The Jain centric temple town of Osian (Osiyan) is located in the Jodhpur District of Rajasthan, situated about 60 kms from Jodhpur. An oasis in the Thar Desert, the town is celebrated for its Brahamanical and Jain temples from the 8th to 11th century.
Despite getting a steady supply of tourists through the year the temple town is not on the usual travel circuitbut is an easy detour from Jodhpur.
The cluster of 16 temples is an impressive one, some are particularly exquisite in architecture and grandeur; Sun Temple, Kali Temple, Sachiya Mata Temple and the main Jain temple dedicated to Lord Mahavir.
Largely a pilgrim centre for Jains, you can also see other visitors interested in the history.
The Mahavir temple dates back to 783 A.D. This temple is dedicated to the last Jain prophets. The exterior carvings on the temple wall are a little uncharacteristic from the otherwise austere Jain architecture. The rest of the sand-stone structure comprises of ornate pillars, mandapa and balconied windows.
The Sachiya Mata temple is reached by traversing large arches which are intensely carved. It is said that the shrine was constructed in 1178 A.D. There are two more temples in the complex: Chandi Ka Mandir and the Amba Mata Mandir.
The third most important temple is the Surya temple, dedicated to the Sun God. The inner complex houses statues of Ganesh and Durga as well.
The 9th century Pippala Devi temple and the Vishnu temple also present great workmanship and devotion. Look out for the meaningful stories displayed in the carvings as you see all the temples. It’s recommended to get a guide for better understanding and contextualisation of visual presentations.
The fact that this little hamlet is such a hot-spot for history makes it a great addition to the itinerary. You can see the evolution of the temples over the centuries. The golden sand dunes provide a particularly dramatic backdrop to the temples of Osian.
Opening times: Dawn to Dusk
How to get there: Osian is just off the highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner. It also has easy access from Jaisalmer and Khimsar.
Where to stay: There is very little accommodation in Osian itself and most visitors choose to stay in Jodhpur and visit as part of a day trip. See accommodation in Jodhpur.
When to go: Due to the heat of the summer November to March is the most comfortable time to visit Osian
While you are there: Take a camel safari into the desert