Jain temple

Last updated

Palitana temples Palitana.jpg
Palitana temples

A Jain temple or Derasar is the place of worship for Jains, the followers of Jainism. [1] Jain architecture is essentially restricted to temples and monasteries, and Jain buildings generally reflect the prevailing style of the place and time they were built.


Jain temple architecture is generally close to Hindu temple architecture, and in ancient times Buddhist architecture. Normally the same builders and carvers worked for all religions, and regional and period styles are generally similar. For over 1,000 years the basic layout of a Hindu or most Jain temples has consisted of a small garbhagriha or sanctuary for the main murti or cult images, over which the high superstructure rises, then one or more larger mandapa halls.

Māru-Gurjara architecture or the "Solanki style" is, a particular temple style from Gujarat and Rajasthan (both regions with a strong Jain presence) that originated in both Hindu and Jain temples around 1000, but became enduringly popular with Jain patrons. It has remained in use, in somewhat modified form, to the present day, indeed also becoming popular again for some Hindu temples in the last century. The style is seen in the groups of pilgrimage temples at Dilwara on Mount Abu, Taranga, Girnar and Palitana. [2]


Derasar is a word used for a Jain temple in Gujarat and southern Rajasthan. Basadi is a Jain shrine or temple in Karnataka. [3] The word is generally used in South India. Its historical use in North India is preserved in the names of the Vimala Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples of Mount Abu. The Sanskrit word is vasati, it implies an institution including residences of scholars attached to the shrine. [4]

Temples may be divided into Shikar-bandhi Jain temples, public dedicated temple buildings, normally with a high superstructure, typically a north Indian shikhara tower above the shrine) and the Ghar Jain temple, a private Jain house shrine. A Jain temple which is known as a pilgrimage centre is often termed a Tirtha.

The main image of a Jain temple is known as a mula nayak. [5] A Manastambha (column of honor) is a pillar that is often constructed in front of Jain temples. It has four 'Moortis' i.e. stone figures of the main god of that temple. One facing each direction: North, East, South and West. [6]


Jain Tirtha, Shravanabelagola, with the colossal Gommateshwara statue. Aerial view of Bahubali, Gomateswara Jain temple, Karkala.jpg
Jain Tirtha, Shravanabelagola, with the colossal Gommateshwara statue.

Jain temples are built with various architectural designs. [7] The earliest survivals of Jain architecture are part of the Indian rock-cut architecture tradition, initially shared with Buddhism, and by the end of the classical period with Hinduism. Very often numbers of rock-cut Jain temples and monasteries share a site with those of the other religions, as at Udayagiri, Bava Pyara, Ellora, Aihole, Badami, and Kalugumalai. The Ellora Caves are a late site, which contains temples of all three religions, as the earlier Buddhist ones give way to later Hindu excavations.

There is considerable similarity between the styles of the different religions, but often the Jains placed large figures of one or more of the 24 tirthankaras in the open air rather than inside the shrine. These statues later began to be very large, normally standing nude figures in the kayotsarga meditation position (which is similar to standing at attention). Examples include the Gopachal rock cut Jain monuments and the Siddhachal Caves, with groups of statues, and a number of single figures including the 12th-century Gommateshwara statue, and the modern Statue of Vasupujya and, largest of all at 108 feet (32.9 meters) tall, the Statue of Ahimsa.

In recent times, the use of murti images has become controversial within Jainism, and some smaller sects reject them entirely, while others are selective in terms of which figures they allow images of. In sects which largely disapprove of images, the religious buildings are far more simple.

Following the regional styles in Hindu temples, Jain temples in North India generally use the north Indian nagara style, while those in South India use the dravida style, although the north Indian Māru-Gurjara style or Solanki style has made some inroads in the south over the last century or so. For example, the Mel Sithamur Jain Math in Tamil Nadu has a large gopuram tower, similar to those of local Hindu temples.

Temple interior, Dilwara Delwada.jpg
Temple interior, Dilwara

Characteristics of the original Māru-Gurjara style are "the external walls of the temples have been structured by increasing numbers of projections and recesses, accommodating sharply carved statues in niches. These are normally positioned in superimposed registers, above the lower bands of mouldings. The latter display continuous lines of horse riders, elephants, and kīrttimukhas. Hardly any segment of the surface is left unadorned." The main shikhara tower usually has many urushringa subsidiary spirelets on it, and two smaller side-entrances with porches are common in larger temples. [8]

Later, with Dilwara in the lead, surrounding the main temple with a curtain of devakulikā shrines, each with a small spire became a distinctive feature of the Jain temples of West India, still employed in some modern temples. These are fairly plain on the outer walls, and often raised on a very high platform, so that the outside of larger temples can resemble a fortress with high walls. [9] However the entrance(s), often up high, wide steps, are not designed for actual defence, even though medieval Muslim armies and others destroyed many Jain temples in the past, often permanently.

Inside the temple, the Māru-Gurjara style features extremely lavish carving, especially on columns, large and intricately carved rosettes on the ceilings of mandapas, and a characteristic form of "flying arch" between columns, which has no structural role, and is purely decorative. Most early temples in the style are in various local shades of pink, buff or brown sandstone, but the Dilwara temples are in a very pure white marble which lightens the style and has become considered very desirable.

While, before British India, large Buddhist or Hindu temples (and indeed Muslim mosques) have very often been built with funds from a ruler, this was infrequently the case with Jain temples. Instead they were typically funded by wealthy Jain individuals or families. For this reason, and often the smaller numbers of Jains in the population, Jain temples tend to be at the small or middle end of the range of sizes, but at pilgrimage sites they may cluster in large groups - there are altogether several hundred at Palitana, tightly packed within several high-walled compounds called "tuks" or "tonks". [10] Temple charitable trusts, such as the very large Anandji Kalyanji Trust, founded in the 17th century and now maintaining 1,200 temples, play a very important role in funding temple building and maintenance.


There are some guidelines to follow when one is visiting a Jain temple: [11]

Prevailing traditional customs should be followed regarding worshipping at the temple and touching an idol. They can vary depending on the region and the specific sect.


Outside India

See also

Related Research Articles

Architecture of India Overview of the architecture in India

The architecture of India is rooted in its history, culture and religion. Among a number of architectural styles and traditions, the contrasting Hindu temple architecture and Indo-Islamic architecture are the best known historical styles. Both of these, but especially the former, have a number of regional styles within them. An early example of town planning was the Harappan architecture of the Indus Valley Civilisation, whose people lived in cities with baked brick houses, streets in a grid layout, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, granaries, citadels, and some non-residential buildings. Much other early Indian architecture was in wood, which has not survived.

Hindu temple architecture Ancient to modern form of Hindu Architecture and Indian Artistic philosophy derived from religions originated in the Indian subcontinent

Hindu temple architecture as the main form of Hindu architecture has many varieties of style, though the basic nature of the Hindu temple remains the same, with the essential feature an inner sanctum, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary Murti or the image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell. This chamber often has an open area designed for movement in clockwise rotation for rituals and prayers. Around this chamber there are often other structures and buildings, in the largest cases covering several acres. On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara, also called the vimana in the south. The shrine building often includes an circumambulatory passage for parikrama, a mandapa congregation hall, and sometimes an antarala antechamber and porch between garbhagriha and mandapa. There may be other mandapas or other buildings, connected or detached, in large temples, together with other small temples in the compound.

Dilwara Temples Group of Svetambara Jain temples in Mount Abu, Sirohi, Rajasthan, India

The Dilwara Temples or Delvada Temples are a group of svetambara Jain temples located about 2+12 kilometres from the Mount Abu settlement in Sirohi District, Rajasthan's only hill station. The earliest were built by Vimal Shah and supposedly designed or at least financed by Vastupala, Jain minister of Dholka. They date between the 11th and 16th centuries, forming some of the most famous monuments in the style of Māru-Gurjara architecture, famous for their use of a very pure white marble and intricate marble carvings. They are managed by Seth Shri Kalyanji Anandji Pedhi, Sirohi and are a pilgrimage place for Jains, and a significant general tourist attraction. Although Jains built many temples at other places in Rajasthan, the Dilwara temples are believed to be the most impressive.

Maddur, Mandya Town in Karnataka, India

Maddur is a town in Mandya district in the Indian state of Karnataka. It lies on the banks of the river Shimsha. It is 82 kilometers from the state capital Bangalore and 60 kilometers from Mysore. Derived from Maddu a term referring to chemicals used for explosives. According to a Tamil inscription found in Ugra Narasimha temple, the town was called Marudhur during the Hoysala period, from which the name Maddur might have been derived.


Suparshvanatha, also known as Suparśva, was the seventh Jain Tīrthankara of the present age (avasarpini). He was born to King Pratistha and Queen Prithvi at Varanasi on 12 Jestha Shukla in the Ikshvaku clan. He is said to have attained moksha at Shikharji on the sixth day of the dark half of the month of Phālguna.

Architecture of Rajasthan Architecture in the Indian state of Rajasthan

The architecture of the Indian state of Rajasthan has usually been a regional variant of the style of Indian architecture prevailing in north India at the time. Rajasthan is especially notable for the forts and palaces of the many Rajput rulers, which are popular tourist attractions.

Culture of Rajasthan Overview of Rajasthans culture

Rajasthan has many beautiful artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. Rajasthan is also called "Land of Kings". It has many tourist attractions and good facilities for tourists. This historical state of India attracts tourists and vacationers with its rich culture, tradition, heritage, and monuments. It has also some wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

Art of Rajasthan

Apart from the architecture of Rajasthan, the most notable forms of the visual art of Rajasthan are architectural sculpture on Hindu and Jain temples in the medieval era, in painting illustrations to religious texts, beginning in the late medieval period, and post-Mughal miniature painting in the Early Modern period, where various different court schools developed, together known as Rajput painting. In both cases, Rajasthani art had many similarities to that of the neighbouring region of Gujarat, the two forming most of the region of "Western India", where artistic styles often developed together.

Tourism in Gujarat

Gujarat is the 6th largest state in India, located in the western part of India with a coastline of 1,600 km. It is 9th most popular tourist regions in the country and was visited by 54.4 million domestic and international tourists in 2018.

Ranakpur Jain temple Temple in India

Ranakpur Jain temple or Chaturmukha Dharana Vihara is a Śvētāmbara Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabhanatha. The temple is located in a village of Ranakpur near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan.

Palitana temples Jain temples in Palitana Gujarat

The Palitana temples are the large groups of Jain temples located on Shatrunjaya hills near Palitana in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, India. Also known as Padliptapur of Kathiawad in historic texts, the dense collection of over 800 small shrines and large temples here has led many to call Palitana as a "city of Temples". It is one of the most sacred sites of Svetambara tradition within Jainism. These temples were built in and after the 11th-century CE.

Jain art Works of art associated with Jainism

Jain art refers to religious works of art associated with Jainism. Even though Jainism spread only in some parts of India, it has made a significant contribution to Indian art and architecture.

Chaulukya dynasty Indian dynasty that ruled Gujarat from c. 940 to 1244

The Chaulukya dynasty was a dynasty that ruled parts of what are now Gujarat and Rajasthan in north-western India, between c. 940 CE and c. 1244 CE. Their capital was located at Anahilavada. At times, their rule extended to the Malwa region in present-day Madhya Pradesh. The family is also known as the Solanki dynasty in the vernacular literature.

Shantinatha Basadi, Jinanathapura

Shantinatha Basadi, a Jain temple dedicated to the sixteenth Tirthankar Shantinatha is located in the historically important temple town of Jinanathapura near Shravanabelagola. It is a village in Channarayapatna taluk in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India.

Māru-Gurjara architecture Style of north Indian temple architecture

Māru-Gurjara architecture, Chaulukya style or Solaṅkī style, is a style of north Indian temple architecture that originated in Gujarat and Rajasthan from the 11th to 13th centuries, under the Chaulukya dynasty. Although originating as a regional style in Hindu temple architecture, it became especially popular in Jain temples and, mainly under Jain patronage, later spread across India and to diaspora communities around the world.

Mahavira Jain temple, Osian

The Mahavira Jain temple is built in Osian of Jodhpur District, Rajasthan. The temple is an important pilgrimage of the Oswal Jain community. This temple is the oldest surviving Jain temple in Western India. The temple is visited by both Jain and Hindu.

Kumbharia Jain temples Jain temples in the state of Gujarat

The Kumbharia Jain temples is a group of five Jain temples in the Kumbhariya, Banaskantha district in Gujarat, India. Constructed from 1062 to 1231 CE during the reign of the Chaulukya dynasty, they are noted for their elaborate architecture.

Humcha Jain temples Jain temples in the state of Karnataka

The Humcha Jain temples or Humcha basadis are a group of temples found in Humcha village of Shimoga district in Karnataka, India. They were constructed in the 7th century CE in the period of the Santara dynasty and are regarded as one of the major Jain centres of Karnataka. The Padmavati Basadi is the most well-known of these temples.

Rajput architecture

Rajput Architecture is a architectural style notable for the forts and palaces of the many Rajput rulers, which are popular tourist attractions, many of the Rajput forts are UNESCO World Heritage Site.



  1. Babb, Lawrence A (1996). Absent lord: ascetics and kings in a Jain ritual culture . Published University of California Press. p.  66.
  2. Hegewald
  3. "Basadi".
  4. "Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent – Glossary".
  5. Jaina Iconography, Volume 1 of Jaina-rūpa-maṇḍana, Umakant Premanand Shah, Abhinav Publications, 1987, p. 149
  6. http://www.pluralism.org/religion/jainism/introduction/tirthankaras
  7. Jain temples in India and around the world, Laxmi Mall Singhvi, Tarun Chopra, Himalayan Books, 2002
  8. Hegewald
  9. Harle, 228
  10. "Temple-cities"; see also Mitchell (1990) by sites
  11. CultureShock! India: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, Gitanjali Kolanad, Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd, 2008 p. 45