Situated seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Ranakpur is home to one of the grandest Jain temples ever to have been built. The small town is located right in the foothills of Aravalli Hills. However, the town is dominated not by the ancient hills but by the presence of the incredible temple complex. Ranankpur is conveniently located between Jodhpur and Udaipur which reduces travel worries significantly.
The Jain Temple
The whole of Ranakpur is dominated by the Jain temple which is grand and immense. The temple complex is one of the biggest Jain temples in India and is a testament to the strength of Jain devotion. Crafted from the finest milky white marble, this temple is suitably impressive. The architecture of the temple complex is of the Maru-Gujara style and hearkens to the era of Rajasthani craftsmen. The excellence of the craftsmen can be seen in the innumerable pillars that fill up the temple complex. These pillars have been carved elegantly and it is impossible to find a pillar that has exactly the same carvings as another one. Duplication does not exist in this magnificent complex. It is possible to lose track of time in understanding and appreciating the varied works depicted through these pillars. A common legend states that counting the pillars is an impossible task. The beauty of the pillars in no way affects the grandeur of the rest of the temple. The shikara, the turrets, the domes and the cupolas are all distinctly superb. At a distance they give the illusion of the temple rising like a majestic being from the hill. The concept of illusion and beauty is ingrained within the temple architecture. Each statue in the temple has been positioned carefully so that they face another statue which shows the immense engineering skill the craftsmen had. One of the highlights of this incredible temple is an intricate carving. The carving was made from a single piece of marble and depicts 108 snakes. While the heads and the tails of these snakes are easily distinguishable it is impossible to find the ends. At the same time, the image faces the four cardinal directions.