Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mount Abu in Madras

Many believe that the best marble monument in India is not the Taj Mahal, but rather, the Dilwara Temples near Mount Abu in Rajasthan, sacred to Jains. It was from these temples that the Jains who had settled in Madras drew architectural inspiration from for their newer temple in the city.

Though the structure is new, worship at this particular site is not. The Chandra Prabhu Bhagawan Naya Jain Mandir, on Mint Street, was built at the same spot where one of Madras' oldest Jain temples, the Swetambar Jain Temple, stood. As with the other temples of the tirthankaras, the sanctum sanctorum is elevated from the ground level. Here, the main deity is Chandra Prabhu, the 8th tirthankara. Built largely of limestone, with accents in marble, it is both completely different (from the grey granite, or the gaily coloured gopurams) and similar (to other Jain temples everywhere).

Also, just as many other places of worship do, this temple also offers free food every day - only, in keeping with Jain traditions, the food is entirely free of spices, oil and even salt!

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