Sunday, October 4, 2009



Aadinath temple at Ranakpur , Rajasthan.Built in 1439 AD.Basement area 48,000 sq.ft.It has 1444 pillars.

Ranakpur is 98 km from Udaipur…. In many ways, our visit to Ranakpur was a revelation.
The journey through the meadows and hills was, as I have mentioned in the 1st part of my travelogue, enchanting. Ranakpur is a beautiful valley. The Temple complex is a large compound, dotted with trees, set up across a rivulet , with no shacks around the compound, very much unlike many other places of tourist interest in India. There are four temples within the compound, an Administrative Block, with two Dining Halls attached to it and living quarters for the men who work there and Guest rooms. The rooms are very affordable @ around Rs 100+ per night. Quite a Spartan accommodation , a large bedroom with two cots and a fan, plug-points for mosquito repellent, laptop and charging mobiles, a Store room and a court-yard with Indian WC, a big bathroom with western WC and shower. There is a large car park and moderate facility for the driver too.
Ranakpur has four temples. Principal deity of the main temple is Jain saint Aadinath . It is a huge temple, with no sculpture on the exterior. Inside this temple we find a treasure of rich and intricate carvings, statues of Jain gods and goddesses and Yakshis. A feast for the eyes and our cameras.

A view of one of many corridors created by 1444 pillars the Aadinath temple has.

Arabasque and knots created by snakes. Saraswati in centre.Knots are spreading concentric circles. The three circles have 8,8 and 16 knots one after the other.

The main temple was build around 1439 AD by Dharna Sha, a Jain businessman . The name Ranakpur has reportedly been derived from Rana Kumbha , who gave the plot of land to Dharna Sha. The basement of this huge temple covers 48000 sq feet. It has 1444 pillars . But, the beauty of this temple lie beyond such statistical data.

Sculpture in the Aadinath temple.The smiling male figure has 6 hands..His consort stands on his right and carries a small spherical container.

Aadinath's mother Manjudevi rides the elephant. A very prominent sculpture in Aadinath temple.

Yakshi , with a sword-like item in her right-hand.The sculptor has done a very bad job.Errors in proportion,shape of limbs. The combat-cum-dance posture,however, makes her unique!

Camera is allowed inside the main temple only after we buy a ticket from the ticket counter outside the same . Photography is allowed between 12.00 noon and 5.00 pm . Security personnel are quite strict about the timing. I arrived late and could not use the camera for more than 35 minutes , which was quite inadequate . We missed a good part of the work we would have loved to capture . Since the sun was to set in an hour’s time, we left for the other temples where photography was without restriction. Two of them were quite captivating . But, after the sun-down , the interior of the main temple was quite dark , since, no electric bulbs are allowed. Priests perform their duty in candle light only. So, we missed out viewing a part of the finer portions of this temple during this visit.

The visitors are looking at the ceiling at the entrance.... a motif that I missed out during my photography session.

The five senses of a human being. Figure on the ceiling near the entrance of Aadinath temple.

When I was sitting on the steps of the temple after the evening prayer ( sandhyarati) , the chamber and the pathway in semi-darkness, glow coming from the rays of the few lamps and candles lit, a priest and the wife of another struck a conversation with me . Sensing my disappointment at not being able to savour the work for longer hours, I was taken around to view the major work in candle light. This is an experience which words cannot describe. The bright eyes of Vairab and his Consort on the RH wall of Adinath’s chamber, the arabesque on the ceiling and couple of other plaques, the corridor with intricate work on the pillars, glow of a lamp in a far-away window-like opening. I carried the impression in my heart ……

View of Parshvanath temple , as photographed from the rear.The walls are full of sculpture and plaques.

This stone lion stares at the viewers and pilgrims , from his eternal crouching pose !

A four-handed Jain god , with very interesting details,in Parasvnath temple. His face shows no emotion.He is naked ( an enlarged view reveals more details!, ) , yet has ornaments dangling on his thighs.He is ferocious - somewhat like Hindu 'Rudra', with sword and a head of a dead man in his hands.His other two hands carry a small tabor and a contraption held between two fingers.He has a small moustache, a prominent beard and a snake worn as a necklace.He has a star in between the two nipples.

While the goddess in the centre sits with a child in her lap, very likely in a symbol of Fertility, couples around her are engaged in acts of coitus.

A couple engaged in coitus in standing position, the hands of these persons showing the extent of their engagement!.

I have little knowledge of Jain Iconography. Jain scripture has many gods and goddesses. Saraswati, Chakreswari Devi , 24 Lord Tirthankaras with 24 Yakshas amd 24 Yakshis,

We shall visit Ranakpur again , for peace and de-tox , for more of photography and enjoy the evenings of prayer amid the glow of candles and lamps and ringing of the giant bells..
A few important info. :
  1. Nearest railway station is Phalna, which is 35 km from Ranakpur.
  2. Airports of Jodhpur and Udaipur are nearly equidistant, but, the journey from the later is more rewarding.
  3. Nearest town - Sadri (8 km).
  4. Phone no of the Admin Office @ Ranakpur – 02934 285019.
  5. Avoid being in a hurry . You must relax to enjoy the spirit of Ranakpur.

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