The Palaviya Jain temple in the walled city here is seeing an unusual rush of devotees - and art lovers - to catch a glimpse of 35 ancient idols recovered last week during the temple's reconstruction.
The idols, said to have been crafted during the 14th century, are of the Jain deities Parshavnath, Adinath, Devendranath and other Tirthankars.
Vikram Samwat 1310,1320,1330,1335 and 1340 are the inscriptions on these idols, clearly etching the years according to the Hindu calendar when they were made.
Sailesh Mehta, trustee and in-charge of the temple's reconstruction work, told IANS that some idols are of marble and black stone while a few are cast in metal.
"The digging would be limited to the foundation work," he added.
The idols offer a fascinating peep into the cultural history of ancient Gujarat.
"Since the idols are similar to those in Patan and Siddhpur Jain temples of Gujarat and those of Delwara temple in Mount Abu, there must have been close links between the artisans in Patan, Siddhpur and Delwara. These idols created by artisans of the 14th century are indeed amazing," said Mukund Brahma Kshatriya, a scholar.
Yaswant Rawal, a researcher of cultural history of north Gujarat, said that the site from where the idols were recovered was once under dense forest cover before it became a part of the expanded town.
The place formed part of King Dharavarsha Parmar's kingdom of Chadaravti extending up to Mount Abu. The king and his younger brother Chandra Singh Parmar embraced Jainism.
"The dexterity in carving these stone idols is amazing. Artisans would have tested the quality of the stone before bringing out the life-like images," said idol maker Jingoish Sompura.