Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir
|Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir|
Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, Chandni Chowk, Delhi.
|Devanagari:||श्री दिगंबर जैन लाल मंदिर|
|Sanskrit transliteration:||Śrī Digambar Jain Lāl Mandir|
|Architecture and culture|
|Important festivals:||Mahavir Jayanti|
|Number of temples:||1|
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Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir (Hindi: श्री दिगंबर जैन लाल मंदिर Śrī Digambar Jain Lāl Mandir) is the oldest and best-known Jain temple in Delhi, India. It is directly across from the Red Fort in the historical Chandni Chowk area.
Located just opposite the massive Red Fort at the intersection of Netaji Subhas Marg and Chandni Chowk, Digambar Jain Temple is the oldest temple of the Jain religion in the capital, originally built in 1656. An impressive red sandstone temple today (the temple has undergone many alterations and additions in the past and was enlarged in the early 19th century), Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is popularly known as Lal Mandir "Red Temple".
Modern Delhi was founded by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628–1658) who built what is commonly known as the old city or old Delhi, surrounded by a wall, with the main street Chandni Chowk in front of the Red Fort, the imperial residence.
Jahangir invited several Agrawal Jain merchants to come and settle in the city and granted them some land south of the Chandani Chauk around Dariba Gali. He also permitted them to build a temporary structure to house a Jain temple. The Agrawal Jain community acquired three marble idols installed by Jivaraj Papriwal under the supervision of Bhattaraka Jinachandra in Samvat 1548 (1491 AD) for the temple. The main idol is that of Tirthankara Parshva.
It is said that the deities in temple were originally kept in a tent belonging to a Agrawal Jain officer of the Mughal army.
During the Mughal period, the construction of a sikhara for a temple was not permitted. This temple did not have a formal sikhara  until after India's independence when the temple was extensively rebuilt.
In 1800-1807, Raja Harsukh Rai, the imperial treasurer obtained imperial permission to build a temple with a sikhara in the Agrawal Jain neighborhood of Dharamapura, just south of Chandani Chauk. Thus temple, known for fine carvings, is now known as the Naya Mandir "New Temple".
The Gauri Shankar temple next to the Lal Mandir, was founded about a century later in 1761 by Appa Gangadhara, a Maratha Brahman in the service of the Scindia when Delhi was under their influence. It also has been significantly rebuilt in the past few decades.
The Temple complex
A manastambha column stands in front of the temple.
The main devotional area of the temple is on the first floor. It is reached by ascending to the terrace after crossing the small courtyard of the temple, surrounded by a colonnade.
There are a number of shrines in this area but the main shrine is of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Born in 599 BC in the ancient republic of Vaishali (Bihar) as a prince, he renounced all worldly pleasures and comforts and went in search of 'Moksha' (salvation). Soon he attained keval-jnana (Enlightenment), and spent the rest of his life preaching to the people all over the country about the eternal truth of life and ways to attain Moksha. Though some believe that he was the founder of Jainism but he was in a real sense the reformer of an existing faith who reorganized and presented the tenets of the religion in a form suitable to the period.
The statue of Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankara of the Jain religion is also present here, along with the shrine of Lord Parasnath, the immediate predecessor of Lord Mahavira. The temple is quite popular among the people as devotees come and make offerings such as fruits, grains, rice and even candles. The place is very peaceful and the ambience is really soothing especially due to the shining of the gilded paintwork of the shrine area under the lights of butter lamps and candles.
In 1931, a Digambar Jain monk, Acharya Shantisagar arrived in Delhi. He was the first Digambar Jain monk to visit Delhi after a gap of eight centuries. There is a memorial marking this historical occasion.
Visiting the temple complex
There is also a bookstore in the complex where a wide range of literatures on Jainism is available, apart from unique curios and souvenirs related to the religion. Visitors should take off their shoes and all other leather goods and hand it to the concerned person before entering the temple complex.
- Powell Ettinger. "Jainism and the legendary Delhi bird hospital". Wildlifeextra.com. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
- "Top 10 Delhi - Dorling Kindersley - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
- Bharat ke Digambar Jain Tirth, Volume 1, Balbhadra Jain, 1974
- Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia, David Gilmartin, Bruce B. Lawrence, University Press of Florida, 2000