This blog, without a doubt, will be the shortest entry to date, most because I only spent about 45 minutes in Ranakpur. Edwina had not been feeling well for a couple of days and just couldn't face the idea of a seven hour bus ride from Jodhpur to Udiapur and wanted to get a taxi. Rebecca, Allie and I were each happy to chip in the 700 rupees each to join her and gain a smoother, quicker ride and an hour extra sleep in.
The road from Jodhpur is quite a good one and almost immediately the countryside began to show more signs of life. I suspect that Jodhpur is located where it is because it is the last stop before the true desert starts. The predominant colours went from brown and yellow to green and yellow as there was constantly more scrub and the place has some of the feel of the savannas in Africa. As we kept going the land became cultivated, even if it looks like the farmers were grown rocks (or at least patiently waiting for the next rains.
After about four hours of driving, hills gradually appeared on the horizon, breaking the monotony of
the flat landscape of the last week. the hills are tree lined, if not quite wooded, but having so many trees was a bit of a shock after the desert. These trees, in the height of fall colours (some leaves are yellow, this is certainly not New Hampshire or Maine) provide a beautiful backdrop for a magnificent Jain temple, located in Ranakpur and about 85km from Udiapur. Our tour leader, Sanjay, had organized for the driver to stop here for a break and a tour around.
The first Jain temple that I had ever been in was in Jaisalmer, but it has nothing on this place. It is just amazing. The main temple, is a massive, airy complex, with over 1,000 pillars, each of the different, supporting the roof. The carving is just exquisite, all done in the white marble that is on the surface of the temple, inside and out. The central shrine, a four sided area with Buddhas in each side, was surrounded by worshippers making their midday prayers and had some very cool art done with rice. The Buddhas in Jain temples are in much better condition than in Buddhist temples; Jain Buddhas have wide shoulders
and narrow waists, as compared to the usual pot-bellied Buddha. In this temple the Buddhas also have reflective eyes, which is a little eerie.
After a good look around I headed over the the other temple in the grounds, this one much smaller. It is also covered in carvings of people having sex in a lot of different poses. I was told that one possible reason for the erotic carvings on the outside of the temple was that people would come to see them for a laugh and the priests hoped they would stay for a religious service. I don't think that the current rating agencies would look too kindly on this kind of advertising. Especially where kids could see it.
As I said at the start of this blog, I am keeping it short. The stories are really all to be told in the pictures attached. If you are in the area, this is definitely worth a look and even as a day trip from Udiapur, it is worth it. And now onward to Udiapur.
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