Sheth Dharanashah, of Nandiya in Rajasthan, had settled in Malgadh. His father was Kurpal and mother was Kamalde. The whole family was highly religious, devout, generous and charitable. Kumbha Rana was impressed by Dharanashah’s intellectual brilliance and had appointed him a minister. Dharanasha used to spend his wealth on charities. He built a few Jain temples and repaired the old ones. He had undertaken a pilgrimage to Shatrunjaya Tirtha and observed the vow of celibacy.
Dharanashah had a strong desire to build a magnificent temple of Bhagwan Rishabha dev. It is said that goddess Chakreshwari once appeared in his dream and gave him a glimpse of nalinigulm, a heavenly aircraft. He, then, desired to build a temple in the shape of the aircraft nalinigulm, which he had seen in his dream. He met Acharya Somchandrasuriji and gave details of what he had seen in the dream. The problem was to find a sculptor who could carve out the temple in the shape of the aircraft nalinigulm.
About fifty sculptors were consulted and were supplied the details about the aircraft. They were asked to prepare a blueprint. Each prepared a blueprint but it did not satisfy Dharanashah. He was disappointed.
Depa was a sculptor residing in Mundara, a small village. He lived a life of an ascetic and sculpture was not a means to earn livelihood for him. In his view it was sadhana, a form of worship. A highly contented man, Depa’s sculptures were matchless. Depa accepted the assignment for he knew Dharanashah to be a devout and charitable person. He prepared the blueprint from the details supplied by Dharanashah and Dharanashah was highly pleased by what he saw. Depa then after Dharanashah’s permission began the construction of the temple.
About 2500 workers toiled for fifty years but the work was not complete. In the meanwhile Dharanashah’s health deteriorated. Acharya Somchandrasuri was also getting older and it was decided to perform the installation ceremony. It was accomplished in the presence of both Dharanashah and Acharya Somchandrasuri.
The Jain temple of Ranakpur in Rajasthan is known as dharenvihar and also as trailokyadipak. The temple, supported on 1444 pillars, is situated between the river Meghai on the one side and the Aravalli Mountains on the other. The four idols of Bhagwan Adishwar are installed in sanctum sanctorum. The pillars are so constructed and the temple so designed that one can have glimpse of the idol standing near any of the pillars. The erection of such a magnificent temple owes a great deal to the piety and devoutness of Dharanashah.
Dharanashah’s desire was to build a summit of seven floors but realizing that his days were numbered, he constructed five floors only. The two floors which could not be constructed are extant today in the form of two niches. In the entrance one finds an elephant and above it are the figures of Dharanashah and his wife and Ratnashah and his wife. They face the idol of the god and are shown performing chaityavandana (worship of Tirthankaras). In the sanctum sanctorum of the temples is a small idol of Dharanashah. This idol must have been, it appears, installed later. The construction of this impressive temple shows that, if one wishes, money can be spent on noble deeds.