Monday, April 6, 2009

Mount Abu, Hill of Wisdom

At Ranakpur we wanted to taste food at the Ranakpur temple to taste something different form hotel food that we are having on this tour. But unfortunately we were bit late and we missed the good food. So on our journey towards Mount Abu we had food at the road side dhaba. The food was not bad and in fact it was quite good. After a long drive with break for evening tea we reached Mount Abu late in evening after 7 p.m.

It was the eve of Christmas and we had the dinner at the hotel where we were staying. The travel agent through whom we had booked the hotel and vehicle had said that it was mandatory and we had already paid the extra amount for the dinner.

Now a little details about this place goes like this. A mountain range called Aravali range which is 800 kms in length runs from southwest to northeast across Rajasthan state. The highest peak in the range is Guru Shikhar and Mount Abu is located on this peak. The city is at a elevation of 1200 mts.

The literary meaning of Mount Abu is "Hill of Wisdom". In the olden days it was the home of many saints and sages.

The main tourist attractions of this place are:

Delwara Jain Temples

These temples were built during the age of Jain supremacy and are one of the finest Jain temples that one should visit once in the life time for their exquisite marble stone carvings. I personally (I am no expert) feel this is far more beautiful than Taj Mahal that India has to offer to the World. You can visit this place only after 12 p.m. Hence we covered some of the other attractions before 12 p.m.

From the exterior these temples are very simple and if one goes by its simplicity you would never want to see the temple. The interiors of the temple is a stark contrast to its external appearance. It exhibits the mind blogging work of human craftsmanship in marble. These temples were built between 11th to 13th century AD. The elaborate and intricate carvings in marble are unmatched. Each of the minutely carved ceilings and the pillars are very unique. No two ceiling or no two pillars are common and they are very different from each other.

This temple complex consist of five major shrines devoted to five Jain Trithankaras each with its own unique identity though together.

Shri Mahaveer Swami Temple

This is the first temple one would enter in the temple complex when entering through the simple gateway of the temple. This temple was constructed in 1582 and is dedicated to 24th Jain Tirthankara Lord Mahaveer. There are pictures on upper walls of t
he porch painted by artists of Sirohi around 1764 A.D.
Shri Adinatj Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Vimal Vasahi Temple or Shri Adinath temple which is build by Vimal Shah, a minister of Solanika ruler of Gujarat. This temple is the oldest of a ll and is the most famous temple in the lot. It is dedicated to the first Jain Trithankar Shri Adinath Ji.

This temple carved entirely out of white marble was built in 1021 AD. The entire shrine covers an area of 140ft long and 90ft broad. The shrine consists of main sanctum Gudhamandap, Rangmandap and Navachoki. There is also a circular corridor around the temple with 57 cells. Each cell has image of one of the Jain saints carved out of marble. One will be mesmerized by the carvings on pillars, arches, mandaps of the temple and they are simply breathtaking. The ceilings in front of the cells designs of flowers, petals and scenes from Hindu and Jain mythology.

The Rangmandap is a grand hall supported by 12 decorated pillars and nicely carved out arches with a simply superb central dome. The central dome is beautifully decorated with design's of flowers and petals and fine carvings hanging down nthe center. It appears as if the central dome is supported by 16 female figures each one different form each other. These 16 figures are Vidhyadevis - the Goddesses of knowledge each one having their own symbol. All the 12 pillars of the huge hall is decorated with the carvings of female figures playing musical instruments.

The Gudhamandapa is a simple hall with richly carved doorway. Inside the hall one can see the idol of Adinath or Lord Rishabdev, as he is also known.

The Navchowki has the name suggests has a set of nine rectangular ceilings. Each one of them contain beautiful carvings of different designs that are supported on ornate pillars.

Hastishala is constructed in front of the entrance door by Prithvipal a decedent of Vimal Shah.Inside this hall one can see 10 standing elephant statues in marble in 3 different rows. They were beautifully carved, but are badlu destroyed by Muslim army invasion. Special thanks to my friend Ram for the pics.

Shri Neminath Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Luna Vasahi Temple or Shri NemiNathJi Temple which is built in 1230 A.D. by two brothers known as Tejpal and Vastupal in memory of their brother Luna. It is dedicated to 22nd Jain Trithankar Shri Nemi Nathji.

In architecture this temple is similar to Vimal Vasahi temple but is smaller in size. The shrine consists of main sanctium Gudha Graha, Rangmandap, Navachoki and Kirti Stambha. In the circular corridor there are 52 cells and on front of the cells the ceiling is decorated with beautiful designs of flower panels, dancing postures, elephants, horses, musicians playing instruments.

From the circular corridor one can step down into main hall or Rangmandap. In the center of the hall, when you look up one can witness the central dome from which hangs ornamental pendant featuring exceptional carvings. About 72 Jain Trithankars in sitting positions are adorned in a circular band on the periphery of the dome. Just below them there are 360 small figures of Jain Monks in an another circular band.

The Navchowki is on a raised platform above Rangmandap. It showcases one of the most marvelous and delicate marble stone cutting work. Each of the nine ceilings here are different from one other and they outdo each other in their fineness and beauty.

The Gudhamandap is the main sanctum and it is simpler when compared to other parts of the temple. The black marble idol of the Shri Neminath Ji among all the white marble cuttings provides the right contast anr enhances the beauty of temple.

The Kirthi Stambha is again a big black stone pillar that stands on the left side of the temple on your way to Pittalhar Temple. The pillar was constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar.

Shri Rishabdao Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Peethalhar Temple or Shri Rishabdaoji Temple built by Bhima Shah, a minister from Gujarat Kings. As the name suggests in this temple most of the statues are built using ‘Pittal’ (Brass). The shrine consists of main sanctium Gudha Graha, and Navachoki

Shri Parshavnath Temple

Next we proceed to Khartar Vasahi Temple or Shri Parshavnath Temple built by Mandika clan between 1458-59 A.D., This three storyed temple is the tallest among the 5 shrines. This temple has 4 big Mandapa's where idol of Pashwanath is installed. The carving on the pillars of this temple is magnificent and beautiful as in other 4 shrines.

The Dilwara Jain Temples are open from 12 P.M. to 6 P.M. for tourist's and photography is not allowed inside the temple complex. One way it is good as one can escape from going mad in not knowing what to leave without capturing through your lens.

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.


Lakshmi said...

ive been here a long while ago..

Anonymous said...

another neat writeup with good pics. Luved the way u've photographed the details form intricate carvings.

final_transit said...

Very descriptive. I haven't been to Rajasthan much :(

pavi said...

Very well detailed. Good

Pallav said...

its beautifull..
the description as well as the pics..
truly amazing n ths has convinced me to visit atleast once...
thanks for dropping by.... n ur valuable comment on blog...


indicaspecies said...

What a beautiful place. The temple architecture is simply superb!

Ice said...

OMG! These ones are also mesmerizing! I really find the names hard to pronounce :o)

I am sure it would be out of this world being there looking at all those temples.

Rajesh said...

Thanks, they are masterpiece.

It is part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sylvia K said...

Incredibly beautiful temples! And your photos are gorgeous as always. And thanks for the information always enjoy learning more about your part of the world, Rajesh!


Roger Owen Green said...

Stunning site that I was not previously familiar with.

On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!

Rajesh said...

Sylvia, Roger: Thanks for the appreciation.

Unknown said...

i always wanted to visit Mount Abu...its on my radar now after seeing your post...well written