Ranakpur is situated in the valley of Aravali hills 23km from Pali district in Rajasthan. Ranakpur Jain temples are one of the 5 main Jain pilgrimage destinations in Rajasthan. This pilgrimage destination is adored and is highly visited by the Jains. This Jain pilgrimage attracts lot of visitors not only from India but also from abroad.
History: The temples of the Ranakpur pilgrimage were constructed in 1439 AD at a distance of 60 km from Udaipur. The name of this pilgrimage has a history behind it. It is said that a Jain businessman called Dharna Shah had a vision of a huge Jain temple. At that time which is in the 15th century King Rana Kumbha ruled over Ranakpur. Hence to enable his vision of the Jain temple Dharna went to King Rana to ask for some part of the land from his territory to build the temple. This resulted in the King Rana donating land to the businessman for constructing the temple. As a result this pilgrimage was named as Ranakpur.
The Ranakpur pilgrimage is a temple complex having very beautiful and distinct Jain temples. The ceilings of the temples are decorated with geometric patterns and foliate scrollwork. The brackets which join the top and the bottom of the dome are pictures of deities installed on them.
The most important temple of this pilgrimage is the Chaumukh temple or in other words the four-faced temple. The temple is devoted to Lord Adinath also known by the name Lord Rishabhdev. The main temple consists of four other shrines, 80 domes and 24 pillared halls all of which are supported by almost 1444 columns. Each column is carved distinctly and interestingly; none of the two columns have designs which resemble each other. An amazing fact of the columns is that they change color from golden to pale blue as the time passes during the day. In his vision the businessman had seen the temple in the shape of a heavenly aircraft or in other words in the shape of a Nalinigulm Vimana and hence it was constructed in the same shape.
The temple has four entrances which lead to the chambers which finally lead us to the main hall. The idol of Lord Adinath is placed in the main hall surrounded by many other domes and shrines. As the construction of the temple is very complex it took approximately 65 years to complete the building of the temple.
The other two temples present in this complex are a must to visit. They are the Sun temple and the Parshvanath temple. The Parshvanath temple is also known as the Patriyon Ka Mandir. The main attraction of this temple is its windows which are studded by the picture of the attendants of the maidens and the Jain figures. The Sun temple is called as the Surya Narayan temple which has the idol of the Sun God. The idol is placed in a chariot which is being drawn by seven horses. A beautiful temple which is dedicated to Amba mata is also located in this pilgrimage.
Other Jain temples near Ranakpur:
Sadri: The Varahavtar temple and the Chintamani Parashvanath temple are located in Sadri which is 8 km from Ranakpur pilgrimage.
Desuri: There are two important Jain temples in this village. The first one is the Muchhal Mahavir temple which is located in the Kumbhalgarh sanctuary. The temple is well-known for the idol of Lord Mahavir with a moustache.
The second is the Jain Golden temple which is located in the nearby Falna village. This is the first temple which was built by the Jain community. The interesting part is that during the building of this temple the women of the Jain community donated gold weighing 90 kg.
Airways: The nearest airport is Udaipur which is just 60 km from Ranakpur. There are regular flights from Mumbai, Aurangabad, Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur to Udaipur.
Railways: The closest railway stations are Udaipur and Falna.
Roadways: There frequent corporation and private buses available from Udaipur to Ranakpur. The bus takes approximately 3 hours to reach there.