We returned to the Jain temples at around 11:30. We took off our shoes and placed them near the entrance before entering the temple forecourt. Just like our earlier visit of Chandraprabhu and Rikhabdev Temple (and possibly the other smaller temples interconnected in the maze-like network), we soon lose track of where we had been or which parts we had yet seen during our visit of Shantinath and Kunthunath Temple. Again temple buildings were interconnected at more than one level. For outsiders like us, it was impossible to differentiate the statues and temple chambers from one another. Except the marble statues of tirthankaras, almost everything were carved in the local yellow sandstone. Temple interiors were filled with grotto like shrines, narrow passageways, exquisite statues, and wonderful dome ceilings of sculpted apsaras (celestial nymphs). On the outside, toranas (ceremonial gateways) and shikharas (towers) packed the forecourt. The rich visual experience was coherent throughout the entire visit as we meandered through the temple complex. Given their compact sizes, it was surprising that we had spent the entire morning just to linger around the seven interconnected Jain temples until lunchtime.
Opening time varies for non-worshipers. We had to wait till 11:30 to enter the Shantinath and Kunthunath temple.
Built in 1536, the Shantinath and Kunthunath were equally impressive to the ones we saw earlier in the morning.
We didn’t come to worship so we stayed outside of the temple altar.
From the torana gate to the inner shrine, everywhere in the temple complex was full of details.
From up close, we could admire the sculpted base of the shikharas (towers).
At one end of the temple, we entered a shrine hall where locals were assisted by a holy man to perform certain worshiping rituals.
The outer facade of the hall was beautifully sculpted with what looked like to be symbols depicting religious stories.
The locals left the hall after they finished their worshiping rituals.
Soon we were all by ourselves to admire the dome ceiling of sculpted apsaras (celestial nymphs) and the other statues in the shrine hall.
Some shrines and their sculpted ceilings were not as well restored.
On the upper level, we came to a quiet area. We had the upper level pretty much all by ourselves.
We took our time to check out the different statues on the upper level.
There were a wide range of statues from human sized figures to the very small ones.
Before we left, fellow visitors finally found their way up to the upper level.
At the upper level, we also encountered a interesting footprint carving on a stone counter.
At the lower level, we spent some time examining the statues of dancing girls with large hoop earrings.
Back out to the temple forecourt, we passed by the exquisite torana one last time. Toranas are sacred gateways common in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples.
Back out at the street, we had one final look at the screened balcony connecting the upper level of the two temples. Near the end of our temple visit, we spent quite some time resting on the balcony seat.
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion dated to around 7th century BC. Jainism flourished in Rajasthan during the Rajput era from 7th to 12th century. During that time, Jain temples were often built along with palaces and forts. The Jains recognized the 24 Tirthankaras as the Great Teachers of Jainism. Jain temples were built in dedication to these Tirthankaras, and so as the ones in Jaisalmer. In Jaisalmer, seven Jain temples were built in the 12th and 15th century dedicated to seven of the Tirthankaras. Although not big in scale, these temples are famous for their exquisite sculptures and architectural ornaments crafted with the local yellow sandstone in Dilwara style. The Jain temples in Jaisalmer Fort should be in every visitor’s itinerary. Due to its restricted time opened for non-worshipers, we chose to visit the temples first and left the palace for the afternoon.
The first two temples we checked out were Rikhabdev and Chandraprabhu.
A series of simple signage led our way from Dussehra Chowk to the Jain temples.
The imposing shikhara (spires) of Chandraprabhu temple signified our arrival at the Jain temples.
Surrounded by beautifully sculpted pillars and altars, we began our visit from the courtyard of Rikhabdev.
Inside the main altar, a marble statue of Rishabha can be found. Rishabha is considered to be the first Tirthankara, and the primary deity of this temple.
A holy man appeared to pose for tourist photos.
Apart from the central altar, there are also smaller shrines dedicated to other Tirthankara. This one is Tirthankara Sumatinath, the fifth Tirthankara out of the 24.
Each shrine has a unique design, with a seated statue of the deity at the centre.
Space around the main shikhara (spires) was quite narrow.
We then went next door to the remarkable Chandraprabhu Temple. Dedicated to the eighth Tirthankar, Chandraprabhu Temple was built in 1509.
The magnificent dome ceiling of the main hall was definitely the focus for our eyes.
Narrow passageway led us to the smaller shrines at the sides and back of the Chandraprabhu Temple.
On the upper level, we could appreciate the main hall below.
Similar to the lower level, the upper level is also filled with small shrines.
From the upper level, we could have a better look at the fascinating details of the sculpted deities and ornaments on the dome ceiling.
We headed back out to the street after visiting the Chandraprabhu Temple. As non-worshipers, we couldn’t enter the second cluster of temples until 11:30am. We wandered around the lanes in the fort for a bit. We stopped by a local home to try out a vernacular Rajasthani art, the henna.
After a quick lunch at Pal Haveli Hotel, we hopped on the prearranged car for Jaisalmer, the golden city of Rajasthan. Before reaching Jaisalmer, we made a brief stop at Osian, a desert oasis famous for its ancient temples and camel safaris. At 15:00, our driver dropped us off at a dusty street intersection in Osian. Our driver spoke no English and we didn’t have a proper map of Osian. Google Map wasn’t helpful either for locating where we were. We followed a street lined with religious and souvenir shops and hoped that it would lead us to the town centre. We soon arrived at a temple. Judging from its archways and entrance stairway, we thought it should be Sachiya Mata, the temple that we intended to visit.
Osian was sleepy and we could hardly see a tourist. Even local pilgrims were fewer than expected. Originally a popular religious and trading hub in the Thar Desert, Osian has seen better days before Muhammad of Ghor and his Turkish and Muslim armies sacked the town in 1195 CE. Today it is no more than a quiet small town 40km north of Jodhpur with a handful of ruined temples. In its heyday between the 8th and 12th century, dozens of Brahmanical and Jain temples flourished in Osian, making the town a hub for camel caravans and Hindu and Jain pilgrims.
Built by Parmar king Upaldev for his kulderi (family deity), the Hindu mother goddess Sachiya, the Sachiya Mata Temple dated back to the 8th century.
Construction was made in different phases. The last changes were made in the 12th century.
Today, visitors can tour around the complex, experience the sacred ambience of occasional religious ceremonies and admire the thousand year old statues and paintings.
After walking up the archways, we passed through the main prayer hall and the Garbhagriha (inner sanctum that houses the deity) and reached the roof terrace.
The temple’s roof terrace was dominated by the shikhara or “mountain peak”.
Shikhara or “mountain peak” is a common feature in a Hindu or Jain temple.
The shikhara is ornately decorated with stone carvings.
Some ornaments can be dated back to over a thousand years.
Kautuka or red and yellow ritual threads are left on the fence right by a shikhara tower.
Throughout the complex there are multiple levels of terraces, shikhara towers, and pavilions.
Inside the mandapa (grand hall), a wide range of colourful tiles have been used as decorations.
We stopped for a while to admire the exquisite lotus ceiling carved with beautiful figures over the mandapa (grand hall).
Small shrines could be found throughout the temple complex of Sachiya Mata.
Both Hindu and Jain pilgrims would come to worship at Sachiya Mata.
With building elements and ornaments ranging from over a thousand years ago to the present, we were literally surrounded by layers of history as we wandered around the complex.
Ater staying for 40 minutes at the temple, it was time for us to move on.
We walked down the beautiful archways one last time. Soon we returned to where we were dropped off and were glad to see our driver getting the car ready for the remaining leg of our journey to Jaisalmer.