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Taranamata Shrines

Most places in Gujarat, especially the ones over hills, have deep rooted associations with Jainism. Towards the northern part of Gujarat, where Aravalli Hill ranges are found, a number of Jain temples have been seen. Not only are these dating back to many centuries, they also have popularity because of their artistic and architectural beauty. Vadnagar in district Mehsana in Gujarat is a close knit community known for its pilgrimage by Jain devotees. Also, a number of structures are found in the region which depicts the influence of Buddhist culture along with Jainism. Buddhist sculptures, bodhisattvas, kalpavruksha and motifs of Buddhism are proofs of the presence of this particular religion in the areas of Mehsana district.

History of Taranamata Shrines

Since the Taranga hills had popular Jainism influence, there were many shrines constructed in the names of Jain Thirthankaras. In the wilderness of Taranga, a major part of the area is hilly and barren, the Taranamata Shrines are clearly visible even from long distances. At the peak of Taranga Hills is the large shrine for Taranamata and Dharanmata goddesses topped by small white chattris. These are supposed to have been built by Rajput Solanki King, Kumarapala, who converted to Jainism and thereafter constructed a number of structures in the area of Taranga Hills around the period of 12th century. From among the various temples constructed in honour of Jain Thirthankaras, the ones at the top of the Taranga Hills are known as the Taranamata Shrines.

During the decade of 1160s, Kumarapala also built a well known temple for Ajitanatha, the second Jain Thirthankaras. It is quite big and surrounded by various smaller shrines.

Jainism Significance

With a large number of Jain shrines on the Taranga Hills, the Taranamata Shrines are visited by the believers of this religion during the full moon days of Kartika and Chaiba and the first and sixth months of Samvat year. Near these Taranamata Shrines, a number of reservoirs for spring water and rainwater have been constructed so as to quench the thirst of the walking devotees.

Vadnagar is the city nearest to the Taranga Hills in Mehsana district which is having a wall around the town area. Although, presently there have been dwellings beyond these walls, they are still found to be intact. This was one of the structures constructed by the Jain converted King Kumarapala, during the same time when Taranamata Shrines, Ajitanatha Temple and other smaller shrines were constructed.

Architectural Beauty

Even though the temples included under Taranamata Shrines are about a thousand year old, they are still intact in terms of designs and architecture. These are rather the most well preserved structure of the Solanki buildings constructed across Mount Abu, Girnar and other places in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Jain Thirthankaras are built in tall statues, reflecting a calm and peaceful ambience in the environment. Central prayer halls of different shrines are larger, while the majority of the carvings have been done around the outside, over pillars and arches. Various poses of dancing maidens, gods and goddesses are reflected in these carvings which are the special points about the architectural designs. Shikaras extend up to a great height in the Taranamata Shrines, which is a special construction style, making the shrines visible from long distances.

Reaching There

Taranamata Shrines are possible to be reached from Mehsana and also by shared jeeps from Vadnagar. Mehsana is about 57 kms from Taranga hills and good bus communications are present. It is possible to visit these temples in a single day as the buses have been timed to carry the passengers in the morning and return by evening.

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Taranamata Shrines
Taranamata Shrines
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Taranamata Shrines
Taranamata Shrines
Taranamata Shrines

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