Lurking behind the new-age streets of Indore rests different layers of history diverging between ninth to nineteenth centuries. To lay open the historical treasures of this city that owes its name to Lord Indra, I drove by the crowded streets of Juni Indore, laced with very old, but, unique, unusual houses. In one such packed byroad of Itwaria Bazaar on Hukumchand Marg, is Kanch Mandir, the temple of glass built by Sir Seth Hukum Chand Jain, the former Cotton Prince of India. For almost half a decade, Sir Seth Hukum Chand Jain outlasted as a prominent leader of the Indian industry.
A success he crafted from a few lakhs he inherited from his grandfather Seth Pusaji, who made Indore his home in 1787, under the civility of the ruling Maratha monarch. In 1919, he was honoured with the gallantry title of ‘Sir.’ In 1903, Seth Hukum Chand built a mansion labelled Shish Mahal, abreast of Kanch Mandir (The Temple of Glass), both constructed with a precious white stone.
On the outside, Kanch Mandir is fabricated, like a medieval palace with a spire and canopied balconies. While on the inside, the temple floor, ceilings, columns and walls are blanketed, by thousands of glass panels and mosaics. These embellishments mimic the ancient Jain styles, with multi-coloured glass and mirrors serving as a significant innovation of its time.
The first room houses several palanquins crafted from pure gold and silver. Prefacing the first room is the main Garbhagriha, where Tirthankaras idols are edged with mirrors on both sides, reflecting infinite images of the god. Religiously, Kanch Mandir depicts Jain folklores including Ashta-karma, Sapta-Vyasa and so on.
Spiritually, this temple serves as a pivotal establishment for Jain processions. The best time to visit Kanch Mandir is Sugandh Dashami and Kshamavani when distinctive Mandalas are created, using multi-coloured rice-powder.