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Ranakpur Jain Temple information
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Ranakpur Jain Temple

The Ranakpur Jain Temple was built during the reign of the liberal and gifted Rajput monarch Rana Kumbha in the 15th century, in the AD 1439. The basement is of 48,000 sq. feet area that covers the whole complex. There are four subsidiary shrines, twenty-four pillared halls and domes supported by over four hundred columns. The total number of columns is 1,444 all of which are intricately carved with no two being alike. The artistically carved nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures at a height of 45 feet are an interesting sight. In the assembly hall, there are two big bells weighing 108 kg whose sound echoes in the entire complex. The main temple is a Chaumukh or a four-faced temple dedicated to Adinath. The main temple is the Adinath or Chaumukha temple (the four-faced temple) dedicated to the first tirthankara Adinath. Tucked away deep in the forested Aravalli hills, this is easily one of the most beautiful Jain temples in India. Built in the 15th century, the detailed and intricate carving on the marble looks like lace work rather than stone carving. The 15th century Adishwar temple or the Chaumaukha temple built by Sheth Dhanna Shah is a fine structure. It is in the form of a Nalinigulm Vimana (heavenly aircraft) that Shah had seen in his dream. Designed by Dipa Shilpi it took 65 years (1367- 1432) to erect and is the largest and most complex Jain temple in India. It also boasts of being one of the five most important holy shrines of the Jains. The temple has 29 halls, 80 domes and the pavilions include 1444 pillars, each of them so intricately and artistically carved that they’ll leave a lasting impression on you. The figures of dancing goddesses, beautifully engraved on these pillars are an absolute architectural wonder. The best feature about these pillars is that no two pillars are alike in design and sculptures. Not only the pillars but almost every surface is carved with great intricacy. As you go from one chamber to another you’ll realize that it does not conform to the traditional longitudinal plan as of Indian temples but follows a cruciform one. This plan has four separate entrances, one on each side. Each of these then lead through a series of columned halls to a central arena and the sanctum which has the four faced white marble image of Lord Adinath. The first Jain saint Adinathji or Rishabhadev is surrounded by several other smaller shrines and domes. These are in turn surrounded by a Bhamati or range of cells for images, each of which has a roof of its own. The Jain community and their temple building activities were always patronized by the ruling Mewar dynasty. Dhanna Shah, the founder of the temples at Ranakpur, had approached Rana Kumbha to ask for some land to build a temple. The Rana gladly agreed on one condition that the temple should bear his name. Hence the temple site on the banks of the river Maghai came to be known as Ranakpur and is one of the five main holy places of the Jains. The temples are over 500 years old but well preserved. No other place in Rajasthan has the same ambience and setting as that of Ranakpur whose beauty has been emphasized by its isolation. The temples in Ranakpur are quite unique in style and design. The ceilings of the temples are carved with fine, lace-like foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns. The domes are carved in concentric bands and the brackets connecting the base of the dome with the top are covered with figures of deities. According to a legend, Dharna Sah dreamed of a celestial vehicle. Enchanted by that vision he made a promise to himself and invited architects from all over India to design a temple. Finally he recruited the sculptor Depa who brought to him a draft that suited Dharna Sah's vision. The construction of the main shrine alone took more than 50 years. The foundation of the temple was so made that three story's with their several pavilions could be accommodated on the temple base itself. Beautiful turrets rise from this wall and each of them relates to a cell on the inner face of the wall. Five spires (shikars) rise above the walls and about 20 cupolas each form the roof of a pillared hall. Each spire again has a shrine below, the largest and the most prominent is the one that surmounts the central altar. The most remarkable thing of the temple is the wonderful play of light and shade on the nearly 1,500 pillars. The temples are architectural marvels and it is believed that pillar is different from the others in design. As the sun rays shift through the day the pillars colour change from gold to pale blue In the mandap (prayer hall). The two big bells of 108 kg each produce a harmonious sound on the movement. Chaumukha temple is formed like a Nalinigulm Vimana and provides this whole structure a celestial appearance. Dharna Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction of the temple in the 15th century following a divine vision. The temple honors Adinath, the first Tirthankar of the present half-cycle (avasarpiṇī) according to Jain cosmology. The town of Ranakpur and the temple are named after the provincial ruler monarch, Rana Kumbha who supported the construction of the temple. Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars. Also all the statues face one or the other statue. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image. The moolnayak of this temple is a 6 feet tall white colored idol of Adinatha. The temple is designed as chaumukha—with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos. The architecture and stone carvings of the temple is based on the Ancient Mirpur Jain Temple at Mirpur in Rajasthan. The sun temple at Ranakpur dates back to the 13th century CE. After its destruction, it was rebuilt in the 15th century. A temple dedicated to Suparshvanatha is also present here. The temple has an intrinsic architecture & this temple is also famous for erotic arts on the wall. Māru-Gurjara Architecture show the deep understanding of structures and refined skills of Rajasthani craftmen of bygone era. Māru-Gurjara Architecture has two prominent styles Maha-Maru and Maru-Gurjara. According to M. A. Dhaky, Maha-Maru style developed primarily in Marudesa, Sapadalaksha, Surasena and parts of Uparamala whereas Maru-Gurjara originated in Medapata, Gurjaradesa-Arbuda, Gurjaradesa-Anarta and some areas of Gujarat. Scholars such as George Michell, M.A. Dhaky, Michael W. Meister and U.S. Moorti believe that Māru-Gurjara Temple Architecture is entirely Western Indian architecture and is quite different from the North Indian Temple architecture. There is a connecting link between Māru-Gurjara Architecture and Hoysala Temple Architecture. In both of these styles architecture is treated sculpturally. The construction is well documented in a 1437 CE copper-plate record, inscriptions in the temple and a Sanskrit text Soma-Saubhagya Kavya. Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dhanna Shah, a Porwal from Ghanerao, commenced its construction, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewar. The architect who oversaw the project was named Deepaka. There is an inscription on a pillar near the main shrine stating that in 1439 Deepaka, an architect, constructed the temple at the direction of Dharanka, a devoted Jain. When the ground floor was completed, Acharya Soma Sundar Suri of Tapa Gachha supervised the ceremonies, which are described in Soma-Saubhagya Kavya. The construction continued until 1458 CE. The temple was renovated time to time. Some famililies supported the construction of devakulikas and mandaps. The descendants of Dharna Shah now mainly live in Ghanerao. The temple has been managed by the Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi trust in the past century.


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