Barely 3 hours from Udaipur, in the languorous hills of Aravali lies the exquisite temple of Ranakpur. I had been wanting to go there for the last couple of years. My trips to Rajasthan always took me to varied destinations but I always missed the opportunity to see this temple I had heard so much about. So this time I decided to make this a priority and I wasn’t disappointed, to say the least.
This Jain temple holds the deity, Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankar. Inspired by a dream, built over a period of 63years, from 1433 to 1496, it took a budget of 15 crore rupees. A merchant Dharna Shah had a dream where he was advised to build this temple. He approached the then king, Rana Kumbha to sanction money for the same. An architect by the name of Depa Sonpura was employed to construct this structural masterpiece.
It wouldn’t be farfetched to say, the intricacy of work is that of lace on marble. Each of the 1444 pillars that form an integral part of the temple are all engraved with a different design. Each of the 80 domes are carved with fine detailing of stories, festivals, gods and life of that era. The finesse of the work makes one wonder at the craftsmanship, diligence, and artistry of that time. The pillars are placed in such a way that one can see the idol of Adinath no matter where one stands as none of the pillars obstruct the view.
Built on a colossal 48000sq feet the structure rises to approx.105 feet. There 4 entries to the temple all opening into the main central hall wherein there are 2 bells weighing 108kg each in the main hall.
The ceiling of the main entry has the “Kalpvriksh”, the tree of life, the only sandstone structure. It is said that any wish you make as you stand under it will be fulfilled.
The main idol of Adinath is a spectacular marble statue of 7 feet with radiant eyes. One truly feels mesmerized as one stands in front of this idol.
There are also small but exquisitely carved idols of the other Tirthankars. The carving of the 1008 headed snake around the idol of Lord Parshavnath, is an astounding piece of workmanship, as one cannot find the tail end of the snake though it is shown coiled in complete detail.
The temple itself is made of a delicate soft blue marble that appears to change color with every passing hour of the day, from golden to a violet-blue by evening. Such was the beauty of this temple that it was vandalized by the Moghuls in hope of some treasure and ornamental valued items as found in other Hindu temples. It lay in ruins for a long time, becoming a haven for dacoits right up to the 20th century. However, after being reconstructed, it has become an iconic place of worship as well as a sought after tourist spot.
The serenity of the temple grounds and cleanliness are what adorns most Jain temples in Rajasthan but to be known as the “Jewel of Rajasthan is sincerely a well-deserved one. I was truly glad that I made this trip possible. It has only served to increase my desire and passion to see those the realms of State that still lie undiscovered.