Surprisingly Mishraji showed some excitement when I said, ‘Lets go to Ranakpur’, Probably because it was daylight and his nightmare of late night driving to Kumbhalgarh was over. Besides, we were going to one of the 5 most important temples of Jainism in India which also happened to serve good lunch, as per our Mishraji of course !
We started post breakfast from Kumbhalgarh and were there right before lunch. Beautiful, clean premises and thankfully non- commercial with literally no shops or sellers around. Good start I must say!
About Ranakpur Jain Temples
Ranakpur is a small village that lies at a distance of approx. 60 kms from Udaipur in Pali district of Rajasthan in western India and is famous for its widely acclaimed intricate and detailed architectural styled Jain temples. The temple complex covers an area of 48000 sq ft , has 29 halls, 80 domes and 1444 pillars, each of them uniquely carved, yet no two of them are alike.
It is a one day trip from Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, and even Jodhpur.
Ranakpur Jain Temples – History
The temple is named after the famous ruler of Mewar, Rana Kumbha and features Jain architecture beautifully & skilfully crafted in marble.
Interestingly, the temple construction began in 1146 but the temple idols were installed only after 50 years, that is in 1496. The construction followed another 15 years and it took whooping total 65 years to create this Jain marvel.
Now if you are thinking who took this ardent task on his shoulders. So let me disclose…
This temple came into being because of the endeavours of four great and devout .They were Acharya Somasundatsuri, Dharanashah, the Minister to Kumbha Rana, Rana Kumbha himself, and above all, Depa, the architect.
Apparently, Dharnashah had some celestial vision to build these temples in the honour of lord Adinath, the first tirthankara of Jainism. And to bring his vision into reality, he took support from the ruler, Rana Kumbha who not only gave the land but also sponsored the construction work.
However, the story isn’t all hunky dory. For two centuries, the temple did hold its prominence among devotees but around 17th century, things changed. The entire region got devasted by war.
To save the statues of the temple from invaders, the priests hid the statues in the cellars and fled to never return. As a result, the temple was under ruins. In fact, at one point, Ranakpur itself became a refuge for decoits.
It was only around 20th century, people realized the importance of this beautiful structure and the so the temple was restored.
Ranakpur Jain Temples – The structure
The main chamber of the temple has four huge and identical white marble idols of lord Adinath almost (6 feet) tall facing the four different directions. And in the sanctuaries on the second and third storeys also are enshrined four identical Jain images, reason why this temple is popularly called as Chaumukh temple.
The complex also houses temples dedicated to , Pasvanath, Neminath, Amba Matha and Surya.
The most outstanding feature of this temple is its infinite number of pillars. Whichever direction you see, your eyes would meet pillars. Pillars big, small, broad, narrow, ornate or plain however ingenious designer has arranged them in such a manner that none of them obstructs the view of the pilgrim wishing to see the God idol.
Here are some more images of the exquisite artwork in the temple
The deity of Shri Parshwanathjee with 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails.
The ceiling at the entrance shows nymphs in various poses.
This is of course me with my camera wondering at what a man is capable of and looking forward to seeing the next such beautiful place..