Located in Pali, Ranakpur is one of the major tourist spots to visit in Rajasthan. It is a quaint village situated in the Desuri tehsil, near Sadri in Pali. It falls between Jodhpur and Udaipur, and is nestled in the western range of the Aravalli Mountains.
Ranakpur occupies an important place in the history of western India. Apart from being known for its aristocratic influence, this village is home to one of the five famous Jain Temples which have contributed to India's cultural heritage.
The Jain Temple of Ranakpur was built around the 15th century by Seth Dharna Shah, during the reign of Rana Kumbha, ruler of Mewar. This grand temple has been built in the form of a huge complex that is further divided into four smaller temples namely, the Chaumukha temple, the Parsavanath temple, the Amba Mata Temple and the Surya Temple. The remarkable architecture of this magnificent complex that spans 48,000 sq feet of area is noteworthy. A variety of sculptures and carvings on the pillars add to the opulence of the temple complex.
Out of the four temples erected within the grandiose Ranakpur temple complex, the Chaumukha temple is the most significant. It enshrines the four faced white marble sculpture of Lord Adinath, who was the first Jain representative or 'Tirthankara'.
The image of the deity faces all four cardinal directions, with four entrances leading into chambers that open into to the main hall, where it is placed. This invariably indicates the Lord's victory over the four directions and the cosmos.
The architecture is majorly dominated by ornate domes, spires, cupolas and intricately carved columns, in the form of a heavenly aircraft or Nalinigulm Vimana that lends a celestial appearance. The temple encompasses four additional smaller shrines within the spires, and a large one leading to the main altar. The ceilings of the temple comprise sacred inscriptions, foliate scrollwork and different patterns. It has a mindboggling number of pillars and differently designed columns that change their colours from golden to light blue every hour. The pillars have been wonderfully engraved with figurines of dancing Jain goddesses. The interiors of the temple have been divided into 24 pillared halls enclosed within 80 domes held by 400 pillars, and at least 1000 pavilions. Flawless sculptures of various Jain deities represent the genius workmanship of the medieval architects. This masterpiece was undertaken by Depa Shelpi and took almost 65 years to complete.
The Parsavanath Temple
Constructed in the mid 15th century, this temple is housed within the Ranakpur temple complex. It boasts of brilliant engravings, and ornate windows designed with Jain figures. It is also known as the Patriyon Ka Mandir.
The Surya Temple and Amba Mata Temple
It has been built within the Ranakpur complex, to honour Surya Narayan, the Sun God. It is renowned for its circular structure embellished with wall projections. The Amba Mata temple is located a kilometre away from the Surya temple.
The Jain Temples sanctify the Jain heritage of India. Mythology states that Seth Dharna Shah was a Jain businessman who dreamt about a celestial vehicle. Led by the wondrous dream, he chose the best Indian architects to design a temple in the form of the vehicle he has envisioned. Since sculptor Depa Shelpi designed a draft closest to the Seth's dream, he was recruited to build the temple. The ruler of Mewar, Rana Kumbha funded the construction of this entity.
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