What to see in Udaipur and Mount Abu

4. Mount Abu, Dilwara Temples, Ambaji Mandir

We reached Mount Abu at 9.30pm. While wifey slept I left for Dilwara Temples at 7am so that I could get to see the temples at leisure. Went with wifey again at 2pm. Tourists are not allowed to click pictures within the temple complex. Make sure you request one of the Pandits to take you around.

Dilwara Temples: is a cluster of five Digambar Jain temples dedicated to the Tirthankaras dated between the 11-12th century a.d. The first of the two imposing temples were built in the year 1031 a.d. by Vimal Vasahi commander in chief of Bhurinder Solankhi, ruler of Gujarat. It was built at a cost of Rs 185.3 million and is dedicated to Adhinath the first Tirthankara. 1500 masons & 1200 laborers worked on this temple for 14 years. An icon of Vimal Vasahi on a horse overlooks the temple entrance.

The first temple has 57 temple small temples of Tirthankaras on the periphery of the main temple. Ceiling is beautifully carved, some have 3 layers of carving within, other have 2 icons in the ceiling, predominance of elephants & flowers. Inner mandap supported by exquisitely carved pillars & beautiful torans. See Chakeshwari Devi (sewika of Bhagwan Rishabdev) sitting on Garud.

Also see in front of temple is Vimal Vasahi elephant cell where you have Vimal on horse with ten huge elephants carved in marble.

The second splendid shrine was built by two famous brothers Vastupal & Tejpal. They were ministers of Virdhaval Solankhi ruler of Gujarat. It was built at a cost of Rs 125.9 million in the year 1231 and is dedicated to Lord Neminath the 22nd Tirthankara.

Both these temples were built with pure white marble delicately & exquisitely carved with their unimpaired freshness & architectural beauty.

Other temples dedicated to Lord Mahavir and built in 1582. Bhima Shah’s Pittalhar temple has the magnificent icon of Lord Rishabh Dev is built of 5 metres and installed in the year 1482 a.d. The weight of the icon is 4.5 tons, length 8.5 feet and width 5.5 feet. On darshan you are believed to get rid of eye, stomach, feet problems within two years provided you pray sache man see and with shraddha (faith).

Lastly, a 3 storied temple Khartar Vasahi built in 1458 & dedicated to Lord Parshwanath, the 23rd Tirthankara was built by Mandlik & his family.

Pg 580 vol 5, “Dilwara consists of four principal temples each enclosed within a quadrangular court. Among them Vimala Vasahi & Luna Vasahi are noteworthy for the exuberance of ornamental detail minutely wrought in a manner that remains unsurpassed even in India which was justly famous for such kind of work. The setting of these temples on the rugged scarp of the hill at a height of over 4,000 feet makes a picturesque sight. Externally, the temples are plan without any architectural effect, the insignificant spires peeping in. The temple interior suprises you. A splendid display of sculptor’s skill is spread over the interior in the minutely carved almost fretted & traceried, decorations of the pillars, doorways and ceilings.

The carving of the pillars is delicate & intricate. In Vimala Vasahi they are all of a uniform pattern resembling those of the Surya Mandir at Modhera in Gujarat. In the Luna Vasahi hall much of the earlier vigor was lost & the bewildering maze of carvings failed to evoke the same aesthetic reaction that one experiences in that of Vimala Vasahi.

The exuberance of this sculptural magnificence reaches its climax in the treatment of the vaulted ceilings of the halls. Each of the ceilings is built of concentric rings, every one of which carries a beautiful motif, delicately carved while athwart the lower rings is placed a series of 16 brackets with representations of Vidyadevis or goddess of learning of the Jain pantheon, each contained within its own aureole. At the apex the dome culminates in a pendant of exquisite beauty hanging like a stalactite from the center”.

Sources of Content: One notes copied from boards outside the temple/palace. Two words of our Guide & local Pandit. Three is History & Culture of Indian People published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Given volume & page number references below. Four print outs given by the Maharana’s palace hotel in Udaipur. Five is Rajasthan tourism site.

Pictures of Dilwara Temples

Mount Abu: We spent a day, very relaxing after a hectic four days earlier. Besides the Dilwara temples places to see are:

1. Nakki Lake: is believed to have been dug out by the gods with their nails. There is a very nice restaurant in the lake. Sit, have chai enjoy the breeze & view.
2. Toad Rock i.e. on the banks of the lake.
3. 14th century Raghunath mandir on the banks of the lake.
4. Sun set point.
5. Honeymoon point.
6. Gau Mukh: a holy spot has an old tank, which is supplied with water from a spout, shaped like a cow hence the name Gau Mukh. The temple of Vashishtha, and the fire pit, where Agnikula Rajputs are said to have been cremated are interesting & old sites. It was his ashram in which there are icons of Vishnu, Surya devta & Lakshmi.

This holy place is about 20 kms drive from the main market. The climb is very steep. You reach the top of a hill after which the way down consists of 700 steps. You walk in a virtual jungle, not a soul around. Running down might be easy but coming up 700 steps at 5pm was a tough & scary thought. It took all my stamina & courage to go down & come up in an hour. Since wifey was alone in the car was worried about her too. Luckily our cell phones were in network so we were in touch.
7. Guru Sikhar: is a must visit. It is about 15 kms away, 45 minute beautiful rive. It is the highest peak in the Aravallis at 1772 mtrs. There is a small Shaivite shrine and temple of Dattatreya. From car park to top is about 160 steps. There is a planetarium close by.
8. Jain temple at Achalgarh: we did not go but were told it is a must see. It is about a 20-minute walk from the car park. There is a Shiv mandir close to the car park.
9. Om Shanti Bhawan also known as Universal Peace Hall is the Brahma Kumari’s World Spiritual University. Nice place but we did not have the time.
10. Ahar Devi mandir: was formed by a natural cleft, 360 steps lead you to this beautiful temple chiseled out of a huge rock.

Ambaji Mandir

We drove straight from Kumbalgarh fort to Abu road. From here Ambaji is about an hour's drive. Most of the drive is in the hills. Since Ambaji is situated in Gujarat your driver would need to pay road taxes at the state border. It is about Rs 180/ that you need to reimburse your driver.

“Ambaji (Banaskantha district) is the seat of Ambe Mata, the mother goddess. Hers is a household name in the state. People pay homage to her during Navratri in song and dance. She is an aspect of goddess Parvati Shiv's consort. Amba or Ambe Mata is shown riding a tiger during the Navratri celebrations. Navratri in Gujarat is comparable to the worship of Saraswati in Bengal.

Hindus do not believe in gender bias where divinities are concerned. Krishna says in the Holy Gita, "I am the father of this universe and even the source of the father. I am the mother of the universe and the creator of all." The logic is simple. If god is our father why can't he be our mother? Ambe Mata is the Adya Shakti- the primordial female power the mother goddess.

The Ambaji temple which is situated on the Arasur hill in the Aravali Range does not contain any idol. It has only a Yantra engraved in a niche. The shrine is made of marble. Large number of devotees visit the shrine during the Purnima fairs held on the full moon day on Kartik Chaitra Bhadrapad and also Navratri i.e. celebrated on a grand scale here.

Ambaji is one of the 64 Shakti Piths. The Shakti Piths were established at those places where the pieces of Sati's body fell. It came about this way. Shiv's father-in-law Daksha Prajapati felt insulted when the son-in-law did not stand up to receive him. In order to slight him he organized a Yagna and did not invite Shiv. Sati went to the Yagna uninvited. She too felt slighted when people failed to take note of her presence. According to Puranas she fell into the sacrificial fire. Shiv picked up her body and rushed about in great grief. Vishnu had to intervene. He cut up the body with his discus, so that Shiv may regain his composure. According to tradition one of the pieces fell at Ambaji. A short distance from Ambaji is the Gabbar Hill. It is said that the goddess revealed herself on the Hill and left her footprints”. - Content from Gujarat Tourism site

Insights: Temple entrance is very impressive. As you enter you walk on an elevated structure that has shops on both sides. After walking for about five minutes you enter the temple courtyard. I was in shorts and not allowed to enter the mandir. I took a dhoti on hire.

The temple is made of white marble with excellent carvings & sculptures. We had darshan of Ambe Mata. My wife Aparna experienced strong vibrations, the visit gave her lots of strength. Over the years have realized that my only Ishta Deva is Shiva & none other so I admired the beauty & cleanliness of the mandir. After visiting the temple complex three cheers to the trustees, architect and workers who made & have maintained a very aesthetic & clean mandir.

From here we left for Mount Abu to reach by about 8.30 pm. Had dinner, next day Abu sightseeing. We left Mount Abu by 6pm to reach Abu Road by 7.30pm only to know that the train was late. We were tired and sleepy at the end of a five day journey.

Pictures of Ambaji Mandir

We had a great but hectic trip. Love Rajasthan and pranams to the warriors of Mewar.

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