Itchy Feet, as the name suggests, is a travel blog. I came across it a few months ago, while I was looking for information on weekend getaways from Bangalore. I soon fell in love with the blog – all thanks to the author Charukesi’s evocative writing, her beautiful pictures, her passion for travelling, her zest for life, and the fact that she seemed to be a fellow foodie. I started reading her blog regularly, and we soon began interacting on e-mail and chats. Charukesi is a seasoned traveller who has stories to share from around the world, with her travel articles published in several newspapers and magazines – an inspiration to beginner travellers like me.
In time, I invited her to write a guest post for my blog, and she gracefully agreed. She chose to write about her visit to the temple at Ranakpur, Udaipur.
Without further ado, here’s presenting to you….Charukesi of Itchy Feet! 🙂
A morning in Ranakpur
A couple of years ago, I was in Udaipur during winter, staying with an extremely warm and friendly family at their homestay. My host was perplexed when I wanted to see the Ranakpur temple, and suggested other “sightseeing” options around the area, and if I must see temples, then why not these and those Hindu temples? But I had seen photographs, and was sure Ranakpur was what I wanted to see.
I started early one morning, hoping to come back before the day got too hot. The town of Ranakpur is 95 km far from Udaipur, a couple of hours by car. The temple façade itself is beautiful, and I was not expecting to see the grand and imposing structure that I saw. I read later that the Ranakpur temple is the best of the Jain temples in Rajasthan (and the country, I guess), even grander than the Dilwara temples at Mt. Abu, although not as famous. That is good in a way, I suppose, since it keeps the loud weekend vacationing crowds away.
Now, guidebooks say that the temple opens at 7 AM, but I knew only after reaching there that entry for non-Jains was only after 12 noon, after the morning’s pooja and ceremonies were over. I had, thus, over three hours to kill, and spent some time wandering around the complex. There are a couple of other small shrines inside the complex that you can visit; if I remember right, Parsavanath, Surya, and some form of Amba. I also chatted with the locals who had come for prayers, as always trying to take candid portraits, making them giggle and blush.
Finally, at noon, I walked inside. The temple interior was stunning. The carvings were lush and intricate, covering every inch of the temple, built in the 15th century with cream-coloured marble that has a slightly golden glow. In the hour or so that I spent inside, I felt like the pillars were changing colour constantly, depending on the amount of light falling on them.
As I stood looking around in awe, a priest saw me and offered to take me around. It seemed like every statue, every pillar, every corner of this temple has its own story, and I found it difficult to keep track of them all. The temple is said to have 24 pillared halls, and a total of over 1,400 pillars supporting the roof. Then, there are the countless statues, each of them facing another statue.
There are a few stay options in the area, including an RTDC resort. It is, however, better to stay in a hotel in Udaipur or Kumbalgarh, since there is nothing else to do in Ranakpur. The temple has a bhojanshala (dining hall), which serves very simple but delicious food that, if I remember right, is free or comes at a nominal cost.