Jain architecture is an offshoot of Hindu and Bhuddhist styles. In the intial years, many Jain temples were made adjoining the Bhuddhist temples following the Bhuddhist rock-cut architecture. Initially these temples were mainly carved out of rock faces and the use of bricks was almost negligible. However, in later years Jains started building temple cities hills based on the concept of “mountains of immortality.

Elements of Jain architecture

  • Jain temples have numerous pillars having a well designed structure, forming square.
  • The squares thus formed create chambers, used as small chapels and contains the image of a deity.
  • From these pillars are richly  carved brackets that emerge at about two third of their height.
  • The rooms of these temples have pointy domes and wherever there is dome, the pillars are omitted to create an octagonal space within.
  • The only variation in architecture specific to Jain temples is the frequently seen four-faced or chaumukh design.
  • In these four faced temples, the image of a Tirthankar faces back to back to faces four cardinal directions.
  • Entry into these temples are also from four doors that face the cardial directions.

Jain temples

  • The founder of Jainism is Vardamana or Mahaveer. The first one is Adinath.
  • All of Jain temples are dedicated to one of the 24 thirthankars.
  • In Jain style of architecture, bricks were hardly used, and the system of carving out temples from rock faces was adopted.
  • In late years when Jains discovered the concept of mountains of immortality, they proceeded to deviate from Hindu and Bhuddhist sites and build on their own.
  • An important aspect to be noted is that Hindus and Bhuddhist built temples, Jains built temples cities on hills.

The temple architecture

  • The leading idea of the plan of the Jain temple is that of a number of columns arranged squares. Wherever it was intended to have a dome, pillars were omitted, so as to leave spaces in the form of octagons.
  • By corbelling over the pendentives in level courses, the dome was gradually formed.

Interior layout of temples

  • The exits of Jain temples lead into a series of columned chambers into the central halls of the temples.
  • These temples within a temple, divided into sanctums and surrounded by  a range of chapels and shrines, and the maze of columns act as a defense against  plunderers.
  • The principle impression gathered from these temples is the variety sections but in harmony with each other.
  • The point spires above each dome is different, yet it signifies the position of a chapel, hall or any other chamber inside. 

The Jain Temple of Ranakpur is dedicated to the first Tirthankara, Lord Adinath or Bhagwan Rishabh Dev. Jain Temple inRanakpur is located at a distance of 90 km from Udaipur or 25 km from Kumbhalgarh. Adinatha Temple has been famous pilgrimage centre for its intricate and outstanding architectural style. It stands as a perfect combination of architecture, sculpture and crafts.

The temple was built by Seth Dharna Sah who was a Jain businessman with the help of Rana Kumbha, the ruler of Mewar in the 15th century. The temple complex is located in an isolated valley on the western side of the Aravalli Mountain Ranges.

Architecture of Adinatha Temple 

The Adinatha Temple is situated on the slope of a hill on the western flank. The plinth at the main entrance in the west has been constructed visibly higher. One can see innumerable shikhara towers, small shikharas, cupolas and pyramids soar above the ensemble.

The Adinatha Temple has been constructed in light coloured marble that have been brought from the quarries of Sonana and Sewadi was used for the construction. The temple occupies a wide space covering an area of 48000 sq feet. There are more than 1400 exquisitely carved pillars that support the temple. The temple stands on a basement of 60m x 62m.

There are several temples like Chaumukha temple, Parsavanatha temple, Amba Mata Temple and Surya Temple. The structure of the temple is very complex. It has four different doorways that lead to the chambers. Walking through these doorways one reaches the main hall where the image of Adinath is installed. The Adinatha temple has been conceived of as a chatur- mukha-prasada, i.e., the idol faces all four cardinal directions.

At the central entrance there is a flight of stairs. On top of these stairs a three-storied “Balanaka” (entrance hall) has been constructed. It has a dome roof. Even the different columns have been carved elaborately. Apart from these, Adinatha Temple is decorated with four additional shrines. It has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes that are supported by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes have beautiful sculptures of deities. One can also see magnificently engraved nymphs playing flute in various dance postures at a height of 45 feet.

The shrines are encircled with range of cells with separate roofs. The five spires rise above the walls and around 20 cupolas rise from roof of the pillared hall. Each spire has a shrine and the largest shrine is the important one that addresses the central altar. The temple ceilings are festooned with foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns. The most striking fact about the temple is that it changes its colour from golden to pale blue after every hour during the day. There are two bells in the mandap or prayer hall that weigh 108 kg each. The harmonious sound of these bells can be heard in the temple. Because of the intricacy of the structure the temple took approximately 65 years to complete.

Ground plan of the Adinatha Temple

The Adinatha temple conceived of as a chatur-mukha-prasada, i.e., the idol faces all four cardinal directions. This necessitates a cell (garbha griha, no. 1 in the plan) with four doorways. The Sanctum is surrounded by halls, which are known as either the sabha mandapa (assembly halls) or ranga mandapa (dance halls, no. 2 in the plan).

The one on the western side is prominent due to its size in the axis of the main entrance. As a result, the cell is placed a little to the east; this accounts for the ground plan not being a perfect square. The central area of the temple is in the form of a crucifix and encircled by an open rectangular courtyard (no. 3 in the plan); in comparison with older Jain temples, the courtyard here does not have much of the prominence.


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