On the road between Udaipur and Jodhpur, tucked away in a magnificent valley in the Avaralli hills, there stands a gem of architectural virtuosity: the Jain temple of Ranakpur, one of the largest Jain temples in India.The building is so richly and densely decorated that the gaze pans in amazement across the omnipresent intricate carvings.
The Ranakpur temple complex comprises several temples and is one of the five major pilgrimage sites of the Jain faith along with
The main temple, the Adinath temple, was built in the 15th century on the orders of a rich merchant, Dharna Sah. He had a vision of the completed temple at the site, recruited an architect called Depa and asked King Kumbha for help. The king gave him the land and the necessary help.
The temple is built of white marble throughout, covers an area of some 4400m2 and includes 1444 finely carved pillars, 24 halls, 80 domes and two 110kg bells. It’s understandable that it took 65 years to build.
It houses a statue of Chaumukta or Adinath, the first Tirthankar (Jain saint). Chaumukta means “four heads” and represents the four cardinal points. Only jain devotees can enter the Sanctum Santorum.
Next to the temple of Adinath, there are two other 15th century Jain temples, one dedicated to Neminatha and one to Parsavanath also known as “the temple of prostitutes” because of its sensual statues
A little further, there is also a Hindu temple dedicated to Surya, the sun god, dating from the 13th century. It is built in the classic Nagara style (architecture of North India) and presents a fresco of the sun god in different forms sitting on his chariot drawn by hundreds of horses.