About Jain Temples
Located in the golden city of Jaisalmer, Jain Temples, situated inside the famous Jaisalmer Fort, are sites of heavy historical and religious importance. Along with being strongly associated with religious sentiments, these temples are of tremendous archaeological significance.
With each temple dedicated to a different Tirthankara of the Jains, these subtly ornate structures are no less than a treasure to lovers of history and architecture. Every single one of these temples is built with the unique golden sandstone for which Jaisalmer is so famous for.
All seven temples are linked to each other. The hushed air of peace and calm that prevails around each of these temples is a testament to the beliefs upon which they were built. These temples have a unique quality of being alive. When one wanders along with these ancient places of worship, one can sometimes hear the bricks tell old tales while the pillars break into hushed whispers of the past.
Engraved with the most impressive and ornate carvings, the temples are dedicated to the sacred Tirthankaras Rishabhdev, Sambhavnath, Chandraprabhu and Parshvanath. The earth-coloured walls of the temples are covered with pristine sculptures and idols.
One can marvel at the beauty of these rare artefacts secured inside glass cabinets. The artfully sculpted pillars of the monuments are adorned with cosmic nymphs and celestial deities. These Jain Temples are a must-visit if someone wants to witness the historical heritage of Jainism.
History of Jain Temples:
The history of the Jain Temples of Jaisalmer and the fort stretches back to more than a hundred years. The story of how these temples came to be is not only important but also fascinating. Ruled by rich aristocrats, the capital province at that time was along a wealthy silk route which paved the way for the rulers to accumulate immense wealth in various forts and palaces.
This wealth lured many Mughal invaders towards the city, and these invaders looted and damaged most of the pilgrimage sites of the Jains. According to local folklore, it is believed that initially two distinct communities, namely the brave Kshatriyas who were the rulers and the scholarly Brahmins who were teachers and priests lived in the fortress.
Sadly, the Muslim kings later invaded the area and plundered the rich Jain temples and vandalised the sculptures. After witnessing incidents of loot and plunder so many times, the Brahmins asked the rulers for money to build Jain temples which the rulers consented to.
Even now, Kshatriyas and Brahmins are the only two communities to live within the Fort, but the temples receive vast amounts of donations from Jains all over the place. Now the temples have become a sacred pilgrimage site for the people of the Jain community.
Jain temples are often constructed with various distinct architectural methods. The Indian rock-cut style of architecture, which was initially a Buddhist style, is one of the earliest examples of Jain architecture. These seven Jain temples stand proudly inside the high-rising walls of the Jaisalmer Fort.
Built around the 15th and 16th centuries, the temples stand unique and differentiated because of their sun-kissed spires. The glistening tops of these spires stand tall and can be easily spotted from a distance. Just like the Fort, the temples are constructed using the golden-yellow sandstone.
Often to the confusion of the visitors, all the temples in the forts are interlinked with each other. It becomes slightly bewildering for first-time tourists to differentiate one temple from the other. Having the most beautiful idols and the most intricate stone carvings, the temples dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabhnath and Parsvanath hold the greatest significance amongst all the other temples.
The famous entrance gate of the Parsvanath Temple is an exemplary specimen of art and architecture in itself. The temple inside features plush carvings, especially on pillars and columns. The inner walls of the temples celebrate the ancient Jain style of artistry. Even the ceilings of the monuments are covered with intricate floral designs and elaborate celestial and cosmic symbols.
Best Time to Visit Jain Temples
It is best to visit the Jain temples early during the morning hours if you are a non-Jain visitor, as the temples don't let non-Jain visitors enter after noon. The early morning time is not only more refreshing but also gives you ample time to explore all the seven temples.
As Jaisalmer is known for its hot climate, it is advisable to visit the Fort from November to February during winters. The atmosphere in the temples during winters feels cosy and comfortable. However, If you still plan to visit during the summer, make sure you wear light clothes that fully cover your body from the sun.
What Not to Miss at Jain Temples
Places to visit near Jain Temples:
1. Amar Sagar Lake - Only a few miles away from the main Jaisalmer Fort, Amar Sagar lake is a beautiful oasis next to the 17th Century Amar Singh Palace. The palace was built by Maharawal Akhai Singh in the honour of Maharawal Amar Singh.
The castle itself is a five-storey high monument with its walls and ceilings covered with elaborate murals and paintings. The lake offers a great view of the sunrise and sunset as well. The atmosphere around is of peace and serenity.
2. Kothari's Patwa ki Haveli - Kothari's Haveli is situated about 4 km away from the fort. This building gives the visitors a splendid insight into the ways of the people of the past. The building is beautiful in and out. It is home to several collections of antiques and is adorned with keenly-crafted stonework.
This building gives glimpses of the life of the rich people during the olden days. There is an availability of guides at this place who help one understand the historical significance of the area.
3. Vyas Chhatri - Less than an hour away from the Jaisalmer Fort, Vyas Chatri is a memorial comprising of cenotaphs made of sandstone. It is a burial point for kings and their wives. Some of these cenotaphs are of the Hindu style while some are Moghul.
Vyas Chhatri is famous as a stunning sunset spot with highly picturesque surroundings. The monuments glow with the golden tint during the day and turn crimson during the evening.
4. Desert Culture Centre and Museum - Less than 5 km away from the Jaisalmer Fort, this somewhat lesser-known museum is a highly underrated tourist attraction. The museum has a collection of many typical Rajasthani articles collected from all over the state.
However, the main attraction of this place is the famous puppet show that takes you on a trip down memory lane. You will learn about the origin and glorious history of the Rajasthani culture here.
5. Bada Bagh - A few minutes drive away from the Jain temples, Bada Bagh is a beautiful memorial site of various kings and their queens. It is situated on a hill with its entrance located at the bottom of the mountain.
There are cenotaphs for maharajas here that are covered with a slab made of marble. Information about the ruler to whom the cenotaph belongs to is inscribed in these slabs. It is quite an educational and photogenic place. For any visitor, it feels like history is meeting with the present.
Other Essential Information About Jain Temples
Location: The temples are located on Fort Kothari para in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, 345001.
Timings: The temples are open for visits from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. It usually takes around two hours to explore the whole place.
Fee: Indians: Visiting the temples is free for Indian residents.
Foreigners: The fee is INR 10 for foreign tourists.
Places to eat near Jain Temple:
1. Jaisalmer Oasis Restaurant - Located at Vyasa Pada, inside the Fort of Jaisalmer near Jain Temple, this terrific cafe offers a range of cuisines from Italian to Asian. It is the much deserving winner of the Certificate of Excellence 2019. This is a vegetarian food-joint with vegan and gluten-free meals as options. The food here is delicious, and the staff is lovely and caring.
2. Abu Safari restaurant - Located at the ring road near the Jaisalmer Fort, the Abu Safari restaurant is a beautiful rooftop food joint that offers the most delicious meals coming from the various cuisines. There are some options available both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians in this classic Jaisalmer restaurant. Being a high rooftop, one can enjoy the view of the Fort while eating. The place is quite spacious, and the staff is extremely sweet and caring.
3. Sakura Restaurant - This restaurant is located on Asni Road near the Salam Haveli. With homely exteriors and humble interiors, it offers Chinese, Indian, Italian, European, and Albanian dishes and is vegetarian-friendly. The service here is quite apt with friendly and polite staff.
4. The Traveler's Cup premium coffee shop - At about a five-minute walking distance from the Jain Temples, this little cafe with its quaint yet attractive charms is the best place for any and all book lovers. It is situated inside the Dharam Internet Cafe and Bookshop, opposite the Sun Temple. The food and drinks available at this cafe are delicious and offered at very reasonable prices as well. The atmosphere is usually cooled with fans, and they also offer complimentary wifi.
5. Shahi Palace rooftop Restaurant - Located at Shiva Street in Jaisalmer, the Shahi Palace Hotel is a magnificent hotel with splendid interiors and exteriors. It is known to combine the tremendous Marwari charm and hospitality with the comfort of the modern era. The walls of the building are made of amber sandstone, and the cool-feeling floors are made of stone tiles. The intricate interior architecture of this palace and the warmth with which the staff serves the guests, make the visitors feel like royals themselves. This is a great place to visit after one is exhausted after exploring the city and the temples and is in the mood to feel taken care of and cherished.
6. Karma Cafe - Located near Hawa Pol in the Jaisalmer Fort, this special cafe offers both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The cafe offers meals for everyone ranging from vegetarian, non-vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The Falafel rolls are a famous delicacy of this food-joint. The cafe is on a rooftop and hence provides a lovely view of the sky-touching Fort.
Tips for visiting the Jain Temple:
Certain things and traditions should be catered to while visiting these temples to explore them in their full glory and without any disruption.
1. One should enter the premises barefoot.
2. Leather items like belts, purse etc. are severely looked down upon inside the temple premises.
3. One should not be found eating or chewing anything inside the temples as it is a sign of disrespect.
4. One should keep the mobile phones on silent mode once inside the temple.
5. Wearing light clothes is advisable when exploring the Fort and the temples, as Jaisalmer is known for its warm weather.
6. Littering is not at all appreciated in these places of worship, and one must make sure that they don't throw their belongings around.