Digambara Jain temple dates back to the time of Aurangzeb's
reign and is famous as Delhi's oldest temple. It is situated right
opposite the Red Fort, at the
entrance of the main road. It was built in 1658 AD, but modifications and
additions are going on ever since, and it remains a haven of tranquility
amidst the noisy and chaotic main street of
Although the temple is not as ornate as the fine temples in Gujarat and Rajasthan, it does boast detailed carvings, and decorative paintwork in the antechambers surrounding the main shrine to Parshvanath, the twenty-third tirthankara. One has to remove your one's shoes, and hand them over with one's bags and all leather articles at the entrance before getting inside the temple.
The Bird's Charity Hospital
The temple premises house a unique medical center for birds, the Birds' Charity Hospital. Free treatment is given here, which draws inspiration from the message of 'Live and let Live' given by Lord Mahavir, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of the Jains.
It serves as a rescue sanctuary for partridges, caught and wounded by fowlers and bought in bulk by Jain merchants who bring them here to recover, and there are separate wards for pigeons, parrots, sparrows and domestic fowl. Squirrels, who will not hurt the birds, are also treated here, but birds of prey are seen on a strictly outpatient basis, as they are not vegetarian.
Most of the cages are home to pigeons with a disease that brings on paralysis. As their condition improves they are moved to larger cages closer to the roof, and eventually released.