India - Udaipur - 031 - carved elephant in the Ranakpur Jain Temple
Sun-lit columns and a marble elephant of one quadrant of the Ranakpur Jain Temple. You can see the intricate detail on the many columns, each one reported to be unqiue.
The temple is a fabuous site, well worth the visit, a couple hours drive from Udaipur.
Built in the 14th or 15th century, this temple was built by 3 generations. Done in marble, with domes and entranes at each of the 4 cardinal directions, it supposedly sports 144 towers and 1444 columns, all intricately carved and unique. The detail is fabulous. Like many Rajastani sites we visited, the temple happily incorporates Greek, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu influences to its architecture.
What was perhaps the most interesting to me however was not its architecture, but its pristine condition and cleanliness. I have seen other sites of beautiful carvings and construction that awed, but unlike those, this is not a crumbling archeological site or recreated museum - it is a living, active temple. The carvings were as crisp as 500 years ago, the care in the temple as strong. It was like seeing the Anthens Acropolis while it was still in use.