Only Jain temple in Valley destroyed

published on August 25, 2010

Hemali Chhapia & Mansi Choksi | TNN

Mumbai: Two years ago, a family from Mumbai built a temple in the lap of snow-capped mountains miles away in Srinagar.

    The derasar (temple), carved out of teak, decked with marigolds and installed with three idols of Jain tirthankars, was set up for the thousands of Jains who streamed into the volatile region every holiday season.

    But last Saturday, the only Jain temple in the Kashmir Valley was burnt down by a mob.

    ‘‘It is now ground zero. There is nothing left, nothing to go back to,’’ says Jyotin Doshi, chairman of Gem, a travel agency in south Mumbai whose family built the temple. A shaken-up Doshi recalls speaking to the priest, the lone caretaker of the temple, on the night the violence errupted. ‘‘There was curfew in the valley but he noticed people gathering outside the temple,’’ he says. The priest, who is disturbed and has now returned to his village near Lucknow, quickly gathered the three idols, which were sculpted out of panchdhatu (an alloy of gold, silver, copper, iron and zinc), and hid them in a hotel room. ‘‘And exactly three hours later, the mob struck and destroyed whatever we had built,’’ says Doshi.

    Two members of Doshi’s team from Mumbai, Apurva Bhansali and Jiten Dharod, flew to Srinagar the next day when the curfew was lifted. They packed the idols in cardboard boxes and flew to Sabarmati in Gujarat. ‘‘Before the two had reached, the news had spread in Sabarmati. When the idols were installed in Chintamani Parshwanath derasar there, there were more than 14,000 people who came for darshan,’’ he says.

    The idols, that has been taken to safety, were built in Kalikund in Dholka, Gujarat. Doshi says that his family set up the temple to realize his 68-year-old mother’s dream.

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