Patan is one of the important fortified towns of Gujarat, situated on the banks of the River Saraswati. It was founded in 746 AD by the Chavda king, Vanraj Chavda. During the Solanki period, the glory of Patan reached its peak. It was known as the Golden age of Gujarat. The rulers of Patan were great patrons of art and architecture.
A number of civic as well as religious buildings were constructed in the city, including many Hindu, Muslim and Jain religious places. However, the Jain temples outnumber the others. They are about 122 in number and more than 100 years old. Besides, there are 9 Hindu temples and 12 Mosques in the city. These monuments are a major attraction from travel and tourism point of view. The foreign tourists throng the city, to view the amazing monuments adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.
Hemachandracharya Jain Gnan Mandir
Hemachandracharya, renowned Jain scholar and poet, is credited with formulating Gujarati grammar. His treatise ‘Siddha Hema Shabdanushasana’, written during the rule of Siddharaj Jayasinh, is seen as a counterpart to Panini’s treatise on Sanskrit grammar. The poet built this Gnan Mandir, literally “knowledge temple”, an ancient library that includes a number of ancient palm-leaf Jain manuscripts (some written in ink of gold) and literature that he wrote.
Panchasara Parshvanath Jain Temples
Panchasara Parshvanath Jain Derasar is one of the largest of more than 100 Jain temples in Patan, a reminder of Patan’s role as center of Jainism during the Solanki era, with sophisticated stone carvings and white marble floors that are characteristic of Jain architecture. It is also worth visiting Kapur Mahetano Pado, where the stone temple has a wooden interior. Jain temples were once all of fantastically and intricately carved wood until, it is said, the master-builder Uda Mehta saw a mouse carrying a burning candle in its mouth and realized that one mishap would destroy years of work, and from then on insisted that all Jain temples should be created in stone.
Explore the early Muslim constructions, built even earlier than those in Ahmedabad, such as the Sheikh Farid’s mosque and mausoleum, with its beautifully carved ceiling.
Patola is the name of the silk saris unique to Patan. One version of the Patola legend is that King Kumarpal (12th century) commissioned Patola robes from Jaina (South Maharashtra), a new one for every daily puja. When he learned the King of Jaina was sending him used clothes, he went to the south to attack and defeat the southern ruler. He brought back 700 Patola weaver families to Patan. Of those families, only the Salvis continue the craft today.
Patola is one of the most difficult forms of weaving in the world. It uses a double ikkat style where the warp and weft threads are dyed meticulously before weaving, according to a pre-designed pattern. The weaver then aligns them perfectly on the loom, which naturally creates a unique combination of geometric delineation with soft hazy outlines. Besides in Patan, double ikkat is used only in Bali, Indonesia. It is said that an Indonesian king visited India, was awed by the Patola craft, and took it back to his land saying that only Indonesian royalty would be allowed to wear it.
The saris take 4-6 months to make, with more than 70 days for the coloring of the silk threads, and about 25 days for the weaving. They come in four styles: 1) for the Jains and Hindus, with flowers, parrots, elephants, and dancing figures, 2) for the Muslim Bohras, with geometric and floral design, to be used at weddings, 3) for Maharashtrian Brahmins, in solid dark colors bordered with designs of women and birds, called Nari Kunj, and 4) for traditional export markets in the Far East.
Timing: 08: AM to 06:00 PM
Mashru weaving is also a craft worth observing. The fabric is woven in vibrant colors from silk and cotton threads, in a satin weave, with silk on the outer face of the piece, and cotton worn close to the body. It was initially only used by Muslim men because the Islamic law prohibited pure silk, but Hindu communities too began using it later. It is used by women in some Kutchi communities to stitch garments for their dowry, and was also exported to Turkey and the Middle East. When the export market fell, the cheaper rayon replaced Mashru.
Timing: 08: AM to 06:00 PM
Rani Ki Vav
Rani (Queen) Udayamati commissioned this vav or stepwell, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is amongst the finest stepwells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.
The vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socialising, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance. They were originally constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit this ancient concept of the sanctity of water by carving it out in stone deities. You may thus enter Rani Ki Vav as if it is a subterranean temple.
The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages.
Address: Mohan Nagar Socity, Patan, Gujarat 384265
Timing: 8am to 5pm
Closed on: NA
Fees: Indians Rs. 5/-, Foreigners 2 USD
The Sahastralinga Talav (lake) occupies the north-western part of the historical city of Patan. It is on the left bank of river Saraswati. The ‘talav’ is reputed to have been built by Siddharaja Jaisinh, the Chalukyan ruler of Gujarat. An inscription found in the Shiva Temple in Vyala Kua Street of Patan indicates that the lake was part of a much larger work.
Siddhraj Jaysinh built the reservoir Sahasralinga Talav, meaning “lake of a thousand lingas”, just north of Rani Ki Vav in 1084, over a lake originally known as Durlabh Sarovar, built by the King of Durlabhray. During his rule he had many artificial tanks built in different parts of Gujarat, but this one surpasses all the others, technologically, artistically, and spiritually.
Address: Patan Ho, Patan-Gujarat – 384265, Near Rani Ki Vav
Shankheshwar is an important tithas (place of pilgrimage)of Jainism. It is situated in the Patan district of Gujarat state of India. A fair is held here on the full moon days of the Hindu calendar months Chaitra, corresponding to March or April, and Kartik, corresponding to October or November, and the tenth day of the second half of Maghashirsha, corresponding to December or January. The temple ranks next only to those on Mount Shatrunjaya in Palitana, (Gujarat) in terms of importance to the Jain.
Address: Nr.GEB Sub Station, Shankheshwar, Sami, Patan, Gujarat, INDIA.
Timing: 6:30 AM to 12:00 PM / 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Closed on: NA
Modhera Sun Temple –
The beautiful sun temple is built by King Bhimadeva I, who ruled the Saurashtra region in the 11th century AD, north of Kathiawar, between 1026 AD and 1027 AD. Built in front of a rectangular tank (which has small shrines at three of its sides), Modhera is a precursor of the Sun temple at Konark . The whole structure is outclassed by the incredible rectangular step tank or ‘Surya Kund’, a majestic 100 sq metre rectangular pond, with interesting shrines, said to total 108 in all, the auspicious number of flowers on a garland. Larger shrines to Vishnu, Ganesh and the Natraj incarnation of Shiv in Tandav stand on 3 sides of the Surya Kund, with the ‘Sabha Mandap’ of the principal temple soaring on the fourth side, to remind you that this is the domain of the Sun God.
They produce exactly the opposite effect, so finely carved and full of detail are they. As in other Surya temples, the carvings are predominantly of female attendants. Rows of frames carved out on each pillar hold graceful dancing figures as well as the plump gana-s or yaksha-s that seem to hover around the gods. A separate structure from this pavilion is the closed mandapa beyond it leading to the Pradakshina path and Garbha Griha. The temple may once have had more than one level but in its state of ruin it is difficult to tell. Recurring images of the sun god appear at important positions throughout the structure, especially on the ‘dedicatory block above the mandapa doorway’.
In Modhera too, as in Kashmir, the representation of the Sun God seems to indicate a foreign model for the figure is clothed for cold weather in boots and cloak, unfamiliar to Gujarat. However, the main idol, and his sunken garba griha, are lost to us forever. It is fortunate that his chariot pulled by seven horses was drawn from the rubble around the temple before it could be further ruined. Although the temple’s shikhar is missing, the spires of the small ‘kund’ temples are an indication of what it might have looked like. Even though probably more curvilinear than those of Konark or Khajuraho, Modhera’s spire followed the basic Nagara pattern of vertical lines meeting at a point directly above the garba griha. In front of the temple is a colossal tank, which was once known as Surya Kund or Rama Kund .The tank has a series of carved steps leading to the bottom. Several miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank – which is an art gallery in itself. Modhera is now the site of several dance and cultural festivals. The sun temple and the ambience here provide a majestic backdrop for the exhibition of performing arts.
In a close proximity to the sun temple, located near the entrance is a small, unadorned Step Well. This three storied structure built in the 10 century as a step over point for caravans was damaged in the earthquake of 2001 and is now a restricted area under renovation. There exists famous temple of Matangi Modheswari Mata, the original temple being in the ancient step-well.
Timing: 09.00 am to 6.00 pm
Fees: Indian Rs. 5/- , Foreign Rs. 100/-
HOTELS IN GUJARAT