Jain temple Ranakpur – a magnificence of spiritual serenity and artistic grace

Although Rajasthan is full of architectural marvel, Jain Temple of Ranakpore stands atop all. This Jain temple is a unique example of architectural brilliance and spiritual serenity combined into one. Actually there are several jain temples in Rajasthan. They all follow a particular architectural style. But the magnificence of this one, is beyond words.

Since Ranakpore is located quiet close to Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur. And we had heard a lot about the Jain Temple at Ranakpur. So, we decided on a day trip from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh fort and Ranakpur. I had not seen any photographs of the Jain Temple beforehand. And I had no clue what to expect. No prizes to guess that I was completely blown off by the marvel of the temple upon visiting.

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Front view of the magnificent Jain Temple of Ranakpur

To Ranakpur

We arrived in the huge temple campus by 4:30 in the evening. There is a locker service available in the temple premises. Here, guests are supposed to deposit all their valuables, including phone , wallet etc. before proceeding to the temple. You can, however, get your electronics checked and pay a small fee, to carry them. However, the locker facility is available only till 5:30pm. So, we decided to leave our belongings in the cab that we had hired for the day trip (I love this! India might be one of the top listed countries for pretty crimes , tourist scams and thefts. But I have always been able to trust the hired cabs and their drivers with my valuables. And never once has my experience been bad!). So, we left our belongings there in the car. And, we proceeded to the temple.

The residential wing

After depositing the valuables, you can proceed to the residential part first, before going to the main temple. There are restrooms and drinking water in this part of the premises. (However, beware of the lurking monkeys. There are numerous monkeys and apes invading the premises particularly on this side as people are more likely to come here with food and water. We had to muster a lot of courage to prepare milk for our daughter and feed her before proceeding). We did wash our hands and had some water before proceeding to the main temple. From here, you can proceed to the main temple by moving back towards the entrance from where you entered into the premises.

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The campus of the temple premises

Main Jain Temple

As you proceed towards the main temple, you will first get a side glimpse of the architectural marvel that awaits in front. Then you get the front view of the temple which is mind blowing. It is a huge marble structure of 3 floors built over a huge plinth. So much so that inspite of a good zooming facility, it was difficult for my camera to capture the full view of this temple in one shot. Moreover, the location of the temple amidst the dense green forests with Aravali hills in the backdrop adds wonderfully to its perfection. It is believed that this temple was conceived as an image of the celestial Vehicle (Viman) Nalinigulma. That is what has inspired the architeture of this temple. No doubt one feels celestial aura on stepping inside this temple.

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Side view of the temple entrance

The Entrance to the Jain Temple

You have to first ascend a flight of marble stairs to reach the temple entrance. Once there, you descend another flight of marble stairs to reach inside the temple. The temple entrance itself has intense Jain style carvings on its walls. The carvings are very minute and beautiful. You can’t proceed further without getting tempted to click a few pictures.

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Main entrance to the temple

The main shrine of the Jain Temple

Once you descent the flight of stairs, the main shrine is just in front. Built on a huge raised platform, supported by numerous pillars, the shrine contains the idol at one end. There are signs all over, and also near the main shrine, that urge the visitors to maintain silence. The peace and silence in this temple is so dominant that even a small whisper seems to echo a lot. So, do remember to keep your voices very low. The best option is not to talk at all while inside the temple. Since, that will be in accordance with the essence of the temple. And this way, you wil also be showing respect to the Jain way of offering prayers.

The unique ‘fours’ of the Jain temple

There are some unique ‘fours’ in the Jain temple of Ranakpur. For instance, the four sides of the inside of this Jain Temple are characterized by similar architecture. Then, the temple has four main entrances. Hence, it is designated as a chaturmukh (one who has four faces) temple . Also, in the main chamber of the temple there are four huge statues of God Adinath. The sanctuaries on second and third floor also have four identical Jain idols on all the four sides. Also, there is one marble elephant guarding each of the four entrances. Apart from this, there are seventy six small shrines, four assembly halls, four principle shrines. And these shrines are stationed facing the four directions on the four walls of the temple. And few other small shrines are also there.

Altogether, these make some 84 – odd shrines inside the temple. All the walls of the temple on all sides are characterized by the small shrines that contain the statues of Lord Mahaveer and his devotee Jains – Sri Shantinath and Sri Sumatinath. You can walk along the walls on the inside of the temple and offer your silent prayers to these idols.

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idols all around the temple

The unique pillars of the Jain Temple

The Jain Temple at Ranakpur is also famous for its carved pillars. There are 1440 odd pillars in the temple. And, no two pillars have the same carvings. Yes, they are all different and hence, unique!! It is believed, the temple construction had started in 1446 Vikram Samvat (Hindu Calendar) but it took more than 50 years to complete the temple. And it is evident from the marvel of each and every pillar that adores and supports the temple. Not just the pillars, even the roof have very intricate carvings in the marble.

I couldn’t help wondering how these intricate carvings were done in an era that didn’t have the fine machinery of the modern world. It must all have been done with bare human hands!! To reproduce this kind of architecture in the modern era might be easy enough. Yet, I am sure it will not be possible to achieve the level of accuracy, fine quality and intricacy that is seen in this temple. Because the kind of patience it requires simply doesn’t exist in today’s world. I think that is what makes these kind of architectures a one of a kind all over the world. And I hope great perservance is observed to save them from damage and ruin.

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Intricate carving on one of the pillars
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Beautiful work on the roof

The characteristic serenity

Although I am not highly religious, I love places of worship that are serene and peaceful, no matter which culture or religion they belong to. That is one of the reasons I love sitting in Churches. And I also love the Ramkrishna aashram that are present in almost every town of India. The same holds true for most of the Jain temples that I have so far visited. They are utmost peaceful. Also, there are no priests to bother you with unnecessary or unknown rituals. You can medidate, spend your time in peace, or just roam around. No one will ask you to follow a queue or sit in a particular defined order.

But the serenity at the Jain temple of Ranakpur was at another level. Once we stepped inside the main temple, it was super calm inside. Although there were visitors in different wings of the temple, yet, absolute silence was maintained. An idle place to meditate I would say! In conclusion, I absolutely loved the calmness inside this temple. I could have spent an eternity here, forgetting the worries of outside world.

And I am sure, others also feel the same. That is why I stated earlier that one must try to maintain utter silence inside the temple, in line with its custom.

The intricate carvings of the Jain Temple

Coming to the architecture of the temple, the beautiful and minute carvings on each of the temple pillars and walls is what makes this Jain Temple utterly unique. Indeed it’s a marvellous work of architecture. Carving on marble and that also such intricate carvings is not a game of the novice. Even roofs have such carvings that it leaves the visitors spellbound. I have not come across such beautiful and unique work anywhere else. I wanted to snap every single pillar. Also, I wanted to zoom into every single carving in those pillars. I took snaps of different structures, roof, pillars, and scriptures. However, I still feel have been able to capture only a fraction of the marvel that this temple is.

 

The Parshwanath temple

Once we had roamed around enough in the main temple, we headed out. In the same premises as the main temple, a little further, lies Parshwanath temple. This temple is smaller and less crowded as well. We headed here after exiting the main temple. From here, one gets an even more magnificent view of the main temple. This temple is also beautifully carved and utterly peaceful.

The front portion of this temple consists of a small covered courtyard supported by several pillars. At the back portion lies the idol. There is a dome at the back which is like the characteristic dome that most of the temples in India have. Although the walls of this temple are also having very intricate carvings as you can see in the second picture below which is taken from the backside of the temple. By the time we reached this temple, the sun had started setting. The rays of setting sun adorened the temple courtyard. And, provided a soothing aura to the place.

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View of both the main temple and the Parshwanath temple

 

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Carvings on the sides of Parshwanath temple

In conclusion, after visiting the Jain temple, we felt like our day trip had the most wonderful conclusion that we could hope for. It was an experience of a lifetime!! There are several other magnificent Jain temples that I have heard about now. Some in Gujarat, some in other parts of Rajasthan itself. I will definitely want to visit them next. So, what do you think about this temple? I will love to hear from you.

Jain Temple Ranakpur

 

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48 Responses

  1. Stunning architecture! Would love to see this in person. That roof is unlike anything that I’ve seen before. Thank you for sharing these with us!

  2. […] did a four day trip of Udaipur city. In these four days, two days we went out, one on a day trip to Ranakpore and Kumbhalgarh and another one on a day trip to Chittorgarh. So, we actually spent only two days […]

  3. Jain Temple is breathtaking. The fine artistry of intricate and elaborate details is so captivating and inspiring. We have to see this in person. It definitely going on our India bucket list.

  4. I love history and I love ancient art and architecture! I just found this place stunning and I can’t believe how many places there are on earth undiscovered! Nice reading and description for each one; Sincerely I felt in love to the main entrance of the Jain Temple! thanks for sharing, 😀

  5. That looks amazing!

  6. The architectural details are mesmerizing! I wish I could go there again.
    I liked your review, it is so differently done. I hadn’t included the other parts of the temple complex in my review.

    • Every corner of this temple is so intricately worked upon Indrani, I felt like never being able to leave from here

  7. This temple is so intricate. I’ve personally never been to one but would love to experience this one day! Will have to check this out

    • It indeed is very very intricate. It was difficult to take our eyes off any pillar or portion of roof that we looked at

  8. Beautiful pics of the Jain temple Neha. This was one place we could not cover as per plan during our visit to Rajasthan. It was very late by the time we left Kumbalgarh and reached Ranakpur. The temple was closed and we had to satisfy ourselfves by having a glimpse of the temple from the gate. How I wish we were in time to see the splendor of this place. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed having the virtual tour of the temple. It looks more beautiful than I had imagined.

    • Thanks Sindhu. I am following your Rajasthan posts as well 🙂 Looks like we did almost the same trip. The temple is really worth a visit. Even I feel the same reading your posts – I missed quiet a few things when there. So, will plan a second trip to Rajasthan soon

  9. Lovely blog post and magnificent pics! Quite similar to Dilwara Jain Temples of Mount Abu

    • Thanks Shilpi. Haven’t seen the Mt. Abu temple. Jain temples are mostly similar in architecture. But we had heard a lot about this one in particular.

  10. Wow what an intricately carved masterpiece. This is a stunning temple that I am putting on my must see list.

  11. That’s such an impressive sight! Seriously, your photos alone are evoking every wanderluster’s interest for sure 🙂 Even more so when reading that they managed to make those 1440 unique pillars… great work!

  12. I love the architecture. It’s a piece of art. So many details. I wonder how much time it took to create it! Thank you for sharing this interesting article and beautiful pictures!

  13. Thank you for sharing. I’ve never heard about this temple before and is absolutely amazing. The marble art work is something admirable.

  14. Oh damn! The carvings that envelope the Jain Temple is beyond amazing! Intricate is simply an understatement! At least now when people search for pictures of Jain Temple, it will lead them to this post filled with beautiful photos!

    • Thanks so much Sarah!! Actually it’s so difficult to capture the essence in a few snaps. I wanted to put all the temple pictures here..only that would make the post a little too heavy 🙂

  15. We are heading to India next week – and Ranakpur i on our itinerary. SO thanks for sharing some really useful tips regarding our visit there. 🙂

  16. The Jain Temple looks amazing!! I love all of the intricate details in all of the carvings inside. There are some places in the world that are simply breathtaking, and this is one of them! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Also, why did you have to leave your valuables in a locker? Is it just due to the threat of theft?

    • Thanks Susan. For the valuables, several reasons. Not theft though. To maintain peace inside the temple premises, its good to leave any distraction or sounding causing elements like electronics out. Leather is not allowed as it’s considered impure. That puts purses and wallets out. And then due to security reason again electronics are not allowed. Food materials are anyways not allowed inside places of worship!!

  17. I always love the symmetry and detail in architecture like this. It is always very calming for my eyes – even when there is so much to look at! Great photos!

  18. Wow, what a tempel! It looks huge and with so many little details. Amazing! I wish I get to visit there someday. Very interesting that you are not allowed to bring anything else in except a camera, but understandable.

  19. Rajasthan and Gujarat are filled with some amazing examples of Jain architecture. The Jain temples are literally poems in white marble which dazzle as well as soothe with their pristine serenity. Ranakpur stands tall as a glorious example of this magic .

  20. PackYourBaguios

    Love all the delicate carvings. I can imagine that it was a peaceful place to visit. Pinned this for later!

  21. I visited Jain temples in Osian and Jaisalmer and thought they were immaculate and the architecture was stunning! I also admire the very humane philosophies of the Jain religion – very interesting.

    • You are right. Jain religion philosophy is respectable. At the core it preaches ultimate harmony and non violence

  22. This was one magical place I visited in the whole of India! I wonder why this is not a wonder of world!
    I was stunned to silence then and again now seeing the pics.

    • Exactly! I have been to several temples but never been to one as magnificent and at the same time as peaceful as this one!

  23. The temple gives a majestic looks just like a palace. But what i wonder is if you’ve kept camera and valuables in locker how did you manage to take the shots.

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