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Situated on the south-eastern border of Sindh, Karoonjhar is a 16-mile range of big and small hills that surround the Nagarparkar town. This mountain range of the Thar desert contains old Jain temples. In ancient times Karoonjhar was also known as Kinro. Jain munis used to practice austerities in the hills of Karoonjhar. There are still some temples here, of which some lie in dilapidated condition and others are temded by the local Hindu community of Nagarparkar town. The spread and prosperity of Jainism in Sindh is marked by the presence of temples in Thar and Parkar. In particular: Gori, Viravah, Bodhesar, Sati Dhara, Umarkot town, Gadro and Nagaparkar are known locally for their Jain temples. A temple located in Nagarparkar bazaar is remarkable for its grace and elegance. It is richly decorated with sculptures and paintings. The carving on the pillars and on the entrance of the temple is magnificent.
Apart from this fabulously carved temple, there exist a cluster of three temples at Bodhesar - supposed to have been built in 1375 AD and 1449 AD. Two temples with corbelled domes are built of kanjur and redstone, and are finely carved. The third temple, which is raised on a platform, is most inspiring and imposing - though now it's in a pathetic condition. The upper part of the shikhara of this temple has fallen. This temple is believed to have been built by a Jain woman and is locally called Poni Daharo. 24 km north of Nagarparkar at Viravah stands a Jain temple in a neglected and desolate state. It is built in white marble and consists of an open group of pillars with carved capitals. Captain S.N. Raikes while traveling through this area in 1856 found the remains of five or six Jain temples mostly made of white marble. At present, only one temple survives. Near the western side of the temples are lying several valuable pieces of Jain sculptures which were accidentally found during the road construction. Some were left at the temple while the others were placed in the museum of Umarkot.
There is another Jain temple at Gorri, some 20 km north-west of Viravah which also lies in a deplorable condition. It is believed to have been built during the heydays of the Sodhas around 1376 A.D. It has exquisitely decorated interiors reflecting the highly developed aesthetic sensibility of those who made it. The canopy which also serves as an entrance to the temple is decorated with paintings representing the Jaina mythologies. However, the paintings of Parsvanatha being welcomed by yakshas and yakshinis are found in the domed ceiling of the canopy. As one enters the main hall of the temple, one finds on either side of the hall 12 cells thus making the total number 24. It may be used for housing images of 24 tirthankaras. It is very similar to the one at Bodhesar but far more superior in craftsmanship and finish, bearing architectural influence from adjacent Rajasthan from where the followers of the faith infiltrated into Nagarparkar and brought a new style of temple architecture.
source: Written by Zulfikar Ali Kalhoro at www.thefridaytimes.com