BY PRITAM K. ROHILA
PALITANA in Gujarat, India is a world-famous Jain temple complex. Built on the Shatrunjaya Hills, and consisting of more than 850 temples, it is one of the two holiest sites for Jains.
The main temple is dedicated to Rishabha, the first Jain tirthankara.
One has to climb up 3500 steps to reach it. The 2.2 mile (3.5 kilometer) climb takes about two hours.
The British had its teakwood model made, for display at the 1904 Saint Louis World Fair. It was one of the two British entries in their East India Pavilion. The other entry was a reproduction of the tomb of Itmad-ud-Dowllah at Agra.
The model of Palitana Temple was 15ft x 20ft x 35ft. It had about 1600 components, and weighed nearly 10,000 pounds.
Sometime later, the model ended up being displayed as “The Gateway of Luck,” outside in the courtyard of The Castaways, a Las Vegas hotel. The hotel was owned by Howard Hugh’s Summa Corporation.
In 1987, as the Castaway was getting ready for demolition, the Summa Corporation donated the model to the Jain Center of Southern California, where years later this was cleaned and re-assembled.
Currently, it is displayed in the main lobby of the Jain Temple, located at 8032 Commonwealth Avenue, Buena Park, California.
Built with Jaisalmer yellow limestone and white marble, the Buena Park Jain Temple is adorned with ornate jharokas, medallions, ashtmangal symbols, yakshas and yakshinis, portraits of acharyas, and displays of Jain granths. The temple is an important religious center of Jains in Southern California.
Dr. Rohila is a retired neuropsychologist. He can be reached at [email protected]