At first glance, Ranakpur seems just another village in Rajasthan’s Pali district. This is, until you realise the accessibility of a number of tourist attractions that are located in the region, or nearby. It cannot be denied that it is the Ranakpur Jain temple, cut from marble in a precision that has never been replicated, has put the region on the tourist map. However, once you have discovered how a small 50 kilometer radius, with the renowned luxury Mana Hotel at its center can present you so many possibilities, you probably will head out in the morning and return only hours after sundown.
No matter how varied your interests, here are your options.
The Ranakpur festival: The “Ranakpur Festival” that takes place in the winter months – usually in November. It combines holy chanting, cultural programmes, and Kathak performances with music, dance and contemporary spirituality. Expect music, great use of lighting, local cuisine, costumes – everything folk and beautiful! Dancers and performers from across the land in Ranakpur, and the region is decorated with the voices of renowned vocal artists. There are even fireworks as the cultural programmes begin at the ‘muktakash’ (open air auditorium at Sun Temple), and visitors flock from across Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer. You’ll see classic Rajasthani activities like Mustache, Turban tying and tug of war.
Jungle safari: It is only luck that the festive season is also the best time to experience the jungle safari is also in the festive months. Ranakpur Festival guests are provided free access to the safari. Starting at 8 AM, the jeep will take you on a guided adventure trip through the Aravallis, Ranakpur Valley and the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, and the trip combines nature, history and wildlife around Ranakpur.
Cottage industries: Those taking a slow scenic route to Pali will see firsthand the coloured water that is being released from the clothes dyeing cottage industries. Pali is home to the colours of Rajasthan – most of the fabrics of Rajasthan’s colorful garments are dyed here.
Temples: Among the devout, Ranakpur is known for its stunning marble Jain temple, and even older Sun Temple, situated in a lush green setting. The Ranakpur temple is a glorious monument to Jain heritage, and is famed for its magnificent pillars and ornate artwork. The Jain temple is “chaumukha” (with four faces and entrances, symbolising Tirthankara’s victory over four directions), and is dedicated to Adinatha, the founder of Jainism. It takes inspiration from Rajasthan’s Mirpur Jain temple. The temple covers a substantial 48,000 sq. feet area, and from a distance you can appreciate the domes, shikhara and turrets rising from the hill’s slope. No two pillars look the same, due to distinctive carving, and none of them block out the Lord’s image.
Kumbhalgarh fort: Rajasthan’s highest fort is Kumbhalgarh, which also is home to the famed ‘Cloud Palace’. Situated on the Aravallis, the 2000 year old fort is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great Mewar king. The Rajasthan government organises a festival here to remember Maharana Kumbha, the fort’s founder and a patron of art and architecture, with audiovisual shows, concerts and dance events.
Thandi Beri: The Mana Ranakpur property is close to an unpaved road that leads to a largely unknown forest lodge known as Thandi Beri. Used as a forest official vantage point for monitoring wildlife movement, it is well situated to observe the region’s natural beauty. It is today recommended by travelers as a popular picnic spot, famed for its serenity. However, as it is a government property, you need to acquire permission from forest officials and make offsite arrangements.
Ranakpur dam: The Ranakpur dam adds one more classic tourist hotspot to the region – a water body! Only minutes from the Mana Hotel, Ranakpur is Ranakpur ‘bandh’ (dam). Once visited by the Jodhpur royalty for peace and tranquility, the site is now popular among picnickers. You’ll spot early morning yoga sessions, local birds, and occasionally some ‘Ghadiyal’s’ in the water.
The finest among the hotels in Ranakpur is Mana Hotel, with 40 rooms and luxurious villas. The hotel also has a spa and bar for relaxation opportunities. Mana Hotels’s proximity to Udaipur means a few hours away lie famous lakes like Pichola Lake, Udai Sagar, Fateh Sagar and Swaroop Sagar.