Mahavir Jayanti: 5 Jain Temples That Showcase India’s Architectural Brilliance

Celebrated by Jains around the world, Mahavir Jayanti is observed through religious processions, prayers, chants, and sermons. And here are some of the most spectacular Jain temples you can visit during the festival.
Most famous Jain temples of India. Credit: Canva

Most famous Jain temples of India. Credit: Canva

Jainism is an ancient religion that originated in India around the 6th century BCE. It emphasises non-violence, ahimsa, and living a simple and ethical life. Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most important festivals in Jainism, celebrating the birth of Lord Mahavir, the 24th and last tirthankara (spiritual teacher) of Jainism.
Lord Mahavir lived way back in 599 BCE, born to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. He was born on the Trayodashi (13th) date of Shukla Paksha (the bright half) of the Hindu month of Chaitra, which falls in late March or early April as per the Gregorian calendar. This year, Mahavir Jayanti will be celebrated on Sunday, April 21, 2024. And here are some of the most spectacular Jain temples you can visit during the festival.
Palitana Temples Gujarat Credit Canva
Palitana Temples, Gujarat. Credit: Canva

Palitana Temples, Gujarat

Located on Shatrunjaya hills, the Palitana Temples are a complex of over 900 Jain temples and shrines. Built over 900 years ago by Kumarpal Solanki, a great Jain patron, the site is believed to be the place where Adinath (also known as Rishabha), the first Tirthankara of Jainism, meditated beneath a tree at the summit and gave his first sermon. Climbing up the over 3,500 steps to reach the top is a pilgrimage for many Jains. The intricate architecture and the peaceful atmosphere make this a truly special place and on a clear day, you can see the Gulf of Cambay from the hill.

Gommateshwara Temples, Karnataka

Gommateshwara Temples Karnataka Credit Canva
Gommateshwara Temples, Karnataka. Credit: Canva
At a distance of around 158 kms of Bengaluru and 83 kms of Mysore, in the town of Shravanabelagola lies the temple complex of Gommateshwara. The highlight of this temple complex is the colossal 57-foot statue of Gommateshwara, the first son of Adinath, carved out of a single block of granite. Also called the Bahubali temple, this religious site sees many travellers, especially during Mahavir Jayanti. Another important festival, Mahamastakabhisheka, is held every 12 years, when the statue is bathed in water, milk, sugarcane juice, and the saffron flower paste. The next Mahamastakabhisheka festival is expected to be held in the year 2030.

Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan

Dilwara Temples Rajasthan Credit Canva
Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan. Credit: Canva
Located near Mount Abu, the Dilwara Temples, a cluster of five different shrines, are known for their exquisite marble work. The two main temples, the Vimal Vasahi Temple (dedicated to the first tirthankara) and the Luna Vasahi Temple (dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara), are the most popular destinations owing to the intricate carvings that depict stories from Jain mythology. All the temples here are made with marble. Dilwara Temples along with Ashtapad, Girnar, Shatrunjaya and Shikharji are known as ?vētāmbara Pancha Tirth (five principal pilgrimage shrines) in Jainism.

Sonagiri Temples, Madhya Pradesh

Sonagiri Temples Madhya Pradesh Credit Canva
Sonagiri Temples, Madhya Pradesh. Credit: Canva
This complex of Jain temples is located in a series of caves on the Shatrunjaya hill in MP’s Datia district. The word ‘Sonagiri’ refers to ‘The Golden Peak’ or ‘The Golden Mountain’, and is home to 103 Jain temples, all white in colour. 77 of these temples are situated on the hills, 26 are located in the village. These temples, a religious site for followers of Digambara sect, are famous for a 43-foot-tall Manstambha, referred to as 'The Column of Dignity,’ as well as an 11-foot-tall idol of Lord Chandraprabhu, the 8th Jain Tirthankara. But a glimpse of these architectural wonders comes at a cost: 3500 hundred steps uphill!

Shikharji Temples, Jharkhand

Shikharji Temples Jharkhand Credit tourmyindia
Shikharji Temples, Jharkhand. Credit: tourmyindia
Located on Parasnath Hill, Shikharji is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Jains, and one of the most visited. This is because 20 out of 24 tirthankaras attained moksha here. Devotees who wish to do a pilgrimage here have to start at the Palganj shrine on Giridih road, before reaching the temples of Madhuban located at the base of the Parasnath Hill. The pilgrimage itself is a challenging 27 km trek around the holy peak, which is home to many Jain temples.
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