Taranga Tirth is considered one of the five most important Maha Tirthas of the Jain community. It is located on a three peaked Taranga hill in the Mehsana district of Gujarat, on the Aravali Hill Range. The river Rupen flows along the hills and to the east flows the river, Saraswati.
White marble idol of Tirthankar Shri Ajitnath seated in a lotus posture of height 2.75 meters (Swetamber) and idols of Shri Adishwara Bhagwan (Digamber) in two shrines.
In Jain ancient scriptures, Taranga is described by various names like Tar-ur, Taravar nagar, Tarangiri, Tarangadh etc. “Kumar Pratibodh”, composed In Vikram Samvat 1241 by Acharya Shri Somprabhsuriji, states that in Vikram 1st century, Raja Vatsarai of this area impressed by religious discourses from Acharya Shri Baputacharya accepted Jain religion and built the temple of the Guardian deity of Jainism Shri Siddhayakadevi. The history of the in-between period is not available. It is possible this shrine may have been lost sight of during this intermediate period.
The present Swetamber Jain temple, according to a reference found, has been built by Solanki king Kumarpal under the guidance of Jain Acharya Shri Hemchandrachrya in Vikram Samvat 1221. Another reference states that on Falgun Sukla 2 in Vikram Samvat 1284 the leader of the Jain congregation Shri Vastupal got ceremonially installed idols of Shri Adinath Bhagwan in two niches of this temple at the hands of Shri Nagendra Gachchhacharaya Shri Vijaysensuriji. Both these idols are not available today but their seats with inscriptions are available in the temple.
There are references that in Vikram Samvat 1479, the repairs and renovations were carried out on the temple and thereafter the temple having been consecrated at the hands of Acharya Shri Somsundersuriji at the instance of Shri Govind Shreshthi. The last repairs and renovations were supposed to be carried out in Vikram Samvat 1642 and the temple was re-consecrated at the hands of Acahrya Shri Vijaysensuriji.
Temple Trail and Salient Features:
From the banks of the Saraswati, one starts on the path that leads to the Taranga hills. On the peaks above, resides tiny white chhatris and a shrine dedicated to Devi Taranamata from whom the village derives its name. The idols in the temples of Taranmata and Dharanmata are basically of Buddhist goddess Tara. There are a few images found from here and the broken terracotta images of Buddha, four carved images of Dhyani Buddha on a stone plate, stone and brick walls inside rock shelters are some of them.
As one ascends, the exquisite and architecturally marvellous Taranga Jain temple, welcomes the visitor. This 12th century temple is considered one of the best preserved and least restored temples in Gujarat. Though a less-frequent stop on the standard tourist trail, it is considered one of India’s most treasured works of architecture. It is four storeys (142 feet high, 150 feet long and 100 feet wide)), seven domed grand structure constructed of yellow stones with tall sky reaching Shikhar carved intricately. Many believe that the original temple constructed by king Kumarpal was 32 storeys but during repairs and renovations, the height may have been considerably reduced.
Womb of the temple is adorned with a five-meter tall peacefully seated sculpture of the 2nd Jain Tirthankar, Shri Ajitnath, may be a portal, for some, into deep unspeakable inner stillness. The idol of Ajitnath, having transcended action and suffering, transmits an intense and unmoving quiet, beyond the known.
The sanctorum bathes in red colour, while the exteriors of the temple are made up of white sandstone and bricks. The outer walls display an array of idols, mostly of women, in dancing positions.