Jagadisha temple is the main attraction for the Vaishnava devotees in the city of Udaipur. It’s an old temple with a lot of detailed carvings and a tall Shikhara that dominates the skyline of southern city.
Both devotees and tourists come to this temple, since it’s a remarkable example of medieval Indian temples that were built by the kings following the Vedic Dharma.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu with His four arms holding conch shell, discus weapon, club and a lotus flower.
Besides Lord Jagadisha (another name for Lord Vishnu), the temple also houses the deity of Lakshmi, the eternal consort of Vishnu, who is placed with Jagdisha. She is the Goddess of fortune. There is also a Krishna deity on the same altar.
The deity of Jagdisha is said to be excavated by Sripada Ramanujacharya (1017 – 1131 AD), a very prominent Acharya in the Shree Sampradaya.
He explained that the deity was initially served during the reign of king Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. This means that the deity is about 5000 years old.
The original name of Jagdishaji was Jagannatha. Do not confuse Him with Jagannatha in Puri or in the ISKCON temples. Lord Jagannatha in Puri is Krishna with His brother Balarama and sister Subhadra, enjoying the Dwaraka pastimes. While here, Jagannatha is Krishna in His four armed form of Vishnu.
Jagannathaji was moved underground to keep Him away from the atheistic and destructive invaders like Sakas, Kushanas, Greco-Bactrians and other clans coming from the farther side of the Hindu Kusha range. They were destroying the beautiful Hindu temples of northern India. Ramanuja re-established the deity with the help of the local king and started the regular worship of Jagannatha.
This went nicely for over a couple of centuries. But after that, the attacks of Muslim Yavana kings became more frequent. So Jagannatha had to be hidden again by the devotees, away from the reach of Muslim kings.
Maharana Ratnasena, the king of Mewar (where Jagannatha was worshiped), was defeated by Allauddin Khilji, the Islamic ruler of Delhi. Some hermits of that region kept the deity safe, while the temple was completely destroyed.
Later in the first half of the 16th century, Maharana Udai Singh, a Vaishnava ruler of Mewar, established the city of Udaipur. He did so on being instructed by a hermit, who was serving Jagannathaji at that time. Being pleased with the king, he gave him the opportunity to serve Jagannatha.
King did not delay in grabbing this opportunity to render his service to Jagannatha, the Lord of the universe. Udai Singh built a small temple for the deity, where he appointed the priests belonging to Vallabha Sampradaya. He maintained the mandira very nicely and dedicated his free time towards serving the deity, although he was always very busy with wars and administration.
His successors also followed the example of Udai Singh in serving Jagannatha. They maintained the temple very nicely.
Later Maharana Jagat Singh of Mewar constructed a bigger temple for Jagannatha, that was completed in 1651 AD. Thus he proved himself a devotee just like his forefather Udai Singh, who reigned more than hundred years earlier. Jagat Singh renamed Jagannatha as Jagadisha. He also established Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Krishna in the same temple.
And this is the temple we may see today. Till this date, the temple is maintained very nicely by the same royal family of Udaipur, with the help of Vallabha Sampradaya devotees.
The Temple Complex
The temple is indeed very impressive and it fills you with an awe as you climb its stairs.
In the temple complex you’ll first spot Garuda, the mighty eagle carrier of Lord Krishna or Jagdish. In front of him, is an entry to the temple building.
Inside there is a big hall or Mandapa. You may see how grand the temple is. It resembles the Khajuraho or the Dwarakadhisha temples.
On center of the altar is extremely charming deity of Jagadishaji. On His left is Lakshami and on His right is Krishna playing His divine flute.
After having the Darshana, you may take a round of the temple complex.
The temple building has very detailed carvings showing Lord Vishnu with celestial beings, demigods and elephants.
There are four smaller temples on the four corners of the temple complex. These are dedicated to various gods and goddesses including Hanumana Mandira.
PRACTICAL GUIDE: Temple opens in summer from 5 am to 2 pm in the morning and 4 to 10:30 pm in the evening. Winter timings are 5:30 am to 2 pm in the morning and 4 pm to 10 pm in the evening. Best time of the year to visit is October to March.
There is no entry fee. Temple allows both Indians and Non-Indians inside the complex as well as the main building.
Photography is allowed in the temple complex but not inside the main dome.
You may club your visit to the temple with Udaipur City Palace, Bagore Ki Haveli Museum and Lake Palace. They all lie in same area of Udaipur.
How to Reach
The temple is a two minute walk from the City Palace. It is situated in the main part of the city. You may hire an auto-rikshaw to reach the temple from your hotel. All tourist buses halt at the temple since it’s a popular tourist destination.
Udaipur, Rajasthan is well connected to major cities by road, railway and air. It can be accessed from New Delhi or Mumbai by National Highway – 8 (NH8). Chetak Express and Mewar Express trains are available for Udaipur from Delhi. Ranakpur Express may be taken from Mumbai.
Udaipur is connected by air to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi and Mumbai.
The temple is a must visit if you go to Rajasthan-Gujarat region of India. You may also visit more points of interest in Udaipur, Nathadwara, Kankroli and Charbhujaji. They are all nearby and can be reached by car, taxi or bus.