This shot was taken at the Jain Temple in Ranakpur, Rajasthan, in March 2010. It probably goes without saying that it is the clarity of the main subject in this photo that I like most of all, but without the hanging bells, I don’t think this would be as effective. This was really just a case of patience paying off – hanging around the temple and waiting for people to walk into my chosen line of sight. The angle and swing of the bells was equally fortunate.
The Jain temple at Ranakpur is one of the most remarkable buildings I’ve ever visited. It’s impossible to get any sense of it from this shot, but if you’ve not been there, it’s well worth Googling just to see the interior. Constructed in the middle of the 15th century of mostly white and off-white marble, it is famous for having 1444 exquisitely carved marble pillars, each of which is different from the others.
It is a beautifully clean and peaceful place, far lighter than the gothic cathedrals of Europe, though equally if not more elaborate in its detailed reliefs. The stone also seems less heavy – despite their often soaring heights and delicate design, Gothic has a weightiness which was only relieved in its overly baroque perpendicular incarnation. The temple at Ranakpur seems almost to float, something greatly assisted by the less confronting and far more pleasing themes depicted in its reliefs. As lovers of animals, the Jains adorned their temple with all manner of cute beasts, unlike the spoilsports of western Europe with their terrorising visions of ghastly gargoyles, imps and grim, serious men. Just make sure you leave your leather belt and shoes outside, as the Jains don’t like anything made using animals inside their temples.