Mt. Abu


The Dilwara Temples are comprised of five temples named the Vimala Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pithalhar, Parshvanath and the Mahavir Swami with each dedicated to a Tirthankara. The Vimala Vasahi was dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha. The Luna Vasahi was in memory of  the builders late brother and dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha. The Pithalhar Temple was dedicated to the first Tirthankara. The Parshvanath to the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanatha. An finally, the Mahavir Swami was dedicated to Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara. The temples are known throughout the world for their exquisite marble-work and multiple histories. Many historical texts remark on the site, previously known as Arbuda, in different creation stories involving a great serpent that was either slain by the gods on the mountain or created the mountain to save an ascetic’s magical cow.[1]

The different histories highlight connections to Hinduism and other religions that also have sites on the mountain. The site gains some religious validity for the Jains because Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, is said to have visited and blessed the area. The temples on the mountain were built mostly between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries AD with restorations performed up until present time.


The main reason for the construction of Jain temples, including the Dilwara Temples, was to help with the purification of the soul. The purification is done by removing karma and could be accomplished through helping the greater Jain community.


LDDilwaraDoor. From


Domed ceiling: Jain temple: Dilwara, Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India. LinguisticDemographer at English Wikipedia.

All temples were fashioned from marble with the first two made completely of white marble.

The marble is a symbol of Jain detachment from material endeavors and a clear, translucent completed soul without karma. Many of the engravings, like other Jain temples, contain pictures of lotus-buds, flowers and historical images of Tirthankaras and Gods.[2] One such lotus flower of significant merit is the 1000- petalled lotus in the domes of the Rang Mandaps of the temples. As Mahavira stated,

Cast away all attachments and be pure as a lotus.[3]

Religious and Cultural Significance


“Mount Abu”

For Jains, a pilgrimage site is only sacred if it is connected to the life of a Tirthankara. Additionally, most sites are on holy mountains with Mount Abu being a significant mountain for the history of the area. Many Jain temples, including the Dilwara Temples, have been built where Tirthankaras reached liberation. Being in the presence of such an act, even if that act was performed centuries ago, could assist existing Jains in achieving transcendence. Additionally, Jains, like many other religious groups in India, believe the area is sacred because of the existence of the temples themselves. In reality, they most likely do not believe the ancient stories of gods and cows and serpents but because the site has existed for centuries, the site is a sacred pilgrimage site. The existence of the Tirthankara idols gives the temples a type of spiritual power than Jains can then access. The idols represent completed and successful renunciation of the world and a beacon to which current Jains may come to witness the religious role models. Today, the site acts as a historical, religious and cultural hub for the area with everyone marveling at the architecture and enjoying the Jain traditions.

[1] Clermont, Lothar, and Thomas Dix. Jainism and the temples of Mount Abu and

Ranakpur. New Delhi, India: Prakash Books, 1998.

[2] Kumar, Sehdev. A Thousand-Petalled Lotus: Jain Temples of Rajasthan: Architecture &

Iconography. New Delhi, India: Abhinav Publications & Indira Gandhi National Centre

for the Arts, 2001.

[3] K.V. Raman. “Jain Architecture.” The Hindu (Chennai, India), May 22, 2001, (accessed April 21, 2016).