The small village of Osian is a popular pilgrimage for Jain followers. This is an ancient village that serves as a home for an important Jain Temple dedicated to Mahavira, the last Tirthankara. There are several ancient temples in this tiny village and they add to the religious, historic and cultural significance of the city of Jodhpur.
Osian is home to many ancient temples that are exquisitely designed and are sure to impress visitors regardless of religious preference. The most important religious structures are the Jain Temples, and the most frequently visited of these is the Mahavira Temple. It was constructed in 775 AD and since then a number of smaller temples were constructed around it.
Jainism is an Indian religion that promotes peace and anti-violence. Devotees or Jains believe that life is a cycle and that the ultimate prize is to attain nirvana or divine consciousness. In order to attain this utmost spiritual state, one has to denounce the material world and dedicate himself to meditation and goodness.
Those who reach nirvana are called Tirthankaras. They are Jain prophets or spiritual leaders whose task is to guide other followers to reach an enlightened state.
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Jainism acknowledges only 24 Tirthankaras and one of them is Mahavira.
Mahavira is an important prophet because he is one of only two Jain prophets with historical records to prove that they were real human beings who walked this planet. The other historical Tirthankara was Parshva, the 23rd prophet. Mahavira was the last.
Jainism owes much to the people of Osian (also spelled as Ossian or Osiyan). Most of the Jain temples in India are found here and they have all been built through the kindness and donations coming from a wealthy trading community called the Oswal Jains. They also spend for the upkeep of the Jain temples.
Visitors are sure to be stricken with marvel and reverence as they enter the Mahavira Temple complex. The entrance, walls and roof have exquisite carvings; throughout the complex are ornate columns, pillars and porches; and the windows are simply beautiful. The main temple has an inner sanctum that is kept sacred and much revered.
Meanwhile, the other village temples show signs of past beauty and forgotten glory; many remain in ruins and one such example is the Vishnu Temple. Constructed in the late 9th century, the Ossian Vishnu Temple features a beautiful ceremonial platform, balcony and a number of ornate pillars, columns and carvings. It is a pity that this once beautiful structure has not been preserved well and there are still no signs today of it being preserved and protected.
Some other temples that are being battered unprotected by the elements are the Ossian Surya Temples. They still bear interesting carvings, statues and images, and yet are largely ignored. The first of these temples is believed to have been built as early as the 8th century.
There are other temples to be found and admired in this ancient, holy town of Osian. This oasis in the vast Thar Desert is 65 kilometers to the north of Jodhpur where the nearest airport is located. Travelers may take the train from Jodhpur going to the holy village.