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Anjaneri ; A Jain pilgrimage center with 12th Century ancient ruined Jain temples and Caves.



Anjaneri ; A Jain pilgrimage center with 12th Century ancient ruined Jain temples and Caves.

 History of Maharashtra cannot be completed without mention of Jainism and Monarchs who were ardent follower or patrons of Jainism. The largest population of Jain resides in the modern province of Maharashtra. Although Jainism has been flourishing in this region since prior centuries of Christ and historians and scholars are agreed on this point. As Maharashtra was center of Indian politics and power during early medieval period to age of Maratha Empire. 

Jainism has been present in every situation and contributed to cultural, spiritual and social development of Maharashtra. Early Chalukya, Rashtrakootas, Later Chalukyas, Senuvas or Yadavas of Devgiri, Silaahars and Marathas contributed to Jainism in a great way. Some of these imperial dynasties were ardent follower of Jainism or patrons of Jainism. The glorious and shining history of Jainism during above said dynasties reign provided many important monuments, pantheons, sculptures and the most important Cave temples.

 Period of Rashtrakoota, Yadavas and Silahaars was golden time of Jainism in Maharashtra when extensive Temples, Sculptures and cave temples were carved and constructed. This Eon rendered many archaeological and Historical important centers of Jainism which are even alive today and illustrating about their magnificent past. Ellora, Ankai Tankai, Mangi Tungi, Tringalwadi, Anjneri, Giri, Jhari, Chamaar leni, Junnar , Kharonasa and Ambajogai were center of Jainism during this period which are even alive today and describing remarkable history of Jainism in Maharashtra. Many center of Jainism had fallen as time passed due to appropriation, conversion and iconoclasm by rival faith.

 Let us discuss about an ancient Jain center which hailed from about 12th century AD and which has structural temples as well as cave temple concerned to Non violent creed Jainism. 

 Anjaneri :- Anjaneri is situated about 23 Kilomerters apart from Nasik City in west direction where as it is situated 31 kilometers apart from Jain pilgrimage center Gajpantha or Chamar leni. The place is reckoned for its antique archaeological legacy of Jainism in the form of structural temples and Jain cave temple. Hinduism is also rigidly adhering to this place as it is said that Hanuman born at this place therefore the place got its name as Anjaneri. The famous Anjani Mata temple is situated on top of the hill Anjaneri where as the place is just 8 kilometers from Trimbakeshwar Jyotirling. Anjaneri peak of Sahayadri series is about 4200 feet high. 

Anjaneri Village Jain Temples:- Anjaneri group of temples are situated from 1 kilometer from main road connecting to Trimbak and Nasik. There are Jain temples as well as Hindu temples situated in the vicinity of village. There were about 5 Jain temples at once in the past but now almost all are ruined and dilapidated under cruel hands of time. The vestiges of Jain temples are scattered everywhere in the region. As we passes on the road connecting to main road of Nasik-Trimbak to Anjaneri , after a kilometer ;a group of Temples is visible on left side and these are none other than Jain temples.

 Moreover, A Jina sculpture of perhaps Aadinatha is situated under sky on a platform of stones at roadside. The platform is created at the place where once a Jain temple existed and now only some artifacts and lintels are remaining at the place. It is said that sculpture is miraculous and it can’t be shifted to a Shrine without the will of Almighty Lord Jinendra. 

On another face of road there is a Jain temple confined to its boundary wall to protect it from encroachers, the temple is not a big structure and its Mukhamandapa is absent today. Pillars and entry door with lintel are decorated by Jina teerthankar Images in Kayotsarga posture,Yakshini sculptures and kudus in lintels. The biggest Jain temple along with 12th century inscription of Seunadev is situated beside the first temple. 

This temple is also guarded by iron wires. The whole artifacts and vestiges including sculptures of Hindu -Jain creed are kept in the compound of the temple. Basically the temple is the biggest structure of Anjaneri and dedicated to Jaina creed of Non injury. The temple has also two more Jain temples which are in dilapidated condition. Jain temple is a pillared structure whose pillars are well decorated and cubical shape at the bottom whereas cylindrical at the top. The pillars are ornamented with chains and kudus. The mandapa with pillars leads us to sanctum which has an ornamented door way by Teerthankara figure and yakshini sculptures. In the sanctum; on the main vedi a toran containing Jina figures are kept at the place where principal lord should be. The paramount image is absent and encroachers are worshiping a dummy Hindu god besides Jina. The whole compound is full of Jina images, Pillars, lintels, Yakshini –yaksh images, Hindu Gods-goddess images.

 Anjaneri Jain Cave: - After about an hour of steep ascent on narrow passages leads us to Jain cave temple. The cave temple is on an exalted position where no proper flying steps are present to reach the Cave. After a hike of some steps we can reach to cave entrance gateway. The cave temple’s entrance doorway is not a giant size structure and in fact it is a small passage. Although the cave temple is not so big structure but it has significance from Archaeological and spiritual point of view. There are two rooms in the cave where Jina sculptures are mesmeric and finely carved along with Yakshini Ambika and Chakreshwari. 

The Images of Jina have about one meter height and they are carved in stone itself. Such types of Caves are extensively found in Maharashtra region. On the main vedi of cave temple, there is a paramount sculpture which is in padmasana posture where the image is flanked by two kayotasarga Jina sculptures. The paramount Jina sculpture has Lion seat and small icons of Jina teerthankars are delineated in the torana of each sculpture. 

 Yakshni Ambika is depicted with two arms containing Mango buds and an infant in her lap. On the other vedi Lord parshwantha is depicted in kayotsarga posture and Yakshini Chakreshwari is depicted with Garuda and discs in hands.

 The sorrowful part of visit to the Jain cave temple is that the cave is converted into a Shiva temple and appropriated by local Hindus. Archaeological department and Jain community should aware to preserve our ancient Jain heritage. In the vicinity of Anjaneri Mountain a new pilgrimage center has been developing where a huge Padmasana teerhankar sculpture has been consecrated by Jain community. A inn or hostelry is also being developed for pilgrims boarding facility.

 History of Anjaneri :- Anjaneri is a historical place and the fact is evident and corroborated by momuments, Archaeological heritage and inscriptions found from this place. The place has its connection to seuna or Yadava of Devgiri in medieval period of Indian history. The Jain cave cut on the Anjaneri Mountain has no definite time of its construction as lack of inscription and some other sources. But one thing is lucid is that this cave should be hailed from Rashtrakoota era of Medieval Indian history. 

 Jain temple in the vicinity of Anjaneri village has an inscription of Yadava or Seuna Monarch Seunadeva. He is represented to have made an endowment to Chandraprabhu Jain temple at Anjaneri in Saka Year 1063 or 1141 AD. The endowment was done of two shops for maintenance and daily expenditure of Jain temple. 

 The Seunadeva was described in the inscription as Mahasamanta but according to scholars and historians there were only two Seuna from Yadav clan who were Jain devotee. Moreover the later Seuna who was an ally of Chalukya king Vikramaditya II existed between 10-11th century AD. The inscription is of later period and Seunadev mentioned in the epigraph must be another one. 

The Seunadev mentioned in the inscription was a monarch of a minor branch of Seunas or Yadavas of Devgiri. According to some scholars Anjaneri was once a capital of Yadavas who were initially chieftains of Kalyan Chalukya and after that they ruled independently in Maharashtra region.

 It is said that the region of Anjaneri has 108 temples of Jaina creed so we can imagine how a mass population was inhabitant here and the place was a great center of Jainism in the past. Jain devotee and enthusiasts should visit the place along with other Jain centers like Chamar Leni(Gajpantha) and Pandu leni nearby.

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