Welcome to Rajasthan Tourism
Millions of years ago, the event that bestowed stability upon the then shambolic homo sapien life was the dawn of civilization. With this came other devices which systematized life as we know. One of these significant entities was devotion, which we’ve come to relate to as an anchor of belief. The Ranakpur Temple in Rajasthan exemplifies this belief.
Tucked away in the forests of Aravalli hills, comes a place of magnificence in the form of this 15 th century Jain Temple of Ranakpur. Located almost 90 kilometers away from the city of Udaipur in the district of Pali, the Ranakpur Temple in Rajasthan sits graciously poised on the banks of River Maghai. Featuring intricate designs akin to a fine piece of embroidered cloth, this temple stands as one of the most brilliant architectural monuments on the Indian subcontinent. Besides, the Ranakpur Temple is also the largest and most significant places of worship for the Jains.
According to a Sanskrit text by the name Soma-Saubhagya Kavya and a copper-plate inscription
discovered within the temple complex, this temple dates back to the early fifteenth century. An
architectural marvel in its own right, the Ranakpur Temple came from Dhanna Shah, a Porwal from
Ghanerao, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, the then ruler of Mewar.
Legend has it that Dhanna Shah, a prosperous merchant and prominent minister in the court of Rana Kumbha, one night dreamt about a celestial vehicle. The next morning, he woke to a burning determination of building a temple in the shape of a vehicle, to give expression to his vision. Without further ado, he shared his ambition with the king and pleaded for his assistance. Delighted by the concept, the king assented to the request but with a condition that the structure be named after the monarch. It was somewhere around 1394 C.E. that the merchant initiated his search for someone who would aid him in realizing this vision in stone. He finally gathered courage and sought help of an eccentric ascetic, Deepak, who after days of meditation, turned up with a sketch so flawless and divine as if it was drawn by the Gods themselves. After about 50 years of tremendous labor put in by thousands of craftsmen and sculptors, the Ranakpur Temple came into being.
The massive temple structure, raised entirely in softly colored marble, stands atop a base of subterranean vaults, sprawling in an area of over 48,000 square feet. Entering into the temple complex, it is difficult for someone to not be mesmerized by the vivacity and scale of its designs. The moment you step into Ranakpur Temple is the very moment you begin unraveling its veritable splendor; rays of light steal through carved pillar-corridor, emanating their warmth into the cups of ornate domes overhead. Encompassed by this temple complex are the Parshavanath Temple, Chaumukha Temple, Surya Temple and the Amba Mata Temple. The Chaumukha Temple is the principal temple that houses the main deity, Lord Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankara.
The Ranakpur temple complex in Rajasthan comprises of 1444 intricately carved pillars, 24 pillared halls accompanied by 80 domes which are borne by 400 columns. The apogee of this entire temple architecture is the fact that no two pillars in here are the same! The temple structure has five spires, each of which houses a shrine underneath, and it is under the largest spire in the axis of the main entrance (Chaumukha Shrine) that one can locate the 6 feet tall statue of Lord Adinath. Another exquisite aspect that has also earned the temple its name is the carving of the four-headed image of Adinath, sheltered by a 108-headed snake with numerous tails. The four heads face four directions, suggesting the pursuit of the Tirthankaras. The entire ceiling of this temple complex is bedecked with geometric designs and scrollwork. However, it is the carvings of the nymphs and celestial maidens playing musical instruments, at the height of nearly 45 feet that really draws the eye. Once you move out into the open courtyard, you get to admire the outer shell of the Ranakpur temple complex in its entire glory. Every inch of the material, blooming with delicate and lavish carvings and the soaring central roof that accommodates divinity seem to probe the rims of human devotion.
Come dusk, the Ranakpur temple in Rajasthan brims to life with glistening rows of diyas or earthen lamps for the evening aarti in the central shrine. The priests prepare for this ritual every evening after sundown before the principal deity, an everyday event that is a sight to behold.