Ranakpur Temple is a beautiful structure carved in stone. Renowned for its fabulous architectural style, Ranakpur temple is situated in Ranakpur village that falls under Pali district of Rajasthan. For the followers of Jainism, Ranakpur temples are of great importance, as they make one of the five major pilgrimage sites. One can easily reach Ranakpur Temple from anywhere in Rajasthan. However, the nearest airport and railway station is made by the city of Udaipur. Acclaimed worldwide for its brilliant architecture, Ranakpur Temple is the largest and the most significant temples of the Jains.
Ranakpur Temple is thought to have been built by Seth Dharna Shah, who was a prominent Jain businessman, with the help of Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. The king helped the Seth on a condition that the temples would be named after him and accordingly the temples were tabbed. Sited in a solitary valley on the western part of the Aravalli Hills, the temples are undoubtedly laudable for their wonderful architecture. The huge structure of the temple is entirely raised in light color marble. One of the largest subterranean vaults makes the base of this colossal temple sprawling in an area of 48000 sq ft.
The vast temple complex comprises Chaumukha Temple, Parsavanath Temple, Amba Mata Temple and Surya Temple. Chaumukha Temple is the most prominent amongst all of them. The term 'Chaumukha' means four-faced. Lord Adinath (the first Jain 'Tirthankara') is the main presiding deity of Chaumukha Temple. The complex structure of the temple has four separate entrance doors to penetrate in the chambers. These chambers lead to the main hall or 'Grabh-Griha', where the idol of Lord Adinath is placed.
The four-faced image of the Lord is facing all the four directions. This image suggests the pursuit of Tirthankara's for the four directions and eventually the cosmos. The idol of the Lord is encircled by many other smaller shrines and domes. Again, one more array of cells with detached roofs surrounds these small shrines and domes. The five spires raise high in the sky and not less than 20 cupolas elevate from the roof the main pillared hall. There is a shrine under each spire and the largest spire houses the image of the Lord Adinath. The ceilings are decorated with pliable scrollwork and geometric designs.
This magnum opus of architecture possesses around 1400 intricately carved pillars. The temple comprises 24 pillared halls in the company of 80 domes, which are sustained by 400 columns. A series of brackets makes a connection between the upper and lower parts of the domes. These brackets have sculptures of deities on their surface. Apart for this, the sight of carved nymphs at the height of 45 feet catches the main attraction. It is startling to know that every single pillar is carved gracefully and not one pillar resembles the other.
The 'mandap' or the prayer hall boasts of two colossal bells that weigh 108 kg each. Chaumukha Temple is shaped in the form of 'Nalinigulm Vimana' (heavenly aircraft). This beautiful shape and structure provide a celestial appearance to the temple. Perhaps, the temple took more or less 65 years due to the convolution of its structure. Besides Chaumukha Temple, Parsavnath Temple is another attraction of Ranakpur. This temple was constructed in the mid 15th century and known for its carved windows. In the vicinity of this temple, there are two other temples. These temples are dedicated to Lord Neminath (the 22nd Tirthankara) and Lord Surya Narayan (Sun God).
Distinguished for its architecture, Ranakpur Temple was also voted amongst the top 77 wonders of the World. The religious intensity and stunning architecture of the temple drag the pilgrims and tourists from around the World to the lands of Ranakpur.
Location : In Ranakpur, near Sadri, in the Pali district of Rajasthan
Built in : 15th century
Dedicated to : Lord Adinath
Attraction : Marvelous architecture