Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ranakpur, hidden deep in Aravali Mountains

Ranakpur is hidden deep in the Aravali mountain range it is quite a unique and a marvelous place to visit It is one of five holy Jain pilgrimage centers in Jainism known for its picturesque white marble temple complex situated in isolated green lush wooded valley of Aravalli mountains just 25km southwest of Kumbhalgarh and 98km away from Udaipur in the southeast section of Rajasthan
I never knew about Ranakpur but saw some pictures of the Jain Temple in the jungle setup, in a Jodhpur tourist office and that made me curious. It lies on a sub-route from Jodhpur to Udaipur and we were going to Udaipur so we decided to stop at Ranakpur
Very few buses ply from Jodhpur to Udaipur through Ranakpur.
Ranakpur Adinath Jain Temple

So we take a bus and tell the conductor to drop us at the intersection to the road towards Ranakpur
After Jodhpur, Thar Desert cools down a bit Dunes are way past now but terrain is rocky with plenty of Neem trees Then before Pali come the ditches at both sides of road filled with colored liquid.
Barrage on the river just after Jain temple
I am surprised to see that colored water or chemicals but mistery ends as we enter into Pali Colored liquid is the water coming form clothes dying cottage industries and travels miles on the both sides of road till dry desert soaks it up Most of those famous Rajasthan colorful garments come out of the dying factories in Pali.
Several kilometers after Pali, conductor tells us to get ready and bus stops at the road intersection, there is no village or shops but just a T section and we get down.
Jain temple from back side near river.
We are very hungry and I remember, some distance before was a roadside dhaba so we walk back and come to this dhaba
To our surprise we are asked if we want to eat Roti or Rota. Well we eat roti everyday so we order one Rota for each.
Subzi and Rota comes.
Jain Temple
They also pour some desi ghee on the subzi and Rota It turns out marvelous and heavenly. In Rajesthan they make thick rota, first they heat it up on the grill and then they cook it on the charcoal Restaurant owner tell us that after Jodhpur desert is not that hot.
Ranakpur Valley
Temperatures are not vicious and deadly hot air (called Loo) does not occur here in these parts. There are plenty of horny bushes and neem trees People herd cattle, goats and sheep’s in plenty.
After this blissful lunch we walk back to the intersection and a bus comes after half hour.
Inside the temple
Road is going towards Nathdwara and then once a while we see a marble mine. A gentleman sitting next to us tells that more marble mines come near Nathdwara but our bus takes a right turn and enters in the Aravali Mountains. It descends to a green valley visible at the bottom All the sudden desert vanishes and we are in the low rolling mountains.
Aravali Range
Majestic fort of Kumbhagarh is also visible at our right side.
Bus drops us at Ranakpur, it turns out a forest outpost. No village, no bazaars and no avenues. A majestic Jain temple in the jungles, a Rajasthan tourism guest house, that’s it.
This temple is dedicated to Bhagwan Adinath. Bhagwan Adinath was the first Tiratheker of Jains, Bhagwan Mahavir Swami was the last.
Bhagwan Adinath (also called Rishabha Deva) was born into the royal family of Ayodhya as the son of King Nabhiraja and Queen Maru Devi. He was married to two wives: Sumangla and Sunanda. Sumangla gave birth to Bharat, who later became a Chakravarti king. (History of India begins with Bharat). Sunanda gave birth to a child who came to be known as Bahubali. If we go back to the history of India, Jain history is the oldest of the oldest one. It goes back to the thousands of years ago when metals were not discovered yet.
Aravali at Ranakpur
We take a room in the guest house and fresh up Then we come out of road and walk towards Temple. There is a canteen in the temple and basic food is available on the strict Jain times Dinner is over before sunset and make to the order because not many people stay here at night.
Aravali at Ranakpur
Since very few people stay here and in the evenings this place is totally deserted You are in jungle and just after the temple is the Maghai River. Herds of deer can be seen very often around this river We saw many kinds of deer jumping and dancing in hundreds.
We visit temple, it is a grand temple.
Splendors of this temple are beyond words Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars.
Interior of temple
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 image faces all four cardinal directions.
Interior of Temple
In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image
The construction is well documented in a 1437 CE copper-plate record, inscriptions in the temple and a Sanskrit text Soma-Saubhagya Kavya Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dhanna Shah, a Porwad (a Jain Community), commenced its construction, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewar The architect who oversaw the project was named Deepaka.
Dome inside temple
There is an inscription on a pillar near the main shrine stating that in 1439 Deepaka, an architect constructed the temple at the direction of Dharanka, a devoted Jain When the ground floor was completed, Acharya Soma Sundar Suri of Tapa Gachha supervised the ceremonies, which are described in Soma-Saubhagya Kavya The construction continued until 1458AD The temple was renovated time to time.
Dome inside temple
After we saw this grandest of the temple, we walk around on the road and by the river in the jungles and watches deer, porcupines, mongoose and some otters in the water.
We enjoyed our evening and night here.
Next day we took a bus to Udaipur, more than half route was zigzag in the very scenic low rolling hills

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