Jagdish Temple – Udaipur’s Architectural Wonder22 January, 2013
Most tours to Udaipur City Palace includes a trip to the Jagdish Mandir Temple which is located just 150 metres north of the City Palace. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Udaipur city life, the short walk from Udaipur City Palace gates to the Jagdish Temple will provide you with a quick glimpse albeit that this street is lined with a large number of tourist souvenir shops (since most tourists will take this short walking route between the palace and temple).
People say “All Roads Lead to Rome” to illustrate the importance of Rome as a city back in the Roman times. Similarly, the Jagdish Temple was of great importance to the people of Udaipur a long time ago (and still is to some extent today). Several roads radiate in different directions from the street square (known as Jagdish Chowk), where the Jagdish Temple is located.
The Jagdish Temple – one of the largest and most famous temples in Udaipur – was built in 1652 in Indo-Aryan architectural style by Maharana Jagat Singh, who ruled Udaipur from 1628 to 1653. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Laxmi Narayan), the preserver of the Universe. An idol of Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu made in black stone is deified in the sanctum.
This temple (3-storeys tall) is an architectural wonder comprising beautifully carved pillars, decorated ceilings, painted walls and lush halls. The spire of the main temple is around 79 feet high, dominating the skyline of Udaipur – a city which thankfully is at this time still spared from modern developments e.g. tall commercial buildings, skyscrapers. A brass image of Garuda (half-bird, half-man image, which is Lord Vishnu’s vehicle), is placed in a separate shrine in front of the temple.
A curious sight we saw at Jagdish Temple is a slab of marble where locals are queuing to rub their knees, shoulders against. It was said that this marble slab has the magical ability to soothe aches in any body part the person rubs against. In the picture below, you see a lady who seemed to be doing tricep dips on the marble slab – she is actually trying to rub her back against the slab.
Another lady (see picture below) trying out the mable slab’s healing properties on her kneecap.
Flanking the steps up the temple decoration of statues of elephants are seen. The temple walls and spire (also known as shikhar) had also been carved with sculptures of dancers, elephants, horsemen and musicians. There are also carvings of Vishnu, scenes from Lord Krishna’s life and figurines of nymphs or apsaras. Unfortunately a lot of these carvings, specifically that of elephants, horses and warriors (horsemen) were disfigured (not because of wear and tear) deliberately by Mughal invaders a long time ago when they took control of this part of the city briefly. These invaders were angry at their losses from the various battles around the city and thus took out their anger by vandalising and defacing these carvings (from the picture below – you will be able to see elephants with their tusks destroyed and horsemen with their faces bashed in).
Do note that you have to remove your shoes upon reaching Jagdish Temple (after climbing the 32 steps). There will be a caretaker looking after your shoes – tips are expected.
Jet Airways flies to Udaipur from New Delhi twice a day. If you are flying to New Delhi from Singapore in the morning, you will be able to catch the afternoon direct 1-hour long Jet Airways flight to Udaipur. If you want to experience luxury living like a Maharajah or Maharana (in Udaipur’s context), I strongly recommend the Leela Palace Udaipur as your hotel of choice during your stay at Udaipur. Our guide from Luxe India, Narayan was able to plan a great itinerary around the Udaipur City Palace and Jagdish Temple so if you are looking for a good tour guide who is able to tell you interesting stories about these places (things you can’t typically find in guidebooks), ask for Narayan of Luxe India.