“Only the unlearned deem myself (Vishnu) and Shiva to be distinct; he, I, and Brahma are one, assuming different names for the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe. We, as the triune Self, pervade all creatures; the wise therefore regard all others as themselves.”
~ Vishnu explains the Nature of the Trinity (Trimurti) ~
Vishnu is the peace loving deity of Hindu Trinity worshiped as the protector and sustainer of the world and restorer of dharma (moral order) with his steadfast principles of order, righteousness and truth. He came in the form of many avatars to restore the balance of living on earth and destroy that which is evil. In India, the worship of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva is most popular. Thousands of temples lie scattered across the subcontinent in reverence to them. Lord Vishnu is a loved God due to the various avatars (especially Ram and Krishna) he has taken to come down to earth in rescue of mankind. People tend to understand and identify him more than any other deity. A temple built in admiration of this Sustainer of life is the Jagdish temple of Udaipur inaugurated in 1651.
The Jagannath temple of Puri, Odhisha is one of the most renowned Vishnu temples in the world which has enticed and fascinated followers since a long time. One such follower was Maharana Jagat Singh who had deep devotion for the deity. He used to visit Jagannath temple of Puri for the annual rath yatra – a festival of processions. At one such occasion he could not reach the rath yatra on time due to a halt in the midst of his journey. Disappointed with himself, when he reached there, he had a dream in which the Lord told him that there was no need for him to travel when he could make a temple in his city itself. After returning to Udaipur, he started the construction of the Jagdish temple, which is known to have cost around 1.5 million rupees at that time.
Gracefully carved pillars, embellished ceilings, painted walls and halls adorn this three-storey temple. The skyline of Udaipur is touched by the spire of the main temple that is around 79 feet high. A pyramidal spire, mandap (prayer hall) and a porch form its architecture. Each of the first and the second storey of the temple possess 50 pillars. The Hindu architectural science of ‘Vastushastra’ has been referred to while it was being fashioned. A four-armed image of Lord Vishnu, carved out of a single piece of black stone, can be seen in the main shrine. Four smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Sun God, Goddess Shakti and Lord Shiva, encircle it. Sculptures of dancers, elephants, horsemen and musicians adorn the shikhar (spire) and outer wall of the temple, whereas the inner wall depicts the numerous tales revolving around Lord Vishnu. Unfortunately a lot of these carvings, specifically that of elephants, horses and warriors were disfigured deliberately by Mughal invaders a long time ago when they took control of this part of the city briefly. These invaders were angry at their losses from the various battles around the city and thus took out their anger by vandalizing and defacing these carvings.
Built in Indo-Aryan style, at the entrance of this temple, visitors are welcomed by two huge stone elephants and the doorway of Lord Vishnu is guarded by a brass image of Garuda, a figure of half-man and half-eagle. Despite time and invaders taking a heavy toll, Jagdish temple is still an outstanding example of Indian craftsmanship and appreciated as an architectural marvel. The Lord of preservation has still kept it preserved.