Sweeping across the colourful land of Rajasthan, I witnessed the ancient monuments, royal Rajputana glory and the distinctive lifestyle of the locals. I was seeking for something different, that could refresh my senses and break this monotonous desert tour. While going though the Rajasthan travel guide, the ‘Pilgrimage Town’ of Ranakpur seemed quite appealing. I was quite excited to explore this Jain site and spend some time in divine peace. Though the township of Ranakpur is situated about 96 km from Udaipur, but instead of hiring a taxi I preferred travelling by train. I arrived the Phalna railway station at 7:15 am and hired an auto-rickshaw for the Jain Temples, which are approximately 20 km from the station.
Ranakpur holds a special reverence for the Jains, as it is one of the five renowned Jain pilgrimages in India. I stopped at a village dhaba for breakfast where I had delicious aaloo-puri and a huge glass of thick lassi. Almost all the Jain Temples in the complex are exquisitely carved in Amber stone. Built during the rule of Rana Kumbha, these Jain temples date back to the 15th century. The autowala asked me to start exploring the shrines from the Chaumukha Temple. This four faced temple, dedicated to Adinath Ji (the first Jain tirthankara), is spread over 48,000 sq. feet. The temple with a four-faced statue of the tirthankara, is simply an architectural wonder. It is highly frequented for its 29 huge halls and 1,444 distinctly carved pillars. A corridor around the temple also has carved images of 24 tirthankaras. In that beautiful temple, I could feel the celestial music created by the light wind breezing through its corridors. The four small shrines, with 80 spires supported by 420 pillars, are another fascinating feature of the temple.
I was quite surprised to see the two other temples, dedicated to Parasvanath and Neminath, facing the main temple. The exquisite figures, somewhat similar to the Khujarao sculptures, are the best part about these temples. The images of Adinath, Parshvanath, Ajitnath and Lord Mahavir Swami were incomparable. Another interesting attraction in Ranakpur was the Parshvanath Temple. Made of pure marble, this ancient temple is also known as ‘Patriyon ka Mandir’. This temple is best known for its pierced stone windows with ornamental designs.
Someone told me that the Jain community and their temple building activities were always patronized by the ruling Mewar dynasty. My short visit to Ranakpur was quite interesting as well as informative. Ranakpur Jain temples are the gems in the mountain ranges of Pali district.