Nestled among the mountains of the Aravalli Range, about 90 km from Udaipur , just half an hour's drive away from the mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort, stands the 15th century old, three storeyed RanakpurJain Temple . It's an architectural wonder dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar, Lord Adinath.
The Chaturmuka or the four faced temple is spread over an extensive base of 48,000 sq.ft. and rises to a height of 102 ft. . There are 29 halls and 84 Jain idols. The temple has elaborate domes, minarets, pillars, figures and arches all made of white marble carved intricately . It is a sheer ' magic in marble. '
The temple has four doorways which lead to the four chambers, which lead to the main hall. The quadruple image of lord Adinath is placed here. The top of the entrance is graced by Akichaka, a figure of a man with five bodies , each representing the five elements of nature , the fire, water, heaven, earth and air. The ceiling is decorated with carvings of the leaves of the 'Kalpavriksha' or the tree that fulfilled your wishes .
Each of the pillars in the hall at the Ranakpur temple is unique . Inspite of the fact that there are so many pillars in the hall, the idol of lord Adinath is clearly visible. It also allows the natural light and cool air to seep into the temple .
Surprisingly it was comfortable and
cool inside the temple even when the outside temperature had soared up slightly in the afternoon , as we had made a sudden hurricane five days road trip by car to Udaipur and Mt.Abu via Ranakpur from Delhi in the middle of April , as there were a few well deserved holidays .
Each pillar is finely carved with floral designs, animals and apsaras . No two pillars are identical. Another stunning feature of these pillars is that they change their colour from golden to pale blue every hour as the day advances. The domes are adorned with sculptures and figurines of nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures.
There are fine engravings of Jain scriptures on the pillars in the temple . There is a sculpture of Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankar, protected by a 1008 headed serpent , carved out of a a single block of stone .
Besides the majestic temple, there are several other temples in the complex , such as the Surya Narain temple or sun temple . Seen here is the image of Lord Surya in his chariot driven by seven horses. There are also temples dedicated to the other Tirthankars.
The Ranakpur Temple is an architectural marvel. It brings forth a spiritual serenity that is really unparalleled and is a treat to each and every of the six senses. Considered one of the most spectacular buildings in the world, the Government of India has even issued a beautiful stamp on the temple of Ranakpur.
The dharmashala or the guest house where we stayed during our two day stay here ,was within the premises of the temple . It is managed by the Kalyanji Anandji Trust . It's rooms are spacious and airy . They have all the basic amenities in them . However, the noises of the howling of wolves at night , coming from the forests surrounding the premises, was scary and unnerving at times .
The eating rooms or the Bhojanalayas provided hot , wholesome and sumptuous authentic jain food during breakfast, lunch and dinner time. Dinner was served before the sunset and we had to remove our shoes before entering the building . The copious amounts of pure ghee (clarified butter) in the dishes kept our tummies filled till the next morning .
The Ranakpur temple is a jewel, one must visit. As photography is allowed inside the temple , I took the best opportunity to load my camera and video cam with as many pictures and videos, I could . The memories of the road trip , which I had undertaken with my family ,by car , about a decade back , flowed down from the memory bank. My little diary and the well tabulated photo album also refreshed my memory .