India is a diverse country. And this diversity is well-reflected in the country’s many religions. Jainism is one such religion founded in this spiritual land, and is based on three main principles, namely non-violence (ahimsa), many-sided reality (anekantavada) and non-attachment (aparigraha). India has many beautiful Jain temples that mark the wide existence of this religion across the country. Here’s a list of the top ten Jain temples in India that are truly worth visiting.
Gomateshwara (Bahubali) Temple
This temple situated at Shravanabelagola in Hassan (Karnataka) consists of a 57 feet high and 26 feet wide statue of Gomateshwara (also known as Bahubali), the first Tirthankara (Jain deity). This black stone statue is one of the world’s largest stone structures, built by Chamundaraya in the 10th century. Every 12 years, a Mahamastakabhisheka is conducted here, wherein the statue is bathed with milk and saffron paste – considered to be a holy ritual. Thousands of devotees from all over the world flock to this temple to attend this grand ceremony.
The temple is well connected to Bengaluru and Mysore. Hassan is the nearest railway station and 157 kilometers away is the nearest airport, Bengaluru.
Sonagiri is a sacred Jain pilgrim center with 103 temples from the 9th and 10th century. Most of the temples are built atop a hill in Datia (Madhya Pradesh), which is believed to have been once made of gold, hence the name Sonagiri (The Golden Peak). Lord Chandraprabhu is the main deity of the temples, with an 11 ft high idol. It is also believed to be a place of atonement where crores of saints have attained Nirvana.
Sonagiri is closely connected to the Gwalior airport – only 60 kilometers away, and can be reached via rail also – Bhavnagar being the nearest railway station.
In Barwani (Madhya Pradesh) is the world’s largest stone structure carved out of one single mountain (84 feet high) – the statue of Lord Adinatha, the founder of Jainism. The Bawangaja Temple is a popular Jain pilgrim center and believed to be a place where many great saints observed penance.
Situated well among the Satpura ranges, the temple is well connected by road to Indore. Indore railway station (160 kilometers) is the nearest, and at the same distance is the Devi Ahillyabai Holkar Airport.
Located just 3 kilometers away from the Mount Abu hill station in Rajasthan, are the Dilwara group of Jain temples. World renowned for beautiful and artistic marble carvings, the temples are one of the finest Jain monuments and a popular pilgrim center. Situated in the middle of a forest, there are total five temples, built by Vastupal Tejpal in the 11th century – artistic enough to make you spend hours pondering their beauty.
If you wish to visit the temples by air, the nearest airport is Udaipur, situated 185 kilometers away. However, if you want to reach via rail, then the nearest railway station is Abu Road, 29 kilometers away.
In the Aravalli Hills between Udaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan you’ll find the Ranakpur Temple in the Pali district. An important Jain pilgrim center and dedicated to Lord Adinatha, the temple is world famous for its intricate architectural style. The temple rises from the ground on 1,444 marble pillars, which are about three storeys high. The brilliant marble architecture of the temple is like no other, and should be visited at least once.
The nearest railway station to Ranakpur Temple is Falna (Pali); and Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur is the nearest airport.
Dedicated to the 15th Tirthankara of Jains, is the Dharmanath Temple at Mattancherry in Kochi, Kerala. The temple is believed to be about 100 years old, and is one of the famous Jain temples with beautiful marble-cut architecture. It was built by King Bhanu Raja and his wife, Queen Suvrata Rani.
42 kilometers away is the Kochi International Airport, and also at a distance of just 10 kilometers is the Ernakulum Junction railway station. So you can reach Dharmanath Temple either way. However, if you choose to go via boat (ferry ride) from Ernakulum to Mattancherry, you also get to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place.
The Palitana group of temples consists of total 2,700 carved temples. These temples are located on the Shatrunjaya hill near Palitana in Bhavnagar (Gujarat), and are a great tourist attraction in the state. To reach the main temple you have to climb 3,750 stone steps; but that’s not too many for thousands of devotees who come here every year. The temples are believed to be the residence of the divine, and therefore, nobody is allowed to stay overnight, not even the priests.
About 51 kilometers away is the Bhavnagar Airport, and just a few kilometers away is the Bhavnagar railway station.
At Kolanupaka in the Nalgonda district of Telangana is the Jain shrine Kulpakji. This 2,000 years old temple has idols of three Jain deities – Lord Mahavir, Lord Neminatha and Lord Rishabhanatha. The idol of Lord Mahavir is 52 inches tall and is carved out of a single sapphire stone. The idol of Lord Rishabhanatha is carved out of a green stone, and is quite famously called ‘Manikyaswami’.
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (100 kilometers) is the nearest airport, and the well-connected nearest railway station is Aleru – six kilometers away.
The word ‘Shikharji’ means ‘the peak of concentration’, and it’s believed that 20 of the 24 Jain Tirthankars attained Nirvana here. Shikharji is the top ranked Digambar Jain temple in India, and is situated on the Parasnath Hills in Giridh (Jharkhand). It is located at a height of 4,429 feet, covering a wide area of total 200 square kilometers.
You can reach Shikharji by rail or air. The closest railway station is Parasnath – just a few kilometers away. However, there are three major airports nearest to Shikharji – Ranchi, Kolkata and Patna.
Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir in New Delhi is one of the oldest Jain temples, dating back to the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It was originally built in the year 1656, and is famously known as the Lal Mandir or the ‘Red Temple’ because it is built out of red sandstone. The temple is also widely known for a Bird Charity Hospital run inside the temple campus. Located right opposite the Red Fort near Chandni Chowk, Lal Mandir was built in dedication to Lord Parashvanath.
Very near to the Lal Mandir is the Old Delhi railway station – just about two kilometers away. And if you plan to go by air, then the nearest airport is the Indira Gandhi International Airport, situated 25 kilometers away.