Structure of the temple at
Over the years, much has changed at Dakor. From a small village of DankaPur, it has now been transformed into a major centre of religious and commercial activity in the region. The small shrine of the original temple is now encased in a large temple complex which has grown up around it.
The current temple complex is set in a large square setting. Four gates pierce the outer walls at the cardinal points. Various offices and store rooms are set around the outer perimeter of the temple. The actual temple is set on a high platform in a complex mandala set in the style of medieval temples from the region. The temple was built by an official of the Baroda kingdom and reflects a curious synthesis of Victorian and Indian styles in its architecture.
The main gate of the temple overlooks the crowded banks of the lake Gomati. Silver gates are protected by the Vedic Gods - Lord Ganesha, Sun Moon, etc beautifully carved in high relief. The gate leads into the main courtyard. As tradition would have it, drummers sit atop the main gate in a balcony of their own. The "Nagarkhana" resonates with music during the main darshans and at arti times, especially lunch time. On entering the courtyard, one sees two tall structures on either side of the door. These are used to house the innumerable lamps that are lit during the festive season. Multi-storied and multi-tiered, this type of structure is very typical of medieval Gujarati / Maharastrian temple architecture. On the left, there are secure rooms for the devotees to leave their foot gear. The temple staff look after the footwear, but as all over India, many people pay "baksheesh" to obtain that extra bit of service.
Carrying around the circumbulation path, one comes to the offices where pilgrims can pay for services to be performed on their behalf in the inner-sanctum. The prasad of the Lord, sweets ladus, are also distributed from an office nearby. There are other offices and store rooms along the outer edge of the circumbulation path. There are places for the pillgrim to sit and relax or listen to spiritual recitations along this circumbulation path.
If you go all around, you end up back at the front gate. Marble stairs lead to the main audience chamber of the temple - the Jagmohan - literally the place where the world is charmed (by the beauty of the Lord). Three large entrances allow devotes to enter the main audience chamber from three cardinal points. The large, open square structure of the audience chamber is surmounted by an imposing, glittering dome. Till recently, the dome was painted with Shri Krshna's rasa-lila in the classical Bundi style. Recently, this has been replaced by an intricate inlay of mirror work, depicting flowers and trellis in a classical rajput garden. Painted murals from Lord Krshna's life adorn the walls of the audience chamber. A small section at the front of the chamber is railed off and reserved for women.
As with all classical temples, the inner sanctum of Ranchodrai is set in a straight line from the main gate of the temple. The Lord sits under a canopied pavilion in the inner sanctum. The whole structure is raised on a marble platform and the pillars of the pavilion are covered in gold. The intricately carved doors and windows to the inner sanctum are also covered in gold.
There are three doors leading into the inner sanctum from three to three separate parts of the temple. Door to the right of the Lord comes in from the ante chamber, leading to a special bathroom where the priests must bathe before entering the inner sanctum. Corridors from here also lead to the treasure house of the Lord - housing His in-numerable jewels and clothes.
The door in front of the Lord faces the main audience chamber. At Dakor, the Lord spends as much time as possible with His devotes. The main doors to the inner sanctum are open most of the day. The temple officially 'opens' the inner sanctum eight times a day. But here the Lord is so accessible, He even bathes in public ! Vaishnavs have the pleasure of seeing the Lord being dressed and adorned in front of them !
The door to the left of the Lord leads to the bed chamber of the Lord - a mirrored chamber of thousand delights !! Various beds, mattresses and blankets are neatly arranged in here for the Lord's comfort. Silver and gold bedsteads are covered in soft cottons and silks. Perfumes and garlands are kept in readiness for the Lord. A small corridor leads from here to the large open hall behind the bed chamber, where pilgrims perform various religious rituals to please the Lord.
As at BadriNathji in the Himalayas and Tirupati Balaji in South India, at Dakor, the temple of Lakshmiji, wife of the Lord, is situated outside the main temple. At Dakor, Lakshmiji's temple is situated in a residential part of town at a little distance from the main temple. The Lord visits His wife on a weekly basis - on Fridays and a courtly procession winds it's way from the main temple down the lanes and bylanes of Dakor to unite the couple.
You can have live darshan of Ranchodrai http://ranchhodraiji.org/LiveDarshan.html
Some great videos of Kesar Snan, Shringar and artis of the Lord :-
Kesar snana of Lord Ranchodrai of Dakor - darshan of the Lord being bathed in saffron water every morning.
Mangala Arti of Lord Ranchodrai
Artis through the day from Shringar to Shayan - note how children of the priests trained from young age in details of rituals.
© Bhagwat Shah
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