Article: Jain temples

Contributed by Julia A. B. Hegewald

Types of Jain temple

Figure of Neminātha or Lord Nemi, the 22nd Jina. The main Jina image in a shrine is often depicted as four separate yet identical statues. They face the cardinal directions, symbolising the universal reach of the Jina's message.

Four-faced statue of Neminātha
Image by liketearsintherain - tommy © CC BY-SA 2.0

Jain temple architecture falls into several distinct groups. Especially early Jain structures are often caves. In addition, there are Jain stupas and sacred pavilions housing statues and sanctified foot imprints – pādukās. Most Jain temples in India are made up of one or several shrines and one or a number of halls. This is the maṇḍapa-line type. These temples are highly varied in the vertical and horizontal layouts of shrine rooms. A well-known variant is the so-called ‘four-faced’ temple type, which houses a statue of a Jina made up of four figures. These figures sit or stand back to back and face the four cardinal directions. Locally, they are known as caturmukha temples.

From about the 15th century onwards, Jain temples were often designed around an open courtyard – havelī temples. The hall-type and domestic house temples are a later development. These have been adapted to modern life in cities and reflect changed patterns of pilgrimage. More unusual types of Jain temples are those in the form of tall towers – kīrtti-stambha mandirs – and mythological and cosmological temples, which are closely connected with the distinctive beliefs of the Jain religion. Many Jain families also have private shrines inside their homes.

A well-known characteristic of Jain religious buildings is the ‘temple-city’, in which a large number of separate temples or of walled temple compounds has been built close together. These big complexes can feature all of the different types of Jain temple.

Outside India, Jain temples tend to follow the same characteristic layouts as in India, which can be grouped into the types outlined above.

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • Five Jinas

    Five Jinas

    British Library. Or. 14290. Gangādāsa. 1792

  • Small palaces

    Small palaces

    With commentary by Pārśva-candra. British Library. Add. 26374. Ratnaśekhara. 1769 - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2020 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at

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