Jaisalmer – Entering the Fort and visiting a Jain Temple

25th February 2014 (Day 17) Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

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Fairly early in the morning we entered the fort at Jaisalmer.  I have broken up the events of the day into separate posts, though there is probably little logic for the separation and it is more of a continuous stream.

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There was a most curious set of steps on an outside wall.

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Fabrics and garments for sale on the way in…

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Elaborately carved facades…

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A warren of small streets and roadside shops…

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Looking in to a fabrics shop as we walked past…

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We also visited a small Jain Temple.  Here, unlike the larger Jain temple we visited at Ranakpur, we were permitted to photograph the sacred figures.  We are looking through at one of the Salakapurusas, not a god but an illustrious person one might like to emulate, probably not unlike Buddhist Bodhisattvas.  There are a few more of these in following images.

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Elaborately carved ceilings…

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The sign below the desk says “Please do not give tips to the holy men.  All gifts please place in the donation box instead.”  Notwithstanding this, a holy man demanded money upstairs, claiming rather implausibly that it was a different establishment up there.

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A wonderful delicacy in many of the carvings…

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Click on an image if you want to see a larger view.

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Not everything was open for view.

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Ranakpur

21st February 2014 (Day 13) Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

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We are approaching the entrance of the remarkable Jain Temple in Ranakpur, constructed between 1439 and 1458, in an enclave inside the Kumbhalgarh National Park.

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The intricacy of the carving is most remarkable.

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There are “about 1444” columns in the temple and they are all different.

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There are a number of these ceiling domes.  While they might look the same at first glance, they are also all different.

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The Jain religion is about as old as Bhuddism, dating from somewhere around 500BC.  Both religions were at one time much stronger in India than they are today.  Currently, about 80% of India’s population is Hindu, 13% Moslem, 3% Christian, 1.6% Sikh, 1.5% Bhuddist and 0.5% Jain.  However, Jainism is the strongest religion in Udaipur, so this region is probably its strongest corner of India.

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Mobile phones are everywhere in India.  Even in a corner of a Jain temple, we see a holy man in the background on his mobile phone.

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The Jain religion is essentially relativist, holding that all perceptions of truth and reality are different and can never be complete.  It does not postulate a supreme being or creator and rather seeks unity with Nature.  Jains are non-violent and vegetarian.  Jain ascetics hold to five tenets including non-violence, speaking truth, not seeking profit or material advantage, celibacy and detachment from people, places and material things.

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Outside, in a small sub-temple, was a Langur mother and child.

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Hindustan Ambassador

This is a Hindustan Motors Ambassador, at one time the archetypal Indian automobile and still manufactured in small quantities.  It is based on the Morris Oxford of 1955-58.

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The 600-year old sacred tree in the temple grounds.

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