Ajmer’s main attraction is for the Jainas the prominently situated Nasiayan Digambara Temple, or rather the two-storied Svarana Nagara Hall behind the temple, better known as the Mu- seum. Both the temple and the museum were built and are still owned by the Sony family of Ajmer.
The temple, dedicated to Rishabha or Adinatha in 1865, was constructed of red sandstone in a matter of a few years, but it took twenty-five years, from 1870 to 1895, to fashion by artisans at Jaipur – the thousands of individual parts required to as- semble a three dimensional rep- lica of the story of Rishabha in accordance with an old manu- script by Acharya Jinasena.
Ajmer, Nasiayan Jaina Temple; part view. The 25 m high manastambha was added in 1953.
The thought to have such a three dimensional model for eduational purposes occurred to Seth Moolchand Soni, who was
born in 1830, only after the completion of the temple. His death in 1891 prevented him from seeing his ambitious work in its finished state.
In many Jaina temples one sees painted or figurative representations of the ‘five auspicious events’ (pancha-kalyanaka) in the life of every Tirthankara: conception, birth, renunciation, enlightenment, and salvation (moksha or nirvana).
The one at Ajmer, now over a hundred years old, is by far the largest and most artistic plastic representation of that much-loved mythological narrative. A specially designed hall of 24.3 m by 12.2 m had to be build to display it effectively. It is open to visitors of all religions every day all the year round for a very small entry fee.
At Hastagiri near Palitana in Gujarat a new complex of five Shvetambara temples is nearing completion. which in a grandiose way represents the “five auspicious moments in the life of Adinatha.