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Businessmen and medieval cycles

Published Oct 27, 2022
Updated Oct 27, 2022

📍🇮🇳 Chaumukha Dharana Vihara : Ranakpur, Rajasthan

This is the detail of the beautiful ceiling in the main shrine of Ranakpur Jain temple. Also called Chaturmukha (having four openings or entrances), Dharana Vihara is a Swetambara (Sweta meaning white) Jain temple.

One of the most intricately carved temples in medieval India, one can only gape at the details from the floor to the ceiling.

Made in white marble, with numerous carving details when looked up close, these structures are presumably built by the Sompura clan. Sompuras are one of the ancient temple building guilds from India who are in business till date.

Darna Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction of the temple in the 15th century following a divine vision, under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, then ruler of Mewar. The campus includes various temples such as Chaumukha temple, Surya temple, Suparshvanatha temple and Amba temple. The architect who oversaw the project was named Dwepa/Deepaka.

Many travelers have referred to these Jain temples as baroque for their extravagant craftsmanship, though for me these seem like meditative repetitions reflecting the eternity of repeating time cycles from Jain philosophy.

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