Obscured by an architectural wonder!
How often will we visit a landmark destination and return satisfied, without even knowing whether there was anything else, that we missed in the aura of that wonder! There are many hidden architectural gems in India. How often would have we noticed the shark difference between number of visitors to Taj Mahal and then to Tomb of I’timad-Ud-Daulah in Agra!! Well, this is not about Agra, but about something down west in Rajasthan, close to Udaipur.
You would have heard about famous Jain Temples at Ranakpur.
This temple I am talking about, is right adjacent to Ranakpur temples and actually in the same complex. But as it happens, not even one percent of the tourists going to Ranakpur visit this quite smaller temple. Ranakpur has actually three temples in the complex- main is the one we all know- Chaturmukha Jain Temple of Adinath. Other two are- Sun temple and the Suparshvanatha temple (सुपार्श्वनाथ मंदिर). These two temples are obscured under the grandeur of the main Jain temple.
However small these temples might be, but they are architectural beauty themselves. The temple we are talking about it is Suparshvanatha Temple. Suparshvanatha was the 7th Jain Tirthankara and was said to be born to King Pratistha and Queen Prithvi of Varanasi. Now there is no inscription here to tell us that when was this temple exactly built, before the Adinath temple or after that. But what we are sure of is that this temple has very beautiful intrinsic architecture.
This temple is also famous for erotic sculptures on its walls. And for this, it reminds me of two other temples in Rajasthan- one close to Udaipur near the Elkingji temple-
And another one is in Sariska Tiger Reserve near Alwar-
(Read: Khajuraho of Aravalis: Neelkanth)
Some locals say that because of its erotic sculptures, this temple was also called as Paturiyon Ka Mandir (पटुरियों का मंदिर- temple of prostitutes) . Was there any other reason for this, is not known. But indeed this temple has some remarkable erotic sculptures. Not all of them, but few of them might be comparable to even sculptures of Khajuraho for their sheer beauty.
Many of the sculptures here are intact, but there are still many which have been either defaced or weathered out. There also seems to be some difference between periods of different sculptures because of their figures. That might also be because some of them are pretty damaged or weathered out or look quite raw. But you can’t miss the eroticism in them. Have a look yourself-
Many of these expressions could be easily find in Khajuraho. It also belies the myth that the Jain temples didn’t have such explicit sculptures. A lot remains unanswered due to unavailability of details about origin of this temple. It might sure be part of local folklores, but then it needs to be researched more.
Other than the sculptures pictures above, most of other sculptures are quite intrinsic, detailed and beautiful.
Many of the designs and sculptures are quite typical of Jain sculptures of those times (Ranakpur temple was built in 15th century using Maru-Gurjara architecture of West India).
This architectural style is considered to be different from North Indian temple architecture. Also lies the fact that Jainism has been very strong in these areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Hence, next time you visit Ranakpur temple, don’t forget to visit this small temple which will certainly remind you of sculptures of Khajuraho.
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