Travel to Udaipur, Chittorgarh & Mount Abu

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Aerial view Udaipur Palace

We i.e. wife Aparna & me had another memorable trip. This time it was to Mewar, the land of the brave best symbolized by Rana Pratap. We left Mumbai at 3pm by the Ranakpur Express to reach Falna in South Rajasthan at around 6.30 am. We decided to travel around Mewar by hiring a car. After having some garam ginger pudhina ki chai (tea) we started the process of selecting the taxi.

Parameters were car should be new; driver should give us a feeling of confidence and seem the flexible type. After interviewing three car rivers we narrowed down on Om Prakash a decision that we did not regret. You cannot bargain since the rate is fixed ie Rs 4 per km for an Indica Diesel non a/c and a minimum running of 300 kms per day. Simply put cost is Rs 1200/ per day. Most drivers charge Rs 150/ night halt but we got Om to agree that we would pay for his food only; he ate at the same Bhojnalaya as us. Before getting into the taxi we photographed car number and driver.

This is our third big trip together in the last nine months. Wifey’s presence has made the trip more fun & complete. She suggests photo angles, listens to the Pandit/Guide carefully, takes down notes and lastly edits the content.

This piece was written in 2007 and edited in 2017. Besides telling you what to see we also give history of place and links to photo albums. Our schedule was –

Day one - Ranakpur, Haldighati and Udaipur.
Day two - Chittorgarh by day and Udaipur by evening.
Day three - Udaipur till 11am, Eknathji, Devigarh and Shreenathji.
Day four - Shreenathji, Kumbalgarh Fort and Ambaji mandir.
Day five - Mount Abu.

The travelogue has six parts i.e. Ranakpur, Haldighati, Udaipur and around includes Eklinghji, Devigarh, Shreenatji, Kankroli, Chittorgarh, Mount Abu includes Ambaji in Gujarat and Dilwara Temples.

We stayed at Rajasthan Tourism guesthouses everywhere. Rooms are neat, bathrooms are clean and they are reasonably priced. A non-a/c double room in Udaipur cost Rs 800 per day and Mount Abu Rs 450/.

1. Ranakpur Temple

It is about an hours drive from Falna, situated at foothills in the midst of nowhere. We drove into a huge wonderfully maintained complex ie spotlessly clean, has dharamshalas & a restaurant. The temple is at one end. We were lucky to have the temple ka Pandit take us around the temple. His name is Pandit Jayantilal Sharma and number is 9352007414. Request him to take you around the temple, give him Rs 51 or more as you please. If you want to click pictures of the temple inside (excluding icons) you can do so from 12 to 5pm by paying a nominal charge of Rs 50/.

Background

Rana Kumbha (ruler of Mewar) ka Prime Minister Sanghvi Dharnashah Porwal had a dream of Nalini Gulmohar viman in which he saw trilokhi deepak viman ke aakar ka temples. The foundation for this temple was laid in Vikram Samvat (VS) 1433, A.D.1490 and completed in VS 1496, A.D. 1553. It cost Rs 15 crs then. When we saw the Light & Sound show at the City Palace we got to know that Rana Kumbha had given a grant for the construction of this temple so it was named after him. From Rana came Ranakpur.

Every day 1500 masons and 2700 laborers worked on the site. The foundation goes down 35 feet and is filled with Panchdatu by which it can withstand any earthquake. Shikhar is made of limestone and brick yet has survived over 600 years. Rising in three storeys it has four subsidiary shrines with a total of 80 spire supported by 420 columns. Temple area is 90,000 sq feet, has 350 icons, 1,444 pillars and 24 Mandaps. Of these 20 mandaps are small and 4 are big called Megh Mandaps in four directions ie north, south, east & west. The temple plan was drawn by Deepaji Mistry who was a bhakt (devotee) of Jagdamba Devi. The temple has four entrances. Normally temple entrance is from the east but this one if I remember correctly is from the west. Due to security or convenience reasons I have found that the entrance to temples are no longer from the east even though it existed earlier for e.g. Dwarkadwish mandir in Dwarka.

Within Temple - Main temple has Bhagwan Adhinath ka icons on all four sides. The outer wall of temple consists of smaller temples each having an icon of a tirthankara. Wherever you stand you can see a Tirthankara, none of its 1,444 pillars ever come in the way.

As you enter the temple on your left is a small icon of Dharnashah Porwal. It is placed at a point from where he always gets darshan of Adhinath Bhagwan. There is a 600 years old Ryan tree within the temple premises ie similar to the one at Palitana (Gujarat). Inside the bark there is a Ganesha taking shape. As you enter look up and you will see Kalpa Vriksha ka leaf. Om ke aakar see you can see 108 Oms. Mantra sah Sidhi kiya gaya. Another roop is full Moon ka aakar. Panditji said after darshan stand on the step, with shraddha (faith) ask Adhinath Bhagwan for something and your wish will be fulfilled.

See Kichak who has one head and five bodies. He was killed by Bhima in Mahabharat.

Three Megh mandaps have icons of Lord Ganesh at the lower point of the mandap. After third megh mandap see Sahasthrapana Parshinath. The icon has 1008 snakes which are intertwined in a way by which you cannot see the snake’s tale. Fourth megh mandap too has Ganesh. Here you will see one pillar is tilted to avoid buri nazaar (evil eye). Here look up and you see scene of Krishna Nag Daman. Nagini is praying to Lord Krishna to leave Kalya Nag since the Lord was dancing on the Nag.

Also see an icon of Marudevi Mata mother of Adhinath Bhagwan. Main Adhinath Bhagwan temple has icons of Lord Brahma, Indra, Shiva with Nandi and Kuber (dhan ka malik) and Bhairav. In the main temple below Adhinath ka icon there is Mahalaxmi and Navgraha sitting at the base of the icon. The main temple has got two mandaps.

The temple had 108 torans of which only 3 are left. Aurangzeb destroyed the balance in 1605. The temple has two ghantas (bells) weighing 250 kgs each. The sound of these bells goes up to 5 kms. According to Panditji the first sound is OM, one bell is male & the other female because the noise is different.

Insights – We were very impressed. For starters the complex was very clean. Great piece of work – there is a degree of serenity within the temple. As we entered one could feel the positive vibrations. Do not walk through the temple but get someone to explain to you the significance of each piece of art. This way you can relate with what you see. Keep 2-3 hours. The restaurant serves clean wholesome breakfast/meals at rock bottom prices. The temple looks very simple from outside such that you can never such outstanding piece of work exists within. May be a simple exterior was made to dissuade the Muslim rulers from discovering & destroying this temple.

It is about a two hours drive from Ranakpur to Haldighati. The terrain is hilly.

Sources of Content: One, notes copied from boards outside the temple/palace. Two, words of our guide & local Pandit. Three, History & Culture of Indian People published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Given volume & page number references below. Four, print outs given by the Maharana’s palace hotel in Udaipur. Five, is Rajasthan tourism site.

Pictures of Ranakpur Temple