For thousands of years, the followers of Hinduism and later Jainism built the finest temples all over Rajasthan Their life-like stone carvings and embellishments, apart from their tranquil surroundings make them an ideal place to spend some time. The Jain temples of Ranakpur and Mount Abu are amongst the finest in the world on account of their carvings and unique architecture. Inside all forts, there were temples dedicated to the family deity of the rulers; the rulers ensured that they got the finest sculptors to work from them.
Today, off the beaten track you can find ancient temples that tell a tale. A very moving experience for some...
Renowned for its marvelously carved temples in amber stone, Ranakpur is one of the fine holy spots of the Jains. Rana Kumbha of Mewar gave the land in a grant to the Jains. These 15th century temples are fine examples of man’s devotion to his deity, nestling in the Aravallis hills and rising three stories the main temple is supported on 1,444 exquisitely carved pillars, each distinct from the other. The entire temple including its ceilings and arches is sculpted with arabesques, motifs and statues. The remarkable marble plaque of Lord Parashwanath, a Jain deity is finely detailed. Other temples nearby have sensuous carvings reminiscent of Khajuraho. The Sun Temple is richly embellished with carvings of warriors, Horses and solar deities riding chariots. No wonder that Ranakpur is popular with those interested in architecture and history.
Jain temple architecture is characterizes by its profusion of sculpting. The stone is moulded, chiseled, scooped out and developed so that each grain becomes a part of the grand design. Nor are patterns always repeated… There are architectural embellishment of such amazing fluidity that is impossible to disassociate architecture from sculpture.
Mount Abu has some of the most famous Jain temples in India. These artistically carved temples built between the 11th and 13th century are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. This complex of four temples has marvelously carved pillars, ceilings, architraves, door casings and exquisite sculptures on porticos.
Both the fineness and enormity of the carvings leaves the visitor spellbound. Just one temple, the Vimal Vasahi is said to have taken 14 years to make with the combined efforts of 1200 laborers and 1500 stonemasons.
the Kiradu temples are a group of five temples and are grouped as ancient temples, an important site from the archaeological point of view. The largest and the most impressive amongst them is the Someshvara Temple. Built in the 11th century, the Someshvara ancient temple is said to be the best example of its kind today. Constructed in honour of Lord Shiva (the Destroyer in the holy trinity of Hindu gods), it has a rather stumpy multi-turreted tower and beautiful sculptures dedicated to the god. The inner sanctum has a resplendent image of the Lord. At its base, is a large reverse-curve lotus, which has a resemblance with the early Chola Temples of south India? This ancient temple also depicts scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Other notable features are sculptures of apsaras (mythical dancing girls from the abode of the Gods) and vyalas (a griffin-like mythical beast generally associated with the Buddha) which were rarely seen after 1050AD in temple architecture. All in all, although Barmer is a bit out of the way you’ll get your money’s worth when you visit Someshvara.