Ranakpur Jain Temple
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 Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. Ranakpur is easily accessed by road from Udaipur. Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, and for a much older Sun Temple which lies opposite the former.
Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. 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. 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. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image.
The temple is designed as chaumukha—with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.
The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries. Inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle, Dhanna Shah, a Porwad, is said to have commissioned it, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewar.
The architect who oversaw the project is said to have been named Deepaka. 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 mogul emperor Akbar visited this temple he was full of admiration that he had made an inscription on one of the pillars which says, that no one ever will be allowed to destroy this jewel of architecture.