Jains and Jain temples of Jaisalmer

October, 2022 by https://storyateverycorner.com/jaisalmer-jain-temples/
Jaisalmer fort has seven gorgeous Jain temples, intact from invasions and destruction over the last 800 years! The history of the Rajput King, the Fort, Jains, and Jain temples of Jaisalmer, is intertwined and spans hundreds of years. The temples now store precious ancient literature of the Jains in secret underground chambers. They also store statues that once adorned the Jain havelis before they were abandoned.

The Story of the Jain Temples of Jaisalmer Fort:

As the story goes – the old capital of the region, Lodharva was along the wealthy silk route. The wealth attracted many looters and invaders. The Mughal invaders also destroyed the city and damaged the all-important Jain tirth of Lodharva.

Tired of invasions and left out of his throne, King Jaisal started the hunt for a new capital. He found a monk on a plateau who told him of the forecast that the plateau will be the site of a capital of the future. But it will also be a site for 2 1/2 jowhars. Not deterred, he built the new capital, Jaisalmer named after himself.

King Jaisal had land but not much wealth. On the other hand, the flourishing trade along the silk route was controlled by the Jains, which made them ultra-wealthy. The Patwa family alone had 367 stores all around Asia. They were so wealthy, they financed 48 kingdoms! But they were merchants, not rulers.

They needed the king to protect their temples from invasions. So, they struck a deal with King Jaisal.

The wealthy Jains agreed to finance the King’s fort if he agreed to have Jain temples in the Jaisalmer Fort. It was a win-win agreement. The Fort is very secure and hard to penetrate. So, the Jain temples and tirth Jaisalmer stand as they did hundreds of years ago. They also store one of the largest collections of precious Jain literature.

The main temple is that of Chintamani Parshwanath Ji, the 23rd Tirthankara. Other temples include those of Sambhavnath Ji, Vimalnath Ji, Shantinath Ji, Shitalnath Ji, Chandraprabhu swami, Kunthu Nath Ji, Dharma Nath Ji and Mahavirswani Ji.

Even though all the Jain temples had prime real estate within the Fort, all the Jains lived outside the fort, in homes below the hill. You see the Jains were much wealthier than the king and built larger and higher houses. For example, the Patwa family house has four floors above and 2 floors below the ground. If the Jains built their houses in the Fort, they would compete with the palace in height and grandeur. By having the Jain family homes in lower grounds, they could be larger without overshadowing the palaces of Jaisalmer.

If one has to pick one of Jaisalmer’s tourist places to visit at dawn, it ought to be the Jain temples in Jaisalmer fort. The fort is clean and quiet, with no tourists. The temples are calm with only the priests doing their chores. It’s the best time to mediate and soak in the vibe of the location that was once the seat of power, wealth, and religion.

Parshvnath Swami’s Temple:

Traditionally, Parshwnath Bhagavan’s (23rd Tirthankar) statue is black. In Jaisalmer’s Jain temple, the murti is white and looks like marble. But it’s really not! It’s made of clay with a thick coating of precious crushed pearls.

The entrances for the Jain temples of Jaisalmer are exquisite with several arches carved from golden stone. The temples are higher than the ground level, usually requiring a couple of flight of stairs.

All the temples, particularly the Parshvnath temple have very elaborate and intricate pillars, toran and colorful done. No wonder they are tourist destinations of Jaisalmer as much as places of worship.


The entrances for the Jain temples of Jaisalmer are exquisite with several arches carved from golden stone.

Entrance toran at Parshwanath Jaina Temple

The pheri around Parshvnath bhagavan’s temple is large and beautiful. Even the back of the temple is stunning with all the carvings. Hence, it’s a top attraction among of Jaisalmer’s tourist places.

Temple at the backside within the pheri

Every tiny space in the temples is covered with ornate carvings of beautiful women, men, and animals.

It’s unreal how intricate the carvings are in all the Jain temples of Jaisalmer Fort. They are still intact and resemble the carvings in the Jain homes and Jain temple of Lodurva.

The seven temples in the Fort have some 6000 statues! That’s because – when Pakistan was formed in 1947, the silk trade route was shut down. Business suddenly came to an end. The Jains moved far and wind in search of work. When leaving their homes, the Jains donated their statues to the temples for safekeeping. As a result, the temples now have an incredible treasure containing thousands of statues made 12th to 15th century.

Eight more temples other than Parswanath Swami’s temple are also equally beautiful. Next few photos provide the glimpses of the same.

Carving of Devkulika on ceiling

The craftsmanship certainly puts the temples in Jaisalmer’s top tourist places to visit.

An old rock engraving with list that includes all the major events and dates for the 24 Tirthankaras

Dreams of Sri Sambhavnath swami’s mother

Padmavati Devi along with Parshwanath

There is an interesting story about this statue and the reasons for the different colors.

Interesting dragon face sculpture

Is it possible that this has any connection with silk route and China?

Jain Treasures (Granth Bhandar):

Under the main temple are precious treasures of Jains, ancient archives preserved for hundreds of years. Early in the morning, the priests and caretakers may even be able to show you some of the treasures of the Jain temples. The treasure safe is opened when senior monks and scholars visit the temple.

Ancient Tunnel:

In the basement is also the entrance to the 13km tunnel to the old capital. So, if Muslims warriors or looters attacked Lodharva area, the Jains escaped to the temples in the fort.

Tips for visiting Jain Temples of Jaisalmer Fort:

The best way to avoid crowds is to visit the Jain temples in Jaisalmer fort early in the morning. For a couple of hours in the morning, the temples are open only to the priests and worshippers. If you’re a Jain or can pass as a Jain worshipper, it’s best to go before 8am without a tour guide. Temples are very quiet, and one can have them for themselves. It’s even possible to meditate within the inner circle of temple peacefully.

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Curtesy: https://storyateverycorner.com/jaisalmer-jain-temples/

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