ENCHANTING RAJASTHAN_2009 - II
Ranakpur is 98 km from Udaipur…. In many ways, our visit to Ranakpur was a revelation.
The journey through the meadows and hills was, as I have mentioned in the 1st part of my travelogue, enchanting. Ranakpur is a beautiful valley. We traveled through rolling meadows and among Aravalli hills, through thinly populated villages for about 3 hours to reach Ranakpur from Udaipur.
The Temple complex is a large compound, dotted with trees, set up across a rivulet , with no shacks around the compound, very much unlike many other places of tourist interest in India. There are four temples within the compound, an Administrative Block, with two Dining Halls attached to it and living quarters for the men who work there and Guest rooms. The rooms are very affordable @ around Rs 100+ per night. Quite a Spartan accommodation , a large bedroom with two cots and a fan, plug-points for mosquito repellent, laptop and charging mobiles, a Store room and a court-yard with Indian WC, a big bathroom with western WC and shower. There is a large car park and moderate facility for the driver too.
Ranakpur has four temples. Principal deity of the main temple is Jain saint Aadinath . It is a huge temple, with no sculpture on the exterior. Inside this temple we find a treasure of rich and intricate carvings, statues of Jain gods and goddesses and Yakshis. A feast for the eyes and our cameras.
The main temple was build around 1439 AD by Dharna Sha, a Jain businessman . The name Ranakpur has reportedly been derived from Rana Kumbha , who gave the plot of land to Dharna Sha. The basement of this huge temple covers 48000 sq feet. It has 1444 pillars . But, the beauty of this temple lies beyond such statistical data.
The main temple has most its carvings on the stone pillars and some of the walls and the ceilings. The statues do need some explanation, but, qualified guides are not available. Serious visitors should familiarise themselves with Jain Iconography.... if and when I get some more material on this aspect , I shall share the same with hubbers.There is only one big stone item in this temple.... that is of saint Aadinath's mother,Manjudevi on a huge elephant.
Camera is allowed inside the main temple only after we buy a ticket from the ticket counter
outside the same . Photography is allowed between 12.00 noon and 5.00 pm .
Security personnel are quite strict about the timing. I arrived late and could
not use the camera for more than 35 minutes , which was quite inadequate . We
missed a good part of the work we would
have loved to capture . Since the sun was to set in an hour’s time, we left for
the other temples where photography was without restriction. Two of them were
quite captivating . But, after the sun-down , the interior of the main temple
was quite dark , since, no electric bulbs are allowed. Priests perform their
duty in candle light only. It was our bad luck that we missed out viewing a part of it.But, there was a compensation on the way.
When I was sitting on the steps of the temple after the
evening prayer ( sandhyarati) , the
chamber and the pathway in semi-darkness, glow coming from the rays of the few
lamps and candles lit, a priest and the
wife of another struck a conversation
with me . Sensing my disappointment at not being able to savour the work for
longer hours, I was taken around to view the major work in candle light. This
is an experience which words cannot describe. The bright eyes of Vairab and his
Consort on the RH wall of Adinath’s chamber, the arabesque on the ceiling and
couple of other plaques, the corridor with intricate work on the pillars, glow
of a lamp in a far-away window-like opening. It is difficult to explain the experience of walking through the centuries old dark corridors of Aadinath temple, among the silent dancers and statues of unknown gods , in a small group with nothing other than a lamp to light up the scene! I carried a deep impression in my heart ....
At this moment,I have little knowledge of Jain Iconography. Jain scripture has many gods and goddesses. Saraswati, Chakreswari Devi , 24 Lord Tirthankaras with 24 Yakshas amd 24 Yakshis,9 Planets, 10 Dikpals are just a few to mention ( Ref : http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache%3AHEEm6ftmc58J%3Awww.jainuniversity.org%2FPDFs%2Feng-lib%2F1.10.pdf+jain+goddesses&hl=en&gl=in&sig=AFQjCNGhsVNNqkmhtFXNpP_lvLVXzvanoA&pli=1) . I learnt that the Ganesha-like sculptor in Surya-Narayan temple is elephant-headed Yaksha Parśva ( Ref : http://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fETebHcHKogC&oi=fnd&pg=PA23&dq=jain+goddesses&ots=ouU4Wa4bwQ&sig=RkUCfLlFvM-iVimnIUJWq9HsKMw#v=onepage&q=jain%20goddesses&f=false)
We shall return to Ranakpur yet again , for peace and ‘de-tox ‘, for more of photography and to enjoy the evenings of prayer amid the glow of candles and lamps and ringing of the giant bells..
A few important info. :
- Nearest railway station is Phalna, which is 35 km from Ranakpur.
- Airports of Jodhpur and Udaipur are nearly equidistant, but, the journey from the later is more rewarding.
- Avoid being in a hurry . You must relax to enjoy the spirit of Ranakpur.
- Phone no of the Admin Office @ Ranakpur – 02934 285019.
I shall request learned Jain hubbers to help me in understanding the sculpture better.