Ranakpur Temples are renowned worldwide for their complex and excellent architectural style. These temples are among the five major pilgrimages of the Jains in India.
The Ranakpur Jain temples lay 95 kms away in the north of Udaipur city in the Ranakpur village in Pali district. The Ranakpur temples are the largest and one of the most important temples for the Jains.
The construction of the temples was dreamt by Sheth Dhanna Shah. It is believed that he saw a celestial airplane in his dreams. To fulfill his dream, he reached to Rana Kumbha and asked for a suitable piece of land for the construction of the temples. The governing Mewar Empire was a great supporter of Jain community and their zeal of building chapels. Hence, the generous king agreed on a condition that the shrine must be named after him. Thus, both the temples and the village are named after the then ruler of Mewar, Rana Kumbha.
It is believed that the design of the shrine was encouraged from Nalinigulm Viman (a celestial airplane) which Sheth Dhanna Shah dreamt of. Sheth Dhanna Shah invited many leading architects of the country to draft the desired architecture but only Dipa Shilpi's designs were up to the expectations of Sheth Dhanna Shah. Thus, the construction was initiated in 1367 and it took 65 years from then to attain the desired architecture.
The heavenly complex is built out of light colored marble. This fabulous monument dwells in the huge area of 48,000 sq. feet constituting the main temple and four additional shrines. The main temple comprises of 24 pillared halls with 80 beautifully carved domes supported by matchless 400 columns. The stunning fact about these columns is that they gradually change their color from golden yellow to pale blue every hour due the exotic effect of daylight.
The intricate designs of the turrets and the cupolas add to its magnificence. The uniquely carved 40 feet high 1,444 pillars strongly support the edifice. It is believed that they are uncountable because of the pattern in which they are placed. They are so perfectly placed that it is quite difficult to see the Chaumukhi (four-faced) image of Tirthankara Adinath from any point of the temple. The prime attraction of these extraordinary pillars is that no two pillars are alike. Each one has a unique look and is engraved with beautiful carvings of mythical goddesses playing flute in various postures.
The deep and sharp carving of the Chaumukha shrine makes it one of the most complex constructions in the country. The four-faced image of the Tirthankara, made out of white marble, illustrates his conquest over the four cardinal directions.Being located amidst dense green forests, captivating hills, and flowing rivers makes it one of the most fascinating religious places in India and the world. While deciding for new Seven Wonders of the World, Ranakpur Jain Temples made their place in top 77 wonders. Although, they didn't make it to the top 7, they are indeed a wonder. Hence, if you are planning a trip to Udaipur, don't forget to include this artistic temple in your itinerary.