Today on the auspicious occasion of Mahavir Jayanti, I am sharing my recent visit to the Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata, at Gauri Bari, near Maniktala, Kolkata. The temple is dedicated to Parshvanath Ji and Shitalnath Ji. Shitalnath Ji was the 10th out of 24 Tirthankaras (redeemer and supreme preacher) of Jainism and Parshvanath Ji, also called Kalīkālkalpataru, meaning the wish fulfilling tree, was the 23rd. There are 3 more temples around this main temple- one dedicated to Mahavir Swami, the 24th and final Tirthankara; another dedicated to Chandraprabhu Swami, the 8th Tirthanka, and the Dadawadi (Dadaji) Temple. The temples bring to us a little piece of Rajasthan in Kolkata.
Mahavir Jayanti, also called ‘Mahavir Janma Kalyanak’ is observed by the Jains every year on the 13th day of the month of ‘Chaitra’, by Indian calendar. It being one of the most crucial festivals of the Jains, is celebrated pompously at Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata on this day. By the Gregorian calendar, the day is observed in the month of either March or April. Mahavir Swami was born in 6th Century B.C., in a place called Kundagrama/ Kshatriyakund near Vaishali in present day Bihar. He is the most recent Tirthankara of Jainism.
Things to See at Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata
The way to the temple has murals with stories from the life of Mahavir Swami and other Tirthankaras. Then as we enter the main temple (Parshvanath Ji/ Shitalnath Ji Temple), we are stunned by the sprawling compound with amazing architecture of 2 massive temple buildings, a pond full of fish and a few gorgeous fountains and statues. Colourful glass mosaics all over the temple make it extremely attractive and vibrant. I was reminded of the art works of the Rajasthani forts. The place has made the best artistic use of marbles, metals and glass. The temple was commissioned by a rich and religious Jain merchant named Rai Badridas Bahadoor Mookim in 1867. There is a wonderful marble statue of Badridas Ji. Photography is not allowed inside the temple. The chief deity is that of Lord Shitalnath Ji with diamond-studded forehead. All the other deities are also beautiful and decorated with precious and semi-precious stones and metals.
Other Temples around the Parshvanath Temple
At the west of Parshvanath Ji Temple stands the Chandraprabhu Ji Temple and at north stands the Dadawadi (Dadaji) Temple. Dadaji Temple has a lovely courtyard with a fountain and the temple has footprint of Jain Acharya, Jin Dutt Kushal Suri Ji for worship. Behind the Dadaji Temple stands the Mahavir Swami Temple. All the temples are beautiful and are perfect examples of Rajasthani architecture. There is a souvenir shop inside the main temple, Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata, from where you can buy variety of items related to Puja (worship), room décor, miniature statues and books.
Mahavir Swami Temple & Chandraprabhu Temple
What Makes Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata Special?
Parshvanath Jain Temple of Kolkata is special and unique because everything is extremely ornate. The paintings on the ceiling, the marble figurines, the shrines and their jewellery, the gorgeous glass work, the glass mosaics on the pillars, fountains, plants and chandeliers with more than hundred branches make the temple regal. The temple shimmers because of the mirror work and glass mosaic. Since 1867 a lamp has been burning continuously and it stands as a testimony to how the faith and the art are still celebrated amidst the changing time and world.
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