Some facts about this temple in Ranakpur in Rajasthan are still not clear – How long it took to build this temple, how much it cost and who were all involved in its design? Still, once you enter this temple all these questions become irrelevant and you will be simply overwhelmed by its carvings and the sculpture. Do you know how many pillars this temple has?
According to some sources, the construction of the temple was started in 1389 but could not be completed even after 50 years and it continued till 1496. The main temple in the complex is dedicated to Adinatha. The temple is built in Māru-Gurjara architecture.
The entire building is covered with delicate lace-like carvings and geometric patterns. The domes are carved in concentric bands and the brackets connecting the base of the dome with the top are covered with figures of deities.
The most outstanding feature of this temple is its infinite number of pillars. This temple can be called a treasure house of pillars or a city of pillars. In whichever direction one might turn one’s eyes meet pillars and pillars big, small, broad, narrow, ornate or plain. But the ingenious architect has arranged them in such a manner that none of them obstructs the view of the pilgrim wishing to have a darshan (glimpse) of God. From any corner of the temple one can easily view the Lord’s image. These innumerable pillars have given rise to the popular belief that there are about 1444 pillars in the temple. These pillars are individually carved and no two pillars are the same.
The temple is a white marble structure spread over 48,000 square feet (4,500 m2) with 1444 marble pillars, twenty-nine halls, eighty domes and 426 columns. One pillar is incomplete and legend says every time it is built the next morning the pillar breaks down again. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rise majestically from the slope of a hill. The 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. Temple has a total of 84 bhonyra (underground chambers) built to protect the Jain idols from the Mughals.
The idol of Parshvanatha is made out of a single marble slab and has 1008 snake heads and numerous tails. Two chauri bearers and Yaksha and yakshi, half-human and half-snake, stand on either side. There are two elephants purifying Parshvanatha. One cannot find the end of the tails. The temple also has a representation of Ashtapad, showing eight tirthanakars in a row, Girnar and Nandishwar Dvipa.
Complexity of the architecture and structure can be gauged from the fact that its renovation was started in 1990 and accomplished only in 2001.