Rajasthan Stories - Day 7: Ranakpur & Kumbalgarh

There are quite a few day trip possibilities from Udaipur - Ranakpur and Eklingji temples, Kumbalgarh and Chittorgarh forts, Jaisamand lake and Haldi Ghati to name a few. You can club some of them into a day's trip while some like Mount Abu needs more than a day. We decided on Ranakpur temples and Kumbalgarh fort for our day trip and started quite early that day. Ranakpur is almost 90 kilometers from Udaipur and the drive across rural Rajasthan in the company of Akbar Khan (Ph: 7742567154), our very knowledgeable and well traveled driver, was quite a delight. We got to see the other side of Rajasthan, the lush green fields and heavily vegetated countryside. We stopped by a waterwheel (Rehant well) to see an efficient way of getting water from wells using bullocks. A series of buckets attached to a belt is rotated using two wheels, and the water is redirected to various parts of the field through a network of canals, all without much manual intervention.

We stopped by a restaurant named 'Badal' on NH76, some 47 kilometers before Ranakpur, for breakfast and had some awesome parottas. They were so good that we packed our lunch also from there, parottas again! Ranakpur is in Pali district of Rajasthan and in the shades of the Aravalli range. Though the Jain temple built in white marble during the 12-13 century, is what Ranakpur is famous for, there is also a much older temple dedicated to the sun god. This one is much smaller compared to the main temple, but got some impressive craft work on its outer walls. Being a sun temple, all the gods are depicted as riding a chariot pulled by seven horses, representing the seven days of the week. Away from all the attention received by its bigger cousin, this temple is a tranquil place worth spending some time.

The Jain temple at Ranakpur is a celebration of architecture and craftsmanship, and is dedicated to Rishabha, first of the Jain Tirthankaras. This massive four-faceted structure by the banks of river Magai, is a breathtaking piece of work in marble, commissioned during the reign of Maharaja Kumbh. It has 1,444 marble pillars, each with unique carvings and designs from top to bottom. The sculptures and artwork on the walls and ceilings is an exhibition of the talent of the times. It was so beautiful that the next day when we stood in front of THE Taj Mahal all we said was "Oh Taj, so what!". Taj Mahal's beauty is all about the scale, the symmetry and the translucent marble used for construction, while the Ranakpur temple is all about fine masonry and excellent craftsmanship.

You can wander about the many halls and shrines within the complex for hours. We spent close to four hours inside, going round and round, admiring the same statues on the walls, craning our neck to get a clear view of the beauties adorning the ceiling. You have to cover your legs upto the ankle before entering the temple. Unfortunately we all were in shorts and fortunately they supply pajamas in a counter outside the temple. When we finally returned the rented pajamas, the guy at the counter was surprised to see us and exclaimed what we were doing so long inside the temple! Looks like he is used to people running in and out of such a beautiful structure in a matter of minutes. There is an inscription on one of the walls here, left by an impressed Emperor Akbar, which says he will never allow the destruction of such a piece of art.

Our next destination, Kumbalgarh fort, the birth place of the Maratha warrior prince Rana Prathap, is another 70 kilometers from Ranakpur. Built on a hilltop overlooking the Aravalli ranges and protected by 36 kilometers of perimeter walls and seven gateways, it is a formidable fort built by Raja Kumbh. It holds the record for having world's third longest continuous wall, after the Great Wall of China and another one in Iran. (Some argue that it is in fact the second longest) We regretted that we did not kept aside a full day for Kumbalgarh. There are more than 200 ancient temples within the fort walls, both Hindu and Jain. The fort is also very vast, with various chambers and shrines inside, that the couple of hours we spent there wasn't enough to get even a glimpse of everything.

Once we left Kumbalgarh, it was a race against time. We had to collect some bags from the Udaipur city market - goodies to take home as advance payment for hassle free approvals for future trips - and then catch the night bus back to Jaipur. All went well and en-route we even hatched a plan to go visit the Taj Mahal the next day!

Click here for more pictures!

Rajasthan Stories - Day 1: Jaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 2: Jaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 3: Ranthambhore
Rajasthan Stories - Day 4: Osian & Thar
Rajasthan Stories - Day 5: Mandore & Jodhpur

Rajasthan Stories - Day 6: Udaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 7: Ranakpur & Kumbalgarh
Rajasthan Stories - Day 8: The Taj Mahal

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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