The contribution of Jain art to the mainstream
art in India has been considerable. Every phase of Indian art is
represented by a Jain version and each one of them is worthy of
meticulous study and understanding. Jain architecture cannot be
accredited with a style of its own, for in the first place it
was almost an offshoot of Hindu and Buddhist styles. In the
initial years, many Jain temples were made adjoining the
Buddhist temples following the Buddhist rock-cut style.
Initially these temples were mainly carved out of rock faces and
the use of bricks was almost negligible. However, in later years
Jains started building temple-cities on hills based on the
concept of 'mountains of immortality'.
Compared to the number of Hindu temples in India, Jain temples
are few and spaced out. Surrounded by embattled walls, the
temples are divided into wards, guarded by massive bastions at
its ends, with fortified gateways as the main entrances. These
temple-cities were not built on a specific plan; instead they
were the results of sporadic construction. Natural levels of the
hill on which the 'city' was being built accommodated various
levels so that as one goes higher the architecture and grandeur
increases. The only variation in these temples was in the form
of frequent chamukhs or four-faced temples. In these
the image of a Tirthankara faces the four sides, or four
Tirthankars are be placed back to back to face four cardinal
points. Entry into this temple is also from four doors. The
Chamukh temple of Adinath (1618 AD) is a characteristic example
of the four-door temple.
The great Jain temples and sculptured monuments of Karnataka,
Maharashtra and Rajasthan are world-renowned. The most
spectacular of all Jain temples are found at Ranakpur and Mount
Abu in Rajasthan. Deogarh (Lalitpur, U.P.), Ellora, Badami and
Aihole also have some of the important specimens of Jain Art.