The majestic Girnar mountain stands firm in the south of Saurashtra encompassing 14 derasars. Visible far far away in the mountains are the cloud embracing beautiful shrines of the temples, the lush green forests and the black wild rocks and they together make for a magnificent viewing. As if talking with the clouds, this Girnar is the place where Lord Neminath lived an ascetic life in the pursuit of spiritual freedom. Various Jain temples (Jinalaya) adorn this mountain. Laced with various beautiful architectural and sculptural nuances, each and every temple has carved its own independent identity and one can clearly witness the sculptural finesse that would have gone into the making of these temples. Amidst this eye-soothing artistic splendor are the beautiful divine idols that grace the temples and after that it becomes hard to take eyes off their captivating beauty. The mountain is 3675 ft tall from the sea-level.
a) The main temple of Lord Neminath
As you enter the fort from its main entrance, situated on the left is a small Lord Hanuman temple (known as Deri) and on the right is KalBhairav Deri. About 15-20 steps further ahead on the left side falls the main entrance of Lord Neminath temple. Inside the main entrance are located the office of Devchand Laxmichand Pedhi, various rooms for priests (Pujari), rooms for pilgrims to relax and a drinking water outlet. In the olden days, this was the place where Pedhi would distribute Gathiyas and Ladvas (a type of sweet and snack also called Bhathu) to the pilgrims. Further ahead inside the premises on the left side, there are bathrooms for the pilgrims and a facility for hot water. Next comes the southern entrance to the main temple of Lord Neminath. Just a little ahead begins the main temple premises – the courtyard is about 130 feet wide and 190 feet long. Just outside the main temple door on the left side is an article from the scriptues. The 9th Shloka of that article says that a king named “Mandlik” was born in the Yadav lineage and in 1155, he got Lord Neminath temple embellished with gold plating.
Just outside the southern entrance, to the right side is Shri Ambika Devi’s small temple. It is a beautiful idol of Ambika Devi, the presiding goddess of Girnar and the attendant deity of Lord Neminath’s reign. Her impact is inconceivable. Visiting this temple before entering the main temple is highly recommended.
Entering the mesmerizing temple from the southern side, one comes to a 41.6 feet wide and 44.6 feet long courtyard. In the sanctum sanctorum is installed the idol of the jewel of mount Girnar – Lord Neminath. The idol is a tranquil black in color, captivating and at the same time calming. Sight of the idol relieves a tired pilgrim from the weariness of climbing the mountain as well as from the exhaustion caused by the continuous cycle of birth and death.
This main idol of Lord Neminath is currently the most ancient idol in the entire world. An Indra of the fifth heaven, Brahmendra, had this idol made during the era of Lord Sagar who was the third Tirthankar in the previous time cycle of 24 Tirthankars. It is about 20 kodakodi sagaropam less 1,65,750 years old. 2000 years after the salvation of Lord Neminath, a Jain Shrawak named Ratnasha with the assistance of Goddess Ambika, procured this idol and had it consecrated.
This idol is placed here since approximately 84786 years, and as per the words of Lord Neminath himself, it will be worshiped here (Girnar) until the end of the fifth epoch of this time cycle, which means 103250 more years. Thereafter it will be taken by Ambika Devi to Patal Lok and will be worshiped there.
Installed in the circumambulatory surrounding the main idol, and in the courtyard, are several idols of various Tirthankar lords, male and female guardian deities and Jain monks. Just ahead of this courtyard, lies another courtyard 21 feet wide and 32 feet long. In the center of this courtyard there are two platforms on which approximately 840 foot prints belonging to the chief disciples of various Tirthankars have been inscribed. They were consecrated in the Vikram Samvat year of 1694, on the second day of the dark half (Krishna paksha) of the month of Chaitra.
In the circumambulatory outside this temple, starting from the Western direction, one can see the replica painting of the Nandishwardveep installed in the Vikram Samvat year 1287, idols of Jain Lords, the idol of goddess Padmavati, replica paintings of Sammetshikharji and Shatrunjay, paintings depicting the life of Lord Neminath, foot prints of the disciples who came in succession of Lord Mahavir, idols of various Jain presiding deities and celestial beings, temple of presiding goddess Ambika, temple with the foot prints of Lord Neminath and Lord Mahavir and idol of monk Vijayanandsuri (Atmaramji maharaj).
In a room located inside the circumambulatory, there are foot prints of Lord Adinath, female jain monk Rajimatishriji and an idol of Acharya Nitisuri maharaj, who was instrumental in getting the restoration of Girnar shrine done. In an underground cellar in the same room , there is an ancient idol of Lord Amijhara Parshwanath 61 inches in height, white in color created in the time of King Samprati. One enters a meditation like stage while gazing at this captivating idol.
b) The temple of Jagmal Gordhan
Right behind the main temple of Lord Neminath, lies the temple of Lord Adinath. The consecration of this temple containing idol of Lord Adinath – 31 inches, was carried out by Jagmal Gordhan of the Porvad sect, under the able guidance of Acharya Vijayjinendrasuri in the Vikram Samvat year 1848 on Friday, the sixth day of the second half of the month of Vaishakh. Jagmal Gordhan used to manage the administrative accounts of the shrine of Girnar and used to be the care taker of the temples. A square near Uparkot in the city of Junagadh has been named after him as Jagmal Chowk.
(a) Panchmeru Temple
Situated on the right of the entrance of the main temple of the Merakvashi Toonk is the Panchmeru temple. The construction of the Panchmeru temple is extremely elegant. There are five Merus in this temple. On each of the five Merus, there are four idols, each facing one of the cardinal directions. Inscriptions have been found at this site which date the installation of an idol of Lord Rishabhdev ( 9 inch) to Vikram Samvat year 1859.
(b) Lord Adbad’s Temple
Going out of Panchmeru temple and before entering main temple of the Merakvashi Toonk, on the left side is a 138 inch Lord Rushabhdev’s idol that is established in posture of Padmasana. On seeing this idol, you will be reminded of idol of Lord Adbad’s temple in Shatrunjay’s Nav Toonk, hence this idol is also called Lord Adbad’s temple. Even though this idol is made out of black stone, it is currently plastered in white.
In the front portion of the base of the idol, there is a yellow stone that has an idol of 24 Tirthankaras along with an inscription that dates the installation to V.S 1468.
(c) Main temple of Merakvasi
This temple was built from the donations raised by King Siddharaj’s minister Saraj for Lord Neminath’s Toonk. The work of this Toonk was completed by giving the sculptors gold proprtionate to the carvingsthe work of this Toonk was complete. The carvings are so intricate that the wires of Sitar and the nails of fingers thereupon can also be easily discerned.
The main deity of this 52 idol temple is Lord Sahastraphana Parshwanath’s 29 inch idol that was established in V.S. 1859 by Acharya JinendraSuri Maharaj. As one moves beginning from the left of this temple, we find a replica painting of Ashtapad Tirth.Moving forward, at the centre is the Ashtapadji temple. Walking ahead, exactly behind the main idol, there is an idol of Mahavir Swami Bhagwan. Moving forward from the north side, we find Shantinath Bhagwan’s Chaumukhi (four sided) idol seated in the centre of shrine. On the outside of each of the shrines in the north side, the ceilings are adorned with magnificient engravings that make for a delightful viewing.
Outside the main entrance of the temple, on the way to Sangram Soni’s Toonk on the left side, is located the New Kund behing the wall.
Coming out of Merakvasi’s Toonk, one can reach Sangram Soni’s Toonk from the Northern side’s entrance. The main temple of this marvellous 52 idol temple area has a two storey Rangmandap It has nice provision for seating the ladies in the upper storey during proceedings. The main deity is Lord Sahastraphana Parshwanath’s 29 inch idol. It was established in V.S. 1859 on Jeth Sud 7 on Thursday by Acharya JinendraSuri Maharaj. The ceiling of the Gabhara is around 35 to 40 feet high and this makes it stand out from that of the other temples. The shrine of this temple is known to be the tallest amongst all the temples located on Girnar.
Sangram Soni who was a merchant by profession in Siddhpur area of Patan district had built this temple. It is said that Sangram Soni donated 36000 Gold coins to the knowledge library corresponding to the 36000 questions in Bhagwati Sutra (Jain Agam). Using this money, Kalpa Sutra and other sacred Jain literature were written with golden ink.
Sangram Soni lived in the times of Mughal Emperor Akbar and it is said that he was referred to as the maternal uncle of Emperor Akbar. According to a few scholars, in reality, this temple referred to as “Sangram Soni” or “Sagaram Soni” was renovated by SamarSingh Malde and newly made. Pertinents proofs have been furnished by the aforesaid scholars to support this theory.
Coming out of Sangram Soni’s, from the Northern gate one enters Kumarpal’s Toonk. As soon as one enters Kumarpal’s Tonk, a vast compound is visible on all the sides of the main temple. Walking in the compound, one reaches the main temple wherein one comes across a giant Rangmandap. Walking further, there is one more Rangmandap. The main idol of this temple is 24 inch Abhinandan Swami Bhagwan. This idol was etsbalished in year V.S. 1875 on Saturday, Vaishakh Sud 7 by Acharya Jinendra Suri. In the northern premises of this temple, there is a large well named ‘Dedkivav’. Its water level never goes above the surface.Kumarpal Maharaj was king of Gujarat from year 1143 to 1174. He had constructed this Toonk. Exiting through a small door from the north side, there is a narrow path to reach temple of ChandraPrabha Swami Bhagwan just ahead of ‘Bhimkund’.
This temple is situated in an isolated place. Main idol of Chandraprabha Swami Bhagwan is of 16 inch which was established in V.S. 1901. The roof of this temple is well decorated with many beautiful paintings and various statues have been installed on it on all the sides. Returning towards Kumarpal Toonk and from there coming out of Neminath Tonk, then on reaching the road near to main entry gate of Uparkot (Devkot), one passes by the Manoharbhuvan Dharamshala rooms on the opposite side of the road. Moving forward, passing through ‘Surajkund’, one reaches Mansingh Bhojraj temple.
This temple was built by Kutch Mandvi’s Visa Oswal Mansingh Bhojraj. Sambhavnath Bhagwan’s 25 inch idol is seated as the main idol.
‘Surajkund’ that comes on the way to this temple was also built by Mansingh Bhojraj. He also formally installed the Adeshwar temple in Junagadh village in year V.S. 1901. Coming out of this temple and back on the main road, as one moves up north comes the Vastupal – Tejpal Toonk.
This temple comprises of 3 temples adjoining each other. These temples were built by Vastupal and Tejpal between V.S. 1232 and V.S. 1242. Main idol of this temple is a 43 inch Shamla Parshwanath Bhagwan. This idol was established on
Saturday, Vaishakh Sud 3 in year V.S. 1306 by Acharya Devsuri Maharaj Saheb’s disciple Jayanand Maharaj Saheb in the lineage of Acharya PradyagnaSuri Maharaj.
In this temple there are around 6-7 stone inscriptions which date back to Fagan Sud 10, Wednesday in the the year V.S. 1288. In the temple located on the left of the main temple, ‘Chaumukhi’ Bhagwan has been installed inside a square-shaped Samavasarana. The Chaumukhi comprises of 3 idols of Parshwanath Bhagwan that have an inscription of year V.S. 1556 and one idol of ChandraPrabha Swami Bhagwan with inscription of year V.S. 1485. On the temple located on the right of the main temple, ‘Chaumukhi’ Bhagwan has been installed on the top of a round-shaped Mount Meru. This Chaumukhi comprises of an idol of Supaarshwanath Bhagwan facing west, two idols of Neminath Bhagwan facing east and North and one idol of ChandraPrabha Swami Bhagwan idol facing south. The idols of Supaarshwanath and Neminath Bhagwan date back to year V.S. 154. The construction of MeruXX is made of of yellow stone. It is said that minister Vastupal brought yellow stone from foreign country and metal stone from Mecca. The temple’s engraving and art are captivating. And the grandness and the arrangement of the Chaumukhji temples are pleasing to the eye.
In year V.S. 1932, NarsiKeshavji built fortress around Samprati, Kumarpal and Vastupal-Tejpal Toonk’s and also renovated the temples.
Behind the compound of Vastupal Tejpal temple is their mother’s temple which is more famous as Gumastan temple. The main idol of this temple is 19 inch idol of Sambhavnath Bhagwan. As this temple was built in the name of Vastupal’s mother Kumardevi, it is known as Vastupal’s mother’s temple. Also, as this temple was built by Kutch Mandvi’s Gulabshah, it is also known as Gulabshah’s temple. (In the due course of time, temple name has changed from Gulabshah to Gumastan)
Coming out of Vastupal Tejpal’s temple and walking north, one reaches King Samprati’s temple. King Samprati was born in the lineage of Chandragupta Mourya and was the grandson of King Ashoka. He embraced Jainism upon listening to th preachings of Acharya Suhastisuri Maharaj Saheb. He ruled Ujjain around V.S. 226. He built around 1.25 lakh temples and got about 1.25 crore idols installed. Main deity of this temple built by King Samprati is a 57 inch idol of Neminath Bhagwan. An article at the base of the idol reveals that this temple was established around V.S. 1519. Outside the temple’s Gabhara is the idol of a demi-goddess, which is said to be of Chakeshwari Devi in some Jain holy books while some others say it to be that of Ambika Devi. But since this idol sits atop a Swan and its hands are endowed with Veena and a book, it can be understood beyond doubt that this idol is that of Saraswati Devi. Additionally, the Rangmandap contains a 54 inch standing idol (known as ‘Kausagga’ idol along with 24 other eye-pleasing idols. Outside this Rangmandap, there is yet another bigger Rangmandap.
Entrance gate of this temple is understood to be 2 storeyed. Despite it having a gate that faces westwads, currently only the south facing gate is kept open. The walls outside this temple adorned with lots of beautiful carvings. connoisseurs of art would marvel looking at these carvings, while for the novices, these carvings can prove to be a valuable source for gaining insights into the art of sculpting.
From the side of King Samprati’s temple, as one goes northwards down the slope and enters the gate on the right side, one comes across a compound that houses the “Gnanvav”. And upon entering the same compound from the northern comes the Chaumukhi’ temple, which is known by the name of Sambhavnath Bhagwan.
The main deity in this temple is a 16 inch idol of Sambhavnath Bhagwan.Descending down from this temple also leads to Bhimkund and ChandraPrabha Swami temple. Behind Bhimkund on the northern side, work had begun to construct shrines for the 24 Tirthankaras of the previous era, but due to some reason, this work could not be completed. Climbing up south from the Gnanvav temple and walking 50 steps eastwards from King Samprati’s temple, comes the gate of a fort and walking ahead 50 steps more, one reaches Sheth Dharamchand Hemchand’s temple on the left.
The first temple that comes after going out of the gate of Uparkot (Devkot) is Sheth Dharamchand Hemchand’s temple. This temple is also known as ‘The temple of Khada’. The main idol of this temple is 29 inch Shantinath Bhagwan. Sheth Dharamchand Hemchand, who was a merchant from Mangrol village, got this temple renovated in V.S. 1932.
After climbing some 35-40 steps further ahead from Sheth Dharamchand Hemchand’s Temple, comes the Mallavadi Temple on the right. The main deity of this temple is 21 inch idol of Shri Shantinath Bhagwan. It is named as “Mallavalu temple” because it was renovated by Joravarmallji.
Chaumikhji temple has a north facing 25 inch idol of Neminath Bhagwan as the MoolNayak, east facing Suparshwanath Bhagwan, south facing ChandraPrabha Swami and west facing MuniSuvrat Swami Bhagwan. Articles were found on the “Pabasan” that mentioned Acharya JinharshaSuri Maharaj as having done the Pratishta of these idols in the year V.S. 1511. This temple is also known as Shri Shamala Parshwanath’s temple, the reason for which is not known, but it seems that at sometime in past, the main idol of this temple could have been that of Shamala Parshwanath Bhagwan. Further, on each of the four corners of the Pabasan inside this temple, there is a small square pillar which has 24 idols engraved upon it. Thus, a total of 96 idols have been engraved on these pillars. This temple is also known as ‘Chorivalu’ temple.
In the year V.S. 2058, when the Chaumikhji temple was plastered, it seems that the symbols (called as “Lanchan”) of MoolNayak Neminath Bhagwan and that of the other three idols were accidentally marked to be that of Shree Chandraprabhu Swami.
Climbing up about 70-80 steps from this temple, on the left side, comes the path to go to ‘Sahasavan’ – Shri Neminath Bhagwan’s Diksha and Kevalgnan’s place, while on right, climbing up some 15-20 steps and after crossing ‘Gaumukhganga’ and climbing up further 350 steps, comes the temple of Rahnemi.
The main deity of this temple is a 51 inch black idol of Siddha Bhagwan Shri Rahnemi. This idol was anointed about 6-7 years ago. This probably would be the only Jain temple where the MoolNayak is not an Arihant Bhagwan but a Siddha Bhagwan.
Rahnemi was the small brother of twenty second Tirthankara Shri Neminath Bhagwan. He came to Girnar mountain after getting ordained into monkhood and after pursuing ascetic practises here and eliminating the eight karmas, he attained Kelvalgnan and Moksha at Sahasavan.
Walking ahead towards Gaumukhganga and passing thorugh Anand Cave, Mahakal Cave, Bhairav Jap, Sevadas Ashram and stone mountain, comes Sahasavan after about 1200 steps.
Sahasavan is the place of Lord Neminath’s Diksha and Kevalgnan Kalyanak i.e. this is where he renounced the world for leading an ascetic life and this is also the place where he became enlightened (and attained omniscience). There are thousands of mango trees here because of which Sahasavan is also known as ‘Sahastraramavan’ (“Sahastra” in Sanskrit means thousand and “Amra” means mango). These mango trees add to the beauty of this region, which bring bliss to the mind and body. The sounds of peacock and koel in this region still reminds of Shri Neminath Bhagwan’s aversion from worldly pleasures during His renunciation. Neminath Bhagwan’s speech with 35 Atishaya sitting in Samavasarana after attaining Kevalgnan can also still be heard humming in this region. Small shrines are erected at the places of Diksha and Kevalgnan Kalyanak and these shrines contain Charan Padukas (feet) of Lord Neminath.
About 40-45 years ago, Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj used to come from first Toonk to this sacred place by difficult path of Kedi. Due to this difficult path, no pilgrim used to come to this place, so Acharya thought that if this divine place is not visited by the pilgrims then the security of this divine place would be in danger. After some divine inspiration, Acharya thought that only footsteps in small temple is not be enough to visit this divine place. He thought that if as a symbol of Neminath Bhagwan’s Diksha and Kevalgnan two temples are built then a lot of people would be able to visit this place and take Darshan. After a lot of effort of Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj, land was acquired in Sahasavan and as a symbol of Kevalgnan, Samavasarana temple was built.
In this temple, MoolNayak is established as dark coloured Chaumukh idol of Neminath Bhagwan with size of about 35 inch. This Chaumukh idol was established on Chaitra Vad 5 in year of V.S. 2040 by Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj, Acharya NarratnaSuri Maharaj, Acharya KalapurnaSuri Maharaj, Ganivarya Hemchandra Vijayji Maharaj and also in holy presence of a lot of Jain monks and nuns.
Entering into the temple, exactly in front there are footsteps of Samavasarana. Seeing this footsteps one feels that we are actually in the Samavasarana of Neminath Bhagwan. Climbing further in the middle, below Ashok Tree, viewing image of Neminath Bhagwan one is thrilled with joy. Entering into the Rangmandap, there are idols of previous Chauvisi’s 10 Tirthankara along with Neminath Bhagwan’s dark coloured idol and also next Chauvisi’s 24 Tirthankara’s idol in opposite direction alongwith beautiful yellow coloured idol of Padmanabh Bhagwan (next Chauvisi’s first Tirthankara). In other Rangmandap’s there are 6-6 idols of Neminath Bhagwan’s Ganadhara Bhagwan established. Entering in temple on the left there is Gomedhyaksha idol and to the right there is Ambika Devi’s idol. In the other Rangmandap there are images and footsteps of Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj and other elder people of Jain society.
Behind Samavasarana, going down there is beautiful 11 inch idol of Neminath Bhagwan inside ‘Shankh Cave’. Here a lot of Jain monks visit frequently for penance of fast for 3 days and other auspicious austerities.
This Samavasarana temple is built and managed by ‘Shri Sahasavan Kalyanak Bhumi Tirthodhar Samiti – Junagadh’ that was inspired by Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj. Also, there is ‘Dharmashala’ for the people who want to perform auspicious austerities here. On prior intimation, people can stay here for night and also there is provision for food and if need there is facility for ‘Ayambil’. Also, there is snack for every person that comes for ‘Darshan’ here.
Going out of temple walking downstairs on the right side, there is cremation place of inspiration of this temple, Acharya HimanshuSuri Maharaj. There is also his image and footsteps as a memory of great monk. Going down 60 steps from this place, there is two way. Going to the left and going down 3000 steps more and walking about 0.5 kilometre we reach ‘Taleti’. Going on the right from two way, walking down 40 steps there is Neminath Bhagwan’s Kevalgnan Kalyanak’s old small temple.
b)Shri Neminath Bhagwan’s Kevalgnan Kalyanak Temple
In the middle of this historic temple here, there are footsteps of Neminath Bhagwan and next to that there are footsteps of his brother ‘Muni Rehnemiji’ and ‘Sadhvi Rajimatishri’. Walking down further 30 steps on the left, there is small temple of Neminath Bhagwan’s Diksha Kalyanak.
c)Shri Neminath Bhagwan’s Diksha Kalyanak Temple
This historic temple is in an area of large Chowk. In this temple there is dark coloured footsteps of Neminath Bhagwan established. A lot of ‘Mumukshu’ surely visit this holy place for blessings.