IN the long and troubled history of Mewar there is perhaps no other reign of greater success than that of ii Kumbho or Komâl Râņâ, who succeeded his father in A.D. 1418 (Sam. 1475), and ruled with energy for the long period of fifty years. During his reign the country recovered the effects of the invasion of Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1303 He beat back the combined armies of the Muhammadan kings of Gujarat and Malwa in 1440; and soon after, with the aid of Malwa, he defeated the forces of the Dehll emperor at Jhunjunu; and he embellished his dominions by public buildings erected in every corner, but more especially in his capital of Chittur.

Of those consecrated to religion, two, according to Tod, “have survived; that of Kumbho Śyâm, on Abu, which, though worthy to attract notice elsewhere, is here eclipsed by a crowd of more interesting objects. The other, one of the largest edifices existing, cost upwards of a million sterling, towards which Kumbho contributed eighty thousand pounds. It is erected in the Sâdri pass, leading from the western descent of the highlands of Méwar, and is dedicated to Rishabhadeva. Its secluded position has preserved it from bigoted fury, and its only visitants now are the wild beasts, who take shelter in its sanctuary.’ Tod, however, had never seen the temple, and seems to have had a very imperfect idea of it.1 Nor is it yet known as it deserves to be. Mr. Fergusson examined it in 1839, and was perhaps the first European that ever visited this temple, unless it was the late Colonel Spiers, when resident at Sirohi. It is certainly one of the most complete Jaina temples in India, and is well deserving of all that has been said by Fergusson in its praise. Delwâdâ no doubt excels it both in material and richness of detail, but does not approach it in general effect, and one can only regret that full details and descriptions are not published of such a typical example of a style carried to the highest effect it has ever reached.

It is raised on a lofty basement, and. exclusive of the projections on each face, its form is nearly a square, measuring 194 feet 3 inches from north to south, by about 220 feet from east to west; but its extreme dimensions are about 275 feet by 300. In the centre stands the shrine—a chaumnkh one, open on four sides, and enclosing a quadruple statue of Rishabhanâth, the first of the Tirthankars. Above this in the upper story, are similar statues, approached by doors opening on the terraced roofs of the building. On the west door of the principal shrine is an inscription, considerably damaged, and never translated, but which bears date Samvat 1496—that is A.D. 1439. “The Rânâs minister,”2 says Tod, “of the Jain faith and of the tribe Porwâr .... laid the foundation of this temple in A.D. 1438. It was completed by subscription.” In front of each door of the shrine is the usual mandap, 20 ft. I in. in diameter inside — except the one in front of the west or principal entrance, which is a double one, or, a dome of the same size as the others inside another 33 feet in diameter, or 38 feet over the columns, which are twelve in number. The roof is also more richly carved than those of the other three. These domes are on the platform of the shrine, which is raised by five steps above the level of the rest of the floor, on which, at the sides of the domes, are four open courts; those on the west front measuring 38 feet 3 in. by 21 feet 3 in., and those on the east 27 feet 3 inches square. In the north-west court grows the Râyana tree {Mimusops hexandria) sacred to Rishabhanâth, as the Bodhi, or Pipal, is to Buddha, being that under which they say he was standing when he attained moksha, or beatitude,3 and which is a necessary accompaniment of his temple, as the Mango is of Neminâth’s, the Chironjia sapida of Parśvanâth’s, &c. Under the tree is placed a tablet, with the padukâ, or representation of his feet,—this being considered as symbolical of the spiritual dominion of the Jina.

In front of each of the four mandaps mentioned above is a lofty dome, 20 feet to 20 feet 2 in. in diameter inside, and three stories in height, the top of the inner circle of eight pillars being 19 feet 8 in. from the floor, and giving support to the second gallery, the bottom of the parapet or stone rail of which is 23 feet 1½ in. from the floor, and the top of the pillars in this second gallery being at a height of 28 feet 1 in., while the spring of the dome above the architraves is 29 feet 4 in. high. Over this rises a beautifully carved dome. “These are,” as Mr. Fergusson4 very justly remarks, “the principal ornaments of the building. Either, however, they were never completed, or the toranas or flying buttresses, which spring, as at Abu, from the lower capitals, have been removed, only one remaining in situ. ... Its presence, however, is sufficient to show what was intended, even if never executed.” In each corner of the court is a separate shrine, and on each side of the north and south entrances is another, eight in all, and each of these again has its proper mandap to the east or west of it, and beyond the high domes are four more projecting into the faces of the building, “thus making twenty domes for the whole building, all of which are sculptured internally with the most elaborate ornaments, and adorned with pendants from their centres, carved with as much minuteness as the nature of the stone will allow; which here, unfortunately, is not white marble, but a rather coarse-grained sandstone, though of crystalline ‘ texture and good colour. About 420 columns are employed to support these domes with their accompanying colonnades, all of which are adorned more or less with sculpture, and no two of which are exactly alike but most of them varied to a considerable extent. The internal effect of this forest of columns may be gathered from the view.” (Photograph XI.) “But it is impossible that any view can reproduce the endless variety of perspective and of light and shade which results from the disposition of the pillars, and of the domes, and from the mode in which the light is introduced. A wonderful effect also results from the number of cells.”5 Besides the five shrines inside the court, there are seventy-six cells6 of different forms and sizes surrounding the court, and all their facades are more or less adorned with sculpture, while they are crowned by the pyramidal Śikhras seen over the outer wall.

Under one of the domes is a large figure of an elephant; in a gallery over the south entrance is an image with padukâ or footmarks; and against the wall stands a large slab, on which is carved a figure of Parśvanâth, of the twenty third Tirthankara, with two female figures as kausagiya or supporters, and over his head a canopy of snakes’ heads in nine or ten concentric circles, containing not less than 250 heads Outside the kausagiya are two Nâginîs. having the heads and bodies of women, but ending in a snaky coil; these have over their heads the seven-headed snake, so frequent in Buddhist sculptures, and in their inner hands hold each a chauri or fly-flap, on the horizontally held shank of which stands a small figure of an elephant, with rider. Round the whole is a broad band of intricate carving representing sixteen Nâginîs, whose tails are knotted round them into the most intricate maze. What all this may mean or what connection it may have with Serpent Worship, it may not be easy to say. In the Śatruņjaya Mâhâtmya, however, there is a legend about Dharana, the Nâga king, having come to worship Parśvanâth while he was engaged in his second kâthyotsarga, or profound meditation, at Śivapuri, in the Kuśâmbaka forest, when he raised his outspread hood (phana) over him as an umbrella;7 “and to this the sculpture on this slab may have some reference.

The general effect of the Rânpur temple can scarcely be judged of from the view given (Photograph X ) taken from the court of a smaller temple just opposite. It is so large and so encompassed by trees that It is difficult to obtain a good photographic view of it. From Mr. Fergusson’s account, already quoted, ii may not be amiss to extract also the following remarks: “The immense number of parts in the building; and their general smallness, prevents its laying claim to anything like architectural grandeur; but their variety, their beauty of detail—no two pillars in the whole building being exactly alike—the grace with which they are arranged, the tasteful admixture of domes of different heights with flat ceilings, and the mode in which the light is introduced, combine to produce an excellent effect. Indeed, I know of no other building in India of the same class that leaves so pleasing an impression, or affords so many hints for the graceful arrangement of columns in an interior. Besides its merits of design, its dimensions are by no means to be despised; it covers, altogether, about 48,000 square feet, or nearly as much as one of our ordinary mediaeval cathedrals, and, taking the basement into account, is nearly of equal bulk; while in amount of labour, and of sculptural decorations, it far surpasses any.”8

“As a whole. I look upon this as about the most satisfactory temple I have seen in India. It is true, it is neither so splendid nor so astonishing as those upon Mount Abu; nor does it belong to so pure an age. But there is a completeness in this one that they want; and the whole is in good taste and good keeping. The only building that at the time I could think of to compare with it is the temple at Kanarak; but it is certainly a ‘ harmonie de contraste,’ as the French say. not ‘ d’analogie: ‘ for there It is an exterior, and all the ornament is external; here, the exterior is quite plain, and all the ornament in the interior: there, there are no pillars; here, the whole architectural ordinance consists of pillars and their epistylia: there the sculpture is principally animated representations of men and animals; here it consists almost exclusively of foliage and architectural ornaments of one sort or other. Yet there certainly is a likeness, if not in the form, at least in the spirit of the buildings; they both reach about the same height of art, are productions of the same class of intellect, and utter the same feelings, though in different words. To my mind they are so much alike that I never could think of the one without thinking of the other though it is not, perhaps, easy to explain to those less familiar with the buildings themselves why this was the case. In the south of India there are halls larger than this temple, and whose roofs are supported by more than twice the number of columns here employed; but, owing to the inartistic mode in which they are arranged, none of them produce anything like the effect here attained. Indeed, there is a play of light and shade in this temple, without either too much glare or too much gloom in any part of it, and a variety and complexity in its design and disposition, without either confusion or extravagance, that render it to my eye one of the most pleasing columnar interiors I know. Look at it from which point you will, you are never perplexed by a labyrinthine confusion you cannot unravel; and the variety of perspective and detail that everywhere opens upon you prevents the eye from ever being fatigued in wandering through it.”9

To conclude :—

“One potent mind
Hath framed it, and hath bent with wizard skill
Each individual and inferior mind,
To realise a loved ideal Form.
No disproportion wounds thy curious eye;
From multitudinous things one spirit breathes,
And the deep under-note of Harmony
Steals o’er the tranced ear.”10
  • 1. Annals of Rajasthan, vol. i. p. 289. or Madras ed. p. 24a.
  • 2. Annals of Rajasthan, ut sup.
  • 3. Conf. Hemachaudra, Abhidâna Chintamani, 1142 and 1136 (ed. Boehtlingk and Rieu), pp. 213 and 211: Deslongchamps, Amarakosha, pp. 8789; Śatruņjaya Mahâtmya, i 270-279; and the author’s Introduction to The Temples of Śatrunjaya, p. 21.
  • 4. Picteresque Illustrations, p. 41, 42.
  • 5. Fergusson, History of Architecture, vol. ii. pp. 628 629.
  • 6. This includes the four shrines on the north and south sides.
  • 7. Śat. Mâhât. xiv. 31—35 ; Introd. to The Temples of Śatruņjaya, pp. 6—25 ; Indian Antiquary, vol. ii. p. 139 ; and compare AsiatTransact, vol. i. pp.428—436; Bigandet's Legend of Gaudama, 2nd ed. p. 99 {Ist ed. p. 69); and Hardy's Buddhism, p. 182.
  • 8. Hist. of Architecture, vol. ii. p. 629
  • 9. Pidur. Illustrations-, p. 42,
  • 10. Orient. Chris. Spec. ut sup. P. 524.