Traditionally believed to be propagated by twenty-four Tirthankaras or spiritual teachers, Jainism is mainly divided into two major sects, called Digambara and Shwetambara. The Parshwanath or Pareshnath Temple, located on Badridas Temple Street, Belgachhia in Calcutta, is one of the most important Shwetambar Jain temples in the city and attracts thousands of devout Jains from distant parts of the country to flock to the temple precincts throughout the year.
Dedicated to Parshwanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, the temple complex, founded by Rai Badridas Bahadoor Mookim in 1867, consists of four temples namely, Shitalnath Bhagwan Temple, Chandraprabhuswami Temple, Mahavir Swami Temple, and Dadagarudev Shri Jin Kushal Suriji Maharaj Temple or simply Dadawadi Temple, which contains the footprint of Jain Acharya Jin Dutt Kushal Suri.
There is a statue of a woman with long hair, just beside the entrance of the Pareshnath temple, holding a flaming torch in one of her hands, probably symbolizing the light of spirituality. With the tall and slender central spire, together with the cluster of minor pinnacles arranged around its base, the impressive structure of the temple has a wonderful architectural style. The central spire, soaring gracefully to the sky and rising high above the surrounding lawns, was originally plated with gold.
Along with the parapet of the terrace runs a balustrade, ornamented with small pinnacles, while a miniature triple-arched stands in the centre, flanked by two casket-like structures. The whole of the exterior of the temple dazzles as it is lavishly and gorgeously ornamented with brilliant mosaics, excelling in beauty and elegance.
The inside of the temple is simply stunning. While the walls, ceilings, and arches are most lavishly decorated with a profusion of glittering mosaics, the mirror and glass inlaid pillars and windows with stained glass panes, create a long-lasting stunning effect on the eyes and the hearts of the beholders. Apart from that, the temple walls are adorned with the paintings of the renowned artist Ganesh Muskare, which amaze the inquisitive visitors. As if to make a balance, the floor is also intricately paved with marble and embellished with exquisite floral designs. The gleaming of the majestic chandeliers makes the temple sparkle and adds extra glamour to its serenity. The deity of Lord Shitalnathji, with his diamond-studded forehead, is housed in the holy inner sanctum of the temple dedicated to him. Since the initiation of the temple, a lamp has been continuously burning inside that sanctum sanctorum as a silent testimony of the mysticism associated with it.
Paryushan, one of the most important annual festivals of Jainism, is celebrated in the main temple, during the Shukla paksha of Bhadrapada month, the darker fortnight in August or September. During that period, the Jains endeavour to increase their level of spiritual intensity by fasting and prayer, listen to recitations of scriptures, and perform charitable deeds. The last day of the festival is called Samvatsari.
The beautiful temple complex is surrounded by neatly maintained gardens containing colourful flowers, decorated with fountains that look wonderful when water gushes out of them in perfect harmonization. There is also a well-maintained reservoir inside the complex, with colourful fishes swimming on the surface of the glistening water.