In transcribing the following paragraphs from the rough text in the Internet Archive online version, I have changed the formatting for easier reading, added images that appear in the original and also ones that come from other sources and I have omitted cross references to comparative material, such as examples from ancient Greece. — George P. Landow]

The examples mostly belong to the great age of Jaina architecture from A.D. 1000-1300, although a revival took place in the fifteenth century, corresponding to the Renaissance in Europe. The style is generally admitted to have been founded on Buddhist architecture. The monvmients, mainly religious, were erected in all parts of India, the principal examples being in the North.

The Temples have the small square shrine-cell, lighted from the door only, and crowned with a high pyramidal tower, with curvilinear sides, forming an imposing feature. In front, forming an entrance porch, is the hall, with columns having bracket capitals and sometimes angular struts, such capitals supporting a dome or domes, invariably built in horizontal courses of stone. Thus the domes, often of different heights in the same building, exert no lateral thrust, and are easily supported on columns, without the aid of buttresses, as frequently in the Roman and Byzantine styles. The internal ensemble thus presents a light and graceful character, further enhanced by the method of planning, consisting of an “in and out” or cruciform shape, also characteristic. Sculptured ornament, of grotesque and symbolic design, covers the whole structure and is bewildering in its richness, leaving little plain wall surface, and differing essentially from European work. The temples were picturesquely perched on mountain tops or nestled in secluded valleys, the Jains valuing rightly the effect of environment on their architecture.

The normal type of temple is a square "vimana" or idol cell, lit from the door only, roofed with a Sikra or Pyramidal storied tower in receding stages, recalling the Chaldaean Temples. The cell contains the cross-legged seated figure of the saint. In front of the vimana is a coknnned hall or portico of varying extent, generally cruciform on plan. In the centre of the liall is a pointed dome supported on eight columns with bracket capitals and raking struts, the octagon thus formed being brought to a square by the four angle columns which complete the characteristic Jaina plan (No. 266 c; see below). In the larger monuments the temple is placed in an inclosure, against the wall of which the image cells open on to the internal courtyard.

In Northern India the principal monuments are at Mount Abu, Palitana, Girnar (in the Gujerat district), Parisnath, Gwalior, Sadri and Khajuraho.

Left: Mount Abu. Interior of a Dilwana Temple. Right: The Great Chawmukh Temple, Palitana. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

At Mount Abu — a granite plateau 5,000 feet above the sea, interspersed with luxuriant vegetation — are two important examples in while marble. That erected a.d. 1032, by Vimala Sah, has a splendid portico hall, the columns having bracket capitals (No. 266b; see below), from which raking struts in marble appear to support the architrave. The interior of the dome is sculptured with concentric rings of ornament, having at the base sixteen statues and in the centre a richly carved pendant or ornament, recalling those at Caudebec, in Normandy, or in Henry VI I. 's Chapel, Westminster.

Gwalor: The Great Sas Bhu Temple in the Fort.

Figures 266b and 266c from Fletcher. Click on image to enlarge it.

The most fully developed building is perhaps the Temple at Sadri, on the eastern side of the Aravulli Mountains. Resting on a lofty substructure, approximately 200 feet square, it is surrounded by a range of eighty-six cells, each crowned with a pyramidal roof. There are five shrines, one being central and one at each angle, and four open courts for the admission of light. Twenty domes, 24 feet in diameter, supported on 400 columns, are placed symmetrically in sets of five, forming a Greek cross on plan. The centre one is three stories in height and 36 feet in diameter, and is formed as usual in horizontal stone courses.

The external appearance, with the domes of different heights and the pointed sikras, presents a rich and varied character, witli the mountains as a background.

Modern Jaina temples are mostly tinged with Mahometan influence, having bulbous domes and foliated pointed arches. In these the sikra is often absent.

In India the normal type varies, open courtyards containing immense statues sometimes cut out of the solid rock, as the statue, 70 feet in height, at Sravana Belgula.


Fletcher, Banister, and Banister F. Fletcher. A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method for the Student, Craftsman, and Amateur. 5th ed. London: B. T. Batsford, 1905.

Last modified 12 December 2018