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Ranakpur Temple

Overview


Ranakpur is a village located in Desuri tehsil near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan in western India. It is located between Jodhpur and UdaipurRanakpur is one among the most famous places to visit in Pali, Rajasthan. Ranakpur is easily accessed by road from Udaipur. Along with magnificent architecture and numerous pillars, the place is also famous for large population of monkeys that live in and around the place. Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, said to be the most spectacular of the Jain temples. There is also a small Sun temple which is managed by the Udaipur royal family trust.


About The Temple


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Acharya Somasundarsuriji was a magnetic personality who lived in the fifteenth century of Vikram Era. Shreshti Dharanashah belonged to the village Nadia near Ranaipu, From here he had migrated to Malgadh. His father’s name was Kurpal and Kamalde was his mother. He had an elder brother named Ratanashah. They had descended from the illustrious portal clan. Dharanashnh came into contact with Acharya somasundarsumi who infused a strong spiritual urge in his heart. At the age of thirty-two, when he visited Shatrunjaya, the foremost among all the places of Jain pilgrimage, Dharanashah tonk the austere vow of lifelong celibacy. Aided by his sharp intellect, a keen administrative power and an innate capacity to lead and govern, he had risen to the position of a Porwal Kumbha Rana. One blessed moment Dharanahah felt the spontaneous urge to build a temple of Lord Risabihadeva, which he resolved, should be without parallel in beauty. A legend tells us that one night in his dream. Dharanashah had a vision of Nalinigulma Viman which is considered to be the most beautiful among the celestial planes. Dharanashah decided that the temple should resemble this heavenly Viman. He invited many renowned artists and sculptors they submitted their plans and designs, but none could even remotely capture the Minister's dream image. Last an easy-going sculptor named Depak from Mundara presented a plan, which simply thrilled the heart of Dharanashah. He was profoundly impressed. Depak was a carefree type of an artist and would prefer poverty to servility. He set very high value on his art. He was deeply touched by the transparent personality and devoutness of Dhararashah. He promised to create a temple which would give concrete shape to the Ministers dream. And thus, a rare confluence of art and devotion was effected by the two visionarie. Dharanashah approached Rana Kumbha with a request to give some land for the construction of the temple. The king not only gave the land but advised Dharanashah to build a township also near the site. The site of the old village Madgi in the valley of Mount Madri was selected for the purpose. The construction of the temple and the township began simultaneously. The town was named Rampur after the name of King Kumbha Rana. Ranpur is popularly known as Ranakpur.

The construction of the temple which had begun in 1446 by Vikram Samvat, could not be completed even after fifty years. Dharanashah, considering his advancing old age and failing health, decided to install the idol of the Principal deity without much loss of time. In the year 1496 of the Vikram Era, after the completion of the temple, the idols were ceremoniously installed by Acharya Somalsundarsunii. At last, hard work and devotion of some 50 years brought the Minister's dream down to earth in the form of a magnificent temple. An image of the Viman of the gods. One cannot but feel awe and reverence for the ingenuity and craftsmanship of this gifted artist. According to one legend, about ninety-nine lakhs of rupees were spent on the construction of the temple. It is believed that the master builder Depak had put the devotion of his patron Sheth Dharanashah to test by making him offer seven precious metals, pearls, rich stones, musk and other fragrant substances while laying the foundation. In spite of the complexity, the vast expanse and the loftiness of the temple, the architectural balance and symmetry are not the least affected. The artiste sculptures which lie scattered like precious jewels, the myriad ornate Toranas' or festoons with minute and delicate carvings, the innumerable elegant and lofty pillars and a large number of Shikharas, (spires) which make a unique pattern on the face of the sky-all these works of spiritual art, as one approaches them, become alive and make the beholder oblivious of all else but a feeling of ecstasy, as if touched by the sublimity of Divine Bliss. The temple has four artistic entrances. In the main chamber or Gabhara (Sanctum sanctorum) of the temple there are four huge white marble images of Bhagvan Adinath, These four images, which are some 72 inches tall, have been installed facing the four different directions. In the sanctuaries on the second and third storeys also are enshrined four identical Jain images. it is because of these four images nstalled together in this temple, that it is popularly known as Chaturmukh Jain Temple In addition to Chaturmukh Prasad this temple is also known as Dharan Vihar, Trailokya Deepak Prasad or Tribhuvan Vihar. Dharan Vihar is a suitable name because it was built by Shreshthi Dharanashah. It stands like a luminous light spreading radiance in all the three Lokas (spheres) so it could be aptly called Trailokya Deepak Prasad or Tribhuvan Vihar. All these various names speak of its great glory.

Besides, seventy six smaller domed shrines, four Rangamandapas (assembly halls), four Mahadhar Prasads (Principal Shrines) situated in the four directions, a number of big and small Devakuikas (subsidiary Shrines)-in all 84 in number stand embellishing the temple, soliciting and inspiring man to strive for emancipation from cycles of 84 lakhs of birth and death and attain eternal salvation. The four ornate Meghanada-mandapas are unique in their sculptural beauty. The forty feet high pillars bedecked with delicate carvings, the artistic Toranas' or festoons suspended like ornaments studded with precious stones and the magnificent dome with its delicately carved pendant simply keep one's eyes glued to them. One feels as if the very core of the stone has not been left untouched by the artist's chisel. The radiant images of the goddesses in the dome hold the beholders spell bound, with their hearts a thrill with expectancy. Judging from Meghanada mandapa alone, one cannot but feel that the creator must have been much more than a great artist indeed a weaver of dreams. Looking at the image of the Lord from the Meghanada mandapa, makes one realize how insignificant and imperfect one really is before his infinite Creator inspiring one to rise above false pride and ego and to become aware of one's true place in the Divine scheme of things, while entering through the West Meghanada mandapa one sees on the left hand side pillar, the carved images of Dharanashah and Depak facing the Lard. They too seem to remind man of his humble position before God. How could one not bow down in reverence before these two great souls the Minister for his artistic devotion and the artist for his devotional art. The domes and ceiling of this temple are replete with innumerable carvings depicting famous incidents from the past. The artists have given them life and movement with the magic touch of their chisels. While trying to comprehend their mute language, the beholder becomes oblivious of time and space, marvelling at the workmanship. The stone-slabs depicting sahasrafana (a cobra with thousand hoods) Parshwanath and sahasrakuta are equally impressive.

The most outstanding feature of this temple is its infinite number of pillars. This temple can be called a treasure house of pillars or a city of pillars. In whichever direction one might turn one's eyes meet pillars and pillars big, small, broad, narrow, ornate or plain. But the ingenious designer has arranged them in such a manner that none of them obstructs the view of the pilgrim wishing to have a Darshana' (glimpse) of God. From any corner of the temple one can easily view the Lord's image. These innumerable pillars have given rise to the popular belief that there are about 1444 pillars in the temple. In the North of this temple, there is a Rayan tree (Mimusos laxandra) and the foot prints of Bhagavan Rishabhadev on a slab of marble. They remind us of the life and preaching of Bhagavan Risabhadev and of Shatrunjaya, the foremost among the places of Jain pilgrimage. On one hand the temple has been made artistic with it's two upper storeys, on the other the designer has shown foresight in constructing some nine cellars in which the sacred images could be safely preserved in the event or a crisis. It is believed that there are many Jain images in these cellars. These cellars must be an additional strength and support to the entire structure and must have sustained it against the onslaught of time and the elements The Jain temples of Mount Abu are famous for the carvings, but the Ranakpur temple also is second to none in its delicate carvings. What attracts one most is its complexity and vast expanse of its structure. There is a popular saying among the people: The canings of Abu and the architecture of Ranakpur are unique". The eroding sweep of time and nature and wanton and mindless destruction by foreign invaders did much damage to this holy shrine. For a long time it wore a deserted look as pilgrims didn't find it safe to go to this secluded place infested with wild animals and dacoits.

Ranakpur Fortunately, in the Vikram Samvat 1953 (1897 A. D. ), the hole congregation-Shri Sangha-of Sadri, handed over the administration of this shrine to sheth Anandji Kalyanji Trust (Pedhi). Soon after taking over charge the Pedhi' addressed itself to the primary task of providing amenities to pilgrims, and safety from the danger of wild animals. The authorities then launched an ambitious programme of renovating the temple. The renovation which had begun in the Vikram Year 1990 continued for eleven years and was accomplished in S. Y. 2001. The artists who set chisel to stone have lent such a delicate grace to this old structure that world-renowned architects and sculptors have lavishly praised it as one of the wonders of the world. This renovated shrine has once again attained its unique fame in the world of art and religion. Every year thousands of art-lovers and spiritual seekers from all over the world come to this idyllic place. They return amply rewarded. To meet the ever-increasing number of tourists, the Pedhi has constructed many new Dharmashalas (inns)'. Formerly there was just one old inn for the pilgrims. Now there are three new inns, which provide all modern amenities and comforts. But the quintessence of this masterpiece is to be discerned in the fact that it was conceived as an image of the celestial Viman Nalinigulma and the materialization of the image acquired an aura that makes the beholder feel transported to a dream-world, where he experiences the rare and divine magnificence of the heavenly Viman. If the sublimation of the mind and an experience of the bliss of the subtler and higher states of the consciousness is the purpose of art, the spirit of Art has undoubtedly been fulfilled in the Chaturmukha Temple.

Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple. 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 pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. Above all, you would be amazed to see at a height of 45 feet engraved nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. 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 most remarkable thing of the temple is the wonderful play of light and shade on the nearly 1,444 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. The construction of the main shrine alone took more than 50 years.

Temple of pillars

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The temple is a masterpiece of architecture and boasts of not less than four additional shrines. It has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes that are supported by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes are linked by brackets that have deities' sculptures. Each column is intricately carved and it is surprising to know that no two columns have the similar design. 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.


Legend and stories


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According to the Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram the supreme being (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Narayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities." (Bhagavata Purana 3.4.22) The Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram in Hindu scriptures. It is a place sacred to Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu's dual form of Nara-Narayana. Thus, in the Mahabharata, Krishna, addressing Arjuna, says, "Thou wast Nara in a former body, and, with Narayana for thy companion, didst perform dreadful austerity at Badari for many myriads of years."

One legend has it that when the goddess Ganga was requested to descend to earth to help suffering humanity, the earth was unable to withstand the force of her descent. Therefore the mighty Ganga (Ganges) was split into twelve holy channels, with Alaknanda one of them. Another Legend explains both name and sitting posture as this place was full of Badri bushes and Vishnu meditating for, beloved Lakshmi stood next to him sheltering him from scorching sunlight turned into a Badri herself called 'BADRI VISHAL' and her lord(Nath) became the BadriNath. The mountains around Badrinath are mentioned in the Mahabharata, when the Pandavas were said to have expired one by one, when ascending the slopes of a peak in western Garhwal called Swargarohini.(literal meaning - the 'Ascent to Heaven'). The Pandavas passed through Badrinath and the town of Mana, 4 km north of Badrinath, on their way to Svarga (heaven). There is also a cave in Mana where Vyasa, according to legend, wrote the Mahabharata.The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures


Festivals


The most prominent festival held at Badrinath Temple is Mata Murti Ka Mela, which commemorates the descent of the river Ganges on mother earth. The mother of Badrinath, who is believed to have divided the river into twelve channels for the welfare of earthly beings, is worshiped during the festival. The place where the river flowed became the holy land of Badrinath. The Badri Kedar festival is celebrated during the month of June in both the temple and the Kedarnath temple. The festival lasts for eight days; artists from all over the country perform during the function. The major religious activities (or pujas) performed every morning are mahabhishek (ablution), abhishek, gitapath and bhagavat puja, while in the evening the pujas include geet govinda and aarti. Recital in vedic scripts like Ashtotram and Sahasranama is practiced during all the rituals. After aarti, the decorations are removed from the image of Badrinath and sandalwood paste is applied to it. The paste from the image is given to the devotees the next day as prasad during the nirmalaya darshan. All the rituals are performed in front of the devotees, unlike those in some Hindu temples, where some practices are hidden from them.Sugar balls and dry leaves are the common prasad provided to the devotees. The temple is closed for winter on the auspicious day of Vijayadasami during October–November-On the day of closure, Akhanda Jyothi, a lamp is lit filled with ghee to last for six months.Special pujas are performed on the day by the chief priest in the presence of pilgrims and officials of the temple.The image of Badrinath is notionally transferred during the period to the Narasimha temple at Jyotirmath, located 40 mi (64 km) away from the temple.The temple is reopened around April on Vasant Panchami, another auspicious day on the Hindu calendar. Pilgrims gather on the first day of opening of the temple after the winter to witness the Akhanda Jyothi. The temple is one of the holy places where the Hindus offer oblations to ancestors with the help of the priests. Devotees visit the temple to worship in front of the image of Badrinath in the sanctum and have a hold dip in Alaknanda River. The general belief is that a dip in the tank purifies the soul.


Accessibility


One can reach the shrine easily as it is connected with almost all parts of Rajasthan. It is at the distance of 95 kms from the main city of Udaipur, 162 km from Jodhpur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range.

Airport

The nearest Airport is at Udaipur and from there a taxi or bus can be hired to Ranakpur. Udaipur is connected to all the major cities of India. The nearest railway station to Ranakpur is also Udaipur which is very well-connected to the rest of the country.

Railways

The Nearest railhead is at Falna railway station which is connected to major cities like Delhi, Ajmer and Jaipur.

Road

Ranakpur is also well-connected to many big cities via roads and a dense network of regular buses. Both private and buses can be availed from places like Chittorgarh, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mumbai and Indore to reach the shrine.


Significance

Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-

  • Salvation
  • Wealth
  • Relief from diseases
  • Purchase of vehicles
  • Gain Knowledge
Shlokas

Daivi Hyesa Gunamayi Mama Maya Duratyaya Mameva Ye Prapadyante Mayametam Taranti Te

Meaning -According to this sloka, the heavenly maya of God is very complicated, but those who worship God will be able to overcome it.

Balam Balavatam Caham Kamaragavivarjitam Dharmaviruddho Bhutesu Kamo'smi Bharatarsabha

Meaning -According to this sloka, God is the isolated and aloof strength of the controlling and virtuous craving in men.

Ye Caiva Sattvika Bhava Rajasastamasasca Ye Matta Everti Tanviddhi Na Tvaham Tesu Temayi

Meaning -According to this sloka, though the only source of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obsessive and dark) elements is God, they are not present within the God or the deity.

Tribhirgunamayairbhavairebhih Sarvamidam Jagat Mohitam Nabhijanati Mamebhyah Paramavyayam

Meaning -According to this sloka, the entire world doesn't recognize the eternal God beyond them, because they are consumed by the elements of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obssessive and dark).

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