Tourist Destinations of Rajasthan
About 58km from
Jodhpur on the diversion off the main Jodhpur-Bikaner Highway, is Osiyan
an oasis in the desert.
Ossian is located at
the edge of the Thar Desert, 65 kms north west of Jodhpur. Though Ossian
does not figure in the regular tourist guides of India, yet this once
prosperous city, boasts of more than 100 Hindu and Jain temples dating
back to the Medieval age. Legend has it that the town was founded by
Utpaladeva, a Rajput prince of the Pratihara Dynasty. It was then known as
Ukesha or Upkeshapur.
The temples here are among the earliest of all medieval temples of
Rajasthan. Ruins of several temples dot the present day Ossian. The
earlier temples are almost like miniature shrines, some only eight feet in
height. Among these intricately carved red sandstone edifices, three are
dedicated to Harihara- or the union of Vishnu and Shiva. Profusely carved
from their raising plinths, pillars and right upto the very pinnacle of
the spires, these temples are considered architectural masterpieces even
by foreign scholars such as Percy Brown, James Burgess and Herman Goetz.
Among the oldest group of temples stands the Sun Temple, which was built
in 10th century. They are often compared to the carvings of the Sun Temple
of Konark. According to records , right in the middle of the town stood
another magnificent Sun temple. This, and a score other beautiful shrines
were subsequently destroyed during the Turkish and Afghan invasions of
India. Out of the more than 100 temples this town once had, barely 16
stand today. Even these have been ravaged by time.
Although majority of the temples at Ossian have decayed with time and have
even lost images of their deities- the one temple that remains vibrant is
the shrine of Sachiyamata on a nearby hillock. Built in 1234 AD, this
temple was dedicated to Durga or Mahisasura Mardini. Today it has become a
very important shrine for Jain.