Rajasthan Sights

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Jain Temple Review

A comfortable two- to three-hour drive from Udaipur, the 15th-century Jain Temple at Ranakpur is one of the most stunning examples of Jain temple architecture in the country, dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar (a holy person who has attained enlightenment and takes rebirth to pass on the knowledge to others); this is also a less-crowded, more convenient, and perhaps equally impressive, alternative to the temples at Mount Abu. Legend has it that the temple, which is dedicated to Lord Rishabadeva, was built after it appeared in a dream to a minister of the Mewar king. One of the five holiest places for India's Jains, the three-story temple is surrounded by a three-story wall and contains 27 halls supported by 1,444 elaborately carved pillars—no two carvings are alike. Below the temple are underground chambers where statues of Jain saints were hidden to protect them from the Mughals. The view of the white-marble complex rising up from the fertile plain is awe-inspiring—the relief work on the columns is some of the best in all of India. As you enter, look to the left for the pillar where the minister and the architect provided themselves with front-row seats for worship. Another pillar is intentionally warped, to separate human works from divine ones—the builders believed only gods could be perfect, so they intentionally added imperfections to some of the columns to avoid causing insult. Outside are two smaller Jain temples and a shrine adorned with erotic sculptures and dedicated to the sun god. There are a few priests around who speak a little English and will act as a guide; in return, you should make a small donation. Leather items—shoes, belts, wallets, and more—are not allowed inside the temple (neither are menstruating women) and there are strict instructions about dress code. Although there are a couple of hotels in the vicinity, Ranakpur is best visited as a day trip from Udaipur, maybe stopping at Kumbalgarh Fort en route.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Ranakpur, Rajasthan | Map It
  • Cost: Temple free; camera fee Rs. 50; video-camera fee Rs. 150
  • Hours: Non-Jains, daily 11:30–5
  • Location: Ranakpur
Updated: 11-19-2012

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