Journey through India – Day 25 Ranakpur – Jain Temple
The Jain Temple at Ranakpur in India is one of the largest and most important temples of Jain culture. Known for their sculptural work, this temple is famous for its intricate marble carvings and unique architecture.
The complex is situated in a pleasant bushland setting looking towards the mountains and other smaller temples.
The main temple in the complex, known as the Chaumukha Temple, is a grand white marble structure that is spread over 48,000 square feet. It has 1,444 marble pillars, twenty-nine halls and eighty domes. Built in the 15th Century, it took over 50 years to complete.
The temple also has 84 underground chambers which were built to protect the Jains from the Mughals.
There are four different doorways to get into the halls.
One must step up and over the intricately carved doorstep to enter.
The main sanctuary and has four six-foot white marble statues of Adinath. Many Jain people were congregated around this, so we chose not to go too close for a photograph.
Looking up above this altar were some incredible carved arches.
There is also a beautiful shrine. It was simply massive.
There were several small tokens of Jainism throughout the complex.
As mentioned before there are over a thousand individually carved pillars. No two are the same. This photo seems to give the best indication of how high they were.
Zoom in close for many, many different and exquisite patterns and carvings of deities.
Then of course, there are the ceilings. They are decorated with foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns with each ceiling having its own unique pattern. Some almost emulated fine lacework.
On one of the ceilings is a depiction of akichaka, a bearded man with five bodies representing the five elements.
Another ceiling shows a depiction of Kalpavriksha which is a wish-fulfilling divine tree. Yes, I could see elements of a tree here.
Of course, I just had to take lots of photographs of these ceilings. Zoom in close for more detail. It’s a wonder I didn’t run into those columns walking around with my eyes constantly looking up.
The temple is famous for its beautiful carved idols, some being made from a single slab of marble.
Elephants play a big part in the architecture of Jain temples. Several elephants can be seen both as statues inside the temple as well as engravings on the exterior temple walls.
The atmosphere here is very calm and peaceful. Even though photography is allowed (you actually pay per camera used), people are respectful of anyone praying.
Much can be read about the Jain culture on the internet, so I have left that for your own perusal.
There are other temples within the complex. We paid a quick visit to a couple but time was against us by then as we had to get to Udaipur.
This building was reflecting different light and was so elaborately carved.
Whatever your religious beliefs, this place will leave you awestruck at its immense beauty and leave you wondering how something so detailed could be built almost 600 years ago and still be in such marvellous condition today.
There was just so much to photograph (mostly white) but if you can, get a few of the local people in the photos to add colour and dimension to the scene. So if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan in India, please add this to your travel itinerary.
Obviously there is still a lot of marble in this area as we passed many trucks on the highway.