Monday, December 25, 2017

Delwara Dera, charity from Ministers

Delwara Dera, charity from the Ministers

Chalukya (Solanki) Bhimdev-I (1022-1064 CE) (grand father of Siddhraj Jaysingh) was King of Gujarat. Patan was the capital and Southern Rajasthan was under his kingdom. Arbud (Abu) was under the rule of Parmaras as a feudatories of Chaulukya of Patan. When Parmara ruler Dhandhuka rebelled against Bhima-I, Bhima defeated him and appointed Vimal Shah, his minister as the Dhanpati (Governor) of Arbud (Abu).

Delwara Dera is a famous Jain pilgrimage and one of the biggest tourists destination in Mount Abu. There are five temples dedicated to Tirthankars: Adinath (Vimal Vasahi), Rishabdev, Neminath (Luna Vasahi), Pashvanath and Mahavir Swami. But two of them Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi are important from the beauty of architectural perfection of white marble carving.

Vimal Vasahi Temple dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar Adinath was built by Vimal Shah, the Minister, in 1031 CE, six year after the raid and destruction of Somnath Temple (1025) by Mahmud Ghazni. Imagine the richness of the Minister. He spent ₹18.57 crore, used 1500 sculptures and 1200 workers to build the beautiful Jain Temple. The temple carved in pure white marble. The richly carved corridors, pillars, arches, and mandaps or porticoes of the temple are amazing. The ceilings feature engraved designs of lotus-buds, petals, flowers and scenes from Jain mythology. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels are marvellous; presenting architectural perfection. To make the carving fine and beautiful, he had paid to the workers in gold equal to the weight of the marble powder generated by carving.

In front of the Vimal Vasahi temple, there is Hathi Shala (Elephants courtyard) of 10 beautiful neatly polished and realistically modeller marble elephants in sculpture with the members riding them and a lead sculpture of horse with rider dedicated to Vimal Sha was constructed by Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimalsha in 1147-49 As the courtyard was opened to public, and more than 850 years have passed,  3-4 riders got destroyed but without the damage to the elephants they are riding.

Another important Temple is the Luna Vasahi temple, dedicated to Lord Neminath was built in 1230 by two brothers Vastupal and Tejpal, Ministers of King Virdhaval, the Vaghela ruler of Gujarat (Dhandhuka). The story is very interesting. Both brothers came with their wives for the pilgrimage. They stayed for a night but due to fear of robbery dig a pit and put all their ornaments and wealth in it and covered it. When they opened it in the morning, they not only found their wealth but fetched 7 more pots full of rich metals from the site. They decided to build a temple in memory of their late brother Luna. The Derani and Jethani also contributed in building zarokha from the wealth received from their parental home. They spent ₹18 lakh but each one was trying to make her zarokha the best. Finally, the brothers intervened and made the two zarokhas the same. But the sculpture made two changes to identify which one is of Derani and which one is of Jethani. The statue top of the carving of Derani is little tilted towards Jethani side. Jethani zarokha has 25 elephants at the base, one more that the Derani zarokha; indirectly establishing the supremacy of the Jethani over Derani. The main hall or Rang mandap features a central dome from which hangs a big ornamental pendent featuring elaborate carving. The lotus pendent carved from one stone found place in the Grinch Book of world record.

The Navchowki features some of the most magnificent and delicate marble stone cutting work of the temple. Each of the nine ceilings here seems to exceed the others in beauty and grace. The Gudh mandap features a black marble idol of the 22nd tirthankar Neminatha.

The third important Temple is Pittalhar, was built by Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabad (Gujarat). But the guide explained that it was built by Bhamasha, the Nagarsheth of Rana Pratap. The Temple remained unfinished because he had to divert the wealth to Rana Pratap for waging war with Mughals in Haldi Ghati. A massive metal statue of the first tirthankara, Rishabha Dev (Adinath), cast in five metals, is installed in the temple. The main metal used in this statue is 'Pital' (brass), hence the name 'Pittalhar'. However the guide described it a statue made from 5 metals. It weighed 4000 kg, made of 800 kg gold, 800 kg silver and rest the other three metals: brass, copper and zinc. The Shrine consists of a main garbhagriha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki. It seems that the construction of Rangmandap and the corridor was left unfinished. The old mutilated idol was replaced and installed in 1468-69 AD weighing 108 mounds (four metric tons) according to the inscription on it. The image was cast by an artist 'Deta' which is 8 ft (2.4 m). high, 5.5 ft (1.7 m). broad and the figure is 41 inches (1,000 mm) in height.

There is a three stories temple, the tallest of the shrines dedicated to Lord Parshvanath, was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59. On all the four faces of the sanctum on the ground floor are four big mandaps. The outer walls of the sanctum comprise beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, depicting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis, Shalabhanjukas, and other decorative sculptures. However, the guide explained that the temple was constructed by the workers as their charity from the waste and left over stones of the other two temples.

It is said that Allauddin Khalji had attacked and damaged the temples in 1311 and the Temple had gone through repairs but no major damage of destruction by enemies was found in the campus. The idols the main target of the invaders remained intact. But as part of hatredness practice, the guide did mentioned about Allauddin Khalji responsible for the damage to those four small statue riders of the elephants. As the ceilings are carved and fitted in white marble there was structural need to protect them from the weather, i.e., extreme Sun heat and heavy rainfall. Therefore, domes above were made simple, round in shape and coloured with white chalk. However, as per routine practice in India the Guide did explain that it was made simple to keep the Muslim enemies away. If all the idols, carvings, ceilings, doorways, mandapas, corridors, pillars, arches, etc, are found intact, how could one blame Alauddin Khalji to destroy 3-4 statue rider of the elephants kept in Hastishala? More likely, they were damaged by the tourists because they are open to public and we the people of India have habit to see and touch the statues and carvings. We skip generally the events of natural calamities; earthquakes, weather effects, etc, and focus more on man made calamities, the invaders so that human hatredness and division based on religion continues.

Whatever it might be, but if you haven’t seen Delwara Dera located in Mount Abu (Arbud Parvat), you have missed something major of your life. Take time, do visit and admire the art of human hands keeping fingers between the teeth.  It is one of the wonders of Indian art.

Ministers were rich those days but they used their wealth for public goods! Lol.

25 December 2017


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