While Udaipur has been done and dusted by most tourists, what remains unseen is a set of ancient temples neighbouring the city. The Ranakpur Jain temples in Rajasthan’s Pali district are a relatively unknown pilgrim site located two-and-a-half hours away from the city of lakes. A picturesque drive that meanders through the state’s remote countryside, comprising lush fields of vegetation, thick forests, ponds and streams, Ranakpur is a gorgeous, unexplored valley surrounded by the Aravali mountains. On the way to the revered temples, it is possible to spot some wildlife around the area consisting mainly of leopards, bears, sambars and langurs.
The Ranakpur temples are one of the largest Jain temple complexes in Rajasthan and all of India, much like the renowned Dilwara Jain temples in nearby Mount Abu. The well-maintained complex houses several other temples such as Chaumukha temple, Surya temple, Suparshvanatha temple and Amba temple.
According to legend, a heavenly vehicle appeared in the dream of a businessman Dharna Shah in the 15th century. This led him to construct the site under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, the ruler of Mewar at the time.
The intricate carvings and architecture of the white marble structures—encompassing a total of 1,444 pillars and several patterns in the form of humans, flora and fauna—are a sight to behold. In all, the temple has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes supported by 400 columns, none of which have an identical design. Further, it is believed that the columns change colour from golden to pale blue after every hour during the daytime. The temple also has a food hall where a sumptuous vegetarian lunch is served to guests at a nominal price.
Ranakpur is situated in the proximity of other prominent historical places. About 30 kilometres northeast of the temples lies the magnificent Kumbhalgarh fort. A world heritage site, the Mewar fortress was also built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha. Wildlife enthusiasts can also visit a wildlife sanctuary in Kumbhalgarh known for its wolves.