At the foot of a steep wooded escarpment of the Aravalli Hills, Ranakpur is one of India’s biggest and most important Jain temple complexes. It’s 75km northwest of Udaipur, and 12km west of Kumbhalgarh as the crow flies (but 50km by road, via Saira). The main temple, the Chaumukha Mandir (Four-Faced Temple), is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankar (depicted in the many Buddha-like images in the temple), and was built in the 15th century in milk-white marble.
An incredible feat of Jain devotion, the Chaumukha Mandir is a complicated series of 29 halls, 80 domes and 1444 individually engraved pillars. The interior is completely covered in knotted, lovingly wrought carving, and has a marvellously calming sense of space and harmony. Shoes, cigarettes, food and all leather articles must be left at the entrance; women who are menstruating are asked not to enter.
Also exquisitely carved and well worth inspecting are two other Jain temples, dedicated to Neminath (22nd tirthankar ) and Parasnath (23rd tirthankar ), both within the complex, and a nearby Sun Temple . About 1km from the main complex is the Amba Mata Temple .
Buses from Udaipur and Saira will drop you by the entrance to the temple complex, before continuing past Shivika Lake Hotel (2km), and then going on to Jodhpur.