1. Dilwara Temples, Mount Abu
Located just about 3 kilometres away from Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station, the Dilwara group of temples are world renowned for the stunning use of marble in its build. Some even consider it to be the most beautiful of the Jain temples in the world. They are simple, yet fascinating and situated in the midst of the forest. There are five temples in the area, each of unique architectural splendour. One can spend a number of hours just noticing all the sculptures and carvings done so carefully and artfully on the structures.
2. Gomateshwara Statue, Shravanabelagola (Karnataka)
Probably the most well-known spot in India by both Jains and non, this Jain temple has a massive black stone structure of Gomateshwara, The first Tirthankara standing 18 metres tall. Every 12 years devotees flock to the temple to conduct a Mahamastakabhisheka, wherein the statue is anointed with milk, saffron paste and dusted with powders of sandalwood, turmeric and vermilion.
3. Ranakpur Jain Temple, Rajasthan
Counted as one of the most religiously important places for Jains in India, Ranakpur is located in the Pali district of Rajasthan in a valley in the Aravalli hills in between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The ornate temple was built somewhere between the 14 and 15th centuries, and it rises from the ground in three storeys, that require no less than at least 1,444 carved marble pillars. The temple is a sight to behold, with its unique pillars and one marble rock that has 108 snakeheads and a tangle of tails sculpted out of it. Considering its brilliant workmanship, it is a must-visit spot for its architectural splendour and spiritual aura.
4. Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh – The Birthplace of 5 of the 24 Tirthankaras
Known For : Ramjanma Bhoomi Kanak Bhawan Nageshwarnath Temple
Ayodhya is a hot spot crowded with lots of places to visit when you are here. It starts with Ratnapuri, that is on the national highway. This is the birthplace of Lord Dharamnath and also the site of his sacred grove. Head next to Swargdwar, where the vividity of the spirit of the first Tirthankara, Lord Vrishabhnath can be still felt, as described in the Mahapuran. Follow this visit by going to the Jain temple dedicated to Tirthankara Lord Ajitnath at Baksaria Tola (otherwise known as Begampura). Next, go to Ramkot Muhalla Rajghat, the birthplace of Lord Abhinandan Nath and also of Lord Anantnath. There are temples dedicated to both of these Tirthankaras. Visit Rajganj last, and revel in the beauty of the 21 ft tall idol of Lord Vrishabhdev at the Digambar Jain temple.
Best Time: October to March
5. Sonagir Temples – Once the Land of Gold
At Sonagir, one can find about 84 Jain temples dating back to the 9th and 10th century dotting the little hills. It is a popular place of penance and it is believed that about five and a half crores of saints have attained Nirvana here. It is said that the hill on which these temples are erected was once made of gold. According to Jain philosophy, it is a place where ‘Samavsharan’ of eighth Tirthankara Chandraprabhu had arrived.
6. Bawangaja – Kundalpur: In the Heart of the Country
Nestled in the Satpura ranges, the world’s tallest statue of Lord Adinath is situated in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh. Adinath is the founder of Jainism, and a great many saints have held this spot as their place for penance, making Bawagaja Temple an important Jain pilgrimage centre. The statue, which stands at the height of 4000 feet is said to have been carved out of a mountain. Lord Adinath is in the posture of meditation spreading an idea of peace, expression and art. Kundalpur, infamous for its statue of Adinath sitting in the Padmasana is in the Damoh district of the state. 63 temples dot the valley. The scenic beauty of the area is a bonus for the eyes.
7. Hanumantal : A Treasure Trove of Stories
This Jain temple in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh appears like a fortress housing twenty-two shrines, which makes it the most significant independent Jain temple in India. One can say that it is a temple through history because it has a number of rooms, each housing images and idols of the Tirthankaras throughout the ages, from the British period through the Mughal and Maratha periods. For those who adore ancient art, this is the place for you. This temple is also the only one that houses an image of the Jain Goddess Padmavati. The annual Jain procession on the day of Lord Mahavira’s birthday starts here. There are 30 other Jain temples to visit while in Jabalpur. A few famous ones are in Lordganj, Bahuriband, Bada Fuhara and Madhiaji Jain Tirth.
8. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh – The Architectural Masterpiece
Known For : Light and Sound Show, Khajuraho Dulhadev Temple Kandariya Mahadev Temple
The sandstone built Khajuraho temple complex is dotted with a great number of temples, and the Jain ones are of particular excellence because of its beautiful architecture. They are famous for the Nagara style architectural symbolism that they exhibit along with the use of eroticism. Most of these temples were built by the Chandela dynasty somewhere between 950 and 1050 CE. Two of its most famous Jain temples are that of Lord Adinath and that of Lord Parshvanath. Khajuraho’s Jain group of temples lies in the Eastern part (Sevagram).
Best Time: July to March
9. Kochi, Kerala
Known For : Mattancherry Palace Fort Kochi Jewish Synagogue
The Dharamnath temple located in Mattancherry, Cochin is regarded to be the most important shrine for the Jain community in Kerala. It is said to be about a hundred years old and is made in marble with beautiful pillars sculpted like elephant trunk brackets, quite similar to the ones of the Dilwara temple in Mount Abu.
Best Time: July to April
10. Puliyarmala Jain Temple, Kalpetta
Dedicated to Saint Ananthanatha Swami, a well known Jain saint Puliyarmala Jain Temple is an ancient place located 4 km north of Kalpetta. The temple is made in granite and is constructed in traditional Dravidian architecture style. Believed to be built in the 13th century, the place is also known as Tipu’s Fort named after Tipu Sultan who used this temple to store ammunition. Sulthan Bathery Fort is located in the proximity to this temple.
11. Palitana, Gujarat
One of the most sacred Jain pilgrimage spots, Palitana in Gujarat has a whopping 3000 ornately carved temples within its complex. These temples, built over generations starting from the 11th century are located on the Shatrunjaya hills. For one to reach the complex, it is required to climb a path of 3,800 stone steps, a difficult feat to achieve, but this does not deter thousands of devotees from thronging to the complex every year. The temples are dedicated to the Svetambara Jains.
12. Girnar, Rajasthan
The Girnar mountain range, older than the Himalayas themselves is a home to a number of devotees every year, both Hindu and Jain. The Jain temples here dot the whole area and are beautifully built. The main attraction over here is the temple built for Lord Neminath. It takes climbing about 10,000 steps to reach the top of the temple complex.
13. Kulpakji Shrine, Andhra Pradesh: Home of the Svetambara Jains
The Kulpakji temple in the little village of Kolanupaka houses three idols in its inner sanctum; of Lord Rishabha, Lord Neminath, and Lord Mahavir. The idol of Lord Rishabha here is carved out of green stone, and makes for an interesting view, and is historically named ‘Manikyaswami’. The idol of Mahavira is 130 centimetres tall and is said to be carved out of a single piece of Jade. This area in Andhra Pradesh is particularly important because over twenty Jain inscriptions have been found here. A Manasthamba of 1125 AD was also found and this led to it flourishing as a Jain pilgrimage centre. Kulpakji is also an extremely important pilgrimage centre for the Svetambara Jains of South India.
14. Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, Delhi
he oldest Jain temple in the city, the Sri Digambar Jain Mandir is an impressive red sandstone structure dedicated to Lord Parshvanath. Located in the Chandni Chowk area, in the vicinity of Red Fort, the striking building is made entirely out of red sandstone. Originally built in 1658, the temple underwent major modifications and alterations in the later years. TIt is also famous for the Avian Veterinary hospital that is run in a building behind the temple within the compound.
15. Shikharji, Jharkhand : To Nirvana
Shikharji etymologically means ‘Peak of concentration’. It is here that twenty of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained Nirvana, making it a place of utmost spiritual value.
16. Hathisingh Jain Temple, Ahmedabad
Dedicated to the 15th Tirthankara of Jains, Dharmanath, this two-storied white marble structure provides a delightful experience and the tiled courtyard is another unique aspect of the temple.
17. Puliyarmala Jain Temple, Kalpetta
Dedicated to Saint Ananthanatha Swami, a well known Jain saint Puliyarmala Jain Temple is an ancient place located 4 km north of Kalpetta.