Osian - An Oasis in the Desert
Location and Area
An oasis in the desert situated on the diversion off the main Jodhpur - Bikaner Highway. A drive to this ancient township takes one past undulating terrain, punctuated by desert stretches and little hamlets. Osian has 15 beautifully sculpted Jain and Brahmanical temples.
A flourishing desert town in the ancient times, Osian lay on an important desert trail that was a significant trade route. Set out on a tour to Osian located at a distance of 55 kilometers from the main Jodhpur city and treat yourself to acres of gold dunes with glittering blue-green peacocks dancing on them.
Osian has 15 Jain temples, the most spectacular of which is the Mahavira temple dedicated to the 24th and last Jain Prophets. The temple was built around 775 A.D. and other smaller shrines were added on to the complex till about the 15th century.
The entrance to the temple complex, which was constructed in 1015, has beautiful maidens carved on it, which is perhaps not very conducive to prayer and is quite untypical of a Jain temple. The roof is superbly ornamented and dates back to the 11th century.
The temple complex sits atop a terrace and is built in sandstone. The Mahavir temple, the prima donna among the Jain temples has an inner sanctum and three balconied windows. The temple porch has beautifully ornate pillars and the second porch mandapa was built later. The original spire of the temple got broken and was rebuilt in the 11th century.
Sachiya Mata Temple
The Sachiya Mata Temple complex can be entered through a series of magnificent arches, which are superbly sculpted. The main shrine was constructed circa 1178, and the two other temples in the complex, namely the Chandi Ka Mandir and the Amba Mata Mandir.
The Surya Temple was constructed in the 10th century. It is quite similar to the Sun Temple at Ranakpur. Surya Temple is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The inner complex of the temple houses the statue of Surya. Also within the temple complex are the sculptures of the Ganeshji and Durga Mata.
Pippala Devi Temple
The Pippala Devi Temple was constructed in the early part of the 9th century. It is a minor temple as compared to the other Temples.
The temple has an open-air mandap, with well stretched out balconies. Only a part of this mandap has still been preserved. The main attraction of the Pippala Devi temple is its splendid columns. However, they could not stand the test of time and have witnessed substantial damage. The other main feature of the complex is the large sabha mandap. It has thirty pillars dating back to the 10th century. It is still in an good condition.
The Vishnu Temple was constructed in the later half of the 9th century. It was once an architectural beauty. The Vishnu Temple is now showing signs of wearing down with the passage of time. The tower in the shrine has been unfortunately damaged.
In the temple there is the wonderfully carved and columned mandap. Adjunct to the mandap, is a balcony. It is artfully decorated with figures of various Hindu deities. Located nearby is a Baori (Step well). About one kilometre away from the Vishnu temple is a Ganesh Pillar. The pillar was built to honour Ganeshji (son of Lord Shiva).
Thus, an excursion to Osian, an enchanting desert Oasis located in the heart of the massive Thar brings you into a paradisiacal land dotted with intricately carved temples with the golden dunes of the formidable Thar in the backdrop.
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