Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir
: Opposite Red Fort, Old Delhi
: 1658 A.D.
: The 23rd Tirthankara, Parashvanath
Houses: The Birds Charity Hospital.
Digambara Jain temple dates back to the time of Aurangzeb's reign and is well-known as Delhi's oldest temple. It is situated right opposite the Red Fort, at the entrance of the main road. It was built in 1658 AD, but modifications and additions are going on ever since, and it remains a haven of tranquility amidst the noisy and chaotic main street of Chandni Chowk.
Although the temple is not as ornate as the fine temples in Gujarat and Rajasthan, it does boast detailed carvings, and decorative paintwork in the antechambers surrounding the main shrine to Parshvanath, the twenty-third tirthankara. One has to remove your one's shoes, and hand them over with one's bags and all leather articles at the entrance before getting inside the temple.
The Bird's Charity Hospital
The temple premises house a sole medical center for birds, the Birds' Charity Hospital. Free treatment is given here, which draws inspiration from the message of 'Live and let Live' given by Lord Mahavir, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of the Jains.
It serves as a rescue sanctuary for partridges, caught and offended by fowlers and bought in bulk by Jain merchants who bring them here to recover, and there are separate wards for pigeons, parrots, sparrows and domestic fowl. Squirrels, who will not hurt the birds, are also treated here, but birds of prey are seen on a strictly outpatient basis, as they are not vegetarian.
Most of the cages are house to pigeons with a sickness that brings on paralysis. As their condition improves they are enthused to larger cages earlier to the roof, and eventually released.