Chaumukha Mandir

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Ranakpur, India

Chaumukha Mandir Ranakpur Reviews

Toonsarah Toonsarah
536 reviews
The four-faced temple Oct 27, 2015
Chaumukha Mandir is the main temple at Ranakpur and is stunning – not to be missed if in this region in my opinion. Its name means Four-Faced Temple and it is so-called because it has a four-way symmetry, with four entrances and four identical images of, to whom it is dedicated – each facing in a different direction. The interior consists of 29 interconnecting halls, 80 domes and 1444 individually engraved pillars, no two of which are alike.

Look out for the dancing goddesses that adorn the pillars, the many representations of the idol or Tirthankara, the large marble elephant statues (well, you won’t miss those!), and especially the marble rock in which over a hundred intertwined snakes have been carved. Taking photos of the latter, and of the idols, is strictly forbidden, but there is plenty more to keep your camera very busy indeed!

The temple is reserved for prayer in the mornings so is only open to tourists from midday, closing at 5.00 PM. Entry is free but you must pay 100 IR for photography (the fee is per camera, including phones, so leave any you don’t want to use with your driver if possible). You can also pay 200 IR for an audio guide, which is reasonable given the large amount of interesting information it conveys. You are required to leave photo ID when renting this, so that means handing over your passport. Mehar assured us it would be safe; we were given a receipt and both were returned OK after our visit, thankfully.

When you visit Ranakpur you are a guest of the Jains and it is only right that they ask you to follow certain rules connected to their beliefs – but there are quite a lot of them, as the sign indicates. The most important ones to be aware of are:

~ dress respectfully, with long trousers or skirts (below the knees) and shoulders covered

~ remove your shoes at the entrance

~ do not wear or carry any leather (belt, wallet, purse etc.) – your driver will look after these if you have one, or you can hire a locker

~ don’t take in any food or drink, even water – again, leave these with your driver or use a locker

~ women who are menstruating are not allowed to enter (I don’t know whether or how they check this but it would be respectful to obey)

~ pay the fee if you want to take photos, and carry the ticket you’ll be given in case challenged (we weren’t)

~ don’t take any photos of the idols

~ don’t touch any of the carvings

I found the audio guide very helpful and comprehensive – in particular if you want to understand more about what you are seeing and about Jainism. There are 17 numbered stops in all, although I only listened to about half I think. The first few are the most useful in explaining the history of the temple and the religious beliefs that influence its design. After that I played the tape just at those points where something in particular caught my eye or intrigued me.
Part of the roof, Chaumukha Mandir
Chaumukha Mandir entrance
Visitors to Chaumukha Mandir
In Chaumukha Mandir
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photo by: jose28