THE JAINA TEMPLE CAVES

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» East India
» Orissa
Location : 6-km from Bhubaneswar Railway Station, District Puri, Orissa
Locally Known As : Gumpha
Famous As : A Jain Pilgrimage Centre
Architectural Style : Rock-cut Architecture

THE JAINA TEMPLE AND DEVA-SABHA
Taking the right uphill track and then turning right, past the Akasa-ganga, the visitor reaches the terraced crest of the hill, crowned by a temple, dedicated to Rishabhanatha. The main image, made of white marble, is of recent installation, enshrined only about forty years back, but the temple, consisting of a deul and jagamohana, both of the pidha order with pyramidal roofs, is older.

Jaina Caves, Udayagiri, OrissaThe temple was most probably built on the site of an earlier shrine, a presumption substantiated not only by Kittoe's notice, in 1837, of the vestiges of earlier structures at the site, but also by the existence on the terrace near the temple of more than a hundred monolithic miniature shrines, most of them having at one of their faces the figure of a Tirthankara.

Like the votive stupas they were evidently dedicated by pious devotees near the main sanctum. Their importance lies in their furnishing an idea, although rough, about the general appearance of the extinct temple, which must have been of the rekha order. This terrace with the monoliths is called the Deva-sabha, 'the assembly of the gods'.

Being picturesquely situated at the highest point of the hill, the temple affords a panoramic view of the environs, including the temple-town of Bhubaneswar and the Dhauli hill. Otherwise, it has no architectural merit, its only importance lying in its containing a large number of old Jain images.

Inside the sanctum, on the altar are marshalled on both sides of the main image sixteen small chlorite sculptures and one sandstone image of Rishabhanatha besides a damaged chaturmukha, all much earlier than the temple itself. The chlorite images include three of Rishabhanatha, two of 'Santinatha', one each of 'Sumati-natha' and Amra and three slabs containing groups of Tirthankaras, all robeless. Most of the sculptures are of fine workmanship.

In the right niche is a standing chlorite image of nude Rishbhanatha of a comparatively large size. On its back slab is carved the whole group of twenty-four Tirthankaras. In the left niche is a seated yaksha couple, above whom is their Jina with the cognizance, the wheel.

In the jagamohana are four old images of Tirthankaras of which two are Parsvanatha and one Rishabhanatha.

Five more images of robeless Tirthankaras, one of them in chlorite, may be seen in a small temple on the backside of the main one. All these images have been collected from the hill and its neighbourhood.

The colossal image of Parsvanatha, in black marble, which is enshrined in the marble hall near the entrance is modern, being installed in 1950.

Leaving the temple-compound by its back door, the visitor may descend by rock-cut steps to a spot beside Cave-5 and thence reach the main road by the flight of modern steps.



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