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Jain Temple at Ranakpur, Rajasthan

The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Adinatha.

Light colored marble was used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. It is also believed that it is impossible to count the pillars. Also all the statues face each other. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there are 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image. 

The temple is designed as chaumukha—with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.

The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th century. Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dhanna Shah, a Porwad, is said to have commissioned it, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewar. The architect who oversaw the project is said to have been named Deepaka. It is believed that, the construction of the Temple was such a challenge that, many skilled architect had failed to develop it and, Deepaka, was just an ordinary man, who helped develop with his vision. There is an inscription on a pillar near the main shrine stating that in 1439 Deepaka, an architect, constructed the temple at the direction of Dharanka, a devoted Jain. 

There is no electricity in the Temple, however, even today, the pandits there continue the trend to light the 'diya' and they pride to say that, the 'diya' lights every since it was first set to light by their great, great, great, grand father, a pandit who was present during its inauguration. All the present day pandits there are descendants from the same family.

This temple was nominated as one of the top 77 wonders in a contest for the new seven wonders of the world. Pandit Man Singh, who took me around the Temple said, it costed around Rupees 150 crores (around 350 million US Dollars) at that time to construct the Temple and around 1500 tourists visit the Temple during the peak season. 

To see more photos of the Temple, please click here

Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
City: Kolkata
Country: India
Date: March 29, 2010