Jain Relics in Pakistan

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The central shrine from a Jain temple in Gujranwala (pakisatn) that is now a residence

Temple at Gorhi

Among all temples that I have been to in Pakistan Gorhi is by far the most stunning. It is a principle Jain temple in the country. Entirely constructed from marble, probably brought from Gujerat, it dates back to 1376 AD and was built at the zenith of Jain empire in the region.

The temple contains 54 domes, all beautifully built with complete balance. The focus of the temple is the main chamber which is not built in the centre, but rather towards one side and is indicated by the presence of a larger dome. On both sides of the temple are small cubicles where once the holy men stayed and meditated.

Today this temple is in ruins with many domes having fallen. There are cracks on the walls of the temple, perhaps due to the mild earthquakes that have hit the area in recent times. The idols have vanished. Not one of them remains. The ones carved on the walls have been played upon by pranksters.

But the highlight of this temple is the dome on the entrance. It is well rounded but not deep. From inside it has been painted with black paint which fortunately still clings to it. The painting is done in circular band style, each strip showing courtiers, drum beaters, angels, warrior, rulers and the ruled, in many different condition.

Bohdesar temples

Bohdesar, some five km north-west from the city of Nagar, is a popular site due to its small, yet charming mosque, built by one Mahmud Shah bin Muzaffar in 1505 AD. It is built with marble brought all the way from Gujerat.

One km from this mosque is a stunning temple belonging to Jain. But its back walls have fallen over, idols have long vanished, even the stones are being removed, one by one, by the locals, who as one source informed me, use them for their home construction.

This temple is one of the Jain temples in Thar desert in the area called Bohdesar. picture given by ameerhamza'A Lost World

The temple is built on a high platform and is reached by a series of big, flat steps which gives an added magnificence to the temple’s structure. Kanjur and redstone have been used to built this temple but unfortunately it is in rather a bad condition. Absence of any care or maintenance work is to be blamed. Needless to say, if nothing is done immediately the entire edifice might collapse on the slightest provocation.

There are other two temples in the vicinity but lack of time disallowed me from visiting them. These Bohdesar temples, as they are known collectively, were built during the time period between 1375 and 1499 AD
Nagar ‘bazaar’ temple

This temple is so called due to its presence just behind the main bazaar - the only one in Nagar. This temple, like the one at Gorhi, and must have once been a centre of activity as its fine architecture tells you. It probably belongs to Jain as the figures on it are quite similar to other Jain temples in Thar. No date of construction could be ascertained but it is at least 500 years old. I can tell that by the figures, the style of construction and by the paintings done on the walls.

The courtyard, save one odd pillar, has completely vanished. The outer walls still retain some of its charisma. The main hall where once the statue of a god must have stood is now long gone, either stolen or broken by some fanatic. The entrance still have few smaller statuettes but most of them are desecrated and chipped at. The inside of the room, no better than the outside, at least retains the original paints used for the colouration of the walls with exotic local fauna and flora.

Base’ temple

Because there is no name for this temple I like to call it ‘base’ temple as it is built right at the base of Karoonjar mountain range. It belongs to the Jain religion, has no construction date on it and I could find no records on its builder. The temple is a one room structure in a cubicle style, constructed with large stones. I can imagine a small deity sitting inside, but today, none is present. Jain Temple Nangarparkar,Thar Desert Pakistan