Jainism is a nontheistic Indian religion that prescribes a path of ahmisa, nonviolence, towards all living beings, emphasizing on the spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. The purpose of life in Jainism is to undo the negative effects of karma through mental and physical purification, a process that leads to liberation accompanied by great natural inner peace. There are 4.2 million Jain followers in India and about 6 to 12 million worldwide. A Jain temple is called Derasar or Mandir, depending of its location and they are usually built from marble stone.
A very impressive Jain temple is the Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir located just opposite the massive Red Fort and is the oldest and known Jain temple in Delhi. Built in 1526, the temple has undergone many alterations and additions and it was enlarged in the 19th century.
Sonagiri is a small town located on a hill in central India with several spotless-white Jain temples scattered around. Pilgrims and tourists have to climb the 300 steps to top, barefoot, and then they can enjoy the view of countless temples and chhatris wherever they look.
Khajuraho is a popular destination and village in India where numerous Hindu and Jain temples are located. The temples were built over a period of 200 years, from 950 to 1150. Khajuraho used to be home to a large and flourishing Jain community that lived on the eastern part of the town. Many of the temples are still standing and are in a good state of preservation.
Gometeshwara is a monolithic statues found on a hill in the city of Shravanabelagola. The statue is 17.38 meters high and was created around 983 AD. Once every 12 years the festival of Mahamastakabhisheka happens and the statue is bathed in milk, curds, saffron and gold coins.
Dilwara temples are located near Mount Abu and are internationally famous for their stunning use of marble. The details spread over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels. There are five Jain temples in total each with a unique identity and named after the small villages in which they are located. The temples were built during the Chalukya dynasty between the 11th and 13th centuries.
Palitana is a major pilgrimage center for the Jain religion. The temples from Palitana are considered to be the most sacred pilgrimage place in Jainism and there are hundreds of them located on the Mount Shatrunjaya, exclusively carved in marble. The temples were built by different generations from the 11th century onwards.
Ranakpur temple is dedicated to Adinatha and rises majestically from the slope of a hill. The temple is supported by more than 1444 marble pillars all carved in exquisite detail. They are different as no two pillars are the same. The structure symbolizes the Tirthankara’s conquest of the four cardinal directions, hence the cosmos. Although not officially set in stone, the date of the temple is said to be between the late 14th century and mid 15th century.