The old city of Bikaner, Rajasthan is a cluster of maze like roads housing some of the city’s finest attractions. It is here where tourists will find an unusually ornate two-storied Jain temple. Known as Bhandreshwar (Bhandasar) Temple, it’s name is taken from the wealthy merchant, Bhandasa Oswal, who commissioned the construction in 1468. It was not completed until after his death in 1514. The temple is dedicated to the fifth Jain Tirthankara (founders of the Jain religion), Sumatinathji. It is believed that the temple was made with 40,000 kilograms of ghee instead of mortar, which locals insist seeps through the walls on hot days. The marble statue of Lord Sumatinath housed in the Bhandasar Jain Temple is perched on a silver throne atop a 2-feet high pavilion. The stunning temple interior includes a series of vibrant paintings adorned with gold leaf patterns. Marble pillars bear floral arabesques and stories depicting the lives of the 24 Jain Tirthankars. Images of dancing maidens and floral patterns also decorate the multi-colored walls and flooring filled with intricate designs. Comparisons to the Belgium glass laden Jain Temple in Phalodi, 184 kms south from here, can’t be helped. Both are bright, beautiful and peaceful in their presentation to the gods they pay homage.
The same porcelain tiles imported from Victorian England decorating the main alter are also found lining the steps up to the second floor tower. From here, travelers have a wide view of old city Bikaner. Several tiny inner sanctums house the statues of many other Jain deities and Tirthankaras on this level. Multiple carved balconies are also noteworthy points of interest.Old city Bikaner, as seen from the second level tower It is said hundreds of devotees visit the Bhandasar Jain Temple everyday. Foreign visitors to Bikaner will also enjoy the experience of the temple. Be it for the architecture, over-the-top detailing or simply to find a peaceful break from a day of hectic sightseeing in this rather drab desert city, this temple is sure to please. As is Jain custom, no leather items are permissible inside the temple including shoes, belts, bags or accessories. These items can be removed and held at the front entrance for return pick-up without cost.