Ranakpur


Ranakpur is a village near Sadri town in the Pali Districtof Rajasthan in western India. It is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. Ranakpur is easily accessed by road from Udaipur.

Ranakpur is named after Rana Kumbha whom Dharna Sah, a Jain businessman, approached when he had the vision of his great temple to ask for the land for its construction. Renowned for some marvelously carved Jain temples in amber stone, Ranakpur is amongst the five holiest places of the Jain community and exceptional in beauty. These temples were constructed in the AD 1439. It is located in the mountain ranges of Pali district, 39 kms. away from the Phalna railway station. Ranakpur is reached after passing lush green valleys and streams and the heart capturing views drive away any fatigue of the journey.

Ranakpur is renowned for some marvelously carved Jain temples and for a much older Sun Temple which lies opposite the former in amber stone, Ranakpur is one of the five holy places of the Jain community. 96 km from Udaipur, these temples were created in the 15th century A.D. during the reign of Rana Kumbha and are enclosed within a wall. The central 'Chaumukha' or four faced temple is dedicated to the venerated Tirthankara Rishabhji. Open on all four sides, it enshrines the four faced image of Adinath. Sprawling over 48,000 sq.feet, the temple is an astounding creation with 29 halls and 1,444 pillars-all distinctly carved. Images of 24 tirthankaras are carved on the 'mandaps' or porticoes in a corridor around the shrine with each mandap having a 'shikhar' or spire adorned with little bells on the top. The gentle breeze wafting through the corridors move the bells creating celestial music all around the complex. Rising in three Storeys, the temple has four small shrines with 80 spires supported by 420 columns. Two temples, dedicated to the Jain saints-Pars vanath and Neminath, face the main temple. The temples have beautiful carvings similar to that of Khajuraho.

The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Adinatha. Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple.The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same.It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars. Also all the statues face one or the other statue. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.

The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries. Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dharna Shah, a Porwad, is said to have commissioned it, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewad. The architect who oversaw the project is said to have been named Deepaka.

This temple was nominated as one of the top 77 wonders in a contest for the new Seven Wonders of the World.

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