There is a Jain Temple, nestled in the heart of Alappuzha, which is a gem that often goes unnoticed. Situated on the Northeast side of the Muppalam at Gujarati Street, the Shri Jain Shwethambar Temple in Alleppey is an important place of worship for Jains in Kerala. It has played a vital role in spreading Jainism in South India.
Over a century ago, 42 Jain families from the Kutch district of Gujarat were brought to Alleppey during Dewan Raja Kesavadas’ reign to aid in industrial development. The Jain Temple, containing two shrines – one over 100 years old and the newer one built 22 years ago – is a critical element of Alappuzha’s socio-economic culture. A trust elected by the 24 Jain families currently residing in Alleppey governs the administrative affairs of the temple. The temple is the spiritual hub of the 14 Jain families who currently live in Alleppey, deeply committed to Jain rites, traditions, and rituals, and is situated on Gujarati Street.
Also Read: Top 3 Hangout Food Spots in Alappuzha
The Alleppey Jain Temple is a unique Jain temple in Kerala that boasts impressive architectural grandeur with intricate details. It was constructed without the use of iron and is made of Rajasthan stones and White Marble, which gives it a charming appeal while still maintaining its spiritual essence. The temple features numerous murals carved from single marble pieces that reflect a blend of Jain architectural style with local designs. It was restored in 1994 and has statues of “Thirthankaras” strategically arranged for visibility for devotees. The temple’s central statue is of the 12th Thirthankara Vasupujya Swami, with the 15th Thirthankara Swami Dharmanath and the 11th Tirthankara Swami Shreyasnanatha on either side. The temple also has a blessed “Japamala” at its centre, emphasising the significance of Jain prayer beads in the spiritual practice of its followers.
Check it out: The Floating Tea Shop in Alappuzha run by ‘Chaya Chechi’
Jains follow a strict set of rituals, including a daily Pooja that lasts around one and a half hours. This practice is believed to bring spiritual sanctity and nirvana to their lives and is considered non-negotiable. The annual festival, called “Parva paryushana,” takes place over eight days in August and September and includes special rituals and the presence of Aacharyas from Gujarat. During this festival, Jains read the history of the 24 Trithankaras.
Jainism provides flexibility during festivals, with no concrete norms for fasting and meditating. However, vegetarianism is a core tenet, and alcohol, meat, and underground-grown foods are strictly prohibited. Jains believe in only consuming foods that grow above ground and receive ample sunlight. The fundamental purpose of life for Jains is to attain “Moksha.” A pilgrim house near the temple accommodates Jain pilgrims for stays and worship.
If you ever find yourself in Alappuzha, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the mysterious Jain Temple. Allow its echoes of the past to lead you to a deeper appreciation of this captivating area. The visiting hours are from 5:30 am to 11:30 am and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.