Jain Temples in Odisha

The stature of Orissa as a land of deep spirituality is recognized by the fact that it had relationship with the all the three orthogenetic religious traditions of India--Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. About Jainism in Orissa, it was the 23rd Tirthankara, Parsvanath, who gave the fillip to the tradition and did considerable preaching here in the 8th century BC.

A King named Karakandu of Kalinga built Karakanda Vihar for the propagation of Jainism. It is also mentioned that the most famous of 24 Jain Tirthankaras, the last, Vardhaman Mahavira visited the ancient Kalinga capital of Toshali. Buddhism witnessed a renaissance with Emperor Ashoka, but Jainism was equally revered.

History tells of extensive patronage of Jainism by the Kharavels of the Chedi dynasty in the 1st century BC, who developed low-roofed caves in Kumari Parvata--now known as Khandagiri and Udayagiri--on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, for Jain monks to live in and meditate.

The invaluable inscriptions inside these caves reveal many a facts of history. They tell about the kings of Chedi dynasty, also called Mahameghavanas ruling Kalinga about 1st century BC. The majority of these caves originated during the period of Kharavel, when Jainism was the state religion of Kalinga.

The inscriptions also make a mention of other two rulers of this dynasty, Kudeparisi and Vadukha, as the donors. The records furnish evidence of ambitious career of conquest of Kharavel, renovating and building of temples and recovery of Kaling-Jina removed by the Nandas of Magadha (4th century BC) and its installation on the hills by Kharavel.

Even after the death of king Kharavel, Jainism continued to hold sway under his successors, the Ganga and the Sailadod regimes too treated Jainism with great respect--all this testified by many archaeological finds unearthed across the State.