The Jain Temple at Ranakpur is an architectural masterpiece and is a place of pilgrimage for Jain worshipers. It is about 95 km north of Udaipur in Rajasthan. It was built in the 1439 and is one of the largest temples for the Jain believers. It is also known as the Chaumukha Mandir (Four-Faced Temple), and as Adinatha. It is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar. In the Jainism religion the main tenet in simple terms is nonviolence and respect to all human beings. There are around 12 million followers in India today.
ARCHITECTURE OF CHAUMUKHA TEMPLE
The temple sits majestically on a hillside. It is designed with four faces. This is a representation that symbolises Tirthankara’s conquest of the four directions and therefore the cosmos. One of the first things that strikes you is that there are no complete walls anywhere. Sunlight streams into the temple and reflects off the magnificent carvings and white marble pillars. This results in a subtle change of colour with the passing hours of the day from warm golden shades to colder blue tinged marble. There are 29 pillared halls and 80 domes. It covers an area of 60x 62 metres or around 48 000 square feet. It took 65 years to complete. The architecture and stone carvings of the temple is based on the Ancient Mirpur Jain Temple at Mirpur in Rajasthan.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CHAUMUKHA TEMPLE
The temple has 1444 pillars, none of which are identical. This is in keeping with the Jain philosophy to remind us of man’s imperfections. The intricate carving on each of the pillars is unique and is exquisite when you examine them up close.
INSIDE THE DOMES
Most of the carving on the domes resembles lace. If you look carefully you will see that the upper and lower sections of the dome are linked by sculptures of deities. At the top of the pillars holding up the dome there are nymphs playing musical instruments and dancing.
INTRICATE PATTERNED CEILINGS
The ceilings are adorned with geometric patterns. Once again no two ceilings are alike.
GEOMETRIC PATTERNED CEILINGS AT RANAKPUR TEMPLE
The carving of the deity of Shri Parshwanathjee depicts 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails, where the snakes are acting as protector. One cannot find the end of the tails. The carving faces in all four cardinal directions.
CARVING OF THE DEITY OF SHRI PARSHWANATHJEE – RANAKPUR
Below the carving is a representation of Mt. Sahtrujava, where 863 Jain temples cluster near Palitana.
There are several sculptures of elephants at the temple, both inside and out. There are also numerous engravings on the exterior walls as well. There is a particularly beautifully carved elephant with a mahout placed at the centre of the Chaumukha Mandir.
PILGRIMS IN THE PRAYER HALL
In the mandap (prayer hall), there are two big bells weighing 108 kg each which produce a harmonious sound when rung. Pilgrims can be found at prayer in the main sanctuary. There are priests who will happily offer a blessing to devotees. It is a wonderfully tranquil place.
PILGRIMS RECEIVE A BLESSING – RANAKPUR
If you are planning a visit the Rajasthan make sure you add the Jain temple to your bucket list.
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