Nestled in a valley amongst the Aravalli Hills and home to a large population of monkeys, Ranakpur Temple dates to the 15th century. Local legend holds that construction began in 1437 following a divine vision received by Dharna Shah, a local Jain businessperson. The temple and its town are named after their patron, Rana Kumbha, the Mewar hero of Kumbhalgarh fame.
Built to honor Adinath, the first spiritual leader of the Jain faith, Ranakpur Temple was designed by its architect, Deepaka, as a chaumukha—”with four faces”— symbolizing Adinath’s conquest of the four cardinal directions and, hence, the cosmos. The main temple, a complicated series of 29 halls, 80 domes and 1,444 uniquely engraved pillars, was constructed of milk-white marble.
An incredible feat of devotion in the Jain faith covering an area of approximately 60 by 62 meters, Ranakpur Temple is riddled inside and out with lovingly-wrought carving. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock with 108 snake heads. In this impossibly knotted sculpture, you cannot find the tail ends.