20 things you did not know about Ranakpur - A photo Journey
1) In the heart of the Aravalli range, enveloped in the solitude of the surrounding forests lies a poetry in stone – the magnificent temple of Ranakpur on the banks of Maghai river. Majestic yet in complete harmony with nature, in whose beautiful lap rests this magnificent monument of devotional architecture, seems bathed in celestial bliss.
2) Dedicated to Lord Adinath, the first tirthankar of Jainism, the Chaumukhi (4-sided) temple is a three-storeyed marble edifice placed on a lofty plinth standing on 1,444 artistically carved pillars. Although, Rajasthan is famous for its rich architectural heritage, the Ranakpur Jain Temple is an exemplary work of art and architecture and is an eloquent testimony to the Maru-Gurjara style of architecture.
3) Built by Rana Kumbha’s advisors, Sheth Dharana Shah and his younger brother Ratna Shah the design of the temple was made based on the divine dream of Dharana Shah wherein he experienced a vision of Nalinigulm Vimaan (celestial floating palace) of the 12th Devlok.
|The Nalinigulm Viman Praasaad|
|Tucked in the midst of Aravalli Hills|
|Intricate carvings adorning the temple|
6) It is believed that a sum of 15 crore was spent by Sheth Dharana Shah on the construction of the temple (in that era!) which took 50 years to complete. As per one of the legends, once the Sheth was making an early morning round to inspect the progress of construction when he found a night-lamp burning. Immediately he blew off the lamp to save the wastage of “ghee” (clarified butter) . Witnessing this, one of the labourers taunted the Sheth , saying that even rich people are miserly enough not to leave a lamp burning. The Sheth in reply, asked all the labourers to stop using water to make the bindings for the stones and use ghee instead ! It is widely believed that ghee was used instead of water to bind the marble and sandstone slabs together.
|Bird's eye view of the Temple|
7) The temple has four entrances. In the main chamber or Garbha Griha (Sanctum sanctorum), four white marble idols measuring 72 inches dedicated to Lord Adinath have been installed facing towards the four different directions. Apart from the Garbha Griha, 76 small shrines, four Rang-mandaps (assembly halls), four Mahadhar Praasaads (Principal Shrines) are situated in the four directions. A total of 84 Devakulikas (subsidiary Shrines) stand embellishing the temple, soliciting and inspiring man to strive for emancipation from cycles of 84 lakhs of birth and death and attain eternal salvation.
|The beautiful Rangmandap|
|The majestic Meghnaad Mandap|
9) The 40 feet high pillars of the “Meghnad Mandap” have been intricately carved delicately and the magnificent dome with its delicately carved inverted lotus simply keep one's eyes glued to them. On the left of the Meghnad Mandap on one of the pillars, the statuettes of Sheth Dharana Shah and Depak have been carved with their hands folded in reverence to the lord.
|The wish fulfilling Kalpavriksha Leaf carving|
10) One of the most exquisite carvings in the temple showcases the “Leaf of the Kalpa-vriksha (wish fulfilling tree)”. It is widely believed that this carving fulfils all human desires!
|The intricate carvings on the exterior|
|Ancient idols inside the Devkulika's|
|The intricately carved idol of Lord Sahastrafana Parshwanath Bhagwan|
14)Two large pairs of bells, weighing 108 kg each are housed inside the temple. It is believed that the sound of the bell lasts for a minute and reaches as far as 3 miles from the temple.
|The beautiful carvings|
16) The temple has been designed in such a way that the walls stay warm during the winters and offer coolness during summers. The temple accommodates 29 halls and 80 domes.
|The Ranakpura Parshwanath Jinalay|
18) The eroding sweep of time led to a harsh period for the temples. For years the temple was abandoned due to frequent wars and invasions which led to infestation of wild animals and dacoits. During that period, the temple was managed by some pujaris whose descendants still work in the temple till this day. (Due to this, the pujaris have not allowed to keep a “Bhandaar” inside the temple and all offerings made inside the temple go directly to the pujaris and not the temple trust).
|The Neminath Swami Jinalay|
19) Fortunately, in the Vikram Samvat 1953, the congregation of Sadri, handed over the administration of this shrine to Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Trust. The trust then launched an ambitious programme of renovating the temple which took 11 years to complete.
20) The temple is open to Jain pilgrims only from dawn to 12 noon post which all tourists are allowed entry. Photography is permitted at a fee of Rs. 100 per camera. Do make sure to use the facility of an audio guide which is available in multiple languages for a small sum of money. Ranakpur is 30km from the town of Falna, 90 km from Udaipur and 160 km from Jodhpur. The nearest railhead to reach Ranakpur is Falna Railway station and the nearest airport is Udaipur.