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2 November 2013 / leggypeggy

Pisanhari—a fabulous temple named after a wheat grinder

Lord Mahavir’s Place of Meditation

Lord Mahavir’s fabulous blue and white Place of Meditation

Lord Mahavir’s Place of Meditation

The forms of meditation

Guidebooks barely mention Jabalpur and say nothing about Pisanhari, its Jain temple, but if you’re ever in the neighbourhood, this magnificent temple is a must-see.

We’re in Jabalpur for a couple of days before starting a month-long overland trip to see the national parks and wildlife of central India. We’ll be travelling with Anand and Deepti of Prayaan India Overland and they have given us lots of advice (and directions) on what to do and see before setting out.

Pisanhari Temple

Pisanhari Temple

Pisanhari was top of the list.

Our hotel (a converted car showroom that is worth its own post) is on one end of town. The temple was only a short walk away (less than 30 minutes), so we braved the traffic and rocky shoulders of the road.

For 500 years, the temple—with a full name of Pisanhari Marhiyaa Dig. Jain Atishaya Kshetra—has drawn pilgrims from across the world.

Some of its fame stems from the history of its creation. The story is that an elderly wheat grinder in Jabalpur once heard a Jain monk preach. She was so inspired by his words that she decided to construct a Jain temple. As an aside, Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It advocates a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasises equality between all forms of life.

Pisanhari Temple

Poor John and travelling companion, Renae, with a group of 4th-year nursing students. They have one more year to go.

Building a temple is a great idea, but it becomes a lot harder when your sole source of income is your work as a grain grinder. Undeterred, the old woman increased her workload and resisted asking locals to contribute.

When she began to clear the scrub on her chosen construction site, the locals couldn’t help but notice and they willing pitched in to assist.

Pisanhari Temple

When the temple was completed, the woman could not afford to buy the expected gold pots for the top of the temple’s pinnacle. So she put her grinding stones on the pinnacle instead, forfeiting her career for the rest of her life.

Interestingly, there is no record of the woman’s name, but the temple’s main name, Pisanhari, is the word for the woman who prepares wheat flour on a hand-operated stone-mill.

There are other, less romantic, histories about Pisanhari, but I like this one best and so do the locals of Jabalpur.

Pisanhari Temple

The woman who washes the monks robes

We had a great time exploring all of Pisanhari’s 14 or 15 places (we lost count) of meditation and worship. There are even 60 rooms for pilgrims, but we didn’t get to view those.

Everywhere you look the colours are vibrant, the sense of spirituality is intense, the visitors are welcoming (we had our pictures taken with at least three groups of students from the nearby colleges.

We were rather intrigued by the statues and stories of Bahubali, the nude Jain recluse. He gave up his worldly goods to become engrossed in deep meditation. As part of that he stood nude on a hill for one year. The story says he remained unaffected by the varying and often furious weather, as well as the reptiles and creepers that coiled around his body. He achieved enlightenment and attained Nirvana.

But I think my favourite stop was at Lord Mahavir’s Place of Meditation. It’s filled with statues depicting the various poses of meditation. The interior is predominantly blue and white, and is so striking that it captured my imagination as much as the cathedral in Brasilia.

Seriously, if you get to Jabalpur, you must go visit.


Leave a Comment
  1. lambsearsandhoney / Nov 2 2013 12:16 pm

    Lovely story Peggy – looks like you’re having as much fun as ever!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2013 12:17 pm

      Thanks Amanda, heading out to the national parks today. Will we see a tiger? Will I get eaten by a tiger?


  2. janandrussroundoz / Nov 2 2013 1:12 pm

    It looks beautiful. I really loved the photos Peggy and John xx


    • leggypeggy / Nov 8 2013 4:25 am

      Thanks Jan. It really it a gorgeous temple and it was fun to meet so many locals.


  3. Sy S. / Nov 2 2013 1:14 pm

    Great post and I have never seen this temple area before… Many of the Indian temples are colorful…and many of the local students speak English and are happy to talk to tourists, like you and Poor.

    Tiger, Tiger go away don’t nibble/snack on Peggy and Poor John today… ! Hint, take a few photos and run like hell…


    • leggypeggy / Nov 8 2013 4:27 am

      Hi Sy, we’re still working on seeing a tiger so you can relax. We glimpsed one the other day and hope to see more. And yes, plenty of people are trying out their English on us.


  4. Debbwl / Nov 2 2013 7:51 pm

    Beautiful! The story is inspiring show how an idea can grow and spread into something wonderful.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 8 2013 4:28 am

      Thanks Deb. I loved the story of how the temple came to be built.


  5. Derrick / Nov 2 2013 8:03 pm

    I went to this temple, I never knew all this about it, and my guide never spoke English and never showed much interest in it

    He just mooched about with the driver, while I was taking photos and trying to find someone who did speak English, I never did

    Thanks for all the history of it, the place was deserted when I was there

    The hotel isn’t bad, and as you say a converted car show room, but ideal for parties, weddings and celebrations and even more so this weekend, being Diwali

    I hope you have more luck than I did with the tigers, but don’t forget, it’s not just tigers in these parks, there are lots of other animals and birds

    Looking forward to the next entry


    • leggypeggy / Nov 8 2013 4:30 am

      I remembered you saying you had visited this place. It’s a great temple.

      We’ve had a glimpse of a tiger and have seen heaps of other amazing animals. Stayed tuned for pics.


  6. vagabondurges / Nov 6 2013 6:20 am

    Beautiful! It’s on the list for whenever I make it over there. Thanks!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 8 2013 4:31 am

      Hope you make it. Certainly well worth the visit.



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