What comes to your mind when you think of Rajasthan? Thar Desert. Hot temperatures. No water. Formidable forts and palaces.Well, hold your horses! During one of our trips to Udaipur, we decided to drive to Ranakpur. Approximately 94km from the land of lakes, Ranakpur is unlike any of our assumptions. Rajasthan is also famous for its Jain temples. We have read about the Dilwara temples. But I can tell you, this is a beauty.
The road throughout the journey was a single lane where two-way traffic adjusted themselves. It was June and the monsoon was setting in. The stretch was lined with little villages with no banks, post-offices or a gas station. The houses in these villages were made of stones stacked together (Yes, the stones were so flat, they could be stacked to build a house) . The route was through the Aravalli hills and we found nothing but greenery on both sides. Farmers ploughing whatever land they had, not with tractors, but with bulls. A river was flowing on one side, where the village ended. It was nothing like the Rajasthan we believe we know.
Located in the forested areas of the Aravallis, this marble wonder is truly marvellous. The Ranakpur Jain temple complex has one main temple and two smaller temples. The main temple, with Adhinatha in the main sanctum sanctorum is a treat to our eyes. The architecture is very unique where each pillar and shikhar speaks volumes of the rich Jain culture. The Tirthankaras are all lined up like any other Jain temple in India. But each encasing is different. No two pillars inside the complex are same and we lost count of the number of pillars inside. The domes are filled with intricate designs where damsels are in different dancing poses. In spite of the light marble, you cannot stop admiring them.
The peace and quiet inside will make even a whisper sound loud. People visiting the temple maintain silence and meditate as long as they want. It feels as if you can find inner peace and soul here. Do not miss Sri Parshwanath with 108 snakes carved on a round marble stone. We will search the tails of these snakes for eternity. I have added a photo here. They also have representation of Jambu deep (Jambu dweepe..bhartha khande..rings a bell, right?). There are carvings of Indra surrounded by Apsaras in a dome, which we also saw in a temple in Jaisalmer. When we came out finally after 2 hours, we felt we have not had enough. So captivating is this one.
I would say, be there to believe it!
Few tips if you want to visit Ranakpur. Dress appropriately. No shorts or sleeveless. No plastic and no leather, including purse, belts ,inside the complex. You can carry a camera but cannot photograph the main deity.