Gujarat is one of the strongholds of Jainism. It is a well-known fact that wherever Jains reside they will build a temple, locally known as derasar. There are thousands of Jain temples dotting the landscape of Gujarat but it is worth knowing about the larger and better-known ones. Read on to learn more about the major Jain temples of Gujarat.
List of 17 Most Popular Jain Temples in Gujarat
1. Shree Girnar Tirth, Junagadh
The Girnar mountain ranges are home to quite a few temples of which the most well-known is that of Lord Neminath. There is a story behind the temple. Nemi Kumar was the grandson of the ruler of Sauripur, King Andhakavirisni. He married princess Rajmati but was shocked by the butchering of animals for the wedding feast and took to meditation on the Girnar Mountains and the princess followed him. He attained enlightenment and Rajmati, known as Rajul, went on to found a women’s Jain organization. The temple came up around 1128 to 1159 AD. Nemi was then known as Neminath and became the 22nd Tirthankar. The temple has a beautiful layout and the walls are adorned with carvings. One has to climb 9500 steps to reach the temple and worship the idol of Lord Neminath, believed to be more than 84000 years old. It takes five hours to make the climb and the devotee feels fulfilled. Nearby one can find Mallinath temple and a 15th century Parshwanath temple as well as the Golden Rishabh Dev temple.
2. Palitana Temples, Bhavnagar
The grandest cluster of Jain temples is to be found on Shatrunjaya Hill in Palitana near Bhavnagar. It is considered especially holy since 23 tirthankaras visited this place. Construction of temples here started in 11th century and continued for a long time, some say for 900 years. In all there are nine clusters on the hill with a main shrine and dozens of smaller ones on all sides. The temples are characterized by exquisite carvings on the walls, ceiling and pathways with the most magnificent ones being on display in the Adinath Temple, the main shrine. What is remarkable is that none can stay here after the sun goes down. One must rise early and make the ascent, go around the temples and then leave the complex by dusk. Even the priests leave the hill by sundown. Interestingly, the presiding deity of the hill is Ambika Devi known locally as Hinglaj Mata. Majority of the temples here, however, are Shwetambar Jain temples with only one temple representing the Digambar sect.
3. Songadh Tirtha, Bhavnagar
About 22 km from Palitana and 28 km from Bhavnagar lies the complex of Songadh Jain temples. Not as big as Palitana but just as much revered, the temples here are dedicated to various Tirthankaras. One can find the Digambar Jain Paramgam temple, the Simandhar Swami Mandir, Swadhyay Mandir, Samavasaran mandir, Mahavir Kund Digambar temple and the Panchmeru Nandishwara temple here. The town of Songadh and the complex also house the Kanaji Swamiji museum and the Samadhi of Champabahanji. Kanaji Swami was a teacher of Jainism and spent 40 years here. The Digambar temple here is a major pilgrimage spot for followers of that sect.
4. Taranga Hill (Jain Temple), Mehsana
The Taranga Hills Jain temples may not be quite as elaborate or extended like Palitana but they are no less well known. Just 80 km from Mehsana in North Gujarat, the temple complex has temples of both Digambar and Shwetambar sects. There are about 14 temples of Shwetambar community and five Digambar Jain temples. The finest temple is the one of Lord Ajitnath said to be built by Kumarpal of the Solanki dynasty in 1121 AD. One must climb up the hill to reach the plateau where the temple complex is located. The temple measuring 100 feet in width and 50 feet in length sites in the middle of a large square measuring 230 ftx230ft. there are seven domes in the main temple which houses the idol of Lord Ajitnath. On the right side of the temple one can find the footprints of 20 tirthankaras including lord Rishabhdev while on the left there is the Gaumukh temple. The Digambar temples in Taranga are located on Kotishila and Siddhashila peaks that are home to temples that house the idols of Lord Neminath and Lord Mallinath.
5. Shantinath Jain Temple, Kothara
In all there are five Jain temples in Abdasa in Kutch but the main temple is simply breathtaking with its exquisite carving in marble. The temple rises to a height of two storeys and has five domes with tall spires rising into the sky. There are arched and carved gates and pillars that showcase the workmanship of the artisans.
6. Vasai Jain Temple, Bhadreshwar
Also in Kutch one can visit the Vasai Jain temples in Bhadreshwar. It is known as Bhadreshwar tirth and it is just 1 km from Bhadreshwar. Devchandra, a Jain devotee, started the construction and it was renovated between 1134 AD and 1315 AD by various wealthy Jain merchants. Earthquakes damaged the temple but each time the wealthy contributed to its restoration.
7. Shankeshwar Jain Temple, Modhera
Emperor Shah Jahan granted a piece of land to the Nagar Sheth of Ahmedabad who went on to establish a temple at Shankeshwar. The temple is large and of the open type with a square in front. There are 52 idols of various Tirthankaras in the temple and it is a popular pilgrimage spot, coming alive on the day when a fair is held here each year. If Shankeshwar is famous, then the Simandhar Swami Jain Derasar located near Modhera cross roads near Mehsana is no less impressive. The temple here is dedicated to Simandhar Swami whose large idol reposes in peace in the Padmasana pose.
8. Mahudi Jain Temple
Mahudi Jain temple is one of the most visited ones in Gujarat as devotees believe their wishes are fulfilled here. The temple here is known as the temple of Ghantakarna Mahavir. Shri Buddhisagar Maharaj Saheb is credited with having directed the construction activities. Apart from the idol of Lord Mahavira, there is also an idol of Lord Padmaprabh inside the temple. Next to the temple is a smaller one dedicated to Buddhisagar Maharaj. Pilgrims can worship the lord and there is dining facility where they serve pure vegetarian Jain food. However, most pilgrims make it a point not to miss partaking the sukhadi, a preparation of ghee, wheat flour and sugar. There is a general belief that anyone who carries the sukhadi prasad outside the premises will meet with misfortune.
9. Hutheesing Jain Temple, Ahmedabad
Seth Hathisinh Kesari Singh, a wealthy trader of Ahmedabad, commissioned the Hutheesing Jain Temple in the year 1850. His wife, Shethani Harkunvar, managed the construction that lasted for two years. There are two stories in the main temple and it is surrounded by a courtyard and building those houses exquisitely carved marble statues of various Tirthankaras.
10. Shri Vamaj Teerth Jain Temple, Sherisa
Just 6 km from Sherisa near Kalol in Mehsana lies the small village of Vamaj. It is home to the Jain temple of Bhagwan Adishwar. It is said that the idol dates back to the time of king Samprati and could date back to 1500 or even earlier and lay hidden underground. It was discovered in a street belonging to the farmer community of the region and a temple was built where the idol was installed.
11. Panchasara Parshwanath Jain Temple, Patan
Patan is better known for its Rani Ki Vav but it is also home to the famous complex of 100 Jain temples of which the Panchasara Parshwanath Jain temple is the most exquisite. The temples came up during the rule of the Solanki dynasty and showcase the finest art of carving in the pillars and walls while the floor is of polished white marble.
12. Pavagadh Jain Tirth, Vadodara
Pavagadh is better known for the Champaner fort complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, it is also home to the Jain temple complex. There are three groups of temples here. The first one is the Bhavanaderi temple also known as Navlakha Temple. The second group is the temples of Suparshvanath and Chandraprabhu. The third group of temples is located on the south-east point of Pavagadh Hill next to the Dudhia tank. It is said the temples were built in or around the 14th/15th centuries in white stone. However, they could be even more ancient. Unfortunately, Mahmud Begada laid waste the temples but devotees undertook repairs in 1880.
13. Jain Temples, Palanpur
The Jains were spread all over Gujarat and Palanpur is one place where they prospered in trade. The city is home to Motu Derasar dedicated to Lord Parshwanath and built by King Prahlada. The Kirti Stambh is a 22 m high tower built in the 12th century by a rich Jain merchant. The tower is dedicated to Adinath ji, the first Tirthankar.
14. Jain Temples, Jamnagar
Jamnagar is one place where one can find a range of Jain temples of which the Vardhman Shah temple is one of the best. Built in 1620 it is a large temple complex with a main shrine surrounded by 52 smaller shrines with the main shrine dedicated to Lord Adinath ji. Another temple that is visited in large numbers is the Shantinath derasar located near Bedi Gate. This temple is known for its beautiful murals and exquisite carving in marble.
15. Chintamani Jain Temple, Surat
The Chintamani Jain temple was built in the 17th century and it is known for its exquisitely carved wooden pillars that are covered with beautiful paintings. The walls are painted with beautiful floral motifs.
16. Jain Temples, Bhiloda
Bhiloda is in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat and it is home to the 12th century Chandraprabhu Digambar Jain temples. The outstanding structure is a 58 feet tall Kirti stambh. The temple is home to 111 marble idols and 40 idols in metal, of which the idols of Bharat and Bahubali are the center point of interest for visitors.
17. Rajgadhi Timbo, Visnagar, Mahesana
It is believed that Rajgadh was home to a large Jain temple that was destroyed by Muslim invaders. Devotees buried what was left of the temple and the site was then used for other purposes. However, in 1903, three idols were discovered that led to excavations that unearthed the temple complex. Interestingly, the temple also houses some idols of Hindu gods. The temple could date back to 1240.