come to, and you’ll find the ticket stand here. Dedicated to the eighth tirthankar (great Jain teacher), whose symbol is the moon, it was built in 1509 and features fine sculpture in the mandapa (temple forechamber), the intensely sculpted pillars of which form a series of toranas (architraves). To the right of Chandraprabhu is the tranquil Rikhabdev temple, with fine sculptures around the walls, protected by glass cabinets, and pillars beautifully sculpted with apsaras (celestial nymphs) and gods.

Behind Chandraprabhu is Parasnath, which you enter through a beautifully carved torana culminating in an image of the Jain tirthankar at its apex. A door to the south leads to small Shitalnath, dedicated to the 10th tirthankar, whose image is composed of eight precious metals. A door in the northern wall leads to the enchanting, dim chamber of Sambhavanth – in the front courtyard, Jain priests grind sandalwood in mortars for devotional use. Steps lead down to the Gyan Bhandar, a fascinating tiny underground library founded in 1500, which houses priceless ancient illustrated manuscripts. The remaining two temples, Shantinath and Kunthunath, were built in 1536 and feature plenty of sensual carving. Note, the restrictive visiting times are for non-Jains. The temples are open all day for worshippers.

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