Located at 26 Belgachia Road, about 820 feet (240 m) west of Belgachia Metro Station in the northern part of Calcutta, the Digambara Jain Temple, painted in bright red and standing amidst beautiful gardens of flowers and trees, along with a unique 81 feet tall marble column, known as Manas Stambha, is a very sacred place of worship for the Digambara Jain community in the city. Apart from the pilgrims, the more than a century-old red temple with its imposing entrance is an added attraction for the visitors and the locals alike.
Apart from Shwetambara, Digambara is another branch of Jainism. The monks belonging to the Digambara sect of Jainism believe in complete abstinence from all material desires of life because they believe that material possessions only increase needs and the desire to have more, which ultimately leads to nowhere but to sorrow.
For the attainment of Moksha or to get ultimate liberation from the cycle of life and death, they do not even attach importance to the basic need of even the clothing of the body. However, their monastic practice is applicable strictly for males only. The female monks or the Sadhwis, known as Aryikas, are exempted from this practice and are required to wear long pieces of simple and seamless white items of clothing, otherwise known as saree.
Built in the pure Indian Nagara style, where the Shikhara remains the most prominent part of the temple and the gateway is usually modest, the Digambar Jain Temple was constructed in 1912, along with ornamental pillars and beautiful sculptures, inspired by the architecture of ancient Jain temples and caves.
The sanctum of the temple nests the main idol of the 23rd Jain Tirthankar Paraswanath.
Surrounded by four sprawling gardens, adorned with trees and bushes, hedges and flowers, the bright red temple peacefully stands adjacent to a placid tank, filled with clear water that reflects the silent tranquility of the structure. The tall and white Manas Stambha, a radical contrast of the red temple, located in the complex, is decorated with religious inscriptions, preaching mainly Ahimsa, or nonviolence, along with other aspects of Jainism. The complex also houses some fountains, and some other sculptural structures, symbolically preaching the themes of nonviolence and peaceful coexistence like a cow and a tiger quenching thirst from the same water-body.
Excepting the temple, the complex houses some other buildings that include the quarters of the monks, the temple office building, equipped with a library, a community area where religious programmes are held, and a Dharamsala, equipped with modern facilities.