Over the past few months, I have been dragging Thomas from one Jain temple to a another. It has become a bit of an obsession, and we are actively hunting out all the key Jain sites. (Stop laughing! If I have to spend hours watching him photograph every bug between Hong Kong and Rajasthan, he can visit a few Jain temples.)
Well, my somewhat obsessive quest has brought us to one of the Grand Daddies of Jain architecture: the Adinath Temple, located in Ranakpur, a VERY small, one-kiosk town northwest of Udaipur. Considered one of the masterpieces of western Indian architecture, the huge fortified temple opens up into a surprisingly large multi-storied structure containing a series of vaulted chambers supported by 1,444 columns, each carved with unique designs ranging from sensuous dancers to geometric patterns to fine floral motifs.
Surprised that we hadn’t come on a daytrip and that we intended to stay overnight in the tiny town, the local Jains invited us back to the temple to participate in the evening prayers. When we returned at night, the dark, candle-lit temple was echoing with drums, giant ringing bells, and Jain chanting. At first we hung back not wanting to disturb them, but we were quickly ushered up onto the altar platform in front of the large statue of Adinath and included in the service. We had no idea of what was going on, but smiling faces kept welcoming us and everyone seemed absolutely thrilled to have us there. This is truly one of the most hospitable places we have been so far.
What’s more, this phenomenal Jain temple allows photography, so I can share it all with you in the form of a 360 view!!!