Dilwara Jain Temples
Mount Abu, Rajasthan (India)
The thing I remember most about the Dilwara Jain Temples in Mount Abu was the delicious feel of the cool, clean marble on my feet.
This pilgrimage site for Jains is a group of five temples: Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Shri Mahavir Swami, Shri Parshvanatha, and Pittalhar.
From the outside, the temples appear very simple and surrounded by a high wall. But the elegant white marble is a lovely contrast to the surrounding greenery of the Aravalli Hills, and the interior is stunning. As with so many people, the beauty of the temples lies within…
Each temple of the Dilwara Jain Temples has elaborately carved pillars and corners, and an imposing entranceway. They also have central halls, a sanctum for the deity, and finely carved ceilings with gold leaf work.
Tourist hours are noon to 6pm, but Jains can come beginning at 6am for puja. There are facilities there for bathing (required prior to puja), and they’re solar-heated during the winter.
A Little History of the Dilwara Jain Temples
Home of the Thar Desert, much of Rajasthan is hot and dry. Mount Abu is Rajasthan’s only hill station.
The Dilwara Jain Temples were built by Vimal Shah and were completed sometime between the 11th and 13thcenturies. The temples are each dedicated to various tirthankaras—considered saviors and spiritual teachers of the dharma. In the Jain faith, tirthankaras are believed to have overcome the cycle of death and rebirth.
There is a story that artisans were paid by the amount of dust they created, which encouraged them to carve in ever-greater detail.
The temples existed before the town of Mount Abu, which was built only a couple of kilometers away.
The temples are a major pilgrimage site not only in Asia, but for Jains around the world.
Things to Know
Hanuman monkey / langur, Mount Abu
- Don’t mess with the monkeys. They can be aggressive. Don’t approach them.
- Because it’s a hill station, the weather is much cooler in Mount Abu than the rest of Rajasthan, especially in the evening. Bring a jacket or something warm, even in summer.
- Cameras (and phones) typically are not allowed inside the Dilwara Jain Temples, but there are lockers at the temple to store your belongings in.
- Binoculars are allowed and can help you see the carving details a bit better.
- The nearest train station is the Abu Road station, about 28 km away. It’s connected to many major cities, so if you like trains, go this route and take a car or taxi from there.
- The nearest airport is at Udaipur … not close. You’d need a car, train, or bus from there.
- Private tour buses and public buses are also an option. Public buses run pretty regularly from Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
More to See & Do in Mount Abu
Achalgarh Temple, Mount Abu
- Nakki Lake at Achalgarh Fort is great for a ton of outdoor activities. Toad Rock overlooks it.
- There are numerous other temples in the area, mostly Hindu, including Achalgarh Temple, the Shankar Math Shiva Temple, Gaumukh Temple, Achaleshwar Mahadev, Adhar Devi Temple, and so on. You get the point: There’s no shortage of good temples.
- There’s also the Swaminarayan Temple, pilgrimage place, and ashram. Lots of people come here to heal or rest.
- Catholic services are offered through St Anna’s Church. (It’s been a while, so I’m not sure if it’s the same place I visited with a friend. We shared worship with local nuns, sang “Like the Woman at the Well,” and had tea with them afterward. Nice.)
- Sunset Point. It is what it sounds like: a great place to watch the sun set! You can get horseback rides up on a distinctive Marwari horse of the kind bred by the Rathores for cavalry in the 1100s. (If you see someone selling roasted corn along the way, try it!)
- There’s lots of trekking, hiking, and a couple of wildlife parks in the area.
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