|Ranakpur is a tiny village nestled in a valley in the western ranges of the Aravaili, about 98 kms from Udaipur, Rajasthan. Its claim to fame is the Jain Temples, one of the five most important pilgrimage centres for Jains while the natural beauty and isolation of the place adds to its beauty.
Climate : [ Summer : 42.00 degree C - 22.0 degree C, Winter : 20.0 degree C 10.6 degree C ], Rainfall : 55 cms, Best Season : sep-mar, Clothing : Summer-light tropical/Winter light woollen, Languages : English, Hindi, Rajasthani
The town is named after Rana Kumbha. The king was approached by a Jain businessman, Dharna Sah, in request for a land to build the Temple he had seen in his vision. The benevolent king granted his request and thus rose the temple in 1439. There is a Sun Temple opposite to it. Though it is exquisite in decorations with carvings of warriors, horses and splendid chariots, it is nothing close to the majesty of the Jain Temple.
These magnificent temples also impressed the famed historian Ferguson greatly. After his visit, he remarked, “I know of no other building in India, of the same class, that leaves so pleasing an impression or affords so many hints for the graceful arrangements of columns in an interior." Today, every single visitor shares his view. The best of the lot is Chaumukha, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar Adinath. The temple rises conspicuously from the slope of a hill with its domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas clearly visible. It occupies an area of 60 x 62 m supported by 1444 marble pillars each carved in exquisite detail with different themes. None are alike.
The interior is lined with numerous statues facing each other. The most striking is that of a snake with 108 heads and tails carved out of a single marble rock. An interesting aspect of this statue is that it is meant to depict the Jain Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos. This is depicted from the four cardinal directions it faces.
Another artistic delight is the 45 ft tall carvings of nymphs playing flutes in various dance postures. The assembly hall displays two gigantic bells about 108 kgs. It is said that the sound of the bell can be heard throughout the temple complex.
Another must-see are the two other Jain temples. Both are dedicated to two Jain Tirthankars, Neminath and Parasnath. They are also distinguished for the architectural brilliance. There is another temple, Amba Mata, that is also worth visiting, located a short distance away from the temple complex.
Wildlife lovers can also go on a jeep or horse Safari and nature hike through the Ranakpur valley or the nearby Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary.