Shantidas Jhaveri

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Shantidas Jhaveri (c. 1580s–1659) was an influential Indian jeweller, bullion trader (sarraf) and moneylender (sahukar) during the Mughal era. He was the wealthiest merchant in the Ahmedabad city during the 17th century. He was also a philanthropist, who made donations to temples and schools.


  • The next monument visited was the great Jain temple built only a few years before by Shantidas Jhaveri, one of the wealthiest men of Gujarat in his day and high in favour both with Shah Jahan and after him with Aurangzeb. ...In 1638, however, when Mandelslo visited the place, this temple which he calls ‘ the principal mosque of the Banyas ’ was in all its pristine splendour and ‘ without dispute one of the noblest structures that could be seen’. ‘It was then new,’ he adds, ‘ for the Founder, who was a rich Banya merchant, named Shantidas, was living in my time.
    As Mandelslo’s description is the earliest account we have of this famous monument, which was desecrated only seven years after visit by the Orders of Aurangzeb, then viceroy of Gujarat (1645), we shall reproduce it at some length. It stood in the middle of a great court which was enclosed by a high wall of freestone. All about this wall on the inner side was a gallery, similar to the cloisters of the monasteries in Europe, with a large number of cells, in each of which was placed a statue in white or black marble. These figures no doubt represented the Jain Tirthankars, but Mandelslo may be forgiven when he speaks of each of them as ‘ representing a woman naked, sitting, and having her legs lying cross under her, according to the mode of the country. Some of the cells had three statues in them, namely, a large one between two smaller ones.’ At the entrance to the temple stood two elephants of black marble in life- size and on one of them was seated an effigy of the builder. The walls of the temple were adorned with figures of men and animals. At the further end of the building were the shrines consisting of three chapels divided from each other by wooden rails. In these were placed marble statues of the Tirthankars with a lighted lamp before that which stood in the central shrine. One of the priests attending the temple was busy receiving from the votaries flowers which were placed round the images, as also oil for the lamps that hung before the rails, and wheat and salt as a sacrifice. The priest had covered his mouth and nose with a piece of linen cloth so that the impurity of his breath should not profane the images.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Mandelslo’s Travels In Western India (a.d.1638-9) [1] p. 23-25
  • Amedahad being inhabited also by a great number of heathens, there are Pagods, or Idol-Temples it it. That which was called the Pagod of Santidas was the chief, before King Auranzeb converted it into a Mosque. When he performed that ceremony, he caused a cow to be killed in the place, knowing very well, that after such an action, the Gentiles according to their Law, could worship no more therein. All round the temple there is a cloyster furnished with lovely Cells, beautified with Figures of Marble in relief, representing naked Women sitting after the Oriental fashion. The inside Roof of the Mosque is pretty enough, and the Walls are full of the Figures of Men and Beasts ; but Auranzeb, who hath always made a show of an affected Devotion, which at length raised him to the Throne, caused the Noses of all these Figures which added a great deal of Magnificence to that Mosque, to be beat off.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Indian Records Series Indian Travels Of Thevenot And Careri [2] Cited in Harsh Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, Appendix VI
  • Ahmadabad is one of the largest towns in India, and there is a considerable trade in silken stuffs, gold and silver tapestries, and others mixed with silk ; saltpetre, sugar, ginger, both candied and plain, tamarinds, mirabolans, and indigo cakes, which are made at three leagues from Ahmadabad, at a large town called Suarkei.There was formerly a pagoda in this place, which the Musalinans seized and converted into a mosque. Before entering it you traverse three great courts paved with marble, and surrounded by galleries, but you are not allowed to place foot in the third without removing your shoes. The exterior of the mosque is ornamented with mosaic, the greater part of which consists of agates of different colours, obtained from the mountains of Cambay, only two days’ journey thence.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Travels In India Vol.-i by Tavernier Jean-baptiste [3] Cited in Harsh Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, Appendix VI

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