Dilwara and Ranakpur

Dairy Entry

          (Ranakpur temple entrance)

Traveling in Rajasthan has always been a humbling experience for me. The extremely guileless and amiable nature of people is something that's common to all provinces of the state, culturally different from each other in many ways. This trip of mine was dedicated to the two most wondrous marble monuments of the state - Dilwara and Ranakpur. Dilwara is easily approachable, being very close to the popular hill resort of Mt.Abu. The railway junction, Abu road is well connected with Mumbai, Delhi and other cities in the state. Mt.Abu is a run of the mill tourist hub bound to disappoint and dampen the spirits of the true traveler with its multi storied hotels and multi cusiine restaurants. The only thing that i enjoyed doing during my previous visit here and also this one, is shopping in the bazaar for marble artifacts and "gem trees" made of semi precious stones at throw away prices. Otherwise the place only looks like Gujarat suddenly threw up over Rajasthan, all the noisy and voracious inhabitants, whom it was tired of putting up with. If the first impressions of Mt.Abu do not convince you of this, a visit to the sunset point anytime in weekends  surely will- for here the conglomerate of thousands of tourists in the evening makes one wonder if the entire Gujarat state had planned a get together party, in the dry arid Aravalli slopes that offered a view in no way different from what one can catch from his own terrace.

The Dilwara temples however continue to remain a pristine santuary, although overcrowded at most times. Despite ardent requests to the temple authorities i could not manage to work around the "No photography" rule inside the temple. The art inside the temple was unparalleled. As my feet felt the chill of the marble floor under it, eyes were treated with exquisite marble carvings on the roofs and the pillars. Unbelievable is the only word for the dozens of unique patterns with the most intricate of designs adorning the roof. After a couple of hours in the temple, i returned to the main city to hunt for a room to lodge (The Jin dharamshala provides basic facilities for all travelers at Diwlara, free of cost. I chose to not stay there only because i wanted to return to the plains early the next day morning and Dilwara wasn't that well connected). I regretted taking the stroll to the sunset point in the evening. The perfect ending for the day was a sumptuous treat of special Dal-bhati ordered specially with less ghee (Reduced to a mere 100ml!) at a local restaurant (Rs.60) .

The next day I quickly descended to Abu road in the morning at around 7:30 AM and was happy to spend 3 hours waiting for a train in an absolutely deserted railway platform, taking in the morning light and lazily flipping through the pages of some book. At falna, I walked around a km through the market to look for a taxi or bus to take me to Ranakpur. I was dangerously perched onto the edge of the front seat of a jeep that dropped me at Sadri. Another 1.5 hrs were spent there waiting for the Udaipur bus. When i finally reached Rankapur, i was quick to take refuge from the sun inside the massive marble temple, apparently the largest Jain shrine in the world.

(Inside the Ranakpur temple)

The Ranakpur temple was much bigger in size compared to Dilwara and was fortunately near empty. The tranquility that prevailed was truly serene. The temple was a maze of hundreds of marble pillars each with uniquely carved designs and floral patterns. The roofs similar to Dilwara had elaborate patterns and were much larger in size. There were a number of priests and female nuns involved in performing various rites and rituals. The temple silenced everyone and in my stay of 3 hours i noted not a single person talk. Outside the main temple is another older, smaller shrine dedicated to the sun god. As evening neared I took an auto back to Sadri and was lucky to get a bus to Falna almost immediately.

(Designs on the roof, Ranakpur)

Itinerary & Tips

Day 1:
Reached Abu road station by train from Mumbai. Walked to the Bus stand nearby and took a bus to Mount Abu (27 KM). On reaching Mt.Abu headed straight to the Dilwara temples (5 KM from the town center. Share jeeps available near market). After visiting the temples took a room in the Youth hostels franchise (Rs. 250) near market and freshened up. Took a long stroll in the evening to sunset point and back.

Day 2:
Started early and arrived at Abu road station by 8:30 AM. Took a train to Falna at 10 AM to reach at 12 noon. From there, a shared auto to Sadri which is 15 KM and a bus from there till the Ranakpur temple (10 KM),
After spending 3-4 hrs at the temple took a bus back to Sadri and then Falna to board the night train to Mumbai.

Tips:

Ranakpur is extremely remote and Dilwara isn't. Both temples have an attached dharamshala providing basic accommodation for free. Rankpur is on Falna - Udaipur highway and is best visited by private transport to save time.

Album:



Dal Bhati at Mt. Abu


Priest grinding Sandalwood (Ranakpur)


Inside the ranakpur temple


More roof designs


Older shrine near Ranakpur temple
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