Jain temples of Ayodhya – Uttar Pradesh
Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh (India, of course!) is the birthplace of Lord Rishabh Dev (Sri Adinath), the first Tirthankara, teacher of Jainism. He travelled and taught, and continues to inspire, though millenia may have passed since he left his body at Kailas Mansarovar. He was born much before Sri Ram of the Hindu tradition. Along with Jain literature, Rishabha Dev and his timeless teachings are immortalised in the Hindu scriptures including the Vaishnav text Srimad Bhagwat written by Ved Vyas. River Saryu that flows through Ayodhya has been a silent witness to the great personalities that walked the earth here.
Visiting the places where such great personalities lived, travelled and taught selflessly is a divine experience. Love for the divine translates into longing to be with the divine. Thus started the ancient tradition of pilgrimage in all cultures of the world :)
Coming back to Ayodhya, being an ancient center of pilgrimage for over 12,000 years, the city has no pretensions. If you enter the city in an autorickshaw from Faizabad, like I did, to the tune of romantic songs of the ‘70s from Bollywood, you would still feel the living presence of the place, the earth of Ayodhya. The name comes from Sanskrit ‘A’ and ‘Yudha’ meaning a place where there is no conflict, no war. The local name, Awadh means the same, ‘where there is no killing.’ The name itself means non-violence and peace.
During the Mughal period (some 500 years ago) from Akbar’s time Ayodhya was a mint city. The state currency was minted here. It became the capital city for the province of Awadh, before the capital was shifted to Lucknow. Islamic culture was thus introduced to Ayodhya.
Ayodhya is one of the most important cities for the Jains, and among the seven most important cities for Hindus. In fact there wasn’t anything to distinguish Jains from Hindus at the very start of Jainism. Everyone was a lover of divinity in its many manifest and unmanifest forms. Enlightened men and women, sages who realised the divine, differed in teachings as required by the society at that time and place. A jain’s quest is for perfection as in Lord Rishabh Dev, Lord Mahavira and the 22 Tirthankaras who came in the intervening millennia to guide by example.
Ayodhya has the honour of being the birthplace of five Jain Tirthankaras: Sri Adinath (1st), Sri Ajitnath (2nd), Sri Abhinandannath (4th), Sri Sumatinath (5th) and Sri Anantnath (14th). They also received diksha in Ayodhya.
A temple of Sri Rishabh Dev (Sri Adinatha, Prurudev and Adi Brahma being his other names)in Swargadwar locality of Ayodhya is relatively new but it transports you instantly to a time when Lord Rishabh dev, lived and taught in Ayodhya. The temple is open all day from 7am to 8pm.
Ajitnath ki Tok Temple in Begumpura, Ayodhya commemorates the life of the 2nd Tirthankara, Sri Ajitnath.
In Ramkot Mohalla, Ayodhya is a temple of Sri Abhinandannath, the 4th Tirthankara.
Mohalla Mondhiana Rajghat
The birthplaces of Sri Sumatinath, the 5th Tirthankara and Sri Anantnath, the 14th Tirthankara is marked by a temple at Mohalla Mondhiana Rajghat.
The Digambar temple at Raiganj is famous for its 21ft high idol of Sri Rishabh Dev.
Ratnapuri, the birthplace of Sri Dharmanath, the 15th Tirthankara lies 24 km before Ayodhya, on the Lucknow-Ayodhya National Highway near Ronahi.
Travel Guide: Ayodhya
By Road/Train/Flight: Lucknow – Ayodhya: 135 km, Varanasi – Ayodhya: 200 km
Places to stay in Ayodhya:
The Jain Dharmashala
Janaki Mahal Trust
Kanak Bhawan Dharmashala
Saket Tourist Bungalow (UP Tourism)