Recently, I made my annual visit to Rajasthan. It is a trip my wife and I have done since 1997. [Here is what I wrote after my last years visit.] For a few days, we will leave aside the comforts of urban life and travel through Rajasthan visiting temples and staying in Jain dharamshalas for Rs 50-100 a night with only the most basic amenities. This year, we had four-and-a-half-month-old Abhishek with us. We were also joined by Bhavanas mother, and her sister, her husband and their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
We began the trip in Jodhpur, and drove 1200 kms. over four days before taking the flight back to Mumbai from Ahmedabad. En route, we visited 14 temples with Nakodaji, Ranakpur, Dilwara (in Mount Abu) and Ambaji being the more prominent ones. Every trip begins for us in Jodhpur with a visit to Nakodaji, and then the route varies depending on the time we have.
Nakodaji (about 110 kms. from Jodhpur) holds special significance for Jains. It attracts a lot of visitors round the year. I have memories of visiting it during the Rajasthan visits I used to make as a child and teen also. Here is a little background from Jaintirths.com: The ancient name of this Tirth is mentioned as Virampur. Virden and Nakorsen of the third century of the Vikram era built this temple and His Holiness Acharya Sthulibhadraswami installed the idol. In course of time, this temple was renovated many times. When Alamshah invaded this place in the year 1280 of the Vikram era, the Sangha kept this idol hidden in the cellar in the Kalidrah village for protection. This temple was again renovated in the fifteenth century. 120 idols were brought here from Kalidrah and this beautiful and miraculous idol was installed here as Mulnayak in the year 1429 of the Vikram era. Acharya Kirtiratnasurishvarji installed the idol Bhairavji here. Nakoda Bhairavji is very powerful and benevolent. He protects the Tirth and fulfills the wishes of the worshippers. His miracles are known all over the world.
Ranakpur is perhaps architecturally the most spectacular. Pilgrimage-India writes: Ranakpur is famous for some marvelous carved Jain temples constructed during the regime of Rana Kumbha of Mewar in 1439 AD. Ranakpur is ranked among the 5 holiest pilgrimage center of the Jain religion, remarkable in its architecture splendor and beauty. The temple shrines contain 24 halls with exquisite carved 1440 pillars. All the pillars are unique in themselves, with each one adorned with intricate and delicate work. The most famous central temple dedicated to the Jain Thirthankara Adinath ji, is also called Chaumukha- four-faced.
The Dilwara temples are often described as a dream in marble. NetFundu writes: The Jain Dilwara temples of India are located about 2 kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station. These temples dating back from the 11th to the 13th century AD are world famous for their stunning use of marble. Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan but none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous and has to be seen to be believed.
Visiting these and other temples transports one to a different world. It is a world where time has almost stood still. The pooja rituals are performed the same way day after day after day. Every day is just like the previous one. Some days have a lot more devotees, other days a little less. But the temples stand there as they have for centuries, accepting one and all. The Rajasthan visits take me back to my roots to the land where my parents grew up, but one with which I now struggle to make a connection.
TECH TALK Rajasthan Ruminations+T